The 37mm Gun M3 was the first dedicated anti-tank gun fielded by United States forces. Introduced in 1940, it became the standard anti-tank gun of the U.S. infantry. However, the continuing improvement of German tanks quickly rendered the 37mm ineffective, and by 1943 it was being gradually replaced in the European and Mediterranean theaters by the more powerful British-developed 57mm Gun M1. In the Pacific, where the Japanese tank threat was less significant the M3 remained in service until the end of the war. The M5 and M6 tank mounted variants were used in several models of armored vehicles most notably in the Light Tank M3/M5, the Medium Tank M3 and the Light Armored Car M8. In addition, the M3 in its original version was mated to a number of other self-propelled carriages. Like many other light anti-tank guns, the M3 was widely used in the infantry support role and as an anti-personnel weapon, firing high-explosive and canister rounds.*
The M3 weapon was constructed with a one-piece forged barrel with a manual vertical sliding block type breech mechanism on a hydrospring recoil system. Both elevation and traverse controls were located on the left side, so one gunner was able to aim the gun. The traverse gear had a release mechanism which allowed free movement of the barrel in case a quick traverse was needed.* A telescopic sight was used for aiming.
This assembly was mounted on the Carriage M4 of split trail type, with pneumatic tires. For greater stability when firing, triangular open-frame firing stabilizers were mounted on the axle. These could be raised to not hamper moving the gun. Produced of M3s reached 18,702 during 1940–1943.
Bandai packed the kit in a thin end opening “reverse tuck” box with colorful art depicting the anti-tank gun and crew. The assembly instructions are printed on the back. Each M3 model comprises two sprues of 20 dark olive styrene parts, and 18 rounds of ammunition. Both sprues were sealed in a bag.
There is very little flash or mold marks to contend with.
The M3 is molded as a single piece with a muzzle brake. Only the M3A1 was threaded for a muzzle brake, which was never issued. The breech guard is detailed with raised donuts instead of holes. The guard is easily drilled out, or one can be easily fabricated with in-scale styrene.
The shield and triangular firing stabilizers are out-of-scale thick. Many of the small parts are probably slightly out-of-scale, too. The detail on the shield is simplified, but a few pieces of wire or styrene for rivets, etc., will go a long way. The shield can be used as a template for cutting one’s own from styrene. Bandai molded a lump to represent the elevation / traverse gear that protruded from the shield front.
The worst pieces are the wheels. They are round like the prototype wheels, and that’s about the end of their accuracy. Fortunately, Tamiya and Hasegawa make 1/48 U.S. Jeeps and trailers, and these used the same tires. Hauler makes a resin trailer. Certainly there are 1/48 aftermarket tires available.
The 37mm Cartridge Case M16 ammunition rounds are poorly replicated. They appear closest to the TP M51 Shot or the HE Mk II Shell. The shell is blunt. Perhaps they will look good as clutter in the background, or inside a vehicle.
Bandai, in the 1970's, seriously challenged 1/32 and 1/35 as the standard for armor with its extensive line of 1/48 military vehicles, personnel and accessories sets. Practically every American, British, Russian and German kit produced by Tamiya at the time was matched by Bandai's 25 Allied, 29 German and 11 accessory kits. This included vehicles and detail sets Tamiya did not, and to this day does not, offer in 1/35.
Aside from the attractive fact that these are the same scale of maybe the most popular scale for aircraft, Bandai further trumped Tamiya by providing almost complete interiors for all of their vehicles!
Today Tamiya, Skybow and other companies are producing modern, exciting, high-quality 1/48 injection armor kits and accessories. Still, many of Bandai's classics are in great demand. After Bandai ceased production, after-market conversions and limited-run kits abounded supplementing this incredible line of models.
Overall, this kit provides the potential for 1/48 armor modelers to have a model of America's early ATG. The kits can be found, and prices can vary. Hopefully a modern M3 Gun will become available soon.
This model is not up to today’s standards but it can be made into a decent model.
For photos of a 37mm ATG undergoing restoration, click Here
*From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.