Built Review
M40 Big Shot
M40 US 155mm Gun Motor Carriage
  • av35031

by: Michael Walsh [ AIRBORNE1 ]

The AFV Club M40 was a very long and well awaited release (In-Box Review by Pat McGrath). The kit is supplied with a metal barrel, photo etch, clear plastic cupolas and vinyl track. The kit consists of well produced and finely detailed parts and I found as I built it that the components inside this kit need the utmost care when removing off the sprue carriers. This kit comes with decals which cover a wide range of vehicles from the T83 in 1945 with 5 vehicles being coved in Korea and the British Army in the 1960’s.

While the T83 had limited service in 1945, the most noticeable action was when the now designated M40 was to see service during the Korean War. I originally planned to build this vehicle straight out of the box with markings for the Courageous Confederate .That was the plan .Unfortunately the track which come in the box was a little under par for my liking and I would have preferred to have individual plastic track links since the individual links give you a better scale representation. Hence I changed to Fruil T66 (ATL-89) metal track which is finely cast and easy to work with.

Suspension and lower hull
The instructions commence in step 4 to start building the bogie assemblies and in my opinion this would be the best well detailed running gear produced in plastic .There were a couple of areas to pay particular attention to where I found parts S6 and S7 had to marry up with S8 in Step 5 . I also found a small problem with the wheels, although highly detailed they had raised edges. As a result, all of the road wheels ended up getting sanded down to remove the raised sections and I kept them separate from the bogie assemblies to enable ease of painting and detailing at a later stage.

In step 6, I ended up gluing S13 to the lower hull and not to the bogie assembly as the weight of the assembly would be near impossible to align and glue onto the hull. Once S13 was dry, I glued all the bogies assemblies to the hull. Apart from B34 and S13 on the lower hull section, I kept all the running gear off for painting purposes.

Upper hull and interior
Step9 starts getting you ready for all the bigger components to be glued on and into the hull. It was at this stage I scratch built the seats for the driver and co driver from my spares box and glued them to the inside of the upper hull. I left the wing nuts E10,E3 and E4 off until far later into the build as they are very small and intricate and I thought this would be major concerns when handling the model. All the components fit perfectly in the fighting compartment and I used more glue to fill any gaps on the A12 and A13 air filter canisters and sanded smooth when the glue had dried .The best thing about the fighting compartment was everything went into its place without too much mucking about, the way the gun assembly base fits perfectly on B7 for example was a well thought out step.

The outside rear of the gun bay is a slightly different story .The trouble with removing the part F7 and F8 off the sprue carrier was a challenge within itself. Once glued to the rear of the vehicle, a problem arose because the handles are very fragile and I found it best to replace them with metal ones. By cutting the handle off at the base, I used it as a template for the metal handles. The other rather intricate parts to be very careful of was parts A38 and A39. These are finely detailed and hard to remove off the sprue.

In building the spade assembly, there were no real problems apart from seam lines being removed from different parts. I found the areas of B17, B14 and B15, B16 a little bit of a dark area in terms of the placement of the roller assembly and I ended up using a small amount of filler on each side of these parts. I left the spade and its brackets off to be painted separately and to ease in the weathering process.

The winch assembly did not get glued in the gun bay because of the process with the way the rigging goes from one side to the other needed a lot of test fitting and cross checking of references of the position of the winch rope. The roller part, B29, was glued to the rear gun bay wall .This was glued in place for when I was to feed the cord through for the winch rope and all I had to worry about was the tie off point at the spade.

In Step 16, which deals with the gun bay platforms, all I can say is do not use part A29. The plastic ring does not fit into the B31 support arms and I ended up ditching the kit rings and instead scratch built metal rings. The hole in the support arm is way too small so I used a fine drill bit to make larger. This was for ease of application once the platform was glued into position as the support arms need to hang loose and remain free moving. At this point, the gun bay platforms had been assembled and glued together but I did not glue the platforms to the back of the vehicle because, like the spade, I wanted to paint and weather it separately.

In Step18, I found the photo etch track hangers and engine mesh to be very nicely detailed. Because this vehicle was used on a division level it was not in the front lines in constant combat and I wanted to do something different by including some stowage on the front of the hull and used various stowage items to break up the outline of the hull. The stowage is not included in the kit. Completing Step19 involved a mixture of what I wanted to glue on the hull at this stage and I left off the track tools and hatches due to ease of painting and weathering.

