Academy 1/35 Achilles Tank Destroyer
It was 1942 and the US Army needed an effective tank destroyer and they needed it quickly. The M10 was developed based on the M4A2 chassis and sporting a three inch main gun. The armor of the Sherman was stripped down to save weight and increase mobility. The decision was made to keep the top of the turret open as well.
Remember that while the M10 was to be the allied version of the German Sturmgeschutz tank destroyer, the Sturmgeschutz was heavily armored because the Germans were fighting with the 'home court' advantage - they didn't have to transport their weapons by ship from the US via England to Europe and then lift them off by crane into combat. Ships cranes did have load limits as did the landing craft that carried the armor to shore, and these limits dictated how heavy (how much armor) these vehicles could have.
What the M10 lacked in armor, it gained some in flexibility. The StuG main gun is permanently fixed forward in the hull, with only limited gimballing left or right. To train the gun, the vehicle had to be moved. The M10, on the otherhand, had its gun in a standard turret mount allowing fire in any direction without having to move the vehicle out of cover. While the M10 didn't always have the advantage of cover, it had its mobility to help it along.
The British adopted the M10 as their tank destroyer, though they replaced the 3" gun with their heavier hitting Mark V 17 pounder. Provisions for 50 rounds of ammunition were provided in ready racks in the turret and down in the main hull.
Not since Academy's release of the M12 self-propelled gun have I seen so many parts in one of their boxes! Like the M12, the Achilles kit is highly detailed inside and out. While it was very impressive to see the kit assembled at the 2001 RCHTA show and to see how much interior detail is provided straight from the box, it is even more impressive to see it in kit form!
Molded in tan styrene, this kit comes on seven trees not counting the upper and lower hull halves and rubber band track. As you can see from the scans, there are plenty of details and there are 16 pages of nicely illustrated instructions to help you through the project. The molding of the parts are crisp and free of flash. The underside of the hull lacks the 'traditional' holes for motorization that still plague us from other manufacturers (thank you Academy!).
The lower hull features a nicely detailed Sherman-type suspension system with your choice of road wheels and drive sprockets. You are also given several options for transmission covers and tow hooks as well.
The driver's compartment is extremely detailed from controls to instrumentation. Sitting between the driver. The radio operators position (to the right of the driver) is also well detailed with equipment. Sitting between the driver and radio operator is a beautifully detailed transmission.
The main crew compartment installs aft of the drivers compartment and it features loads of detail including ammunition storage, plumbing and even canteen stowage.
The rear of the hull even provides the internal fuel tanks on either side of the engine compartment. Interestingly enough, while there is no engine provided in this kit, the internal fuel tanks are. When the top of the hull is glued into place, I don't believe you'll be able to see these fuel tanks. The engine access doors are positionable, so you'll be able to add an aftermarket engine if you're so inclined.
The open turret and main gun are the most intensely detailed areas in this kit. The 17 pounder features a nicely detailed breech mechanism and controls. The inside of the turret also is equipped with stowage for main gun ammo, machine gun ammo and a variety of other equipment. Your choice of 30 cal or 50 cal machine gun is also provided.
Markings are provided for two Achilles examples, a machine that operated in Italy in October, 1944 and one from Holland in May, 1945.
This kit is a winner! The Academy Achilles looks as great and as impressive out of the box as their earlier M12 and the recent Tamiya Marder. This kit should be a definite acquisition for the World War Two modeler and is suitable for any modeler with a little modeling experience and ability to follow instructions.
Our sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample.