Academy 1/35 M3 Grant Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2010||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Kit Number||13228||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Still the best M3 on the market in 1/35 scale; figures added to this release||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$54.00|
The M3 medium tank was a pre-World War 2 design used by the United States Army as the backbone of its early armor corps. When the war broke out in Europe, the US provided the British Army with the M3 which the British named the 'General Lee'. These initial tanks were an interim solution until the M3 could be produced to British specifications and these updated tanks were named 'General Grant'.
Despite reservations within the British Army over the tall stature of the Grant/Lee tank, the tank was a major contributor to the defeat of the Afrika Korps as the tank was better armed and better protected than the British tanks available at the time as well as the German tanks depoyed in the desert.
The M3 chassis would later be used in a variety of roles, not the least of which was the basis of the M7 Priest, while the M3 was replaced by the M4 Sherman. You can see the heritage of the early Sherman in the lower chassis of the Grant/Lee. Over 6,000 M3 medium tanks were produced with over 2,800 serving with the British Army and over 1,300 with the Soviet Army.
In Soviet service, the M3 wasn't as effective against the heavier armor of the German panzer divisions and the tank was evidently nicknamed the 'grave for seven brothers' before it was withdrawn to low-threat service.
Academy has re-released their 1/35 M3 Grant kit and have done one update over its original release. Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on nine parts trees, plus a separately molded lower hull and vinyl track. One of the nine trees is a MiniArt sprue with five figures from their 'British Tank Crew' release. This are set up nicely to work with this kit.
For an in-depth look at the kit's features and its few minor glitches, read Cookie Sewell's original review here. Aside from the change of styrene color and the addition of the MiniArt figures, the kit is identical to the original release, including the 'Atlanta II' decals from that first release.
Despite the minor issues brought up by Cooke in his review, this kit remains the best M3 Grant kit in 1/35 scale and still features a nearly complete interior. The only thing missing is the engine compartment and I'm sure you can get one out of the aftermarket should you want to tackle that detail. Nevertheless, with crew figures you'll need to have the hatches open and the great news here is that there is an interior to view through those open hatches. Nice job Academy!
One detail that has been corrected since its original release is the size of the roadwheel bogies. I am told that in this release, Academy has provided revised bogies that correct the original size issue brought up by Cookie in his original review. Thanks to Marcel Drgon for providing that update!
As with nearly every other tank project, construction begins with the lower hull and suspension. The VSS suspension is nicely done and you'll notice the abundance of wheels and sprockets provided. You'll have lots of spares as this kit uses only one of the three different road wheel styles provided.
The interior is next and the driver straddles the transmission. The driver's station is nicely captured along with the transmission block and drive shaft.
The interior goes into the lower hull along with storage boxes and radio gear. The rear hull plate and transmission cover are also installed along with the associated details that mount on either end.
The rear bulkhead that divides the crew compartment and the engine compartment goes in next and it has some nice detailing including ammo storage for the 75mm gun. This is followed by assembly of the upper hull and look at all of those bolts and rivets!
Before the upper hull goes on, you install the twin bow machine guns on the left side of the driver, and the 75mm gun mount on the right. You have a choice of short or long-barrel guns, but the gun is fully detailed with breech and mount, not just a barrel.
Next comes the turret basket and it has ammo storage for the 37mm. The 37mm gun has the coaxial machine gun plus an addition machine gun for the commander's cupola.
The side hull hatches and the commander's cupola hatch can be positioned open, and you'll definitely want to show off that interior!
Since this kit has been on the market for a few years, you have a variety of photo-etched details, decals, and resin parts available for this kit as well as track links to replace the rubber-band-styled vinyl tracks. In short, you have an nice AMS opportunity with this model without much work.
As mentioned above, this kit comes with markings from the original release which depict a Grant from North Africa in 1943 with 'Atlanta II' markings as well as an 8th Army Grant at El Alamein in 1942.
This was a nice kit before and as Cookie points out in his review, is far better than the Tamiya Grant. This new reissue adds some nice figures to pose with the kit and really tell a story with your build.
This kit is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!