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In-Box Review
135
M3 Corrected Upper & Lower Hull

by: Jim Lewis [ GUNTRUCK ]

FIRST LOOK REVIEW

In the Kit

Fourteen grey all-resin parts make up this kit, and no instructions are provided. If you’re familiar with the M3 Stuart, you won’t have any problems figuring out the parts provided in the kit and how they’re employed on the model.

The Upper and Lower Hull halves are cast in one piece and are not bagged like the smaller parts. In my example, both halves of the Hull were warped and one of the delicate Fender Fillets at the nose of the Upper Hull were damaged. A quick e-mail query to TMD for a remedy to the warping garnered an answer from Jeff Bakanovic within a half-hour – great response time!

I was able to use the hot-water immersion technique to solve the warping problem. This is really easy to do; first step I took was to fill a suitable pot (4-Quart in my case) with water. It must be large enough for you to dip the entire resin part into. Placing the pot of water on the stove, I gently heated it until it reached a temperature of 107 degrees F – not too hot as to scald you – but hot enough to soften the resin.

I grabbed a set of tongs and held each Hull half at the pour gates – dipping them into the hot water for a couple of seconds - only. Take care – you don’t need to leave the parts in the water very long at all. I removed them from the water and tested their pliability with my fingers, gently. You’ll find that they’re quite soft and easy to work back into alignment. I set them aside on the countertop to cool down. If you still want to make adjustments – repeat the process.

If you totally botch this technique and ruin your parts – get in touch with TMD – they’re there to help you out! They offer to replace these parts you attempt to fix yourself and strive to give you the best product they can.

All TMD’s parts are fully detailed on front and backsides. The detail is scale, crisp, sharply rendered - and matches the details present on the Academy and AFV Club parts they're meant to mesh with. They call for precious little cleanup and none of mine called for filling of air bubbles. The parts are easily removed from their pour gates - and TMD's pour gates are not excessively large. The real M3 Stuart is chock-full of rivets and bolts of various sizes. All of them are present and even small items like drainage access plates are included on the underside of the Lower Hull pan and the interior of the Fighting Compartment is complete with panel/rivet detail as well. The Transmission Cover’s shape is done correctly and cast texture is subtly rendered as well. The Upper Hull is detailed on the interior as well, and externally has cast-in tie-downs and casting numbers on the .30cal MG blister.

My kit example is one of TMD’s early production batches – in that they cast the Switch and Pedal details on the Driver’s side too far forward. This has been corrected in later production batches. I also purchased TMD’s M3 ‘Marines’ Interior set, and they include a replacement Switch and Pedal base for you – with a note concerning the production update. Another example of TMD’s commitment to providing the modeler both highly accurate kit parts and superior customer service.

Though no Engine or Engine Compartment detail is provided in this kit, TMD has produced parts allowing the modelers to add this detail for themselves. I will fully take advantage of the separate Engine Access Doors in my build-up of this wonderful kit. TMD provides an opened Engine Intake – just trim away the slight flashing, and unarmored Fuel Caps.

The Hatches are detailed front and back, with Protectoscopes in place. The Driver’s Hatch is split for fully opened display. Lastly, TMD provides two Sponson Fillers for the Upper Hull. There are no instructions included with the kit, but they are not needed since these are replacements for corresponding Academy items. The box top photo is illustrative enough. If you’re a fan of the M3 Stuart series of Light Tanks – you’ll know what goes where…

Conclusion

Coupled with Academy and AFV Club parts, the TMD M3 Stuart Corrected Upper & Lower Hull is an eye-catcher. It addresses long-standing detail, dimension and fixture problems common with previous 1:35th scale M3 Stuart model kits – while designing them to work with both Academy and AFV Club items. This has got to be a tough task and anyone could sit here and split millimeters, but this effort is very well done by the team at Tiger Model Designs.

This subject is popular amongst Allied AFV’s modelers, and incorporating it with an Academy model kit and AFV Club’s suspension set puts the project into an expensive arena. Fans of the Stuart will eagerly add this kit to their shopping carts – and others might think twice. To pass on this kit would be a shame as it is worth it’s asking price and makes jumping that hurdle towards modeling the M3 Stuart Light Tank a fun one. This kit is attractive because I do not anticipate any problems in mating Academy or AFV Club parts to the TMD set at all. If you’ve never took a close look at the bantam weight M3 Stuart before now, look again – TMD has done the subject justice.

I highly recommend TMD’s set for all skill level modelers. I purchased this review sample from Tiger Model Designs.
SUMMARY
Tiger Model Designs (TMD) has produced an all-resin replacement set to address the dimensional shortcomings of the Academy M3 Stuart Light Tank (#1399). This set accepts AFV Club’s M3A3 Stuart Light Tank (#35056) suspension components – but are not provided in this set. This set can also accept TMD’s extensive M3 ‘Marines’ Interior Set (#35-24108), making for one seriously detailed 1:35th scale M3 Stuart miniature.
  PACKAGING/SHIPPING:90%
  CASTING QUALITY/DETAIL:90%
  WARPING/AIR BUBBLES:80%
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 353101
  Suggested Retail: 27.50 USD
  Related Link: Tiger Model Designs Website
  PUBLISHED: Jun 10, 2005
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 89.45%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.50%

About Jim Lewis (GunTruck)
FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

I love American AFV's from all eras and researching Vietnam-era Gun Trucks and US Army Pentomic and Atomic Battlefield Ordnance from the 1950's through the 1960's. Avid Sci-Fi fan and modeler as well - Star Wars, Space:1999, and Star Trek are favorites. Owner/Master Miniaturist - GunTruck Studios....

Copyright ©2017 text by Jim Lewis [ GUNTRUCK ]. All rights reserved.


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Photos
Click image to enlarge
  • TMD353101picA
    Box Top Photo
  • TMD353101picB
    Casting flash is very easy to remove with a sharp X-Acto Knife
  • TMD353101picC
    Minor damage during shipping - but easily repaired
  • TMD353101picD
    Underneath the Upper Hull - fine detailing
  • TMD353101picE
    Lower Hull Pan showing detail to be removed/relocated
  • TMD353101picF
    Lower Hull - Interior Detailing
  • TMD353101picG
    Underside of Lower Hull Pan
  • TMD353101picH
    The rest of the parts included in TMD #353101