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Merit International 1/35 scale M19 Tank Transporter

Kit:63501 // Scale:1/35 // Price:1/35
Merit International
Good fit, high level of detail; great-performing decals
String for cable; decals for instrument panel in one sheet
Injection-molded, 771 parts (35 photoetched metal, 37 vinyl, string), decals

Early in World War II, the British needed a vehicle capable of navigating narrow country lanes to transport tanks stocked in central England to the front in the event of an invasion. Diamond T Motor Car Company of Chicago, Ill., produced a unit that met British as well as U.S. Army standards: the 12-ton 6 x 4 M20 Diamond T Model 981 and M9 45-ton trailer. Together they were known as the M19 tank transporter.

Merit International has made a splash with the M19 as its first 1/35 scale release. It’s a big model: 698 plastic parts molded in dark yellow, with clear-styrene lights and windows. There are also 37 vinyl tires, two photoetched-metal frets, and a piece of string for the winch cable.

Flash and knockout marks are minimal and easily removed, but there are many mold seams to be remove; be careful, because the many small rivets hidden within these seam lines are easy to damage. An abundance of small parts adds detail, but if you are all thumbs (like me) you’ll spend a lot of time on your hands and knees looking for fugitive bits.

Directions are mostly clear, but vague in places; good references help. A large, two-sided color sheet provides color callouts and two options for markings, one British and one American.

Before you begin, study the instructions to plan your build: With the busy chassis and many undercut sections, it’s easier to prepaint many parts. 

Assembly starts with the Hercules engine, which comprises many tiny parts in great detail. For example, there are three fan belts for three pulleys on the front; I had to enlarge their grooves to properly seat the belts. You could add engine wiring (not supplied).

The frame features multiple parts, but the fit is good and the frame square. Make sure you mount the muffler when it is called for; you can’t add it later. I painted the frame interior dark green before adding details to get paint into all the recesses. Leaf springs are molded in halves, leaving a nasty seam to fill.

In Step 5, Part B1 should be marked B2. Sliding the rear differential onto the leaf springs while connecting them to Part B7 and the drive shafts requires at least two pairs of hands. I glued the brake drums to the axles instead of the rims as shown in Step 7.

The vinyl tires have good treads but no trademarks. Photoetched-metal tread plate is provided for the side steps and fuel-tank covers. You’ll need a photoetched-metal rolling set to bend them easily.

String is included for the winch cable, but mine frayed even after clear-coating the spool. Also, it is too short to show a tank being winched onto to the trailer. I recommend replacing it.

A one-piece decal represents all gauges in the cab. Nothing I tried would settle it down over all the irregularities of the dashboard, and I ended up ruining the decal. Better to punch out each gauge separately; there a lot of gauges, but the result would be worth it. 

The M9 trailer is a model unto itself. I prepainted the interior of the chocks, rear ramps, and lower cross-member assembly the same dark green to ease painting. Fit of the rear-axle is poor, leaving a bad seam.

Step 16 directs you to bend parts PE-B5 but doesn’t say how. Reference photos show this is a retaining bracket for 10 U-rings on the sides of the trailer. It is a complex bend I was not able to replicate. They are tiny, but Merit does give you an extra four to sate the carpet monster.

To make moving the model easier, I recommend gluing the tongue of the trailer to the truck as shown in Step 24 and snapping it into place on the trailer when showing the two models together. 

Based on the markings, you have only one color choice — olive drab. British vehicles in the Mediterranean and North Africa had some colorful schemes, but you’d need different markings.

I gave the model a coat of Vallejo olive drab primer followed by Tamiya olive drab for the primary color. Spraying olive drab lightened with Tamiya yellow green imparted some color modulation. On the trailer, LifeColor olive drab provided some variation. I painted details with Vallejo, Humbrol, and Testors Model Master colors and weathered with various Mig and AK Interactive washes and filters.

The decals are some of the best I’ve ever used — easy to move without tearing and drying dead flat with no silvering. The finished model is absolutely stunning.

The build took 64 hours — not a weekender, and not for beginners. David Doyle’s M19-M20 Tank Transporter Detail In Action (Squadron, ISBN 978-0-89747-745-1) helped clarify vague directions and informed my detail painting. The book also showed some interesting British paint schemes that I hope the aftermarket will augment with markings. All I need now is a load for the trailer; the possibilities are endless.

This being Merit’s first release in 1/35 scale, I look forward to seeing what’s next.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2014 FineScale Modeler.


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