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Tamiya - 1/35 U.S. Tank Destroyer M10 Mid Production

Kit Number:
35350
Scale:
1:35
Published:
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Manufacturer:
Tamiya
Retail Price:
US $30.00
Reviewed By:
Christopher Johnson

U.S. Tank Destroyer

M10

Mid Production

3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M10 - A Brief Overview

An analysis of the tactics employed by the German Wehrmacht during the fall of France led the U.S. Army to the realization that it was ill-prepared to defend against a similar attack. The prevalent thinking at that time was that it was the mass employment of tanks which had led to the overwhelming German victory. The U.S. armored division was primarily intended for offence and exploitation, where tanks were not envisioned to be employed in fighting opposing tanks. Doctrine was therefore developed where defending against tanks was to be taken on by purpose built, fully tracked tank destroyers equipping anti-tank battalions. The importance placed on these anti-tank battalions was such that they were placed directly under GHQ control. They operated with an aggressive doctrine where it was envisioned that they would move rapidly forward to meet and engage an anticipated breakthrough of tanks. As the war developed, field experience would eventually prove that this doctrine was flawed in that it failed to appreciate that the early German successes were largely due to an employment of a combined arms approach, and not through a mass of tanks acting on their own.

The opening rounds in the war in Europe demonstrated that the standard U.S. 37 mm gun was obsolete, so the Army began experimenting with a 3-inch gun initially mounted in the M3 Medium tank. In April 1942, work began on the T35 3-inch GMC (Gun Motor Carriage). Compared to the M4 Medium, it would be lighter, have more firepower, and cost less to produce. The design was standardized in June 1942 as the 3-inch Gun Motor Carriage M10. Production ran from September 1942 until December 1943 with 4,993 manufactured in total, making the M10 the most widely used tank destroyer in U.S. service.

Experience gained in the field soon illustrated the shortcomings of the M10, and open topped tank destroyers in general. While the M10 was valued for its direct fire capabilities in an infantry support role, the lack of overhead protection left the crew exposed to sniping and infantry attacks when employed too far forward, or in urban environments. In addition, although the hull and turret were constructed of well sloped armor plate, the overall level of protection was still considered to be insufficient. From a tactical viewpoint, when the anticipated mass onslaught of German tanks failed to materialize, there was a tendency to feed tank destroyers into battle in a piecemeal fashion, often using them in place of tanks, which was contrary to their doctrine.

Despite its shortcomings, the M10 provided valuable service throughout the Second World War in the U.S. Army as well as in service with many other Allied nations such as Great Britain, Poland, South Africa, France, and Canada.

The M10 Model Pedigree

Tamiya first issued a 1/35 model kit of the M10 in 1973, but it was more properly an M10A1, and the overall level of detail was as one would expect for the period. Academy cloned this kit in 1986 but in 1999, they issued completely new kits of the M10 series with the addition of basic driver and co-driver compartments. AFV Club also released a series of M10 kits in that year and both companies included the mid-production version most easily identified by its wedge shaped turret counter-weights. Accuracy issues, in particular regard to the turret shape, has remained problematic for many modellers. With this new release though, Tamiya's mid-production turret appears to be the most accurate to date.

What's In The Box?

The contents are individually packed in plastic bags in the roughly 14" x 8" x 3" box and break down as follows. 

6 x sprues (one being very small) molded in olive coloured styrene plus the upper hull

1 x small clear plastic sprue

2 x standard Tamiya individual track run, gluable with styrene cement

1 x decal sheet

12 page instruction booklet utilizing exploded line drawings

Multi-lingual potted historical background

Note: there is no photo-etch fret included in the kit.

The Sprues

Sprue 'A'  (x2)

Sprue 'B'

Sprue 'C'

Sprue 'D' 

Sprue 'E'

Sprue 'F'

Sprue 'N' 

T51 Rubber Block Tracks

Decal Sheet 

Nylon String for Tow Cables

Large and Small Poly Caps

 

Instructions

The black and white 12 page, 33 step instruction booklet is of typical Tamiya quality with its excellent exploded line drawings, color callouts where necessary, and useful assembly tips. There is nothing left to chance here, nor pitfalls along the way. I'm of the opinion that no modelling company does instructions better than Tamiya and this set bears that out yet again.

