Sunday, August 18, 2013

M5A1 Stuart

For whatever reason, the M5 Light Tank has not proved a popular subject for 1/72 scale kit manufacturers despite the not insignificant number that were produced during WWII.

Below are the four different models of this tank that I am aware of  in 1/72 scale. From left to right, the manufacturers are RAFM, Plastic Soldier Company, Hobby Master, and Altaya.

The RAFM M5 is from their Baker Company line of 20mm WWII products.  The 20mm designation always confuses me because some manufacturers use the term interchangeably with 1/72. Anyway, I had originally bought the tank for use as parts, but as it turned out, most of the dimensions are very similar to those of my other M5A1s. The main difference is that the hull and turret are more squat than that of the others.

All four are fairly comparable in size, though I have heard that the actual dimensions that were referenced for making the models may have been flawed.

From left to right, the tanks are RAFM, PSC (no skirt), PSC  (skirt + hedgerow cutter), Hobby Master, and Altaya.

The Altaya tank has the longest hull, though this is not readily apparent because the length of the fenders is near identical on all of the skirted M5A1s. Another outlier is the PSC M5A1, which is not as wide as the other tanks.

Altaya and PSC

The Altaya tank is decent, but it is let down by poor tracks, and a barrel that is too short. The problem with the tracks is that they are really soft, and buckle in around the sprocket wheels.

To get around this problem, I carved some bits of plastic to fit around the sprocket wheels and give the track some support from underneath.

The PSC model was built pretty much as is, but the hull and turret mounted machine guns were pretty sad, so  I replaced the barrel of the turret mounted gun with a brass Mini World barrel, and the hull gun with a white metal Sgt's Mess barrel. I also carved down the handle of the Browning to something that was a more reasonable size.

The Hobby Master M5A1 represents one of the Bear of Kinmen (金門之熊) tanks involved in the Battle of Guningtou, in which Republic of China forces crushed a PLA attempt to capture Jinmen Island. This version of the tank has pressed steel road wheels which is typical of the later M5A1s, but for some reason it retains the side skirts. This is definitely not accurate for ROC M5A1s.

Hobby Master and PSC

I believe that Mirage had plans to release injection kits of this subject, but who knows how long it will actually take for them to materialize. In the mean time, the PSC M5A1s are a decent alternative for wargaming, but maybe not so much if you are a scale modeler.


Sean said...

Another great post, I'll have to look into these kits. And the whole scale versus size thing really bugs me. As well as scale creep.

EY said...

Hi Sean,

Thanks for reading.

The PSC tanks are 3/box, and a great deal if you order from NWS. The other models probably run 3-6x the price.

I plan on getting a couple of more boxes, but need to figure out an easy way to convert them to the pressed steel wheel versions.

Carlos said...

I've been looking for confirmation that the R.O.C. M5s didn't have side skirts (along with markings for the tanks used at Guningtou), without any luck. Were you able to find that info?

Thanks for the review!

EY said...

Hi Carlos,

There is a blog with pictures from a ROC Armed Forces Museum special exhibit showing ROC M5A1s during this period, and none of them have skirts. There is another site that showed pictures of the actual tank represented by the Hobby Master model, and it did not have skirts. Unfortunately I can't find the URL anymore.

As for the markings, the tanks were numbered 64, 65, and 66. Bestfong makes decals for these tanks in 1/72.

Carlos said...

That's incredibly helpful. When he was alive, my wife's grandfather said that he served in one of those tanks at the Battle of Guningtou. Unfortunately it's too late to find out more from him. I do plan on modeling it one of these days.