Academy #1392 Achilles M10 17pdr
In 1942, to meet the urgent demand for a more powerful tank destroyer, the US Ordinance department put the M10 series into production. The M4A2 Sherman hull was used, with substantial armour modifications, along with an open topped turret. Then Achilles was the British version, supplied under the Lend Lease programme. It was powered by a GM 12 cylinder twin diesel engine, had a crew of 5 and weighed 32 tons. The major difference between the M10 and the Achilles was the main gun. The M10 fielded a 3inch gun, whereas the Achilles fielded a 17-pounder gun. This gun was a very successful anti tank gun in its own right, and was fitted to Sherman Firefly tanks as well.
Academy’s kit comes moulded in 9 flash free sand colored sprues. Flexible track is also provided and is of the T56E1 type. They are gluable and take paint well. Decals for 2 British Achilles are also included. All the sprues are flash free and the decals are printed in register. Some parts are marred by small ejector pin marks, but more on that later.
Construction begins with the suspension. Sherman suspension is one that kit manufacturers rarely get right. And this is no exception. In Academy’s defence, the suspension provided in this kit would have to be the best Sherman/Achilles/M10 suspension available in plastic. You get the choice of plain or fancy drive sprockets, as well as early and late pattern track skids. Also, you get the choice of early or late pattern road wheels. The late pattern road wheels are gems, having an insert that gives them rear detail, a first in plastic kits. If you wanted to fit better suspension to this kit, your only option would be the Armoured Brigade Models, but who wants to spend more on suspension than the whole kit is worth? Over all, the suspension goes together very well.
The kit comes with a fairly comprehensive interior, both the driver’s compartment and fighting compartment. The transmission and the fighting compartment floor are all nicely moulded, and fit perfectly into the lower hull. I glued mine in and painted the interior last. An odd inclusion is an almost complete engine compartment. Its comprised of side wall detail, as well as fuel tanks, but oddly, no motor. Maybe they will release a motor set later. It would have been nice to see it included here.
The rest of the kit builds up rather quickly; the only thing slowing proceedings down is cleaning up lots of little ejector pin marks, and the occasional sink mark. The rear hull on the review sample was slightly warped, so I glued some 100 thou plastic rod on the under side, which fixed the warp.
Academy really did a beautiful job on this kit, especially on the small details and accessories provided. Around each fuel filler cap is a small (tiny) welded semi circle that tells the user what fuel goes where. There’s one marked ‘diesel oil’, ‘radiator fluid’ and ‘lubricating oil’. Break out the microscope to read these! Academy also includes a really comprehensive accessory set. Included here are very late pattern dished wheels, jerry cans, both British and American, and ammo cans, amongst others. Perhaps the most novel inclusion is tiny casting numbers, moulded onto individual sprues. The instructions suggest that you shave them off, and apply them to the mantlet, and other cast areas. Brilliant, it saves you coughing up for Slater’s Numbers!
The turret goes together with few dramas; I found there was a gap around where the sides met the rear of the turret. Nothing major, it only required a tiny amount of filler. The gun builds up out of 22 parts, and looks great when mounted in the turret. Again those annoying knockout marks appeared, this time on the turret rear, part E52, and this time they were deep. And there were 4 of them. Careful filling was needed here as the rear wall holds a lot of detail. Also, the main gun ready rounds were marred with ejector pin marks. These were also carefully filled. The gun barrel is a 6-piece affair, 2 for the tube, 2 for the muzzle and 2 for the counterweight. I think that the muzzle may be a little undersized, either that or every other 17-pounder kit I’ve ever seen is over size. Whichever.
Green Green or Green. Make up your own mind, as long as it’s Green! I used Tamiya khaki drab as my basecoat. It turned out with a purplish hue (must have been a bad batch) so I gave the kit a light over spray with olive drab. The decals went on nicely over the Tamiya matt paint, no gloss coat here! I dull coated the kit after applying the decals, then set about weathering the kit. I used the airbrush to mist a light dusty over spray on the kit, concentrating on the lower areas of the hull and running gear. I also used pastel chalks to give a nice dusty appearance.
Overall, this kit is a winner. It's beautifully detailed, and very comprehensive in what’s included in the box. Apart from those annoying ejector pin marks, it goes together quickly and easily.