In-Box Review
M40 Bigshot

by: Pat McGrath [ EXER ]

The M40 155mm GMC (T83) was built as a replacement for the 155mm Gun Motor Carriage M12.

It used a widened and lengthened Sherman hull with HVSS suspension. Only one M40 saw action in WW2 with Operation Zebra where it took part in the shelling of Cologne. The M40 also saw widespread use during the Korean War where it had the longest range of any artillery piece deployed there. It also saw service with the British army post WW2.

The Kit
The box contains:

∑A 16 page instruction booklet.
∑9 olive drab plastic sprues with approx 445 parts.
∑A separate one piece lower hull tub which includes the side and rear walls of the superstructure.
∑1 clear plastic sprue with 2 all round vision cupolas, periscopes and rear lights
∑An etched fret with 23 parts including some very fine mesh, some buckles and spare track holders.
∑An aluminium gun barrel.
∑A vinyl sprue with 12 inserts for the HVSS suspension.
∑A length of string to be used as cable on the spade and rear platform.
∑A decal sheet offering & options for markings Ė one WW2, five Korean War and one British version from the 1960's

The instructions come in a 16 page booklet which contains:

∑A short history of the development of the M40
∑The 22 steps in the kit assembly, with black and white photos showing the trickier assemblies on real vehicles.
∑A paint list given references for Gunze Sangyo, Humbrol, Revell and Life Colour
∑7 diagrams for the painting and decal options.
∑A parts list (this does not show any parts not to be used)

The instructions are busy but well laid out and contain some black and white photos of real vehicles to help with the trickier parts of assembly. There are symbols throughout showing optional parts, holes to be drilled out and where to use CA glue. Options are shown for depicting the spade and the gun crew platform in the travelling and firing positions. Not having built the kit I canít see any obvious pitfalls or shortcomings in the instructions.

The HVSS suspension has previous been released as AFV club set 35030 and before Dragonís release of their M4A3E8 Thunderbolt VII kit this set was the obvious choice for anyone needing a HVSS suspension. Vinyl pieces are used to represent the Horizontal volute springs and the units can be articulated after assembly. There is detail front and rear on the road and idler wheels.

Tracks are the rubber band type and can be glued with normal liquid cement. They are the T66 type and each rubber band has 86 links to fit the lengthened suspension.

Lower Hull
The lower hull tub comes as a one piece casting and includes the superstructure side and rear walls. There was no warping on my piece.

There are very subtle weld beads where the superstructure plates meet. The bottom of the hull is fully detailed although I canít be 100% sure of the accuracy as all of the walks around photo references Iíve seen neglect the bottom of the hull. There are large knockout marks inside the hull tub on the sponsons and the floor but these will be hidden when the kit is assembled and can be ignored.

The Gun
There are four assembly steps to building the gun and it looks quite straight forward. Some of the parts are quite fine however and care will be needed removing them from the sprue. The plastic is quite brittle and some of the thinner pieces were broken on the sprue just from moving them in and out of the box, so be careful. The gun shield has some slight sunken knockout marks on the rear which need to be filled. The gun can be elevated and depressed and the breech opened or closed once assembled so be cautious with the glue.

The aluminium gun barrel has rifling inside for the first few mm which is a nice touch. I recommend dry fitting as much as possible and letting all sub assemblies dry thoroughly before final construction. No ready rounds are supplied but AFV Club do a separate set with solid copper rounds.

The spade consists of 10 pieces not including the attached pulleys. There a few sink marks and knockout marks which may be hidden if the spade is modelled in the firing position but will need to be cleaned up if itís shown in itís travelling mode.

Upper Hull
The forward hull roof details (Part F1) look correct according to the photos Iíve seen on line. There are tool location holes which need to be filled if not using the kit tools. The kit tools are good but the tool clamps are simplified and lack any restraining straps. There are seven buckles on the etched brass fret that I can find no mention of in the instructions so perhaps they are meant for the tools. The brackets for the gun travel lock retaining bars are quite thin and broke off on one side of my kit; however replacing this with plastic card shouldnít be too hard. There is choice between etched brass and plastic spare track holders. If using the etched spare track holders be advised that there are no spare track links to install in them. The links in the plastic version look to me like the T84 Chevron rubber tread which as far as I know were only used post WW2. The etched fret does not include headlight or siren guards as an alternative to the plastic parts. The all round vision cupolas come in clear plastic and need to be painted before installation or alternatively mask off the vision blocks before final painting.

