ARM: Review - Tamiya 1/35 scale M10 Tank Destroyer - Mid Production

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.
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 M4A
3 (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
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 19
44 (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!
Sprue Layout:
Cookie Sewell
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