AFV Club
M40 Big Shot
U.S. 155mm Gun Motor Carriage

AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35031
Review by Terry Ashley

AFV Club
The M40 Gun Motor Carriage (GMC) was developed to replace the successful M12 155mm GMC built of the older M3 Chassis with the new vehicle built on the M4A3 chassis using the new HVSS suspension, this configuration first seeing service as the M4A3E8. The M40 was armed with the newer 155mm M1 gun with the engine moved midships and the large open rear area used to mount the M1 gun.

The M40 was first used in the closing months of WWII but was most notable used as the mainstay of US Artillery during the Korean War.

Without doubt this kit has had the longest gestation period of any kit with it first mentioned over 4 years ago and the first instalment of the HVSS suspension set (#AF35030) appearing in 2003 with also some of the “newer” sprues marked 2004 and 2005 showing work has been progressing steadily over that time. But the wait is now over with the kit finally being released and we can see if the wait was worth it.

The Kit:
The kit consists of 446 parts in olive drab plastic, 6 in clear plastic, a metal barrel, a small etched fret, a length of twine plus a set of vinyl T66 tracks and the decal and instruction sheets.

Metal barrel
AFV Club
Barrel rifling
AFV Club
Etched parts
AFV Club

Standard of plastic moulding is good with virtually no flash and pin marks kept to a minimum through the use of plastic nodes on many of the parts will require care during cleanup but there are a few pin and sink marks to deal with.

The detail on the parts is again very good overall with clean crisp details especially noticeable on the large grill sections and the subtle weld seams plus foundry casting numbers included on a number of the parts.

Some of the parts come from previous AFV Club kits, the above mentioned HVSS suspension from Kit #AF35030 and the 155mm M1 gun components from the M59 155mm Cannon “Long Tom” (kit #AF35009) and M115 8in Howitzer (Kit #AF35S06) along with the 155mm metal barrel although it has now had rifling added which the original barrel didn’t.

Main Hull:
The main hull tub is a large single moulding with the lower chassis, sponsons and superstructure sides all included with separate transmission cover, upper hull panel and rear compartment details.

The bottom of the hull has panel and suspension channel detail as well as very subtle weld seams on the front upper edges but this is almost invisible and you may want to make these more prominent. There is the underside transmission cover securing bolt strip detail and casting numbers added to the hull side extensions but there is no surface texturing with a very smooth finish to the plastic.

While this is a fairly complicated moulding it is thankfully formed perfectly square on my kit without the slightest hint of warping or other inconsistencies and this helps when fitting all the other components.

The HVSS suspension is exactly the same as that in kit #AF35030 and I will direct you to the full build review of that set instead of reinventing the wheels here (excuse the pun).

Fitting the suspension bogies and return rollers to the hull is very straightforward with the new final drive housings having a slight ‘orange peel’ surface effect but this is all but hidden when the sprockets are attached.

The sharp nosed transmission cover has the upper attachment bolt strip included as well as the towing shackles and small casting numbers and basic grease plug details on the undersides but again there is no surface texturing and added this with “Mr Surfacer” or similar will improve the appearance.

The main compartment bulkhead (part B33) and the upper hull, panel (part F1) are both perfect fits without any trimming or filler required which again makes the rest of the assembly easier.

The upper hull panel has open engine intake grills at the back with fine etched mesh to cover these and includes subtle weld beads on the central join and around the two cupola splash guards as well as fine raised stencilling around the three fuel filler caps which should come up well with careful painting.

On the glacis are the spare track racks from etched parts plus the large barrel travel lock with the side bracing bars and attachments and can be shown raised of laid back on the glacis as the hull attachments are workable if sparing with the glue.

On the top are the two large crew cupolas which are made from clear plastic as is the separate periscope and it’s interesting that the clear plastic is not the usual hard brittle type but is quite soft yet still has very well defined details. The softer plastic makes cleaning the sprue attachments much easier and added to the cupola is the separate hatch which also has the central revolving section separate for very good detail definition that included fine casting numbers on the hatch top.

There is also a separate hatch handle and periscope hole cover if you don’t fit the periscopes and the fit of all the parts is very again not requiring any trimming or filler and if you show the hatches open there is basic latch details on the inside of the hatches. The ventilator between the cupolas is a separate part for good definition but there was a small sink mark in the middle which is easy to fill before fitting.

All the tools are separate parts finely moulded with the tool clips included as well as a couple of jerry cans with separate grab handles and filler caps plus the separate headlights and bush guards which while moulded quite thin could do with being thinned a little more for a better appearance.

Rear Compartment:
Inside the rear compartment is the stepped lower floor with very well done tread plate and compartment details and the lower 155mm gun pedestal with the fit of these also being very good.

Along the tops of the sponsons are again very subtle weld seams not easy to see and a few large pin marks but these are covered by the storage racks and ammo contained so don’t be concerned at first glance.