The tools are very finely cast on the sprue carriers so take care to try and remove without breaking and all the tools had seam lines which had to be removed. I used an exacto blade No11 to do all this. I find it somewhat awkward painting tools on a vehicle and, while it may be a long process to do, doing them separately pays off when they are completed and glued to the vehicle and really looks the part. It was necessary at this stage in Step19 to use thinned-down Tamiya putty to fill in the indentations in the L3 hatch recesses and I scratch-built the handles using evergreen rod and modifying resin handles from the spares box and gluing them inside the Part L4 hatch cover. I used Tamiya clear green and painted the inside of hatch base K1 and Gunze Mr Maskol was then painted on with a fine brush to the outside of the vision blocks to get them ready for painting.

Step 20 and 21 was to allow for the remaining items to be glued to the upper hull. The lifting rings, gun travel lock, headlight and siren brackets had all been glued into position along with the lifting eyes L13. The headlight assemblies had been left off previously and both assemblies had been dremelled out and silver painted inside the housing. I then modified the headlight lenses from the spares box and they remained off until all the painting was completed.

155mm gun assembly
Step 22, although it probably should be back at step 3 with the Installation of the gun shield, deals with the assembly of the 155mm gun. From reading various reviews, I knew the barrel was too short. I used 2 Pz.Kpfw. IV road wheels to lengthen the gun to correct this. C34 and C35 had been cut in half for the first road wheel with the second one going on the rear at the breech-block end. At this time I inserted the metal barrel and glued it together and thinned-down Tamiya putty and Mr Surfacer 500 was used to fill in any gaps. All the steps in this process went together as per the instructions and I left the gun separate to the cradle for ease of painting. I left C40 off the gun assembly and painted separately with Humbrol metalcote. The shield was left off for ease of painting and while the gun assembly went together ok, in hind-sight I suggest Part A41 is best to leave off until you are finished painting and ready to install into the mount in the fighting compartment. It is very fine part and would be very easy to break off.

Although the instructions had been a little unusual in their process it was a pleasure to build this kit. I recommend to take extreme care when trimming and gluing the finely detailed parts. The vinyl tracks do not do the kit justice and replacement with an after-market set, such as the Friuls used here, will enhance the finish. For those concerned with accuracy, modifying the 155mm barrel to the correct length is a must.
Highs: Highly accurate detailing. Supplied with photo etch, clear cupolas, metal barrel with rifling. A big advancement for this manufacturer.
Lows: Accuracy to the correct length of 155 gun barrel. Vinyl track a little under par for a highly detailed model and problems with decals.
Verdict: The M40 Big Shot goes together very well and I found the detailing of the parts in this kit are amazing. A must for all Allied modelers.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35031
  Suggested Retail: $45.95
  PUBLISHED: Jan 21, 2008
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Michael Walsh (airborne1)

My interest in plastic modeling started when I was 10 with building the odd 1/72nd scale plane or tank ,with moving around a lot there was a break from the model building until 1987 when I come across the Verlinden Publications which sparked my interest to building military vehicles and dioramas. I...

