In-Box Review
British Tank Destroyer ACHILLES

by: Dale Harrington [ DOC ]

This is my second review of a kit. I am going to try a different layout in this one. My goal in doing these is to give the modeler an idea of what they can expect from a kit. I am not a ‘rivet counter’. I am not going to be able to tell you if a model is 2mm too large or too small. I just like to know what I am paying for when I buy a model. I am not rich, and money spent on a shoddy kit that I will not build is money wasted.

As you may have guessed from my previous review, my favorite vehicles are Allied vehicles from WWII. Most of the kits that I review are going to be allied vehicles, with vehicles that served in North Africa coming in second. Once again, I am using MMIRs ‘Modeler’s Guide to the Sherman’. All the codes given for various components are from this book. So follow along in your copies at home. If you do not own a copy and build Shermans or any other vehicle using its chassis (for shame!), BUY THIS BOOK! It is indispensable.
Academy of South Korea (ROK) released this kit in 2001. It followed closely on the heels of their Achilles (kit # 1392). Its suggested retail price is about $36 US. The price in won (ROK currency, pronounced wahn) printed on the side of the box is 18000. In other words, this kit would only cost you about $18 US in Korea. This kit shares many sprues with the earlier Achilles, one too many in the case of the Achilles, but we will get to that in a moment. This kit is molded in a dark green plastic, rather than the medium tan plastic of the Achilles and earlier M-12. The color is reminiscent of the old Italeri kits, though not as dark. No flash is present at all that I can see. There are a few knock out marks, I will point out the most prominent of these.
The instructions are in four languages and are in book form, stapled together. The instructions themselves look to be fairly straightforward and easy to follow. The construction moves along in a logical manner. Construction is broken into 30 steps. I like the fact that Academy used black and white photos of the actual model in places to clarify certain steps. Care and extra attention are going to be needed during construction, as there are many options available during assembly. Check your sources and make sure the part you are putting on matches the version you want to build.
Tracks: T49 steel track. These are the most common ‘parallel bar’ track. These tracks were not factory equipment, but were probably fitted to vehicles intended to participate in an amphibious landing. All the vehicles represented by the markings included could have been involved in a beach landing, so this is a good thing. These tracks were all steel, and look like they would provide much better traction then the smooth or chevron rubber tracks, at the cost of a rougher ride, I presume. Also included are track extenders. This is, I presume, to allow these tracks to be used on a M4A4 chassis.
Wheels- a full set of both Solid Spoke (6 spokes) and Open Spoke (5 spokes) road wheels. Both sets include matching idler wheels. All are detailed front and back (can you hear this, Tamiya?) All include grease nipples, even the Open Spoke ones. This is a good thing. A very good thing. Also included are 2 Smooth Dish type road wheels. These are a fairly common replacement road wheel type. As an extra goodie, Academy has thrown in 2 Solid and 2 Open road wheels, with mounting bolts and brackets in place! No more extra road wheels ‘magically’ sticking to your tanks. Drive sprockets- 2 sets are included; Type 3 Simple Plate (plain, flat ones) and Type 2 Revised (err, pointy ones, with a deep cut-out). Bogie trucks- Type 2C-2 Intermediate Raised Roller. These are the ones with the horizontal roller arm, using the ‘pillow’ block to raise the return roller. These are the nicest bogies that I have ever seen come with a Sherman family vehicle. The bogies are all sporting casting numbers and the 3 large bolts at the bottom, usually missing from other kits bogies, are all present and accounted for. Symmetrical and the later (final) shaped skid are included. Oddly, there are 2 extra bogie trucks included in this kit, but no extra suspension arms. It is not like these are fragile or tiny and easily lost. If anyone knows why these are in the box, please let me know.
Nice underside detail, one point to clean up, in the center of a flat area. A small dab of putty or whiteout and a few sweeps of a flat file and it are done.

Transmission cover: 2 choices here. 2B-the more rounded one and 2C-the more pointed one (I think. Kind of hard to tell, sometimes). Both have nice casting detail, with casting numbers and foundry marks. Your choice on which one to use.

Tools & Other stuff: A nice sets of tools is included with this kit. You have options between US and British style shovels and sledgehammers. Also, you have your choice between US and British style tow shackles and tow hitches. A negative is found at the rear hull concerning the tools. Academy has chosen to show where the tools should be attached by molding an outline on the rear hull. This is really inexcusable on a kit of this quality. Most modelers are going to want to sand these off, probably losing some molded on bolts in the process. Luckily, Academy has included bolts that just need to be cut off the sprue and placed where desired. Also included are two complete sets of numbers and letters, molded in two different sizes. Multiple versions of bolts and attachments are included as well. One of the nicer touches is the inclusion of four wing nuts. All of these just need to be shaved off the sprue and attached where needed with liquid cement. Academy has shown an example of the placement for casting numbers on the mantlet, but that is it. It would have been very nice if they had included more info and where to place these. Two US style ‘jerry’ cans and one British style come in the box, as well. All three have separately molded bases. Another nice touch. A bit of nylon string is included to model the tow cable, with styrene ends on the sprue.

