Academy 1/35 scale USMC M50A1 Ontos
It would be hard to come up with a better name for the M50 than Ontos – Greek for “the thing.” The Vietnam era anti-tank weapon would look at home in a science fiction movie.
Choice of photoetched metal or plastic; extra weapons; detailed suspension
Poorly molded tools and jerry can; sometimes-vague instructions
Injection molded, 371 parts (23 photoetched metal, 26 vinyl), decals
Itself a child of the 1950s, the self-propelled M50 tank destroyer has fascinated its model-building contemporaries since the 1/32 scale Renwal kit of that era – but now Academy has produced a modern model of the Ontos in 1/35 scale.
Academy’s kit comes with three sprues of light gray plastic (including a sprue from Academy’s weapons set), a fret of photo-etched metal, and vinyl tracks. Many of the kit parts are small; use a fine razor saw to avoid breakage while removing them from the sprue.
The bogies are molded in halves sandwiching a poly cap to allow removal for painting. I glued Part B52 to the hull tub and left other parts off until later. Use glue sparingly to avoid damaging the fine weld mark on the upper hull.
The front suspension arms (parts B34 and B33) have a weak attachment point, hampering alignment. Attach and align the last three suspension arms, then glue the front arms. I glued the shock absorbers to the side rails but left them off for easier painting. The vinyl tracks are pliable and well detailed.
I left Part B4 and the body of the muffler off the hull until after adding the screens. Annealing the photoetched metal helped to bend the screening around the muffler pipes. I used a Small Shop photoetched-metal roller to bend parts PE1 and PE2, but I shaped the cone of Part PE7 by hand. I also drilled out the tailpipe.
There is a choice of plastic or photo-etched metal for the light guards, driver’s vision block guard, and rear fender supports, but no mention of it in the directions. (It is on a supplemental sheet.) However, annealing had made the metal so pliable I used the plastic instead.
Step 6 introduces Part B55, but you are not shown where to glue the end of it until Step 7. (It should attach to the end of the arm of Part B58.)
The tools have no straps; you simply glue them to the sides. Only the shovel and ax are shown in the instructions, but the box cover shows the pick and handle. It also shows two brackets for the .30-caliber machine gun ground mount, but these are not provided.
The gun tubes comprise seven pieces, and it’s difficult to get them straight. Take care to align the spotting-rifle mount; it’s sandwiched between the mounts C34 and C40. The end of the barrel is on Part C34 and should be drilled out. The directions show a groove in Part C12 mating with Part C39, but there is none; I added it to align the parts. Step 11 adds Part C21 first, but it shows parts C25 and C26 already installed. Follow the pictures here and add the locking brackets before gluing the body of the spotting rifle.
Olive drab is specified for the M50, but it should be Marine green with black recoilless rifles. I used Humbrol U.S. Marine Corps green (No. 161) with highlights of the same color lightened with buff.
There are two marking options. The insignia of the 3rd Marine Division on the front mudguard is out of register. Looking at Armour of the Vietnam Wars (Vanguard, ISBN 978-0-85045-585-4), the same emblem should be above the registration numbers on each side.
Two figures are included, but their detail is soft with heavy mold seams to remove and gaps at the arms to fill.
It took just over 25 hours to complete this kit, surprising for so few parts. With the difficult assembly, I would recommend it to more-experienced modelers.