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M3 Stuart "Honey"

 

Academy

 

S u m m a r y

Stock No. Academy 1/35 scale Kit No. 1399; M3 Stuart "Honey"
Contents and Media: 703 parts (276 tan styrene, 424 steel colored styrene, 2 steel colored vinyl, 1 nylon string )
Price: USD$22.50 - $28.00
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Accurate tracks; useful extras including very accurate .30 cal; interior parts will be handy for an M3A1
Disadvantages: Dimensionally inaccurate; incorrect interior (for M3A1); roadwheels and idler wheels not as good as old Tamiya parts: some interior and exterior surfaces should be better detailed.
Recommendation: I will buy and build many of these kits but Caveat Emptor! (Buyer beware)

 

Reviewed by Paul Roberts


Academy's 1/35 scale M3 Stuart "Honey" is available online from Squadron.com

 

F i r s t   L o o k

 

Well, I just picked up my Stuart yesterday and, I must say, I am not happy.

Before I get to my issues, I will say that I will both buy and build many of these puppies, but:

  1. The turret is still too small!!! By almost .100" if Hunnicutt is to be believed. Exactly like the old kit.

  2. The hull is also about 1/8" too small. Exactly like the old kit.

  3. I would bet dollars to doughnuts that a lot of this kit was pantographed from the Tamiya kit including the upper hull, lower hull and most of the suspension parts less the road and idler wheels.

    Certainly there have been improvements, but there are several features that are significantly less detailed yet are laid out exactly like the Tamiya kit (to the point where I can substitute them if I wish). Also there are several that make no sense if you have the interior detailed, like the "through-the-hull" main suspension components. This is going to leave a mark on the inside that just has to be cleaned up and you would not do it that way if you were planning a kit with an interior entirely from scratch. I have taken out my Tamiya M3 and this one along with my trusty dial callipers and the basic hull components are essentially the same. Same width, same length, same turret diameter and same assembly features (initially set out on the Tamiya M3 so you could access the batteries via a snap close joint).

    The Tamiya lower hull fits exactly on the Academy upper hull and, except for the sponson floors and walls interfering, vice versa. The Tamiya turret fits on the Academy hull and vice versa. In my opinion, this is not a new kit.

  4. As pointed out the interior is for an M3A1 (I'll take it as a great place to start building a proper M3, but _really_)! The gun has the later M23 mount. The proper M22 mount with Gun M5 should have the shoulder elevation crutch on the gunners side (left).

  5. The spoked road wheels on the old Tamiya kit are actually nicer, if narrower, than the new ones, I'll be subbing them as long as my stock survives.

  6. The spoked idler is also significantly less detailed than the old idler, even if the rim has been beefed up a bit. The new mounting is nicer, though.

  7. Even though they introduced a slide in the mould to have the sponson side plate integral to the rest of the upper hull, they did not do this with the rear area of the engine compartment, whose flat walls will need a pile of rivets. Exactly like the old kit.

  8. The blanking plates supplied for the sponson MGs have rivets, which I have not seen anywhere else. Everything I can find always shows them welded.

  9. There is a lot of visible interior surfaces that could have used some detailing given the level of detail of the rest of the kit (hinges, brackets, viewports and the like), but these things are relatively easy to scratchbuild.


I hate to sound like I'm slagging a very welcome kit, but there are a lot of things wrong with the old Tamiya M3 and this kit just hasn't fixed many of them due to the "on-the-cheap" tooling decision they made. My stack of proper sized M3 and M3A1 turrets will be put to use after all.

Darn it!

On the good side, the extras are very welcome. The interior will make a pretty nice M3A1 and will help with an M3A3. The weapons sprue is a joy with lots of goodies to go into the spares bin and pretty much
everything I saw of the "Honey" parts were pretty good, given the inevitable moulding draft. The .30 cal tripod is exquisite. The .30 cal ammo tins are as accurate as possible with injection moulding and the .50 cal ammo box in the AA mount is also really nice.

The rubber band tracks are finally right (I may update some of my stock of finished M3s with them) and the separate link tracks should go together as nicely as the AFV Club ones.

For the desert Honey, just about the only things you might want to add would be a sun compass on the roof and, perhaps, replace the moulded-on bars of the "Sunshade" supports with pieces of fine tubing.

Caveat Emptor!


Review Copyright 2002 by Paul Roberts
Page Created 17 August, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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