AFV Club
U.S. M3A3 Light Tank Stuart (Stuart V)
AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35053

Review by Terry Ashley

AFV Club

Following on from the recent Academy M3 and M3A1 kits which promised so much we now have the long awaited M3A3 from AFV Club.
The first thing I can say is this kit is all new and bears no relationship with either the Academy or earlier Tamiya M3 kits other than it is of the Stuart family. The second thing I can say is be excited, be very excited.

The Kit:

The kit consists of 325 parts in olive drab plastic, a small fret of etched metal, a metal barrel, decal sheet, short length of twine and one sprue from their T-16 individual track link set (for the spare track links) as well as two full length T-16 vinyl tracks.
325 parts in a vehicle this size should give you a heads up of the details that awaits the opening of the box.
The quality of the mouldings is back to the best we have seen from AFV club in kits like their M88 and M35 truck, pin ejector marks are kept to a minimum being mostly on places not seen after assembly, while those that are visible are quite small and should be easy to eliminate but there are some minor sink marks on a few parts. Some of the fine parts are especially noteworthy and will require care to remove from the sprues.
Many of the assemblies are multi-part for good definition and detail, an example being the hull MG which as well as the full .30cal gun has three additional pieces for the ball mount and the main 37mm gun which is made up of 17 parts including the metal barrel and all the fuel filler caps, ventilators and periscopes being separate pieces, the detail just keeps coming.
AFV Club
Starting from the ground up, the lower hull is the usual tub which has excellent detail on the bottom and sides including well defined bolt head and weld seam details as well as the undersides of the hull sponsons with the details extending to the two hull side lifting shackles.

The suspension bogies are multi-part and feature nice details on the components as well as wheels that have the correct shaped cut-outs, the bogies are not movable when assembled so the detail is not compromised to make them so.
The idler wheel assembly is movable and has separate arms with good details included as well as the correct shaped cut-outs on the idler wheels with a separate central axle.
The drive sprockets have the open pattern sprocket with very nice central hub details, a poly cap is trapped between the inner and outer sprocket to attach to the final drive axle.

The rear hull plate has the doors separate and again very nice bolt head details but there is no hull interior apart from the full hull .30cal MG.

The upper hull is an excellent moulding and features an ‘orange peel’ type surface effect as well as nice weld seams along each corner, the middle of the hull side and along the contours of the rear hull. There are also excellent details on the hull top as well as separate fuel filler caps, forward hatches and the rear engine intake grill section; this is in plastic which is fair enough as it’s mostly hidden under the turret overhang and the pattern doesn’t lend itself to etched metal.
The hull hatches also have separate periscope housings and periscopes again with excellent definition and the hinges are also separate parts to finish off the detail here.
All the pioneer tools are separate as well as a separate glacis plate with nice definition on the large join fairing along the lower section and separate front fender sections and as mentioned the hull machine gun has three parts for the ball mounting. There are no side skirts in the kit but these were rarely used in combat so probably won’t be missed.
The rear of the hull is especially well done with the contours and curves looking spot on when compared to photographs, there is a very small moulding seam across the middle of the curve but this is easy to remove and is a small price to pay for the nice contours, this is all finished off with nice bolt head and weld seam details and of course all the front and rear lights are separate parts.
The large storage box on the rear hull is multi-part and has good details as well as etched metal screens, the underside exhaust deflectors also have etched screens included.
Other small fittings go to finish off the excellent details all over the hull.

The turret is especially well done with turret itself split in half with a separate lower lip and ring for the hull top. The turret roof is split between the forward section with separate periscopes and the two rear hatches again with separate periscope. The hatches have some minor pin ejector marks on the insides but they should be easily removed.
The turret interior has a complete 37mm gun assembly which as well as the gun and mounting with traverse wheels and binocular sight, co-ax MG and alternate breeches with the block open or closed and a radio for the rear shelf (US type). The barrel has the first section in plastic and the outer section in turned aluminium which means there are no join seams to be cleaned.
The size and shape of the turret also looks good when compared to references and to the Academy turret and is noticeably larger than the Tamiya turret.

Alternate parts are provided for the British and Yugoslav versions such as the two turret side British style smoke canisters, fire extinguishers for the rear storage boxes and alternate aerial mounts.

The tracks are single length vinyl tracks but have excellent details for this type of track. The vinyl is quite soft and has gaps between each pad and the end connectors are in the correct position and should look perfectly okay on the kit as the M3 tracks don’t have any track sag.


The decal sheet is well printed with thin carrier film and includes markings for seven vehicles.

  1. Free French, 1st Morocco Cavalry, 2nd Amd. Division
  2. Free French, 5th Amd. Division 1944
  3. 3rd Company, 1st Battalion 1st Chinese Provisional Tank Group, Burma 1945
  4. 3rd Company, 3rd Battalion 1st Chinese Provisional Tank Group, Burma 1945
  5. British, 5th Royal Tank Regiment, 22nd Amd Brigade, June 1944
  6. British, 22nd Amd Brigade, 7th Amd Division. June 1944
  7. Yugoslavia, 1st Tank Brigade, July 1944

Additional notes on the British markings by Peter Brown:
Option E is listed as 5RTR, the name CALAMITY JANE II appears on a tank of 4th County of London Yeomanry and a photo is in "Villers Bocage Through The Lens" page 33. This tank has the front sections of the dust guards fitted, there are other views of other Stuart V KO'd at Villers Bocage but markings are not visible. 4CLY should have used an arm of service sign of 53 on red under the 22AB sign (decal sheet item 27), the Regiment's Cromwells appear not to have had unit markings though they are shown in a plate in David Fletcher's Concord "British Tanks of WWII (1) France & Belgium 1944". Cannot comment on whether the serial number is accurate, the plate notes say it could not be read though it is in the T231126-231625 given for Stuart V.

Option F for a 22AB/7AD tank is named ELUSIVE which is a 5RTR name and there is a photo in the Fletcher book page 21. Their arm of service marking was 52 so using the other decal would be correct. the name is right but the serial is wrong. In the photo one number is obscured so it reads T231*57 so maybe should be T231657 which is at least easy to alter. This vehicle was photographed bogged on the beach and lacks mudguards, though other photos show the front and long side parts fitted as well as a white star in a ring on the roof, also dust/waterproofing covers on the main gun and lots of stowage including the driver's external windscreen.

So, mixing the decals with some work, we can get vehicles for 5RTR and 4CLY in 22nd Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division in Normandy though both options need extra items, stowage etc.



In all a superb little kit with details everywhere. This kit delivers everything Stuart fans have wanted and should look superb when finished.
Let’s only hope AFV Club expands the range with an M5 or two and the separately released suspension set should find good homes on many an Academy M3.

Highly recommended.

Also see the separate M3/M5/M8 Stuart Vertical Volute Suspension Kit No. AF 35056 set.

The Sprues:

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Detail Images
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STUART A History of the American Light Tank
R.P.Hunnicutt. Presidio Books ISBN 0-89141-462-2
M3 & M5 STUART Light Tank 1940-1945
Steven.J.Zaloga. Osprey New Vanguard 33 ISBN 1 85532 911 5
STUART U.S.Light Tanks in action
Steven.J.Zaloga. Squadron Signal Publications ISBN 0-89747-084-2

Tristar Shop Thanks to AFV Club for the review kit.
Tristar Shop is distributed in Australia by J.B.Wholesalers

Page Created 17 March 2003
Updated 18 March 2003