As with set #F026 this lower hull doesn’t correct any dimensional problems with the Academy kits but corrects the details from the Academy hull as well as adding extra detail missing or incorrect on the Academy kit hulls.
Included in the set is the single large lower hull casting and this has been refined by Rob from the earlier kits by the use of a differently designed mould allowing for a cleaner casting, the original had a fair bit of excess resin along to top edges and the newly cast hull requires less cleanup while still retaining the excellent details.
The detail on the lower hull is excellent with crisp details including the
many bolt heads, suspension housings, strengthening bars, access panels and
drain plugs and this detail extends to the hull sides with the correct bolt
arrangements and suspension mounting brackets as well as detail on the inside
of the hull with side bolt head details and lower floor driver rods to add
detail when using the interior parts.
The front lower transmission cover has subtle cast texture as well as the towing shackles and bolt head details included.
Additional parts are provided for the correct shaped and detailed return roller mountings and final drive housings which simply replace the Academy parts which have incorrect details.
The quality of the castings are excellent without any blemishes but care is needed when cutting the return roller mounts and final drive housings from their casting blocks so as not to remove too much resin from the parts, I found using a fine razor saw and then trimming with a sharp knife the best method.
The large rear casting blocks on the hull will still need care to remove and some minor trimming will be required at the front lower/upper hull join and the usual trimming/test fitting routine will arrive at the best fit.
The final drive housings fit snugly into the indentations on the hull side but the return roller mountings needed the round plate reduced in diameter with light sanding for a snug fit into the indentations on the hull sides, only minor sanding is required so test fit often till the best fit is achieved.
The resin lower hull from this set can also be used with the Formations M3A1 upper hull from set #F026 to produce an accurate kit but some trimming will still be needed at the front hull join with again test fitting and trimming the order of the day.
The AFV Club M3 suspension can be assembled as per instructions but leave of the fitting on the idler housing (part C52) and fill the small locating holes as these are not used on M3/M3A1 vehicles.
Fitting the AFV Club suspension was a breeze with the idler assembly fitting
perfectly in the resin hull indentions and will hold in place without glue
which illustrates the good fit.
For the suspension bogies it is best to drill out the location hole in the hull side for the AFV Club kit part C4 as this allows for a more precise fit but you can trim the pin on part C4 if you don’t want to drill the hull? Don’t drill all the way through the hull side if you are planning on adding the interior.
Again after drilling out the locating holes the bogie units held in place without glue such is the good fit but of course you would glue these and the idler units to the hull on the final kit.
A very well detailed lower hull to replace the Academy hulls or to use with the Formations upper M3A1 hull with excellent details and a minimum of work needed to fit to the Academy upper hull and even less work to incorporate the AFV Club suspension for a much improved Stuart.
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 7 November 2004