Gun Crew Compartment
This looks very full with seats, air cleaners, stowage lockers and ammo racks plus various other bits and pieces to be fitted before the gun is installed. The thread plate on the floor lockers looks good and all the pieces are crisply cast with no flash or obvious knockout marks. No doubt there are some details that can be added but it should look full enough to keep most modellers happy.

The Rear Crew Platform
This can be modelled up or down and again if modelled down the few knock out marks on the underside can be ignored. The sliding grill (B8) has very thick sprue attachment points and will need to cut very carefully from the sprue. It also has two thick sprue lugs which need to be cut away.

The fold down stand (B1) was broken on the sprue in my kit and I will replace it with wire.

Decals and Painting
Five of the seven painting options are complete Olive Drab, the sixth is for Olive drab with wide black bands and the seventh is the 1960s British version which is Khaki Green. So no elaborate camouflage masking needed there then.

The unit is not specified in the instructions for the British Version depicted The decals are what I think is the Army crest a Lion atop the Crown on a red over black square and a white B on red over a white 3 on black. There is also a large white decal reading 70 BA 10. Perhaps some Armorama member more knowledgeable than I can let us know what unit these decals represent
Option B on the decal sheet is the only WW2 version and consists of ordnance numbers and what I think is shipping information although I canít be sure. Itís labelled as ZEBRA MISSION, Germany, March 1945.

There are five Korean war options four of which have large white names, Courageous Confederate, 937th FA Ē ďAitaís Ankies, 937th FAĒ ďCyo Charisse, 204 FAĒ and ďBig Bruiser, 937 FAĒ

Cyo Charisse is a mistake and should be Cyd Charisse that being the name of a long legged dancer and actress who I imagine was popular with the troops in Korea (and elsewhere).

The fifth Korean War option is for 204th FA and has a very colourful dragon decal which should brighten up the OD colour scheme.

With a little patience this looks as if it will build into a very fine kit. In my Sherman folder I have an article from the October 2000 edition of Fine Scale Modeler in which the Spanish Modeller Pedro Andrada describes how he scratch built an M40 and a made a mould of the result so that he could make more. I held on to the article with the vague idea that I would someday do the same. Now thanks to AFV Club I wonít have to.

Recommended reading
AF Visual LP 018 Late War U.S. Tanks: The Pershing, Chaffee and M40 SPG by David Doyle Letterman Productions

US Armored Artillery of WW2, by Steve Zaloga. Concord Publications.
Tank Warfare in Korea, by Steve Zaloga. Concord Publications.

M40 Walk Arounds Online
Tanxheaven 1

Tanxheaven 2

Armor For The Ages

John's Military History

Missing Lynx

My thanks to AFV Club for the review sample

Itís been a long wait for this kit since AFV announced its imminent release as far back as 2001, but from this first the wait seems to have been worth it.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF35031
  PUBLISHED: Sep 16, 2006
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to AFV Club!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Pat McGrath (exer)

I served three years in the Irish Army. Then I studied fine art for five years. Acted professionally since leaving college (Look me up on IMDB- Pat McGrathIII) Interested in Allied Armour 1942-45 and German SPGs. Other interests are figures and Sci Fi models

Copyright ©2021 text by Pat McGrath [ EXER ]. All rights reserved.


I forgot to ask. Which kit would you use the 203mm shells with? I have only found the Russian Pion so far and no kit of it. Thanks Tony
SEP 19, 2006 - 01:49 PM
hey, thanks for the review Pat,this beast is on my want list!! Joe
SEP 19, 2006 - 03:15 PM
Italeri's M110, M110A1, M110A2 series of kits used the 203mm but more commonly called the 8".
SEP 19, 2006 - 05:55 PM well as AFV Club's M115 howitzer kit (kit #3550) Frenchy
SEP 19, 2006 - 06:12 PM
What track would be more appropriate for the Korean era? Thanks, Jim
SEP 19, 2006 - 06:22 PM
The T-80 and T-84 tracks also put out by AFV Club: Frenchy, you are right, I did forget about the M115. I was thinking modern kits because these rounds come with the original M548 ammo carrier kit.
SEP 19, 2006 - 06:36 PM
Sabot, Frenchy, Many thanks guys. I shall look inti these kits. Any views on any of them? Good or bad would be helpful. Thanks again. Tony
SEP 19, 2006 - 08:32 PM
There's a review of AFV Club's 1/35 155 & 203mm Howitzer Ammo & Stowage Case set (#35017) by Cookie Sewell on TL : AFV Club 35017 HTH Frenchy
SEP 19, 2006 - 09:46 PM
Thanks Frenchy. He rates it pretty high. Cheers Tony
SEP 19, 2006 - 11:23 PM

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