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One of the miseries of having a love affair with US light tanks over the
years has been the fact that the only kits available –Tamiya's M3, M5A1, and M8,
and now the Academy M3 and M3A1 – all suffered from bad suspensions and other
detail failings. AFV Club solved the track problems about 18 months ago with
their excellent if tricky-to-assemble T16 and T36E3 track sets for these tanks.
Now, on the heels of their beautiful M3A3 kit, they have released the suspension
components as a separate kit.
This suspension fix should be the heart of any upgrade or change to the other
kits, as both lines have a number of failings. Tamiya's suspension is
essentially correct but comes with poor drivers, heavy details and a totally
wrong idler mount; Academy's changed the angles of the bogies to fix ride height
and messed up the proportions, as well as skimped on the details.
Each bogie now consists of eight neatly detailed parts, with a choice of either
the early "spoke" wheels or the later "covered" wheels. The idlers now boast
nine parts each, with a separate spring assembly and axle for the idler itself.
The drive wheels have vinyl caps inside so unlike their Tamiya equivalents, they
rotate, which makes fitting single-link track sets much easier. Separate
fittings come in the kit to allow the new set to fit on either Tamiya or Academy
hulls, which is a great thing for the modeler and shows that AFV Club was alert
on this one.
Parts are also included on the sprues to upgrade the details on the other kits,
such as separate viewers, the grenade launcher Enfield rifle stocks for
Commonwealth vehicles, a new hull bow and a new stern plate with separate doors.
Overall this kit is one of the biggest bargains going, and barring anything
better coming out, I would not be surprised if it won Best New Plastic Accessory
Kit at AMPS 2004.
Review Copyright © 2003 by Cookie
Page Created 20 April, 2003
Last updated 24 August, 2003
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