M4 18T Tractor Cargo

Income Toy and Hobby Kit

Catalogue No.: TK9003
Scale: 1/35
Media: Styrene
Review Type: In-Box
Rating: Recommended with Reservations

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

S u m m a r y

Contents: 85 parts (78 in olive drab stryrene, two in olive drab vinyl, two in silver vinyl, one in clear acetate, two steel axles)
Price: Prices vary from $13 to $22, depending on source
Advantages: Only kit of this vehicle in this scale
Disadvantages: "Same Stuff Different Day"; sort of resembles subject
Recommendation: For masochists and die-hard fans of this vehicle and artillery only


F i r s t L o o k

Okay, before I go any farther, and since this kit is an AKC registered dog, let's first discuss its pedigree. This is the old Nitto M4 18-Ton High Speed Tractor kit which is over 25 years old, and was originally done as a pantographed copy of the 1/40 scale Revell kit from the mid 1950s. The molds have traveled for several years now, having been done by Revell, Nitto again, Blue Tank, and now Income, which is a Chinese company marketed by a Canadian importer. During the course of its travels, the kit has lost its motorization equipment and motor, but retains the battery box and slots. It also had its original rubber-band tracks replaced by a set of very curious ones, which are nearly the same as those Blue Tank included with the LVT(A)-4 kit. These are center guide tracks with Diehl-style pads, which relate to nothing I can find anywhere on this subject.

For comparison with the actual vehicle, the original T9 series medium tracked prime mover was designed to use a number of parts from the M3 and M4 series tanks for convenience and minimizing special needs. The drivers, idlers, and tracks were all standard medium tank components, with the three-bar steel T49 track being the most common used during WWII. A new 32 inch trailing idler, similar to the 28 inch design used by the M3 and M5 light tanks, was used instead of the Sherman idlers, and what appears to have been paired M3/M5 return rollers were used on a special articulated carrier, with two per side.

The gigantic (817 ci) Waukesha straight six-cylinder engine was mounted to the left side of the vehicle behind the crew compartment, and had the radiator mounted just above the fuel tank to the right. Both sides of the engine compartment had open mesh grille doors to assist in cooling. Seats consisted of leather covered back pads and individual canvas cushions (each containing a standard US Army blanket as padding) with seat belts at each station: the driver plus two in the front, four amidships facing rearward, and four at the back facing forward.

Accessories (all mounted on the roof) consisted of an M49 ring mount with .50 M2HB machine gun, pioneer tools, spare tracks, and a swing crane for use in loading and off-loading ammunition. The ammunition stored in the rear of the vehicle, with a box that was 3" longer used for 155mm and 8" rounds.

Dimensional data for the original and the model are presented below:

Measurement Original Original in mm Model
Length 203"/206" 147.3/149.5* 147.3
Width 97" 70.4 70.4
Height** 99" 71.8 71.8
Rear Idler Diameter 32" 23.2 21.2
Rear Idler Width 9" 6.5 3.1 (x 2 halves)

* former is Class A, used with 3" or 90mm AA guns, and latter is Class B, used with 155mm guns or 8" howitzers
** To the top of the M49 hip ring

A few other checks show that the hull and its major components are actually in 1/35 scale, so the next problem for anyone who wants to really built this beast is how to fix it. To do it right, you will need to get a set of Italeri Sherman components, particularly the road wheels and the "lace" type drive wheels. The best suggestion for the rear wheels is to cut off all bits, cement the halves tight together, and wrap them with a 6mm strip of .025" styrene to get the diameter close to scale. The return rollers also need trailing arms projecting from the hull in place of the current arrangement; boss for mounting the trailing arm is approximately where the raised boss is on the centre top of the bogie, not the flat mounting boss with hole which is too far to the rear. Suspension bogies could also use a scratchbuilt HVSS spring between the top of the arms rather than the flat object which comes there. This can be replicated by cleaning out the center part and adding a section of tubing with end caps. They are approximately the size of the Sherman E8 HVSS springs, but shorter.

Since the tracks are totally bogus, you will also need to get a set of either T48 (rubber chevron), T49 (three-bar steel), or T54E1 (US pattern steel chevron) tracks. While the T51 smooth rubber pad tracks fit, they generally weren't used due to the fact that this was a towing vehicle which needed the traction. The engine will have to be added which means removing the center panels and replacing them with what appears to be common house screening. If you want the vehicle to be a 155mm or 8" prime mover, the rear box will have to be extended 3" with the fenders attached as well.

All of the detail – such as it is – will have to be removed from the top of the vehicle, and the switch holes filled and sanded smooth. The kit simply sticks a tool box across the switch opening, but from what I have seen so far this is where the swing crane stores when not in use. The tool box to the left side of the hip ring appears to need to be removed (I can't find any photos of an M4 with two of them, only the right side one). The gizmo at the rear right of the upper deck just before the canvas section is the air cleaner intake, and should remain where it is!

The model needs a complete interior constructed for it. The instrument panel goes in the center of the dash below the windows, and the controls go on the left – standard vehicle laterals, shifter, transfer case lever, winch lever, clutch, brake, and accelerator pedal. The vehicle will also need new lights, and the turn signal/blackout lights and the night driving light replaced from the spares box. The night driving light (left side lower) is actually inlet into the front panel much farther than the kit provides.

The figures are all pretty much direct copies of the Revell 1/40 crew and are best tossed, as are the decals.

All in all, it will take a great deal of work to make an acceptable model out of this kit. The only reason that I have rated it as "Recommended with Reservations" is the fact that its shapes are essentially correct, and that it can be turned into a scale model with mostly cut-and-paste fixes. It is actually a good first project, as there are no curves anywhere in this vehicle of note, and all of the changes have to take place on flat surfaces.

Review Copyright 1998 by Cookie Sewell
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Page Created 22 December, 1998
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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