Build & Review Two In One : Academy #13408 : 1/72 M3 Half Track & 1/4 ton Amphibian Vehicle

The Kit

I needed a few vehicles for my entry in the ISM Pacific Theatre group build and was fishing around for something US.

The Academy Ground Vehicle Series has proved excellent, both in value for money and detail so I picked up this box set of some likely looking vehicles on ebay and got to work.

The Build

Like the other kits in the series, this went together without a hitch. There are some delicate parts which gave me a great opportunity to try out some new sprue cutters:

Another ebay purchase. These are massive step up from the cheapo Chinese ones I was using. And not too expensive either. About £6 if memory serves. Anyway, on with the build…

I tackled the M3 first. It didn’t take long to get the sub assemblies together. The instructions are simple to follow and there aren’t too many parts.

I dry fitted to make sure the sub-assemblies would marry.

The tracks are moulded in one piece and there is a couple of variants for the front (vents closed/open, winch or er… something else I can’t quite identify).

The doors are moulded shut unfortunately and it would take a braver hand than mine to dry and separate them. The rear door can be modelled open though.

Next it was the turn of the amphibious vehicle. Even less parts, even quicker build.

There’s a motorbike included in the set too but I didn’t need it for this dio. It looks ok though and I’ll definitely be building it when the need arises.

The Paint

The paint progressed pretty much according to my usual plan. I started with a poundland grey car primer and a black pre-shade.

Followed by a base coat of Tamiya Olive Drab. I was going for a darker look than my previous 1/2 ton truck build so I went heavy on the preshade and didn’t go as light with the green.

As usual I concentrated on the centre of panels and feathered out towards the edges. The frame got a base coat of Khaki Drab using the same technique.

I test fit a lot, especially armour because of its sub-assemblies. Parts swell a little when painted and it does no harm to keep checking stuff still fits from time to time.

I copied the same process for the amphibious vehicle. Can you spot the deliberate mistake? >.<

Yup, I forgot to base coat the inside of the hull.

I noticed this *after* I’d cleaned my airbrush and put it away. It’s not even undercoated! Ah well, out with the airbrush and a quick preshade and base coat soon got things back on track. It’s the inside – it won’t be handled much… I hope…

Now the base coat was done it was time to turn my attention to the details. Mercifully few on both vehicles, it didn’t take long to pick them out with a brush.

I used Tamiya Desert sand on the seats, and Lifecolor Weathered wood on the tools.

My painting of the seats was a bit sloppy but I corrected it once dry with a bit more Tamiya green.

Once this had dried I gave them both a coat of Vallejo Gloss.

Models always look darker with a gloss varnish. You have to keep that in mind while working on them at this stage. I keep meaning to try a satin varnish to see what difference it would make.

Decals next. Again mercifully few.

I managed to get them all on without issue this time 😉

The star on the bonnet of the M3 was the only one that needed a bit of help conforming over the hinges.

Some solvaset and a hot q-tip quickly sorted them out.

Next came an all over dirty brown oil wash which took ages to dry. I really should try some oil accelerator. I hear good things…

Once it had dried, I pulled off most of it with odourless thinners and a q-tip. I cleaned the panels and flat areas leaving a build up in the nooks and crannies.

Hand for scale…

I sealed the oil wash once dry with vallejo matt varnish…

and assembled the sub-assemblies. The next stages of weathering don’t go near the nooks and crannies.

I used a bit of ripped sponge and some vallejo black brown to stipple chips along the exposed edges of both models and then hit them with the edge of a graphite pencil.

Finally, I gave them both a very, very light drybrush of Tamiya XF-81 – Dark green 2 (RAF). I concentrated my stokes vertically and dragged the drybrush down the sides of the M3 to streak it. It’s a very subtle effect but seems to work well for this scale.

And they were done. Well, done till their weathered in place on the dio.

And a side by side comparison with the 1/2 ton truck.

And here’s a shot of it them place on the diorama…

Don’t forget to check out the diorama build too 😉

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