Copyright ©2021 text by Michael Walsh [ AIRBORNE1 ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks for the comments . I hope the review helps anyone wishing to build such a nicely detailed model . Cheers Michael
JAN 21, 2008 - 11:54 AM
I'm at the weathering part. It's a real nice build you have there. Would you please say a few words about the painting/weathering?
JAN 21, 2008 - 12:38 PM
Really nice looking! Learned something new ... didn't know that the M40 had a lengthened chassis. Thought it used the standard M4 Sherman chassis with the HVSS.
JAN 21, 2008 - 01:21 PM
nice review. Ive been looking at building one of these. Im there an AM barrel to correct the kit one? just for us lazy guys
JAN 21, 2008 - 02:00 PM
Hi Andras, I did have the weathering info as well as the breakdown on the figures in the build review but it was modified for the page . I'll resubmit the weathering text in the thread today . Cheers Michael
JAN 21, 2008 - 02:07 PM
Andras, Here is the other info to help for building The track As mentioned I dropped the vinyl track and picked up a nice set of Fruil track . There was at least 8 to 9 links spare for each side .This would give you the extras to mount on the front of the hull if you so wish to do so . My last 3 models I have used Fruil track and find it very hard to go pass the casting quality .As the sample images indicate The 2 lengths of wire supplied in the box is more than ample to put the track together . I drilled the inside of each track out with a fine drill bit due to the wire not feeding through on the first couple of links. This is a very time consuming process but the final appearance speaks for itself. The tracks had been super glued in intervals and when the glue was dry I used a flat pair of pliers to cut the excess wire off I left about 5mm out of the last 3-4 links so I could work out if I needed more or less links. A50/50 mixture of Humbrol primer was then airbrushed onto the tracks The crew Figures had been converted from a mixture of spares from the Tamiya Dragon Wagon , Royal models torso and Warrior/Hornet head conversions. The crew from the tamiya dragon wagon fitted perfectly on the seats. The 2 figures in the back of the fighting compartment had been converted warrior heads. I dremmelled the warrior heads out of the helmets so I could use the Hornet heads to set the right facial expressions. The co driver had a warrior head on top of a plastic torso from the Tamiya Dragon wagon .The warrior and Hornet heads are finely cast and well detailed and I find it hard to go away from these 2 brands .The heads had all been drilled out at the base of the neck with a fine drill bit .I then cut a small section off the end of a toothpick and pushed the resin head tight onto the toothpick. This allowed me to paint the resin head and helps ease the painting process .All the heads had been painted separately with a base coat of Humbrol flesh.24 hours is given to allow the enamel to dry on the resin when I start with using Windsor and Newton oil paints . The colours used are cadium yellow,white, crimson red, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and fine amount of pink. The colours are brushed on very similar to the Verlinden way. The steps are identical but in this scale I drop the burnt umber. The process of applying the oils was done with a fine 00 dry brush and I removed any excess oil and wiped clean on a cloth. The wash that I use is a combination of flat black enamel and burnt umber thinned down in Migs’s thinners. 502 Abteilung colourless turpentine. This was applied around the eyes nose, ears. I use a very small amount on a 00 paintbrush by tapping a little on some excess paper or cloth trying not to get too much thinner on the face. This dries the flesh tone on the face and there is no transparency . . The heads had been left to dry for 24 hours and then I went back and applied a bit of white and burnt sienna and blended in .The heads then got placed to the side .and I continued on with painting the remaining torso’s and bodies to fit in the back of the gun bay platform . All the figures had been painted with humbrol enamels .To paint the figures I do the same process with the heads .I drill out one of the feet with a fine drill bit and use a trimmed toothpick into the foot. This is done for ease of handling the figure A wash of black enamel and burnt umber is applied with a small 00 paintbrush in all the recesses of the bodies .This was to give depth, scale and create a realistic appearance. After the face was painted I added some fine wire to the driver with the fine wire painted with Humbrol black enamel paint Painting and Weathering All the sub assembly components had been laid out and painted individually. As per the example image .There is a lot more ease in painting although the sub components will take longer to paint I find the components can be detailed better. A coat of Humbrol enamel primer No 1 was airbrushed on all the etch screens, track holders,metal barrel and Fruil tracks. I started airbrushing the lower hull and gun assembly with Tamiya Olive drab. The lower hull was the airbrushed again with Tamiya red brown .This then gave me the opportunity to post shade with Tamiya desert yellow and buff to get the final appearance. My next colour was a thinned down Modelmaster olive drab over the whole model. The individual components like the cupolas wheels, hatches and sub components had been painted separately. I didn’t want to try pre-shade the panels on the upper hull because I knew that the weathering process would remove the colour. In between each paint application I clean out the airbrush out with turpentine or water depending on the paint used. A variation of 100-200kpa is used to airbrush the whole model including sub assemblies, near 5 hours to do. Testors dullcote was thinned in a glass bottle before pouring into the airbrush .I cannot recall the percentage variation because I use an eye dropper to mix the thinners with the paint .This method helps immensely .This reduces any shine on your model when you mix too much thinners with flat clear . After the track was primed a coat of Tamiya Red brown was applied .The tracks then ended up with a coat of flat clear .This is to preserve and the seal the paint against the washes applied at a later time once the track is on the model. The pioneer tools had been left off and painted separately with Humbrol metalcote and Humbrol matt 186 . The cupolas had been painted on the inside with Tamiya clear green. Both the cupolas and tail lights received Mr Gunzy Maskol before the painting process. The seats received had been painted Humbrol No 83 to give a faded out canvas seat appearance. The bogies had been painted originally with Tamiya Nato black but changed later to Humbrol panzer grey No 67 I find this colour gives a real impression of rubber out in the field. I left the model sit for over a day to allow the flat clear to dry. Now the best part .Getting down and dirty!! . Weathering Example colours and products to use 1/Ensure your model had been flat cleared to seal the paint. 