Manufacturer: AFV Club, distributed by Marco Polo Import, 532 S. Coralridge Place, City of Industry, CA 91746, 626-333-2328.
Kit: No. AF35024
Comments:Injection molded, 354 parts (6 vinyl, 2 metal), decals.
Pros: Excellent exterior detail, adequate interior detail, accurate shapes.
Cons: Lack of turret ammo, overly complicated suspension, odd track choice.
The U.S. Army's Tank Destroyer Forces were developed for the exclusive purpose of fighting enemy tanks, and during World War II the M10 tank destroyer became the backbone of the force. The M10 used proven components from the M4 tank, such as the suspension, engine, and drive train, and incorporated advanced sloping armor along with a high-velocity 3-inch gun. Its drawbacks were an open turret, thin armor, and a tactical doctrine that was ill-conceived. The M10 entered combat during the 1943 North African campaign and fought all the way until the end of the war.
It's been a long wait for a decent plastic kit of this historic vehicle. AFV Club's M10 is a completely new kit and features a detailed interior for the drivers' stations, fighting compartment, and turret. The suspension is designed to work. Also featured are vinyl tracks representing the T-49 "three bar cleat" which has been previously available only as an aftermarket product. The kit represents what could loosely be called a "mid-production M10," as it features the second style of turret counterbalance.
Following the well-illustrated instruction book I started by building and painting the hull interior. I was impressed that the transmission builds up like the real unit - the outer armored exterior attaching to the internal transmission casing. Good detail is provided for the driving compartment, but no control or gear shift levers are provided. Some of the bogie wheels in my kit had sink marks on them. For some strange reason, AFV Club chose to mold the bogie unit springs in black vinyl - just paint them O.D. like everything else. The bogie units are complex with many parts to make them movable working units. Take your time in assembly as it's easy to mix up parts or mount them the wrong way.
The T-49 track featured in the kit was not common (but seen on many Free French M10s). Also available from AFV Club is the more common T-51 track (AF 35026). I found installation of the drive sprocket mount a bit nebulous as there is no positive locator. This came back to haunt me during installation of the track.
The exterior surface detail is nicely rendered with various effects for castings, flat plates, and weld marks. Even the ID plates for the engine filler caps are present and readable! Hatch periscopes are provided and can be positioned extended with their armored covers. Be prepared to have some patience at this stage, as you must add the 32 hull bolts as separate parts. If that isn't enough each is a two-part assembly - the hull mounting and the bolt!
The hull hatches feature operable hinges. I found they really work and swing the hatch out just like the prototype. The engine deck grate is a bit undersized, so I shimmed it with plastic strip. The top hull fit to the chassis is a bit loose. The hull will tend to slope backward if you're not careful. A plastic shim might help, but definitely dry-fit before gluing.
The turned aluminum gun barrel included in the kit is a nice feature. It captures the unique profile of the 3-incher quite well. A spring is included in the gun assembly that will allow it to recoil just like the real thing - well, OK, you have to push it; it won't actually fire! The turret builds up mostly from flat plates. It needed a touch of filler where the bottoms of the side plates meet the lower turret. The gun breech and turret interior are well represented. The turret bottom had two large ejector-pin marks that needed to be removed. Turret traverse gear, seats, and stowage boxes comprise most of the interior detail.
Surprisingly, no rounds are supplied for the turret, though AFV Club has an accessory set of brass 76mm rounds (AF35018) that look close to the proper 3-inchers. I found some suitable items in my parts box and added them to my model - it looked too bare without them. The M2 heavy machine gun included in the kit is very well done, even featuring separate parts for the charging handle.
After all assembly and painting were complete my last setup was to mount the tracks - too short! That's when I realized that the drive-sprocket mount had been positioned too far forward. Luckily the track is flexible and I was able to stretch it the necessary distance.
I painted my M10 with a combination of Polly Scale acrylics and Testor enamels. Decals are given for six different vehicles representing two U.S. Army, three Free French Forces, and one South Korean machine. They are adequately printed and went on well, but mine silvered. I substituted a dry-transfer star on the front of the hull.
Steve Zaloga's U.S. Tank Destroyers In Combat 1941-1945 is an excellent source of information on the M10 and tank destroyers in general. Hunnicutt's Sherman: A History of the American Medium Tank was also very useful. Based on the references the kit looks pretty darn convincing.
My M10 took 26 hours to build and I thoroughly enjoyed the project. Due to the parts breakdown and assembly, I recommend you have some experience with complex armor kits before tackling it. Beyond that, I highly recommend AFV Club's M10.