The Stuart tank fought everywhere in World War II — deserts, jungles, Russian steppes, western Europe, Pacific beaches — serving as a primary element in the U.S. Army early in the war and with almost every Allied army.
Mirage’s new kit, a follow-on to its earlier releases of the M3, is cleanly molded in neutral gray plastic.
Construction started with the turret, a 13-piece assembly (not counting the exterior machine gun). The turret went together easily. There is a small hole in the turret roof that puzzled me, as there was no indication of a part to be placed in it; I put a small piece of plastic card inside.
The lower hull builds up from several parts and goes together with no problem.
The upper hull has a full-length core to which the side and back panels are attached. That’s a good idea, as it makes the kit modular for other versions.
The suspension has 34 parts. The drive sprockets could use reworking; unmodified, they mount very close to the hull and complicate track installation later.
There are many small parts, such as tools, grab handles, tow hooks, and machine guns, many of which are difficult to remove without damage because their crude sprue attachments are so difficult to detach. This problem is compounded by the brittleness of the plastic.
The headlight guards are molded too thick and break easily.
The one-piece tracks are three to four links too long. They are very stretchable, so take your time in determining how much to reduce them.
I painted my Stuart with a combination of Tamiya olive acrylic and spray colors. Decals are given for three vehicles; they apply well to a gloss undercoat.
My primary reference was M3-M3A1-M3A3 Stuart I to V, by Jonathan Forty (Ian Allen, ISBN 978-0-7110-2932-3). Also useful was M3 & M5 Stuart Light Tank, 1940-1945, by Steven J. Zaloga (Osprey, ISBN 978-1-85532-911-9), which provided a picture of one of the vehicles covered by the kit’s decals.
Note: The kit calls itself both an M3 and M3A1; from what I gathered from the references, it is a late-model M3. The completed model closely matches my references’ photos and drawings.
Construction time on this little M3 was a quick nine hours, and the finished model is a very good 1/72 scale replica of this famous tank. While it’s not a beginner’s kit, anyone who has built a few 1/72 or 1/76 scale kits will have no problems.