AFV Club's long-awaited (and long delayed) M5A1 had finally appeared, and it is every bit as good as their earlier M3A3 Stuart.
The kit is a welcome replacement for the old Tamiya M5A1 which had a badly distorted hull shape due to Tamiya's attempt to base both their M3 and M5A1 kits off a common lower hull. The AFV Club M5A1 has surprisingly little in common with the earlier M3A3 beyond the suspension and tracks. They have provided entirely new turret sides and rear since the M5A1 has a later grouser stowage pattern than the M3A3. The hull is all new except for some minor bits. The kit includes a nice little PE sheet with the screens for the upper air intakes.
Assembly is similar to recent AFV Club kits, meaning it is not Tamiya-style "shake-in-the-box" easy. Some of the assemblies are fiddly and the hull requires a fair amount of care to get together due to the numerous separate parts. The fit is generally good, but it is not a "walk-in-your-sleep" build. The grousers, as those on the M3A3, are extremely fiddly although beautiful when done. They are very tiny, and I sacrified a few to the voracious carpet monster before I was done. It would help if they provided a few spares of these teenie bits! There are a few aggravating injection pin/mold marks including an odd rectangular set on the hull sides, and visible pin marks on the lower rear hull panel and the interior of both hatches.
I finished mine up in the markings of a tank of Co. D, 37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division courtesy of Mike Canaday's decals. I illustrated this particular tank in one of my Concord books based on a veteran's photo of the cartoon; eagle-eyed observers will note that the Concord illustration shows a later hull configuration. The photo does not show this clearly, so I opted to go for an earlier configuration. I mounted my model on a small vignette base with John Rosengrant's superb US tanker figure from the S&T series. The two figures shown here in the "scenic" view are in fact Dragon 1/6 scale "Battle Barbies" which were added to the model via the magic of Adobe Photoshop (the background of this illustration is a farm south of Utah beach). The stowage on my model is a mixture of Blast, epoxy putty and various other bits and pieces including Tamiya musette bags.
Model, Images and Text
by Steven J. Zaloga