Construction Begins

Now I'll admit that it's been a number of years since I've built a Tamiya kit so something new to me is the breakdown of the lower hull. I'm used to seeing a lower hull tub in their older kits but this one is broken down into its component parts. As would be expected with Tamiya, it all fits together perfectly but just to be on the safe side, I included the differential cover and rear panel when gluing it all together to ensure that everything was straight and true. The differential cover bears some nicely executed casting texture but while the kit includes a fighting compartment floor, there is no driver or co-driver compartment features.

The road wheels and idler wheels are the solid stamped type with embossed spokes and they include representations of relief valves and grease plugs.

The suspension units are well detailed, but there's room for improvement should the modeller decide to go that route. They incorporate straight trailing return roller brackets and the most common suspension arms, but some modellers will be disappointed to learn that there is no provision for the arms to articulate. The track skids are the final production type but they're missing the cap screw heads where they fasten to the suspension units. On the other hand, the cap studs on the bottoms of the bogies have been included.

The four holes on the leading edges of the suspension units for mounting return roller brackets are missing and I chose to add them. There are some fine raised casting marks on the face of the bogey units which looks good after dry brushing.

The sprockets represent one of the types that were cut from steel plate. As might be expected, both the idlers and sprockets use the tried and true traditional Tamiya poly cap fastening system.

The tracks are the smooth rubber block type and they're flexible, single length runs that glue together with plastic cement. I encountered no difficulty gluing them together using Tamiya's extra thin cement and the seams are all but invisible. As the kit includes T51 grousers on racks on the hull sides, I think it's a safe bet to assume that the tracks represent the T51 rubber block type.

Having long got used to adding sponson floors to Tamiya's M4A3 kits in the distant past, I was pleased to see that they are included in this kit, and they fit perfectly. There is also a detailed firewall, toothed turret ring, and 3-inch ammunition storage tubes for the interior of the upper hull.

The driver and co-driver hatches can be posed open or closed. If open, Tamiya has included the M6 periscopes for the inside of the hatches. It would have been useful if a driver and co-driver figure had been included to block out the view of the empty interior through the open hatches but we're left to track them down on the aftermarket. My research indicates that periscope guards for the M4 Medium tank were authorized on July 22, 1943 and that the various factories were all installing them by the end of September. As M10 production began in September 1942 and was completed in December 1943, a mid-production M10 is not likely to have had them factory installed, but they could well have been back-fitted at some point. Searching through my references, I found a photo of a late production M10 with duck-bill turret counterweights without periscope guards, so I don't think Tamiya can be criticized for not having included them. The hatch handles are solid plastic which I shaved off and replaced with wire ones.

 

The plastic brush guards for the front and rear lights are typically too thick and don't include the headlight plug holders. If you prefer photoetch guards, you'll have to source them through the aftermarket as Tamiya haven't included a PE fret in this kit. The appliqué armor bosses are supplied as individual pieces and they're a bit fiddly to deal with as they're small and round but there are a considerable number of spares should you happen to lose one. The kit includes an SCR 610 antenna base, but no antenna. I added that from a piece of guitar string. As mentioned previously, the grousers are an accurate representation of the T51 type and are stagger mounted on the two grouser racks. The tow cable is supplied as a length of nylon string and it appears to be in scale and adequate for the job as it shows no fuzziness when painted.

The pioneer tools are all well detailed, but they only have rudimentary fasteners for mounting them on the hull. The engine grates are correct for an M4A2 engine deck but again, the solid plastic lifting handles would be better replaced with wire ones.The upper hull fits perfectly onto the chassis, tight enough that glue isn't really necessary.

Moving on to the turret, Steve Zaloga included an illustration of the correct configuration of the turret top opening in Osprey's Modelling US Army Tank Destroyers of World War II . I made a drawing based on the measurements and superimposed it on an image of the Tamiya turret. While this isn't a scientific comparison by any stretch of the imagination, from a layman's perspective, Tamiya have got it pretty darned close, and certainly the best of any manufacturer to date.

