ARM: Review - AFV Club 1/35 scale M5A1 Late Production

Kit Review: AFV Club 1/35 scale Kit No. AF35161; M5A1 Stuart Light
Tank - Late
Production; 567 parts (458 in olive drab styrene; 72 in black styrene;
24 etched brass; 11 clear styrene, 4 black nylon; 2 black vinyl
tracks; 1 turned aluminum; 1 black nylon string): estimated price
around US$45
Advantages: The late M5A1 now joins the early production model as a
new kit; numerous options and nice touches give the modeler a wide
variety of options; all major late-model options present except for a
=93squeeze-bore=94 fitting
Disadvantages: does not provide a full set of T16 single-link track
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all US armor fans and also Commonwealth Stuart VI
After a breather of a few years, AFV Club has once again done a new
version of the later production American light tank family and has now
provided us with a super late-production variant of the M5A1. With
this kit and the announced M8 75mm HMC kit on the way, they are only
lacking the M5 light tank to =93complete the record=94 on the later
production radial engined tanks.
99 new or modified parts have been added to this version of the kit.
As with the previous kit from early last year, it uses only the
essential sprues from the M3A3 kit from 2002 and even those have been
touched up. These specifically cover items like the new mounts and
VVSS springs for the idler wheels - but being AFV Club, they provided
nylon inserts so the =93springing=94 action works! Go figure. The modeler
also has a choice of either welded spoke road wheels or the welded
=93pressed steel=94 types (two versions and including separate grease
caps), as well as welded open spoke or =93patched=94 spoke idlers.
The lower hull is molded flat, but this is not a major problem as it
actually permits more accurate construction of the hull. The hull also
comes with a firewall and mounts for the twin fans at the rear of the
compartment, but no engines or any other lower hull innards are
included. The crew escape hatch is also a separate component. The
engine access doors come in six parts =96 two folding sections and two
fixed sections. Fenders and the rear section of the sponsons are
separate parts, and the lower glacis is also provided with separate
bolt heads molded on one of the sprues for accuracy. This kit also
comes with the later air deflector package for the rear of the hull as
well as the grilles for earlier production.
The upper hull comes in a total of six basic parts =96 upper sides,
upper glacis, turret roof, fuel tank covers, and engine deck. The bow
gun is mounted so that it can move and all of the hatches and
periscope inserts are separate components, and if carefully assembled
the directions also indicate the hull periscopes are moveable. Brass
parts basically cover all of the big grilles at the rear for the upper
air intake and exhaust vents from the engine compartment and this time
it includes the lower grilles as well.
The kit comes with one sprue =96 24 links =96 of AFV Club=92s T16
single link track. This is only for the four spare links carried at
the rear of the hull, and it comes with two acceptable vnyl track runs
for the main track; I daresay most modelers will be very happy with
these and will use them vice going for single links. AFV Club
indicates, like most other manufacturers, these can be cemented =96 but
in the fine print it says =93Instant Glue=94 (e.g. ACC cements.)
The turret comes with a complete 37mm gun and a turned aluminum
barrel (no plastic option.) A few other interior parts are included to
include an SCR-508 radio set for the turret bustle (no No. 19 set is
provide for the Stuart VI, so Commonwealth modelers are on their own
here.) Two different sets of turret moldings are provided for the M5A1
turret - with or without the bulged shield on the right side. There
are some small ejection pin marks inside the turret but nothing of
major note most places. Note the grousers are quite accurate but come
in two pieces each, and since there are 24 of them this may be the
most tedious part of the kit. Apparently the =93H=94 flag on the
directions means =93alternate=94 as the grousers require alternating
installation to fit correctly (upper and lower flanges).
The kit includes the late model sand shields complete in components
so they can be installed or =93left off=94 as desired, and also provides a
=93Cullen Device=94 for the bow of the tank. It also comes with the rear
basket to include a section of etched brass mesh for the bottom of the
AFV Club offers five finishing options: 4th Battalion, the Armor
Brigade, ROC Army, Taiwan, January 1952; =93Fish =91n=92 Chips=94, 83rd
Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Armored Division, Belgium 1944
(mislabled as =93113th Cavalry Regiment=94); =93Shanty Irish=94, 92nd
Reconnaissance Battalion, 12th Armored Division, Germany, March 1945;
24th Armored Regiment, 1st Division Blindee, Belgium 1944; and =93Sloppy
Joe=94, 92nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 12th Armored Division, Germany,
January 1945.
Overall this kit is the =93bookend=94 to a collection of American light
tanks, and now AFV Club only needs to produce the M8 and M5 to finish
off the later models.
Thanks to Miin Herng Tsueng of AFV Club for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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