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M3A1 Kit

Hobby Boss 1/35 US M3A1 White Scout Car Late Production Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review October 2011 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject US M3A1 White Scout Car Late Production Scale 1/35
Kit Number 82452 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Superior kit to the venerable Peerless Max vehicle; scale machine guns with open bores; nearly complete engine; smart use of etched brass Cons No radio sets; some mix of features
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $50-54

First Look

Prior to WWII most nations saw a need for both armored tracked and wheeled vehicles, with the latter primarily operating as road reconnaissance units with some off-road capability. The US Army started to seriously approach this problem in 1925, going through a number of prototype vehicles of varying levels of success. Most of them like the 6 x 4 M1 were pretty much road bound as they did not have a driven front axle, suitable ground clearance, and used commercial “street” tires.

In 1935 things began to crystallize and the M2 Scout Car was developed using a Corbitt truck chassis. An improved variant, the M2A1, was introduced in 1938 and was the first to sport the “tourelle” armament mounting, better known as a skate rail. The M2A1 was soon handed over to the White Motor Company, who modified it and were responsible for the new M3. Between 1937-1939 a total of 100 M3s were built and delivered to the Army.

In 1939 White modified the scout car to produce the M3A1. This had a wider body, “combat” wheels, lowered skate rail, new headlights, no rear door, jerry can racks, and new seating. This was approved and went into large-scale production, with nearly 20,900 vehicle being delivered through early 1944. More than one-third went to the British, 3,310 to the Soviet Union, and 104 to China. But as the US Army felt the vehicle was not sufficiently off-road capable, its functions were replaced by the M8 armored car and M20 scout car. However, as the M3A1 was perfectly fine for semi-tactical use, it was a popular vehicle with headquarters units as it was easy to modify and equip with necessary radio sets.

More than 35 years ago Peerless Max released a kit of this vehicle, and for many years it was sought after by collectors and modelers alike. It was later released by Italeri, Airfix and Zvezda. But as time wore on the kit started to show its age, mostly in the fact that it was apparently derived from the Monogram M3 halftrack from the late 1950s and started out being too wide with overscale machine guns.

Now Hobby Boss has released two kits - one of the early model and one of the later variant. As I have wanted to build a model of one of the “wildcat” conversions of the M3A1, a late production one from the 3rd Armored Division headquarters named “Panther”, I have been eagerly awaiting this kit.

The kit is a really nice effort and fixes most of the problems with the old Peerless Max kit, starting with a scale overall width of 80 inches. It has a very involved and complex method for representing the skate rail (three rails sandwiched together and separate mounts inside the hull body). Seats are provided for a full compliment of eight personnel and a whip mast base is also included.

This is one of the kit’s few failings, as nearly all M3A1s carried at least one radio (most later had two) and the kit comes with none. I am not sure why Hobby Boss did not do a bit more research and at least provide an SCR-510/610 set for the vehicle. As my goal model “Panther” had an SCR-5xx command set and an SCR-193 long range HF command set I will have to scrounge them up.

The skate rail is very nice and easy to assemble for all its complexity, but it is the early production one and not the later variant suitable for this variant. (This time I luck out, as someone in division ordnance replaced it with an M49A1 type ring mount on “Panther!”) But the rest of the later features seem to be present. It has the heavy “combat wheels” and non-directional tires, the separate mounts for the jerry cans and jerry cans (reminiscent of the old Squadron/Historex ones as the body is one piece with a separate top, handle and spout), the blackout light, and the later model machine guns (air cooled .30s and an M2HB with “slatted” barrel sleeve).

Assembly is straightforward. Starting with the engine (complete as far as it goes, but it could use belts and wires) it goes right down the chassis with the wheels in Steps 8 and 9. As near as I can figure (they have clear arrows or “do not cement”) the wheels are held in place by their hubs and are meant to rotate.

In the interior all seats have separate pads and back cushions, and all of the mounts for the skate rail are separate parts. All three machine guns are provided with tripods that mount on the rear plate.

As this is the later model it has new front sides which have holes for the jerry can mounts, as well as the later armored windscreen cover. The machine guns are added in Step 22 and have pretty well detailed mounts, which slip over the rail so they will slide.

Three finishing options are offered, all using an olive drab base: 4th Armored Division recon, B23 (I think this should be 84th Reconnaissance Battalion); Red Army (“Vpered na Zapad!” (Forward to the West) on the front and sides, red stars); 2nd Division Blindee, Free French Army T17).

Overall the biggest ding I have on this kit is the lack of radios.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 15 M3A1 generic - floor, hull rear, grille, stowage, skate rails
  • B 8 M3A1 generic - chassis, fenders, sides, hood sides and top, skate rail base
  • C 38 M3A1 generic - bumpers, hull details, drive shafts
  • D 47 M3A1 generic - axles, springs, shocks, front roller
  • E 52x2 M3A1 Late - tires, wheels seats, details
  • F 49 M3A1 Late - cab sides, driveline details, machine gun tripods
  • H 8 M3A1 Late - armored windshield, doors, machine guns
  • J 8 US jerry cans
  • K 4 M3A1 Late - clear styrene
  • ‒ 15 Etched brass