Kit Review: Tamiya 1/35 scale kit No. 35350; U.S. Tank Destroyer M10 Mid Pr oduction; 333 parts (316 in olive drab styrene, 10 clear styrene, 4 vinyl k eepers, 2 vinyl track runs, 1 section of nylon string); retail price US$48.99
Advantages: simple but detailed kit with accurate shapes; three man crew wi th kit; great basis for a supr-detailed model
Disadvantages: took more than 30 years to come out!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all AT and Sherman related WWII fans
Most WWII fans are aware of what the M10 tank destroyer - actually the M10 3" Gun Motor Carriage in official literature - was and how it came to be. While many other countries (Germany, the USSR, Italy, and Japan being the m ajor ones) preferred to use tank destroyer vehicles with either open or clo sed casemate mountings of large guns on smaller vehicles, after some experi mentation the US took the medium tank chassis in production, fitted it with a thinly armored sloped upper hull, and then a revolving turret with what was then the most powerful medium caliber gun in US service, the 3" antitan k gun.
But they found out soon after it was fielded the new gun woefully unbalanc ed the turret and as a result balance counterweights had to be slung on the back of the turret to provide for rapid and smooth traversing of the gun o n all terrain. After an experiment with two rectangular weights, a prism-sh aped counterweight was developed that gave the vehicle what became its fami liar silhouette. Late models were redesigned to give a ?duck tail ? look to the weights.
Between June 1942 and December 1943 4,993 M10 vehicles were built, all wit h the power plant from the M4A2 diesel tank; this made it one of the very f ew diesel powered vehicles to operate in US Army service during WWII. These were joined by 1,731 M10A1 versions fitted with the power plant of the M4A3 (Ford GAA engine). They were shared with the French and Commonwealth forc es, but the latter regunned a number of vehicles with their more potent 17- pdr gun. A later follow-on, based on the M10A1, became the M36 90mm Gun Mot or Carriage.
Tamiya first came out with a kit of the M36 in the late 1960s and followed it in the 1970s with one of the M10. Both kits had overscale hulls, and th e early M36s were based on post-war ROK vehicles retrofitted with a bow mac hine gun. Details were poor, tracks were awful, and the only good thing to be said about the M10 is that it had a nearly 1/35 scale turret shell that was useful if you wanted to use it as the basis for a scratchbuilt conversi on of an M4 kit.
Roughly 16 years ago both Academy and AFV Club released new mold kits of t he M10 with complete frontal section interiors, but both had some serious p roblems. The Academy turret shapes were way off and the AFV Club one had so me dimensional problems.
Over the years Tamiya has let the problem fester by continually re-releasi ng their 1970s vintage kit. When this kit was announced, it was met by eye rolls and yawns up to the point where it made its appearance as a totally n ew kit with all parts nearly new from the ground up. And it is a spectacula r kit.
There have already been some ?rivet counter? reviews that fault the kit for minor errors here and there, but those people need to kee p in mind this is a model kit and some compromises DO have to be made to mo ld a model that can be easily assembled. Checking the kit against photos an d plans that I have show nearly all of the angles match within reasonable l imits and the shapes are correct, especially the turret which now is wide w here it should be and narrow where it should be!
This kit reflects the new build philosophy of Tamiya that is patterned to some degree on the Tasca/Asuka kits in its parts layout and breakdown. The hull is built up from belly, stern, side, firewall and sponson floor sectio ns, with the turret floor module being the main aligning feature for hull a ssembly. The hull rear section includes the radiators and mounts the ? ?Siamesed? mufflers of the GMC diesel engines. The bow has a ? ??softnose? one-piece transmission cover.
Road wheels are the ?pressed/welded? type mounting on bogi es with the ?flat? return roller mount with lift blocks. Ho wever, the idler is also a ?pressed/welded? type which is w rong for most of the M10s I have photos of; it should have the ?wel ded? spoke type. (Not a problem for any fan of Shermans.) Tracks ha ve a two-pad overlap so one can easily be removed for a tighter fit if nece ssary.
Some details are quite clever. The hatch hinges mount from inside the uppe r hull and look the part. There is also a geared ring for the turret race t hat is fitted from the inside. Sponsons are provided with two sets of ammun ition stowed in tubes as one-piece affairs (not a bad idea as it makes them easier to paint and install and they are hard to see with the turret in pl ace. No driver?s compartment is provided however. Note that the spo nson floors are fitted to the upper hull and then the side flares/skirts ar e attached to them; tabs and ribs put them into alignment.
While like all other M10 kits before it the model does not come with appli que armor, it comes with separate bosses for that armor that are attached t o the upper hull along with the grouser racks and grousers. The model stows a total of 26 grousers in six groups. Fuel and filler caps are separate pa rts as well.
The hatches are provided with clear styrene periscopes and may be installe d open or closed as the modeler chooses. Oddly enough the tools still seem to avoid stowage straps, odd after all of these years.
The 3" gun is better detailed than past attempts but some modelers will st ill wish to fine-tune its detailing. However, turret stowage is better and as well as six racked up ?ready? rounds includes a Thompson and magazine rack as well as other stowage bins around the inside. The bar rel is slide molded with a hollow bore (it is between sections of its sprue and can be missed at first glance!)
The figures provide a gunner, loader and commander, all standing in the tu rret area. Clear styrene goggles are also provided for two figures, here th e loader and commander. The M2HB is a stock Tamiya sprue seen in other kits but is still a serviceable weapon. The tow cable is nylon string so some m odelers will wish to replace it with twisted wire.
Two finishing options are provided, both in olive drab: 634th Tank Destroy er Battalion, attached to 1st Infantry Division, Aachen, Germany October 1944 (single circled white star on glacis, bumper codes, vehicle number 13); 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Southern France Augu st 1944 (circled white stars in five locations, white panels with black 3 1 on rear of turret counterweights). A small sheet of decals is provided; th e 634th vehicles are shown on page 372 of the Hunnicutt ?Sherman? ?? book for those wanting to replicate them better.
Overall Tamiya has produced a winner, but given the ?lived-in? ?? look of most M10s it begs for stowage and alternate fittings. But is a great ?blank canvas? to start with!