by: Ted Hayward [ ]
This much-anticipated kit from AFV Club combines sprues from both the 2002 and 2007 Stuart releases, along with new parts. Sprues also include separate bolt heads and grease nipples (for the late-type wheels) to be removed with a sharp blade. Clear parts include an optional driver's external windscreen, periscopes, and taillight and headlight lenses. A metal 37mm gun barrel is included, along with beautifully-done photo-etched engine deck and air-cleaner screens.
The multi-part lower hull includes a remarkably-detailed floor plate, complete with a separate driver’s escape hatch. At the rear, the six-part engine access doors can be shown open. The inclusion of engine compartment bulkheads, complete with openings for the twin cooling fans, hints at a future release of an engine kit –perhaps from Hobby Fan? Superb bolt heads and other fastener detail raise the bar in this kit. The weld bead detail is among the best I’ve recently seen -it looks realistically human-applied. Stand-out features of this kit include the superb detail of the three .30 cal machine guns and their mounts –the commander’s external mount being collapsible within its shield, and separate fuel filler caps. A Cullins hedgerow cutter is another nice option provided in this kit.
The 32 construction steps begin with the suspension. Happily, there are no fiddly springs in this kit –only the idler wheel arms are intended to articulate. Anyone with experience building a Stuart kit will have no difficulty; I believe that AFV Club directions are improving with recent releases. Two alternate drive sprockets are included: the earlier, open type and the later, solid disc type. In the kit, these are realistically-portrayed as two different sizes -the open type being larger, with 14 drive teeth; while the solid type is smaller, with 13 drive teeth. Two types of idler wheels and three types of road wheels are included: spoked, and two versions of the later, stamped type. The stamped road-wheels do not have any back detail, however. One sprue from the T-16 individual track link set (for the spare track links) is included, as well as two full-length T-16 vinyl tracks. I think the vinyl tracks are just fine for this kit, as the real vehicle didn’t exhibit the same track sag seen on other tanks. If you want individual tracks, AFV Club already have two sets fitting this kit: item AF35019: T16 Track , and item AF35020: T36E6 Track.
I was impressed with the level of detail seen through those large turret hatches. The kit includes a detailed 37mm gun (less the stabilizer). The barrel is turned aluminum. The turret interior is well-appointed and would make an excellent basis for an AM or scratch-built interior. The turret ring (the toothed part) is moulded into the hull roof. The roof has the turret ring separate, fitting neatly into the recesses on the roof. This only fits one way for the segments to line up correctly -there is a small arrow moulded, pointing to the front. Because some parts come from the earlier Stuart releases, there are a few unused holes to be filled, and a couple of holes to be drilled –a few more minutes’ work.
Before opening the box, I was initially tempted to make comparisons with the ancient Tamiya kit –a waste of time, as this kit represents the pinnacle of moulding technology available today.
Markings are included for five different vehicles, including the ROC Army, Taiwan (1952).
A limited number of kits contain a collectible print of the box art.
Stuart: US Light Tanks in Action
Steven.J.Zaloga. Squadron Signal Publications ISBN 0-89747-084-2