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M18 Hellcat Mufflers

Royal Model 1/35 M18 Hellcat Mufflers First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review June 2004 Manufacturer Royal Model
Subject M18 Hellcat Mufflers Scale 1/35
Kit Number 346 Primary Media 13 parts in grey resin
Pros Essential parts for completing the details on an M18 or M39 model Cons No instructions, nor even a hint of where it goes and what to do with it
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $16.00

First Look

Kit manufacturers are up against it for a number of reasons. If they make models too simple or leave off "personality" items that define a specific object, they get complaints. If they use multimedia to provide everything – often resulting in a really complex or difficult model to built, let alone extremely expensive – they get complaints. As a result, they figure the odds and try to arrive at a happy medium the bookkeepers, the modelers, and the retailers can all live with.

When AFV Club and Academy released their respective kits of the much-awaited M18 Hellcat tank destroyer, neither one of them provided a set of etched metal engine deck screens for their kits. The reason for the first was probably a guess that it would be too expensive, and for the other, the domestic Korean version of the kit had an electric motor in the rear and thus there was nothing to expose by providing a see-through grille. The aftermarket boys caught up with that, but even while new grilles were provided for the kits, there was only an empty engine bay to show for the efforts. When the vehicle was in service, there was little to be seen via the rear grille as the engine's mufflers took up the entire area under the screen. But as the kits provided no engine bay detail, they also provided no mufflers. The alternatives were to either buy a complete engine kit – most of which would not be seen, or to built it – ditto on visibility, or just get a set of mufflers.

Royal Model now offers a beautiful set of just the mufflers for the M18, and from the looks of things it will fit either kit. However, "looks" is the operative word, as there are no instructions or even a photo of the mufflers installed to use as a reference!

I was extremely disappointed to see this, as many other Royal Model kits come with excellent instructions and show precisely what to do and where to do it. In this case, the kit provides the exhaust collector, twin mufflers, twin reverse pipes with outlet fishtails, and four twin brackets for mounting. This goes in the rear right under the rear engine grille, but it does need some sort of indication of where it goes for the guy who doesn't have access to a museum or an operator's handbook of the vehicle.

Overall, I don't like giving a nice product a relatively low mark, but they do need to give the modeler something to work with as not everyone has a huge reference library.

Thanks to Bill Miley of CMD for the review sample.