updated Tamiya's ancient kit at the same time I built Academy's gas-engined M3
Stuart. I had thought to cross-kit the two to improve the Academy tank, but saw
that it would be more work than I desired to do. Tamiya's major drawbacks are
the small size of the turret, and incorrect tracks, as well as some chunky detailing.
For more information about the inadequacies of this kit, check out Martin
the other hand, the diesel version Tamiya portrays was still a legitimate tank
used primarily stateside for training, and to a minor extent in the Pacific at
the start of the war. As I got an idea into my head for a possible diorama setting,
I decided my challenge was to make some relatively simple changes to improve the
kit and make it look as good as practical.
borrowed an unused barrel, tracks, tools, and other doodads from the Academy kit.
The suspension came from the AFV Club set. It required shimming the openings in
the hull where the suspensions connect. The rear idlers were glued into place
after the wheel units had dried securely. The back sides of the idler wheel rocker
needed to be sanded down in order to keep the wheels and idler aligned.
stowage boxes have hollow sides against the hull wall, so I blanked them off with
plastic card. A few rivets were added here and there around the air cleaners.
I carved out the solid air intake grill and replaced it with brass. Through the
screen you can faintly see a semblance of a driveshaft and engine shroud, which
I built from scratch.
was the source of some of the photoetch, but I scratchbuilt the brush guards for
the headlights, which were wired into the sloping glacis plate. I also scratchbuilt
the rear mud flaps and detailed the rather plain inner surfaces of the commander's
was used to texture the cast differential cover, the armored gas filler caps,
the housing for the bow gun, and the mantlet. The sponson openings over the tracks
had to be filled with plastic card. Surface welds from Archer Fine Transfers were
on the turret roof and around the cupola.
was a simple application of rattle can Model Master Olive Drab. I used the kit's
decals, and discovered that the registration number is (surprisingly) accurate
for an early diesel version. I did a wash and highlight job on the body but will
add extra weathering when preparing the model for a diorama. This Stuart will
be the focal point for a scene during one of the massive maneuver exercises conducted
in South Carolina and Louisiana during the early 1940s, hence the additional large
numerals and ID pennants. The tanks were lightly equiped, with photos showing
racks of extra fuel and camo netting as the only external stowage.
is still a decent kit for modelers just getting into the hobby. It's a simple
build, and though the turret is undersized, it looks like an early war Stuart.
I bought mine at AMPS for $10, but have seen them online for as much as $35. I
don't think it's worth that much, but down toward the $10 range it can be quick
project on which one could practice beginning painting or detailing skills.
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