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Academy 1/35 scale M3 Stuart "Honey"

Kit: No. 1399
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Academy, distributed by Model Rectifier Corp., 80 Newfield Ave., P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08818, 732-225-2100,
Price: $25
Comments: Injection-molded, 702 parts (2 vinyl, string), decals
Pros: Good detail and fit, choice of vinyl or individual-link tracks, much-needed subject
Cons: Interior parts more suitable for the M3A1, individual links tricky to assemble

The story goes that when a British soldier was asked what he thought of the new Lend-Lease Stuart tank, he replied, "It's a honey," and the name stuck. The Stuart was faster than anything that the British had in their arsenal, and its 37mm main gun packed a mean punch for a light high-speed cavalry tank. Besides serving with the British in the African desert, the vehicle saw use by the U.S. Army in both the European and Pacific Theaters. The M3 went through several modifications throughout its life, and almost 6,000 were built.

Academy's M3 Stuart "Honey" is molded in tan plastic and features finely detailed parts. A basic interior is included, but it invites detailers to add more. Also included are both one-piece vinyl tracks and alternate individual-link tracks - making up 424 of the kit's whopping 702 parts. The eight-page instruction booklet has excellent diagrams and even includes some detail photos of a finished model. A separate sheet covers painting and decal placement. The five-color decal sheet has markings for two British Honeys, one U.S. Stuart, and one Japanese-captured vehicle. Several additional British regimental markings are also included. No figures are included in the kit.

I built my Stuart a little differently from my normal practice. I prepared the interior components, main gun, and turret so I could paint all the white interior items in one session. The instructions would have you mount a beautifully molded interior basket to the turret ring in step 7, but the basket was introduced on the M3A1 version, so I left it out.

Normally I would put the running gear on the lower hull right away, but I left it off so I could more easily paint the olive drab peeking out from under the British desert yellow at the bottom of the hull. Next, I put together almost all the upper hull parts, except for the tools and headlights with their brush guards. The sand shields fit well to the fenders. No filler was required, and a couple of passes with a sanding stick made the seams look right.

I dry-fitted the upper and lower hull halves and sprayed the entire hull with Tamiya desert yellow. (Academy doesn't name any brand of paint, but I noticed that all of the color names matched Tamiya's names.) When the yellow was dry, I masked off the hull and sprayed the gray areas and the turret with a mixture of 40 percent Tamiya medium gray and 60 percent light blue. The bottom of the hull took a coat of olive drab with just a bit coming up around the edges. Finally, I masked the turret and sprayed the top and cupola with Tamiya dark green.

The decals were added over a brush coat of Future, applied just where the decals were to go. They responded well to Micro Set and Micro Sol, needing only a gentle nudge with a cotton swab over the large rivets. The white of the decals is a bit translucent. A coat of Polly Scale clear flat blended them to the paint.

After the paint and decals were dry, I assembled all the components. The interior parts fit perfectly. The rest of the detail parts were added to the upper hull, and the running gear was added to the lower hull. I chose the one-piece vinyl tracks to save time. They're well molded and fit tightly.

I assembled a short length of the individual-link tracks to see how they fit. The end connectors fit loosely to the pins, so you'll have to glue them as you go, or else they will fall apart. The guide teeth also tend to toe in when installed. I recommend building a jig to hold the links in place while the connectors are installed, then mounting the track in short lengths. Both the one-piece and the individual-link tracks fit the drive sprocket and the rest of the running gear well.

Academy's M3 took about 16 hours to finish; not bad for a model with an interior and a complex camouflage scheme. Allow for many more hours if you use the individual-link track. I agree with that British soldier: When it comes to the Academy Stuart, "It's a honey."


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