some time, Tamiya was the only company to represent the Stuart line of tanks,
with their M3, M5A1, and M8 HMC kits. Some 25 years later, Academy released M3
and M3A1 versions. Each of these five kits have drawbacks, so the release of AFV
Club's Stuart V caused some excitement, though it is the Lend-Lease version of
the Stuart family exported to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. They are expected
to release the M5A1 version in early 2007.
Formations provides another way to get a correct M5A1 using their conversion kit
for AFV Club's Stuart. Basically, this combines the best available suspension
and turret in plastic with a resin upper and lower hull, road wheels and detail
parts. The Formations hull is correctly sized, a vast improvement over the Tamiya
kits, which used a notoriously smaller hull to accommodate their battery pack
from the M3 Stuarts kits. Legend Production's update mimiced this error.
provides the nicely detailed lower hull as a large single casting. The front and
rear hull panels and sponsons are cast integrally and the piece is warp free.
This is very important, as it is very difficult to build a kit when the lower
hull is not square. At the front are separate final drive covers with good details.
There are two options for the bottom plate. You can fit an escape hatch and also
the reinforcing found on initial production M5A1s, carried over from the M3 series
this comes as an impressive one piece part to which the front glacis and rear
engine screens are added. This is a good move, because you can easily fit etched
screens from either aftermarket sets or homemade. Formations recommends the set
from Eduard made for the Tamiya kit (35492). If you don't want to add the extra
expense, just fit the resin screens.
front glacis is a single piece. This needs to be carefully fitted to the front
opening because it forms a straight line with the transmission cover and any offset
angle will show. All hull detail such as hatches, tools, lights, bow MG, brush
guards, grab handles, lift ring, etc. come from the AFV Club kit.
provides you with a new set of road wheels, drive sprockets, and idler mounts.
The road wheels are the later stamped types applicable to the M5A1. Formations
have released this set as a separate aftermarket kit, that could used for a less
extensive updating of the Tamiya and Academy kits.
sprockets have the correct amount of teeth, again something that was missed by
Tamiya, Legend, and also Verlinden Productions.
markings, you have to look elsewhere. I have the Bison Decals set which has two
sets of applicable markings for early M5A1s.
later M5A1 had a stowage box on the rear plus a different turret layout with armoured
shield around the AA MG. Tamiya has got this in their kit, so this might be a
source of parts. I'd recommend taking a look at Knee
Deep in Stuart Stew, as there is a quite a bit of aftermarket stuff for the
conversion itself is very good, with clean, crisp detail, and while I have not
yet built the kit, my experiences with Formation's M4A2 conversion suggests there
will be no problems.
Note: This conversion kit was discontinued by Formations in 2008
with the arrival of the AFV Club M5 Stuart, but you may be able
to find it through private sales.