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Italeri 1/35 scale M20 Armored Car

Manufacturer: Italeri, distributed by Testor, 620 Buckbee St., Rockford, IL 61104-4891, 815-962-6654.
Kit: No. 366
Scale: 1/35
Price: $20
Comments: Injection molded, 160 parts, decals. Pros: Good interior, accurate dimensions, good fit, good decals.
Cons: Poor machine gun and tow cable, no engine, no mine racks
A variant of the M8 armored car, the M20 lacked the M8's 37mm gun turret, having instead a simple boxlike extension atop the hull with a ring-mounted 50-caliber machine gun. Passengers could be carried on two benches mounted on each side of the fighting compartment. A folding map table was provided at the front for the commander, and a small seat was located at the back for the gunner. General George S. Patton used a specially modified M20 in his race across France in 1944.

Italeri has introduced an M20 that's based on its recent M8 Greyhound kit. Molded in dark olive green plastic, the kit features a detailed fighting compartment. While the suspension is well represented, there is no engine provided; its bottom half is molded into the lower hull. Although the driver's compartment upper hatches can be displayed either open or closed, the forward-facing hatches are molded closed. There is no option of installing the mine racks seen on the sides of many M20s, but external storage bins (parts No. 91B, 92B) are provided. Markings for two vehicles, one in U.S. Army markings and the other in the Free French Army garb are included.

M20s were often seen with external storage piled on their decks, and the kit provides two rucksacks and a rolled tarp to mount on the fenders. No figures are included.

I like to assemble as much of an armor model as I can before painting. I started by adding the interior bulkheads and side storage bins to the hull. I also installed the extension box to the fighting compartment top (57B). Next I sprayed the entire interior flat white, and then I painted the interior detail parts.

While the paints were drying, I started adding the suspension to the vehicle. I did this all in one sitting, and while the glue was not quite set, I twisted an axle or two to make sure that all of the wheels would touch the ground. I then let everything dry overnight. With the suspension finished I added most of the detail parts to the interior, then glued the upper and lower hull halves.

Fit in general was good, but take care when adding the back plate (21A), so that it lines up properly with the upper and lower hull. I noticed that the exhaust pipe is too short; it should stick out through the hole in the rear plate by about 1/8". The towing shackles (63A) are a bit too wide for their mounts. I glued the shackles in place, clamping them with clothespins. The machine-gun ring mount was left off until final assembly.

I masked off the open top of the vehicle with a piece of foam rubber, then sprayed the exterior, fenders, and wheels with Tamiya olive drab. When the paint was dry, I sprayed a coat of Future floor polish in preparation for adding the decals. The decals are well printed. Initially I thought that Micro Sol wasn't going to work on them, but be patient - eventually the decals will snuggle down over the detail. The star marking for the rear deck is in three parts, making it easier to install on the complex shapes of the engine compartment. A coat of Polly Scale clear flat was applied after the decals were dry.

Before weathering my model, I tacked the fenders in place with a few drops of super glue. After weathering, I popped the fenders, installed the wheels (you can't mount the wheels with the fenders on), then permanently glued the fender.

I was disappointed with the machine gun; it has only basic detail and the ammo box doesn't look right. Likewise, the towing cable provided with the kit wasn't too good, so I left it off. The final touch was a pair of antennas made from fine guitar string. This wire is stiff enough to prevent kinking, but rugged enough to withstand a knock or two.

Measurements of the finished model matched exactly with the dimensions in Squadron/Signal's M8 Greyhound in Action. It only took about 13 hours to build my M20. Just about any modeler with a little experience should be able to build this kit.


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