I chose to build the Zvezda kit over the Tamiya one, because the Zvezda, which uses the old Italeri molds, is generally agreed to be more accurate (no motorization holes in the hull as found on Tamiya kits, for example). I still found it left much to be desired. What you actually get in the box is not a M13/40 at all, but an M14/41. This problem is similar to both Zvezda and Tamiya and is most likely due to the fact that there are few, if any, surviving M13/40s in the world today (tanks labeled M13/40s at museums are invariably misidentified).
Though very similar, there are some noteworthy differences between the M13/40 and M14/41 that need to be addressed if a model of an M13/40 is desired. First, the fenders should be shortened to cover only the track in front of the sponsons. Next, the radiators should travel along the tank, not across it. My references also suggested that the rather large protrusion on top of the turret should be removed and the top made flat. Most early M13/40s also did not have a radio, so the antenna may not be necessary. Iím not a rivet counter, but the part around the hull machine guns should have two bolts on the top and bottom, not one. Fortunately, Model Victoria has come out with a conversion kit that solves these problems, as well as fixing some minor ones and adding some stowage (see my review of Model Victoriaís M13/40 Conversion Kit in the Armour section).
On to the model itself then. There is considerable flash, but it is not overly troublesome. More maddening were the mold lines, which had to be scraped and sanded away. Instructions are clear enough and would be easy to follow, but I used the aforementioned conversion kit, which required substantial modification. With this model, I literally built the entire thing, minus the tracks, before painting. I wanted the wheels to be dusty, so I didnít worry about getting a crisp line between metal and rubber. Out of habit, I began with the hull, then the turret, and finally added the suspension, which can be made somewhat moveable if you are building a hilly diorama.
Overall fit was good, but I had considerable difficulty with the running gear. The center holes for the road wheels and return rollers are both too small and need to be widened with a slightly larger sized drill bit for them to fit properly onto the axles. A much worse problem was that the halves of the sprocket wheels did not match. The locator pin should be removed, or the teeth will be out of line. Even then, I still found the teeth to be slightly unevenly spaced, making adding the tracks rather difficult. It is best to line them up well on one half of the sprocket wheel and attach the track to that area. The tracks provided are the vinyl type and look quite poor, with a lot of flash. Aftermarket tracks are definitely recommended (I got mine from Model Victoria). I might also note that the sponsons are open on the bottom and should be filled.
Zvezda provides a small sheet of decals and two suggested paint schemes. I doubt whether either camouflage scheme would have been used on an M13/40. A one-tone scheme of Italian Sand (or even gray for very early M13/40s) is probably a better choice. The decal sheet provided does not include all the decals mentioned in the instructions. There is the choice between 1st platoon and 3rd platoon of 1st company of the XI Battaglione or the XXI Battaglione as well as their license plates. Also included are three German crosses and, interestingly, some large white kangaroo markings, which were used by the Australians with captured vehicles. Italian markings are very simple and you are not limited to what is provided. It is easy enough to paint different roman numerals on the tank. I made mine an M13/40 of III Battaglione, which fought in Operation Compass (December 1940 Ė February 1941). The company/platoon identification marking was the only decal I used and it was not very good. The white and red were misaligned, requiring trimming, and afterwards, part of the decal was darker than the rest. I covered this up with a good dust coat.
Zvezdaís M13/40 is an older kit that is showing its age. With some TLC and maybe some aftermarket parts, though, it can be made into a very presentable model. It isnít up to todayís standards set by the likes of Tamiya and DML, but it is the best kit of the M13/40 (or rather an M14/41) out there right now and, for the price, itís probably worth it. At least you can have something different from all those Tigers and Shermans on your shelf.
The M13/40 and its variants (M14/41 and M15/42) was the mainstay of the Italian Army during World War II and saw much action in North Africa. Armed only with a 47mm gun and with insufficient armour, however, the M13/40 was almost always outclassed by its opposition. Despite its weaknesses, the tank does make an interesting and different addition to any modelerís collection.