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AFV Club 1/35 scale M42 Duster

Kit:35042 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$70
AFV Club, from Merit International
Full gun compartment; detail on the 40mm guns
Complex turret assembly with poor fit to the hull
Injection-molded, 454 parts (2 white metal, 3 photoetched metal, 20 vinyl), decals

The M42 Duster was a mobile anti-aircraft unit for the post-Korean War U.S. Army. Based on the M41 light-tank chassis, it mounted two of the battle-tested 40mm Bofors guns. In Vietnam, it proved to be an outstanding weapon for base defense and convoy escort.

AFV Club has issued the first all-new kit of this unique vehicle since Tamiya’s kit of the early 1970s. Cleanly molded in dark-olive plastic, it features turned-metal gun barrels, metal recoil springs, vinyl one-piece tracks, and photoetched-metal gunsights.

Studying the instructions, I could see that the turret and gun would require careful planning and assembly. Per the instructions, I started with the hull and running gear. The suspension arms and bogie wheels are beautifully molded and went together without a problem; the one-piece tracks have nice detail — and they are just the right length!

The upper hull comprises multiple parts. These attach neatly to the lower hull. The turret well also has multiple parts. Getting these aligned and attached properly is essential to installation of the turret tub later on. Tip: Sand the interior of the assembled turret well for a smooth surface.

All hull hatches are separate parts and can be posed open. But there is no interior detail, other than some detail parts for the large front hatch.

The fenders replicate the complex storage box and stowage of the real vehicle. I built and painted the fenders separately and installed them in the final steps. There is a small muffler attached to the right fender; I would install this before adding the air-filter ducts (parts L32/L33). Otherwise, it’s difficult to place.

Detail in the gun assembly and turret interior is profuse, with many parts. I followed the instructions and built up the lower gun tub. At this point, I had not assembled the gun mount. In hindsight, I would also assemble the guns and trunnions to test-fit against the matching gun-tub parts.

Once the lower turret and guns are assembled, the upper, multi-piece armored shields are constructed. You’ll need to trim the parts for the front armored boxes to achieve a precise fit. 

I liked the inclusion of metal barrels for the Bofor guns. Optional flash hiders are provided as plastic parts.

Test-fitting of the completed turret into its well indicated a very tight fit. I did some sanding of the well interior and turret-tub exterior. For good measure, I coated the interior of the well with liquid soap! I found the gun turret inserted nicely — but now it would not fit down far enough! After several attempts to determine the problem, I decided to remove Part D8, a turret attachment ring, from the hull interior. Success! This allowed the turret to sit properly. With such a tight fit, a locking locating mechanism such as Part D8 seems unnecessary.

I painted my Duster with various Tamiya olive drab paints. Decals are given for five vehicles; they were fragile, but they did apply well over a gloss undercoat with  some decal solution.

My primary reference was AFVisual: The Duster, by David Doyle (Letterman, no ISBN).

I finished my M42 in 28 hours. It was a challenge in some areas, but I really liked the outcome: It’s a convincing model. Given some of the assembly difficulties, I would recommend intermediate-or-better modeling skills. 

Modern armor modelers will want to add this kit to their collection, especially if they favor the Vietnam era.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2012 FineScale Modeler.


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