|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale|
|British Tank Destroyer
|Article by Doug Chaltry; last updated 25 November 2011|
I know I swore off buying any more of UM's Sherman kits,
but this is one of my favorite vehicles, so it was too
hard to pass up. Since the previous UM Sherman kits
suffered from poor running gear and poor turrets, I was
hopeful that UM would fix at least one of those problems,
and it has; in fact, they have almost fixed them both.
The box contains a little bit old, and a little bit new. This is the only sprue that we've seen before:
There are a few spare parts on this sprue, which is always nice to have.
Here are the new sprues included in this kit:
This is all some pretty good quality stuff. As typical with the other UM kits, there are a bunch of spare parts that are intended for use with the upcoming M10 3-inch kits, so they may be useful for improving other M10 kits, such as from Extratech or Armourfast. Only the single turret is included though, with many of the M10 turret parts having been clipped off the sprue prior to packaging.
The vehicle has an extensive interior, including full fighting and driver's compartments. Once again, no engine is included, however. I find it odd though, to go through so much trouble providing a detailed driver's compartment, and yet mold the crew hatches closed, so we won't be able to see most of it. That was an unfortunate decision.
The turret interior is also highly detailed, with a complete, and accurate, gun breach (the 3-inch gun breach was thankfully left on the sprue, so we can use that with our other M10 kits). The gun barrel, as molded, is quite long, but that's better than being too short. As it is, you need to hide 4mm of the barrel in the rotor shield to achieve the correct length. If that's not possible, then trim it off. The shape of the barrel and muzzle are pretty good, but even so, a replacement metal barrel may be warranted (though the weighted collar behind the muzzle will need to be replicated). Spare cannon shells are included for the rear turret wall, but UM made the same mistake that Extratech made, by including ammunition storage tubes for the hull storage racks. Only the 3-inch shells for the M10 were stored in those tubes, not the 17pdr shells. Those shells were stored bare on the racks. So once again, we need to find a source of 17pdr cannon shells, which as far as I know, nobody makes in this scale.
And now you may be wondering why I have the wheel sprues included above as "new", yes? Well, at first I didn't. I looked them over, and decided that they were the same wheel sprues as included with the previous Sherman kits. But as I was writing this review, I wanted to refresh my memory of why I didn't like the UM Sherman wheels, so I looked closer at them, and wouldn't you know, it dawned on me that UM has revised this sprue a small, though significant amount. They have altered the cast, spoked wheels to have the correct number of spokes -- 5. The previous spoked wheels had 6 spokes each. Way to go UM. Nicely done. I would like to say that the wheels are now excellent, though I can't really do that, as they are molded slightly off-center, and the tires are a little on the thin side, but I think they are perfectly useable, and go a long way in improving my opinion of the running gear on this kit. Too bad they couldn't have corrected the narrow width of the tracks as well. But as it now stands, I like the running gear quite a bit, and I would be curious to see how noticable is the track error once the kit is built.
As always, etched parts are included. They have included brush guards for the headlights, and etched track return skids, which is the best way of modeling these parts, in my opinion.
Markings are included for three vehicles:
The decals look to be very nicely printed, with bright, vivid colors and excellent registration. I very much appreciate the range of nationalities included in the marking options.
Some general observations in comparison to other Achilles kits: Obviously, this one is far more detailed than the Armourfast kit, but about on par with the Extratech kit. Both the UM and Extratech kits have complete interiors (sans engines), but this UM kit's turret interior is more accurate. And I should point out that only the Extratech Extrapack version of their kit has comparable detail with this UM kit. Actually, with the exception of the gun breach, I would say that the Extratech Extrapack kit has the superior detail, due to the large number of etched parts included in that kit.
Considering the scale, this UM kit is the most scale accurate of the three available kits. The Armourfast kit is just a little bit long, and it's upper deck is a little bit longer yet, resulting in angled side plates that are too steep. The Extratech kit is the exact opposite, with the total length being just a little bit short, and the upper deck being even shorter yet, making the angles on the sloped side plates to be too shallow. But keep in mind that we're only talking about 1.0 to 1.5mm off in any given measurement, so all in all, all three of these kits are pretty accurate, and the errors can only be seen when comparing them directly to scale plans, or with each other. But for those of us who like to measure, this UM kit has the best scale accuracy.
Considering the average running gear on this kit, I would recommend that in order to build the best Achilles possible, I would use the hull and turret of this kit, but substitute new running gear (wheels, bogies and tracks) from some other Sherman kit, such as Dragon or Trumpeter. But all in all, out of the box, this is now the best Achilles kit we have available.
Note: What's the name "Achilles IIC" mean? I have some conflicting references, but this is what I can come up with: The official designation of this vehicle was Tank Destroyer M10 - 17 pounder. According to Zaloga, it was sometimes referred to as M10C (the C standing for the 17 pdr cannon). I don't know if the name Achilles was official or not, because these nicknames often were not official. One source states that the "II" was because this vehicle was converted from an M10A1, while the Achilles IC was converted from the standard M10. This cannot be true, because none of the M10A1s left the US, only the M10s. The best I can tell, the Achilles IC had the early, wedge-shaped turret counter weights (there weren't many of these), and the Achilles IIC had the duckbill counter weights as depicted by this kit.
|Modeling the Sherman Tank in 1/72nd Scale|