by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The American M36 Tank Destroyer first saw service in Europe in September 1944 and went on to serve in Korea, even equipping the South Korean Army. The tank was liked for its 90mm gun that in World War 2 was known to be able to penetrate the turret armor of a German Panther tank at ranges of 1500 yards. In such demand the turret and gun of the M36 were mounted onto M4A3 hulls and rushed to the front, these were known as M36B1ís. Of the M36B1, some 187 were produced on the M4A3 chassis.
One of the latest kits from Academy Models represents of the M36B1ís as it served in World War 2.
10 plastic sprues
1 small photo-etched fret
1 length of string
1 small decal sheet
The box top opens to a box full of dark green plastic sprues individually sealed in a plastic bag. On inspection of the sprues most are molded well, with a little flash showing on some of the parts. It should be noted that this is not a new molded kit, but makes use of previous releases from Academy. This can be seen by the dates on some of the sprues showing, for example, the gun from the original M10 release in 2003, and there was even one sprue showing 1997. Thus some of the moldings do show their age. Even some of the newer moldings, like the .50 cal are not the best, as the body of the machine shows a sink mark.
The kit does include poly rubber tracks with molded on duck-bills. And unfortunately the poor molding carries over to the tracks, as there are sink marks and ejector marks showing on the external tread detail.
Now there is some nice looking surface details, as the casting marks are well done on the hull and bogies. Also included is a set of casting marks that can be shaved off the sprues and used as needed. There is also nice looking fine molded detail, that with a little clean up should look good.
While the kit does provide some nice looking interior detail for the turret, there is nothing below it. Thus for an open top tank, you will be able to see the empty driver and gunner positions in the hull. Inside the turret though, the turret floor, ammunition storage, and other equipment is provided. As for the breech, it is pretty basic looking, with not a lot of detail, this include a pretty basic sighting system as well. The barrel assembly is two halves, with a second option you have to install the muzzles brake as well. Looking at the two options, I am not quite sure if either of the muzzle brakes is correct for the 90mm gun. I will allow the experts to chime in on this one.
On the exterior of the tank, this is an older M4A3 chassis from Academy, and does look pretty good. Again I am not an expert on the M4, thus there may be some inconsistencies with the hull. There are two different bogey sets included, but only one mentioned in the instructions, and there are two options for the drive sprocket. Also there are photo-etched parts included for the headlight guards.
The kit instructions look to be well laid out with 20 steps across a two part multi folded sheet. Most steps look clear and should be easy to follow. Paint callouts are included throughout the assembly referencing most paint brand with the exception of Tamiya.
The kit includes some basic marking for two vehicles that are listed as 1945, unknown area. The decals look to be well printed and within register.
Overall it is not a really bad kit from Academy and looks like it should be a good model to build for a basic modeller. For the more advanced modeller it offers a subject that could use a little help from aftermarket parts. The moldings are a little soft in detail in some areas with flash showing. The kit does show the age of the molds, and is not up to todayís molding standards. If you are looking for an M36B1, then I could recommend this kit as a decent starting point.