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.