by: Bob Davis [ ]
First, my apologies to every one for the slow build, but I can only work to a degree with the nerve damage to my left hand. I am doing this build review as a build in progress.
The kit has an open top box and all the sprues are bagged separately for protection and to prevent any loss of parts. There are 11 sprues of green styrene, a small amount of photo etch,a decal sheet and 2 separate sets of instructions. There are 6 variants you can build from this kit. from W.W.2 (1944) to to Vietnam with the French (1953). Watch carefully as each type is called out for in each step There will be a bunch of parts for the spares bin.
I chose the battle of the bulge version as I have figures for cold weather in the stash.
I started with the running gear to get it done and out of the way. I had no fit issues with this sub assembly and it went together fairly well and fast. At this point I decided to do this kit in sub assemblies to make it easier to paint and add a crew. So far it was a good decision as there is a lot of detail in this kit.
Next came the driver and radio section. On some of the M-36's the radio operator manned the hull machine gun. On the American battle of the bulge M-36 there was no hull M.G. The transmission and all the drive shafts (hidden under the fighting compartment) along with all the levers and linkage went together nicely. This was glued in place as it would not hinder painting. I left the 2 seats out for painting and placing of the figures latter. The transmission cover was next to be glued in place. The row of top bolts for this version is supposed to be part G-10 but it was too small and I opted for the other (part G-11).
The fighting compartment was next. The only thing wrong was that Academy has provided only 1 type of radio. It is fine for the late M-36B2 but wrong for the earlier M-36, and should be the Scr-610. You can source one from any of the Tamiya 1/2 track kits or even one of the earlier infantry sets. The instrument panel looks pretty accurate and careful painting will bring it out. I left off the battle lamps and canteens for painting and left the fighting compartment unglued as a sub assembly. I didn't care for the ammo canisters and am making my own from evergreen. The rear engine plate went together smoothly and fitted really well.
Now I moved to the upper hull. I have left off all the small fragile parts until the interior is painted and the 2 figures installed. All but 3 sets of bosses were removed from the sides, 3 remained for the grouser rack. The armor plates were never made for them. As I dry fitted the upper and lower hulls together there was a substantial gap between the transmission bolt strip and the lower front of the upper hull. To make it fit better I trimmed off the rear sponsons bit by bit until the parts matched together. I assembled the gun with only one problem, part P-9 which keeps the side plates on the breach spaced would not fit no matter what I tried. More than likely something I did wrong. The upper and lower turret parts fit well and make it look good. I did not glue the turret together for ease of painting again and I just received a bottle of mister surfacer to get rid of the seam. So this week I hope to do all the interior painting and get the sub assemblies in place.