On the forward engine bay bulkhead are the two large air cleaners in two parts each with very nicely defined securing strips plus the large side storage boxes, ammo racks and crew seats which also have the basic details included. This area is very busy on the real vehicle and there is scope for adding additional details but the basic structures are all included.

The large spade at the back is made up of multiple parts but there are few pin marks on the main girders to deal with as these are unavoidable while the blade itself is nicely formed with only a couple a small pin marks on the inside lip to deal with. There are separate pulley assemblies as well as the internal winch assembly and the spade is movable allowing you to show this raised or lowered with the instructions including small photos of the real pulley arrangements to help in added the wire cable for the twine provided.

At the back are the hull details of taillights in clear plastic, plus the lower tow shackle and the two side steps with the distinctive zig-zap tread plate pattern included.

The large foldable rear platform has the upper section again with the well defined zig-zag tread plate pattern but some images show there also fine dot pattern tread plate between the larger zig-zags, while others show no additional tread plate as depicted on the kit part.

The lower slide out grill platform is very nicely moulded with well defined grillwork which is virtually flash free and with nice thin grab rails and a additional lower rest but it does have very substantial sprue gate attachments that will require care when cutting from the sprue not to cause damage. The platforms can be positioned raised or lowered but the hinges are not movable like the spade so you have to decide the final position of the platforms before gluing in place.

The lower grill platform is designed to slide under the upper platform for storage just like the real thing and you can again position this as required.

M1 155mm Gun:
The M1 gun while a few years old now is still very nicely detailed with the large circular breech having a nine part breech block assembly with the distinctive threaded block and can be shown open or closed with the instructions showing the alternate locations for the block lever and piston.

The metal barrel is cleanly machined and is drilled out to depth of 10mm although the rifling only covers the first 5mm and there is a fair bit of excess metal left over from the rifling process to be cleaned out. As the muzzle is quite big you can see a fair way down the barrel and the short finish of the rifling can be noticed from certain angles.

The barrel is trapped between the rear gun halves which is then attached to the breech assembly with this assembly added to the lower gun cradle assembly which is cleanly moulded with some very small details included.

The main gun mounting is again nicely detailed with additional parts for the upper recoil cylinder brackets as well as separate parts for the elevation and traverse gear and hand wheels with this assembly fitting to the lower turntable with excellent bolt head and rib detail included.

The recoil pistons are designed to move in and out of their lower cylinders to allow the gun to be elevated as you wish and the hole gun assembly can be left off until after final painting to make this process easier.

The gun shields fitted either side of the gun are moulded commendably thin but there are a few shallow pin marks on the insides to contend with and care will be needed removing these so as not to damage the surrounding detail.

The shell loading cradle frame is also moulded very thin and due to the large sprue attachment gates extreme care will be needed when removing this from the sprues. This frame was already broken on my kit and this may be a problem but it will look very much ‘in scale’ due to the thin mouldings after the work involved.

These are full length vinyl T66 cast steel track with the details nicely defined in this medium without any pin marks and the ends will glue together with normal plastic cement, I used Tenax 7R which worked perfectly.

While the T66 track is okay for the late WWII vehicles most M40s in Korea were fitted with either T80 or T84 style tracks and AFV Club also have sets of workable T80E1 (set #AF35036), T84 (set #AF35033) and T84E1 (set #AF35037) tracks available if you want to update from the kit tracks.

T66 vinyl tracks
AFV Club
Clear parts
AFV Club

The large decal sheet is nicely printed with very thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image and should adhere well to the model.

Markings are included for seven M40s, one from WWII, five US M40s from Korea and one later M40 in British Service.

Decal Sheet
Image enhanced to show markings

AFV Club

Well the wait has been worth it with a very nicely detailed kit with all the main structures provided and as mentioned the real vehicle interior is very busy leaving plenty of scope for additional detailing.

Standout features are the clean moulding especially on the grillwork and the two cupolas which are impressive as is the HVSS suspension bogies and of course the big 155mm gun but adding surface texture may improve some areas.

The fit of the parts is excellent which helps for easy construction and the large one piece hull with all the angles is quite impressive and again this being warp free makes for a good starting point.

The later sprues are marked M40/M43 so we will no doubt see a future kit of the M43 8” Howitzer as we did with the artillery pieces and as the only difference was the gun tube its an easy conversion to do.

Highly recommended.

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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One the Web: M43 pics at Toadman's Tank Pictures

U.S.Self-Propelled Guns
in Action #2038

Squadron Signal Publications
Squadron Signal
SHERMAN A History of the
American Medium Tank

R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-080-5
Modeler's Guide to the Sherman
MMIR Special. Ampersand Publishing Company, Inc
Lucky ModelThanks to my credit card and Lucky Model for the review kit.

Page Created August 24, 2006

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