Academy- USSR M10 "Lend Lease"- First Look
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about this one. If I could define my building preferences in a cliché phrase, it would be that I like the "out of the ordinary". When I get a new kit, I always look over the schemes and try to choose one not on the cover or one that I have seen others do if I can help it. Sometimes it's the more challenging paint schemes, or some markings that stand out to me as oddball. In the case of this kit, it's the fact that I can build an M10 that's not in a US Army scheme...not that there's anything wrong with that- I just enjoy stepping out of the norm. Of course, the addition of the Master Box figures didn't hurt!
As they first encountered Soviet KV-1s and T-34s, the German Army immediately set out to devise a counter to help punch through the opposition and bolster their offense with the Panzer IV and the tank hunting StuG III. This move in turn motivated the U.S. Army Corps to develop an effective tank hunter of their own. Up until that happened, they relied on the shortcomings of half-track mounted 75mm guns on the TM12 GMCs and 37mm on the M6 GMC. Eventually, the evolution led to an M3 and then later M4 chassis and to a prototype 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage T35 that was given a standard 3-inch (76.2 mm) M7 gun and a circular open-top turret that was already produced for the early production M4A1. The second prototype, T35E1, used the M4A2 chassis and a newly designed pentagonal turret with flat, sloped sides, and inverted rear slope. This prototype was further refined and ended as the 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M10, which helped it towards production in mid-1942. The M3 gun fired M79 AP shots that could penetrate 3 inches (76 mm) of 30° sloped armor at 1,000 yards (915 m). The Armor Piercing Capped Ballistic Cap (APCBC) M62 was introduced later, as well as the High Velocity Armor Piercing (HVAP) M93 shot and Armor Piercing High Explosive (APHE) shells. The vehicle could carry 54 rounds and a crew of four- the driver, commander, gunner, and loader.
In U.S. service in early 1943 in Tunisia, the tank killer proved a worthy adversary to the Panzer IV. It was fast and able to maneuver around enemy tanks effectively. Crews loved it, despite the fact that the open top turret left them exposed to shrapnel and grenades in urban and forested environments. It did offer better overall visibility, better communication with infantry outside, and a quicker escape in perilous situations compared to buttoned up tanks.
In the USSR, only around 52 M10s were sent as lend-lease tanks. There is not a lot of information on their service on the Eastern Front, but I was able to find this information on The Miniatures Page:
"AFV News Volume 45, Number 1 (January – April 2010) featured an article by Karl Brandel on the M10 tank destroyer in Soviet service, an excerpt from his upcoming book 'Under a Different Star' covering U.S., British, and Canadian Lend-Lease armor in service with the Red Army 1941-45. The article contains material originally written in 1982 by Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Ivanovich Finyutin, who served with the 1239th Separate Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment, one of only 2 regiments equipped with Lend Lease M10's. Some of the article deals with his unit's actions during the fighting for Sukhachyov.
In the article, Finyutin speaks glowingly of the M10's firepower, excellent optics, and easy turret traverse. He does complain about the open-topped turret and compares the M10's mobility and armor unfavorably with the T-34, although it was certainly no worse than the SU-76. He also praises the usefulness of the .50-cal heavy machinegun, which he specifically mentions as being mounted atop the turret counterweights. By the time that Finyutin got his medal, the 1239th SP Regiment had become the 387th Guards SP Regiment. Finyutin was a driver of one the the M10's in his unit. The vehicle commander was Lt. Nikolay Krasnoc, gunner Volodya Petrov, loader Mikhail Stolyarov, and radio operator was Sasha Belov.
It appears the Finyutin and his fellows became Heroes of the Soviet Union following an action in which they engaged and knocked out a column of 6 Panthers in dense fog. They did so by simply tacking themselves onto the tail end of the column and pretending to be just another Panther until the German tanks began to turn and swing off the road to deploy, at which point Sgt. Petrov was allowed to commence firing, hitting all 6 in the side armor in rapid succession in the ensuing utter confusion and chaos. "
The only known photo of a Russian M10 in action in 1944,
belonging to the 1223rd Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment, 29th Tank Corps, 5th Guards Tank Army, 3rd Belorussian Front.
Starting with the instructions- we find they are broken up into three "manuals". The first manual covers construction through step 19- which is basically construction and installation of the road wheels and VVSS suspension, and most of the hull interior and exterior surfaces. Manual 2 sees all of the addition of the fiddly bits to the hull, including the tools and tracks. Turret and gun assemblies round out the steps and the last page is the parts map- which shows up the kit contents:
- 10 sprue trees molded in dark green
- Lower and Upper Hull halves in dark green
- 1 sprue for the Master Box crew of 5 (?) molded in light grey plastic
- Set of rubber band tracks
- Small fret of photo-etch parts
- Small decal sheet
Manual 3 specifically focuses on the construction and painting of the figures on one side and the painting of the M10 on the other. There are no real dedicated instructions for the decal placement as Academy leaves their placement to the builder's discretion. Now on to the sprues up close....
Sprue A (x2)-- comprises all the parts for the suspension, and idler, sprocket, and road wheels.
Sprue B consists of the driver's area floor and sidewalls, seats, transmission, and transmission cover.
Sprue C consists of most of the rest of the interior details including floor, sidewalls, ammo racks, and small bits.
Sprue D contains tools, cable hooks, stowage, and machine gun parts, brackets, and ammo cans.
Sprue F is all about the gun- from breech all the way to the two piece barrel and flame dampener, ammo, seats, and the turret sides. I've included another shot of the excellent seat detail.
Sprue G has additional armor plates for the hull, turret bottom, transmission cover top strip, and the like. One of the armor plates has shallow impressions to use to align the tools to. I am not sure how I feel about this until I see how visible they are when the tools are attached. Sprue J is also attached to this sprue and include added bolt heads to add to the hull front and turret.
Sprue g looks to be for the details and structure of the machine gun for the rear of the turret. It looks very similar to one they had in their M1151 Humvee kit- but nonetheless there is some great detail here.
Sprue H contains parts for additional details- jerry cans, canteens, spare track pieces and road wheels, etc.
Sprue M builds up the many ammo tubes for the interior.
The rest of the kits contents include the decal sheet for optional markings, rubber band tracks, and a small PE fret for light guards. My camera did a horrible job with the decals so I included another shot of the markings guide to show them off better.
Upper and Lower Hulls
Master Box Figures and Instructions
I am really looking forward to diving into this one. As of late, I have been full into building Takom and Meng kits, but Academy has really stepped up their game. Detail seems very crisp and if there are any sink marks or flash, nothing has jumped out at me as of yet. The addition of the Master Box figures bring the challenge level up- but I look forward to their inclusion into the build. I have used Tanks-Encyclopedia as a resource for this review and will use Steve Zaloga's excellent M10 and M36 Tank Destroyers 1942-53 from Osprey as a reference for the build.
This kit is Highly Recommended- pending the full build.
My thanks for the review copy goes to MRC
Reviewed by Michael Reeves, AMPS Albany