The turret interior has the basics including the panoramic artillery sight for indirect fire, ammunition stowage boxes, Thompson SMG, turret traverse wheel, 3-inch ready racks in the bustle, and six spare rounds.

 

The one downfall here is that with the absence of the driving compartment features, you can see this empty area when looking forward from the rear of the turret. Tamiya obviously designed the kit to be built with the turret crew in situ, as they completely block the view of the empty forward area.

 

The 3-inch M7 gun breech is quite well detailed and includes both elevation wheels, twin recoil guards, breech travel lock, sliding breech block, and the gunner's M70G telescopic sight. The 3-inch gun is mounted to the turret sides with poly caps, permitting elevation and depression, which is essential when it comes time to fit the gunner in position.

If you plan to include the turret crew, be sure to only mount five of the ready rounds in the racks, leaving the last one for the loader's hands. Also be sure to attach the crew seats in their stowed positions or else the figures won't have room to fit. Because of the turret's configuration, I found it easiest to complete the interior, paint it, and then assemble it around the 3-inch gun.

As with the engine grate and hatch handles, Tamiya moulded the exterior tie down points in solid plastic. I'm of the mind that they do this intentionally in their kits to enable decals to snuggle down over these details. I chose to replace these blobs with wire for an improved look.

 

The armored flap for the gunner's telescopic sight can be positioned open or closed and the 3-inch gun barrel is moulded in one piece which makes cleanup a breeze. All of the foul weather braces are included as separate parts and can be fixed in either stowed or elevated positions. Elevated, if you choose to add a custom made foul weather tarpaulin. Also included in the kit for the turret is a basic Browning heavy MG. The wedge shaped turret counter-weights are the most discernible feature of a mid-production M10 and they're very well done and keyed to fit the turret walls.

The three turret crew figures are quite well done with the various parts having positive location keys. I added straps made from Tamiya masking tape to complete the goggles. The gunner is the most difficult figure to get into position but with some perseverance, accompanied by depressing and elevating the 3-inch gun, he does fit!

 

As mentioned above, the turret crew completely block the view of the empty driver/co-driver compartment. 

Tamiya only provide two rather stark white marking schemes, the 634th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division at Aachen, Germany, October, 1944 and the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Southern France, August, 1944. We can only hope that the aftermarket decal producers step into the void and issue some more colorful marking schemes from other user nations. The decals are typically a bit thick as is Tamiya's custom, but they don't tear easily. That's helpful as it takes some pushing and prodding to get the stars positioned properly around the appliqué armor bosses.

 

My M10 was first base painted with Tamiya Flat Black, followed by a color modulation process involving successive applications of Tamiya's Olive Drab gradually lightened with Deck Tan. After detail painting with a combination of Tamiya and Vallejo paints, a Vallejo gloss coat was applied, followed by the 634th TD Battalion decals. A Vallejo matte coat was applied over the decals and then various oil based filters and washes were added. After dry brushing with enamels, the final step was add some black pigment to the exhaust deflector. All of the figures were painted with Vallejo and Tamiya acrylics.

Conclusion

Tamiya's engineering is second to none and this kit was a pure pleasure to assemble. The level of detail, with one notable exception, is more than adequate and the kit will appeal to both novice and experienced builders. Right out of the box, the kit builds into an excellent representation of a mid-production M10 but it also provides scope for the more advanced modeller to super detail to their heart's desire. Tamiya always seems to pick a good balance in their kit designs and this M10 continues in that vein. I've read on another modelling forum that the turret measurements suffer from some 1-2 mm inaccuracies here and there, but to my eye, it looks pretty darned accurate. However, as this is an open topped AFV, the exclusion of basic driver and co-driver detail is the one aspect of the kit that is disappointing. This empty forward area, although somewhat in shadow, is partially visible through the open turret top if the turret crew is not included in the model. No doubt, this was a calculated decision by Tamiya's designers but I can't help feeling that they dropped the ball in this regard. Still, I would not hesitate to heartily recommend this kit. I hope that they follow up with a late production 'duckbill' and 17-pdr 'Achilles' conversion.

Recommendation: