Hobby Model Kits
kit is pictured as the famed "Bellman" of the British 7th Armored Division
in Libya in 1942, but it also serves as a good basis for a trainer at the Armored
Force School at Fort Knox, or one of the Stuarts shipped to the 194th Tank Battalion
just prior to their desperate battle against the Japanese in the Philippines following
the attack on Pearl Harbor. I chose this unit because Company A was made up of
National Guardsmen from my home state of Minnesota.
early production Stuart features the second type of turret produced for this light
tank; the welded hexagonal plates replaced the bolted assembly of the earlier
type. I used period photos, Hunnicutt's Stuart, and Zaloga's article in
Military Modelling to help provide the detailing that Academy missed.
with the lower hull, I used AFV Club's superb suspension set and track sets, both
of which are more refined than the Academy parts. It's necessary to make some
modifications, however, to fill some gaps where the bogey units attach to the
hull walls. The backside of the idler housings need to be shaved down so they
fit properly. Keep an eye on the alignment of the parts and you should be in good
Mr. Surfacer to texture the cast armor final drive cover (as well as the bow gun
cover and gas cap covers) and added the missing bolts along the two outer vertical
I planned to replace the solid engine intake vent screen with an Eduard photoetch
part, I scratchbuilt the engne bulkhead and drive shaft leading to the fan surrounded
by a cowling. There's just enough detail to be seen through the screen so there's
no gaping void below.
the upper hull, the main problem is that Academy one-piece molding has depicted
the fenders and sponson walls as one flush assembly. In reality, the fenders should
be shown to be separate parts attached below the overhanging sponson. (Tamiya
got this separation right, even though they left the sponson open per their usual
strange practice.) So I carefully sanded down an indentation across the bottom
edge of the vertical wall, leaving enough plastic at each side where the fenders
were attached. I had to make sure there was no lip remaining of the sponson that
is molded to the hull sides. This produced the proper look, which Academy probably
felt was easy to ignore with "Bellman's" side skirts in placethough
the Fort Knox diagram for decal placement depicts the fenders correctly. Go figure!
other significant detailing was the addition of rivets missing from the hull sides
where the fender stowage boxes are located. If you use the boxes you can get away
with this, but since these boxes were not seen on photos of the Philippine Stuarts,
I had to resort to adding a lot of Tichy rivets, as well as welds from Archer
air cleaners are more refined and provide the proper brackets. I also replaced
the Academy tools with the higher quality Formations items. Oddly, Eduard doesn't
include the brusch guards for the front headlights, so I scratchbuilt those and
added wiring for the lights and sirens. The rear lights also were wired.
turret received some attention. The viewing ports around the exterior of cupola
are not very deep, so I put a small burr bit on the Dremel and carefully corrected
that. I also added the details to the interior "peep holes" as they
were called in the official photos included in Hunnicutt's book. Archer welds
were applied to the roof plates and around the cupola base. The small Dremel burr
was used to replicate welds on the tureet and cupola outer corners.
has nicely textured the gun mantlet. The aluminum barrel comes from RB. Even though
it was unlikely to be seen with a crew man in the cupola, I modified the Academy
parts for the breech end of the gun by adding the shoulder brace made from plastic
kit was painted with rattle can Model Master OD as the base coat, and weathering
began with an application of faded OD with the air brush. The wheels were painted,
idlers, and return rollers were painted. I always use Testors Gloss before laying
down decals, but this time I decided to try Future. Unfortunately, it produced
some white blotches on the glacis and rear plate as you can see below. I loaded
the air brush with some more OD to get it back to the proper color. After giving
it a few extra days to make sure it was dry, I went back to the tried and true
Testor's gloss. And then I gave that a few more days than usual. Patience is a
virtuewhich, conversely, is probably why so many of us having numerous projects
running at the same time!
early Stuart would have had blue drab registration numbers, which I pulled from
a DML decal sheet. They are individual numbers, so they need to be aligned carefully.
They are based on what would have been a likely series to have been shipped to
the Philippines. The few photos of Stuarts on the island do not show any unit
designations. The star on the inside of the turret hatch cover is seen on some,
but not all, Stuarts of the period. I added on the presumption of identification
purposes for friendly air cover (what there was of it at the time) and to give
some visual break of the all-OD scheme.
antenna is another item from Formation's, with wire molded into the resin base.
I did not glue it in place so it could be removed for transporting the kit to
shows. The final addition was a Tamiya .30 cal. machine gun and cradle from the
superb Jeep kit. Because this is a very early war vehicle, it was likely equipped
with a wooden ammo box, and Collector's Brass provided just the right part.
intend to situate this battered Stuart in a small Philippine vignette shortly
before the collapse of the American force on Luzon in April 1942. So I'll do some
additonal weathering at that time. As it is, the tank took a gold at the Minnesota
Military Figure Society "Boots and Treads" show and silver at NordicCon,
both in 2010.
Relief," by Steve Zaloga, Military Modelling, Vol. 32, No.
12, 18 Oct. - 7 Nov. 2002, Highbury.
the M3/M5 Stuart Light Tank, Steven J. Zaloga, Osprey Modelling No 4,ISBN
A History of the American Light Tank, by R.P. Hunnicutt, Presidio Press,
1992, ISBN 0-89141-462-2.
Light Tank at War 1941-1945, Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications, ISBN