One thing to mention early is this set is not meant to deal with any dimensional errors of the Academy kit as this would virtually mean a whole new kit with a much higher price and this is clearly stated in the instructions and on the Formations website but to give you a correct welded hull to match the interior of the Academy kit.
The set consists of 21 cleanly cast parts in light cream resin which as usual has absolutely no blemishes at all with only the usual casting blocks and resin film in the hull openings to be removed. The only point to watch is the casting pour point on the front of the hull which will need care to remove so as not to damage the front edge.
The large hull casting is of particular note being perfectly cast without any hint of warping on the many angles and also includes casting numbers on the machine gun fairing as well as the flush mounted screws on the rounded rear hull section, the protective bolt covers around the turret ring and the correct M3A1 front fender supports.
The two rear air cleaners are very well detailed with separate mounting brackets
and upper and lower piping and as a bonus you also get plain air cleaners so
you can use the etched mountings and fittings from the Eduard etched set #35
543 if you prefer.
The two D shaped holes on the rear hull need to be drilled out to take the resin air cleaner pipes and the central engine intake screen (Academy kit part B48) requires two small notches to be removed to clear the turret ring bolt covers, this shouldn’t be a problem if you mark the part with a fine pencil and check again before cutting as only small notches are required and of course you can replace the intake screen with the Eduard set as well.
Other detail parts included in the set is a replacement 37mm barrel with the small tip flair and hollowed out muzzle to replace the kit barrel and there are four nicely detailed .30cal MG barrels to use in the turret and on the AA gun plus a couple of spares as well as the two tail lights to replace the kit items and a small storage box.
The fit of the resin hull to the Academy lower hull tub is so good it’s hard to believe this is actually an aftermarket resin hull as there is not the slightest gap anywhere to be filled and is a rear plus when fitting the two together while the turret fits tightly into the turret ring cut out and just needed a light sanding to get an even fit but you will need to cut off the two locating tabs from the kit turret lower ring (part E8) as the resin turret lip is thicker than on the Academy kit hull.
The instructions include three view diagrams on fitting the air cleaners to ensure you line up the mountings and pipes correctly as well as notes on assembling the kit plus listing some other alterations to the Academy kit parts to bring them to the M3A1 standard.
Another superbly cast and detailed set from Formations with the quality of the hull casting top shelf and the fit of the resin parts to the plastic parts will make this a very easy update set to assembly and allows you to build a more detailed M3A1 Stuart from the Academy kit.
Rob plans some other bits for the Stuart and we can only hope this will include an M5/M5A1 hull somewhere along the way, not that I’m dropping a hint at all.
Highly recommended.Check the Formations website for details of other update sets available and thanks to Rob for the review sample.
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Page created 30 June 2004