US Howitzer Motor Carriage M8

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Company: Tamiya - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Tamiya America - Website: Visit Site
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First released in 1974, the Tamiya M8 Howitzer Motor Carriage still holds up reasonably well to more modern offerings by this company, as well as some of the new folks on the block. This is one of several 1/35 scale kits that Tamiya has decided to re-release this year, and I for one certainly enjoy having another opportunity to build some of the kits that I missed out on back when they were originally released, as I had not yet picked up the armor modeling bug. A few years ago, I recall seeing a photograph of an M8 built by another modeler, and I started a search that took me a little over a year to fulfill in finding one of the original kits. That one is still on a shelf (along with a Verlinden update set), but this was a great opportunity to build what is a very well designed kit, even by today’s standards.

Let me begin with some history of the real vehicle, as some may not be familiar with this particular item. The M8, also known as the “Scott” was designed based upon the chassis of the M5 Stuart light tank, and mounting an M2 75 mm howitzer. Testing of the prototype began in the spring of 1942, and production began in September at the Cadillac Division of General Motors, and when production ended in January of 1944, some 1778 M8’s were delivered. The M8 carried 46 rounds of 75 mm ammunition which could include High Explosive, High Explosive Anti-Tank, and Smoke rounds. A .50 caliber machine gun was also mounted on a turret ring for close-in needs as well as anti-aircraft defense. The 34,600 pound Scott could travel at speeds of up to 36 mph, and could move approximately 100 miles on 89 gallons of gas.

I have heard that there were some issues with the dimension of the kit based upon the fact that this kit was originally designed to be motorized (as Tamiya kits typically were at the time that this was released). I have found conflicting information on the measurements of this vehicle which either has Tamiya engineers doing a very good job back in 1974, or the kit is about two feet short in length, and one and half feet short in height. The internet can be a wonderful thing at times, and at others a little frustrating with conflicting information.

Upon opening the box, the builder will find the same three sprues originally released by Tamiya, two “rubber band” style tracks, a single sheet tri-fold instruction sheet, decals for three vehicles, and two new sprues. One of the new sets of parts includes two new figures that are designed for posing in the turret, and the second is the sprue released in 1996 as the US Infantry Equipment Set. The new figures require the use of two of the helmets from the equipment set in order to finish them, but this leaves the builder plenty of additional items for this or other projects.

The plastic is molded in an olive drab color, and even though this is an older kit, there was minimal flash to clean up from the parts. As with other Tamiya kits that I have built, the model all but falls together right out of the box. My only fit issue was with the drive shaft arts A26 and 27, as their fit to the lower hull required some filler to close up the gaps. Aside from this, everything went together with just a little seam line clean-up, and no additional filler was utilized.

The decals for this release are on a single small sheet, and they are the typical Tamiya decals, which are thicker than what some companies produce, but the white is opaque, and they settle down easily with Micro Sol. I applied mine over areas that I pre-coated with Micro Gloss, and I later used Micro Flat to get my final finish. The markings are for vehicles that served on the European front, and there are also decals for a vehicle that is at Aberdeen.

I elected to build the M8 that was shown first on the directions as I wanted to use the circled stars on my howitzer motor carriage. Painting is not particularly difficult as the Scott was nearly all olive drab. The figures all went together without issue, and I think that the new ones do look a little better in their level of detail than does the original figure in the kit.

The hits of this particular kit in my opinion are the fact that I have not seen an M8 produced by any other company, so it is a one-off, and the detail in the molding includes weld seams for some of the pieces. Grab handles are all individually molded parts, and being plastic, are more three dimensional than their photo-etched counterparts. Ease of assembly is another big hit with me, and I highly recommend taking on an easier kit from time to time, just to keep the hobby “fun” as it is meant to be.

My misses for this kit are minimal as I only had one fit issue during construction (the previously mentioned drive shaft parts mating with the lower hull). Some may consider the openings in the bottom of the lower hull and “on” and “off” markings an issue, but I left them alone for this build for the nostalgia. The holes could easily be filled in with some sheet styrene and putty, and the letters could be scraped off and sanded. I did have one decal break on me (on the rear deck), but as this goes over several raised items in the area, I may have self-induced the damage when pushing on the decal with a Q-tip to remove the excess water and Micro Set. The other potential miss would be the overall dimensions of the built up vehicle, depending on which source is correct on the measurements of the real thing.

To finish the Scott I used Model Master Acryl paint for the Olive Drab, I used Aircraft Interior Black for the seats, and Metalizer Gun Metal for the machine gun. I used Vallejo paints for the rubber road wheels, tracks, and all of the figure clothing colors, and Andrea’s Flesh Paint set for the heads and hands. I applied a final coat of Microscale Micro Flat as I mentioned previously for the ending overall finish.

Overall, I would highly recommend this kit to anyone wanting to add an M8 Scott to their 1/35 scale collection of armor. The kit is a pleasure to build right out of the box, and made for a nice break after some of the more challenging kits that I have recently tackled. Aside from a few small parts, this kit can be built by folks in the junior’s category, and as aforementioned, can be a nice break from the challenge afforded by some of the newer kits.

My thanks to the folks at Tamiya USA for allowing the IPMS-USA to review this kit, to John Noack for allowing me to perform this assessment, and to you for taking the time to read it.

As I was finishing my review, the recent event of the major earthquake and subsequent tsunami were striking in Japan where Tamiya is based. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the folks in that country during this time, especially for my fellow nuclear plant workers, and the challenges that they are facing.


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