2/ drop the pigment into the glass bottle with the aid of a N0 9 brush. 3/ fill the glass bottle with the 502 Abteilung odourless turpentine just above the pigment with a little extra to work with . 4/ dipp the fine brush in the pigment and break down with extra turpintine in the bottle apply small amounts. Note : the pigment is applied wet(dark) so use sparingly and build up over each application . Once the pigment is dried use a brush to wipe away any excess or use the thinner straight out of the bottle and use the 00 brush to break the pigment down . 5/Apply a small amount on with a 00 brush around recesses of your model.It is the easiest and best free flowing turpentine to work with and you should get the same result like this . Yeah, this is the part I like which steps the model up .Trying to create realism and depth in a subject. 502 Abteilung odourless turpentine and Mig’s thinners. The pigment was dropped into a glass bottle with the thinner dropped into the bottle with an eyedropper. I use this because the bottles are small and you would go through quite a lot .The eye dropper can measure how much you use plus there is no spillage. At this stage I went all over the model with a 00 paintbrush applying small amounts around the recessed sections of the upper hull and running gear, as well as the tracks. I found when doing my Dragon Wagon the pigment can change the paint scheme dramatically so with this application you control the weathering and does not damage your paint. The wash goes on dark and will dry light. This is where the pigment comes out to give a realistic appearance where the pigment accumulates in the recesses like dirt. The best part about the pigment is if you use too much you can brush it back or go over it with straight odourless thinners and you start again. Perfect Pigment as well as Rustall had been applied with a 00 paintbrush on the tread plate including the inside of the fighting compartment. This was to simulate the dust and dirt accumulating in the recesses when it comes off the boots. Once I was happy with the grimy look so to speak I then used a small amount of Mr Gunzy chrome silver, burnt umber and raw sienna to highlight the edges of the tread plate. This application was also used around the spade area Highlighting with Humbrol metalcote 27004,burnt umber and raw sienna oil paint around the spade . This colour mixture was also used all over the model with a fine brush slightly dry as to not leave any excess paint on the model. It was at this time I applied the decals for the Courageous Confederate. I airbrushed Testors gloss coat in the areas as indicated in the Instructions and left dry for an hour or more. This is the only real criticism .I use one standard process for all my models over the last 15-20 years .I start with warm water in a bowl then leave the decal in the water and within a few seconds its ready to be applied onto the model with small amount of MR Mark softener . It was at this stage once the decals got into the water the decal totally broke apart. I started with a decal star on the drive casing which ripped by the smallest amount of pressure with a 00 paintbrush This had to be replaced with a star from an old Italerie GMC decal sheet I had for over 10 years. Cut the star out and applied to the model. Perfect, not a problem for a 12 year old decal There had also been problems with the decal not removing from the backing paper as per the sample image. Please,” take very special attention to applying the kit decals for this model “ It took near 3 hours to do all the decals which really should have been just under an hour. I then airbrushed Testors dullcote over the decals and set dry. Coming into the final stages of the weathering process I just got my hands on some of the new Lifecolour acrylic paints and was very keen to try the dust 1 and 2 which comes in the rust and dust pack of 6 bottles . With the lifecolour paint Dust No 2 mixed in a 50/50 ratio with water the air pressure was reduced down on the filter /regulator and sprayed in a misting effect like it just come upon a dusty road and the dust was feathering on the side from the tracks. I then went through the same application and airbrushed the Lifecolour Dust No1 and all I can say is they are highly recommended. At this stage I then test fitted and glued all the figures, cupolas and hatches into position. The gun assembly had been painted and weathered separately and was now ready to be glued into the fighting compartment .Once in position the top travel lock was glued in place ready for the final weathering stage. The clear covers for the head lights had been modified from dragon head light lenses and they too had been glued into position at this time. The stowage on the front hull and pioneer tools had been glued into position. In the final stage I went around the lower hull with a small amount of cream and white pastel chalk mixed together and applied with a No 9 paintbrush and lightly brushed the pastel along the track and lower hull. Thats it .I hope it all helps Cheers Michael
JAN 21, 2008 - 09:26 PM
Believe it or not, I actually had a chance to buy TWO of these-The real thing, mind you,not a scale replica- from a scrap dealer in Binghampton NY in 1985. For-get this: $1000.00 USD. yes, that's ONE Thousand dollars. (Minus Engines, but what the hell...) Bought a '76 Chevy Blazer instead. ~sigh~ Shoot me, Shoot me now...
JAN 21, 2008 - 09:58 PM
Very nicely done. I see you also filled in the gap above the transmission housing, which several modelers who have posted pics somehow missed.
JAN 21, 2008 - 10:04 PM
Nice Build indeed. Good job on the whole thing. And to the $1000.00 M-40 lost person are you still kicking yourself.
JAN 21, 2008 - 11:27 PM

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