Turret: The intermediate, V-shaped turret counter-weights are modeled in this kit. There are a few knockout marks on the inner surfaces of the turret walls. Hopefully equipment placed here will hide most of these. If not, a puddle of whiteout and a few sweeps with an emery board should clear these up.

Ammo: 6 rounds are molded into the turret ready racks. It would have been nice if Academy had done these separately, but that is being rather nit-picky. 32 rounds are included in their cardboard containers for hull storage. The exact same sprue (sprue M) that holds these rounds is included in both the M-10 (#1393) and Achilles (#1392) kits. (I have both kits and am doing a direct comparison) The sprue included in the Achilles is even labeled ‘1/35 M-10 GMC’. These two vehicles DID NOT use the same guns, however. I do not have the exact measurements of the 17-pounder round vs. the 3-in. round, but I am pretty sure the 17-pounder round is the longer of the two. Using my crappy ruler, the rounds included in both kits are identical, all measuring out to be about 24mm long. In addition I am told that the 17-pounder rounds were not stored in a cardboard container, so the rounds for the Achilles seem to all be off the mark. On the other hand, this in a non-problem for the M-10. I’m pretty sure Academy is aware of this error and hopefully someone (are you listening, Verlinden?) will issue a correction set for the Achilles soon.
The main gun comes in three pieces, two halves and an end piece. I wish there was a better way to do this. I dread ending up with an out-of-round barrel. The standard replacement barrels may not be their usual easy fix, as this barrel is quite long, extending well into the turret. I, for one, would be willing to pay a few extra dollars for a kit that has a turned brass or aluminum gun barrel included in the box. AFV Club has the right idea on this subject, that is for sure.
Decals: Decals are included to model 4 different vehicles, 2 US and 2 French. The Brits used the 3in armed vehicle as well as the 17-pounder version. It would have been nice if Academy had included British markings, as well. I am going to go though each version separately now, to point out minor issues that I have spotted.

1. France, September 1944. This vehicle is with the Regiment Blindees de Fusiliers Marins, French 2nd Armored Division. The small white tank kill markings for the side of these vehicles usually had a small, black swastika in them. As a side note, these soldiers were actually from the French Navy, and many times wore the French naval cap, instead of the normal Army headgear.

2. Germany, January 1945. This vehicle was with the 11e Regiment de Chasseurs d’Afrique, French 5th Armored Division. The photos of this vehicle show that it was definitely equipped with the T49 track. All others are much harder to identify.

3. France, August 1944. This US vehicle was photographed in Dreaux, France on 17 August 1944. It may have participated in the landings in Southern France after the landings at Normandy. It was equipped with the Solid Spoke road wheels and an Open Spoke idler wheel.

4. Anzio beachhead, May 1944. This vehicle served with the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, which was attached to the US 3rd Armored Division. The decal tactical numbers are black, when they really should be white. The decal set is also missing a tactical number. The missing number should be black, and it goes on the rear of the turret, on the right turret counter-weight, inside the white band. Actually, just add 2 white number 4s for the sides and you will be good. Use one of the black ones for the rear number. The directions show this vehicle as being plain old OD. In actuality, this vehicle was overall OD with broad, sprayed on stripes of #6 Earth-Yellow (FS 30257). These stripes are about 3 scale feet wide and should be perpendicular to the ground.
Overall, I cannot recommend this kit enough. There are a few minor problems to be corrected, but these are few and far between. Many of these fall into the nit-picking category. Academy has really out done themselves with this kit. This kit is easily one of the best I have ever seen. I can hardly wait to see their M-36! I also wish Academy would give us a ‘real’ M4A2. I used the Concord book ‘U.S. Tank Destroyers in Combat 1941-1945’, by Steven J. Zaloga, throughout this review, and it was invaluable. Another ‘must-have’, in my opinion. I am trying to establish a pattern here, of reviewing an older kit, then a new kit, then an older kit, etc. Not sure what is up next, so just stay tuned.
There are a few minor problems to be corrected, but these are few and far between. Many of these fall into the nit-picking category. Academy has really out done themselves with this kit.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 1392
  PUBLISHED: Jul 09, 2002
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Dale Harrington (Doc)

Former Marine 0352 ( Infantry/TOW Gunner) , ex National Guard M1A1 Tanker, ex Army Combat Medic, current IT college student ( yaah Voc-Rehab!! )

Copyright ©2021 text by Dale Harrington [ DOC ]. All rights reserved.