Kit Review: Legend 1/35 Scale Conversion Kit No. LF1138; M39 Conversion Set (for AFV Club M-18); 75 parts (63 parts in creme colored resin, 11 etched brass, 1 length of brass wire); price estimated at US $45-60, based on source (direct from Korea or via a dealer)
Advantages: drop-in fit for this early US armored personnel carrier, neatly designed fit for the AFV Club kit
Disadvantages: method for construction of the various baskets and racks very tedious and fussy; heavy pour plugs to clean up or remove
Recommendation: for all American APC and Korean War fans
The M39 was one of the first American-designed fully tracked armored personnel carriers - then called "armored utility vehicles" - which appeared nearly too late for WWII but served well in Korea. Based on the lightly armord but highly mobile M18 tank destroyer chassis, it gave good service in the rough Korean terrain and provided good support to recon units.
Legend now offers a complete drop-in conversion kit for the M39 designed to fit specifically on the AFV Club M18 chassis. Unlike some conversions, such as Sherman hulls, due to the differences between this kit and the Academy M18 they are not kidding, and these parts both will not fit on the Academy kit nor can they be adapted to fit it.
Surprisingly this kit comes with rather heavy pour plugs for the major components, which will be tedious to remove and clean up. Add to that the fact that for some reason my review copy was made from a particularly odious type of resin and this will be a very unpleasant chore for most modelers (read: do it outside or in a VERY well ventilated area.)
The rear deck grille comes as a solid resin casting, which is a bit disappointing as there are kits out for the exhaust assembly and engine for this kit and somebody should have planned on an opening with an etched brass grille; since the kit comes with a small sheet of etched brass, this makes it even more difficult to figure why they didn't do that.
All of the basket assemblies, formed from mandrel-bent steel tube on the original vehicle, come as resin castings on this model which again will be tedious to clean up. My suggestion is use them as a pattern and replace them with 0.030" (0.75mm) plastic rod or brass wire as that will be easier to work with than the resin bits in the kit.
The interior comes in five major sections - floor, sidewalls, firewall and a stowage bin or rack behind the driver's seat. Once cleaned up, these interlock and fit firmly into the AFV Club hull, and also interlock with the upper hull for a nice tight fit.
Most of the rest of the details come straight from the AFV Club kit, and are a drop-fit into the resin hull which comes with pre-spotted holes and projections to attach them as per the base kit.
No markings or finishing instructions are provided, and the model is only shown in its unpainted form in the directions and box art. The directions are of little help, basically only showing the parts in the kit and then the assembled model, with no clues or hints as to how to get one to turn into the other.
Overall, this kit is a bit disappointing, given the high quality of other manufacturers' products and state-of-the-art resin casting elsewhere. But the basic components are accurate and sharply molded, fit well when cleaned up, and other than the rear engine deck grilles most of the odd bits can be either easily replaced or compensated for during construction.
Thanks to Peter Brown for the review sample.