M10 3-Inch Gun Motor Carriage
Tank Destroyer

AFV Club Model Kit #35024
Copyright 2001 & 2002, Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Some Images Appearing in
The Afterburner - Newsletter of the Stockton Tomcats, October 2001
Edited by John Bergsing and Brad Baumgartener
Digital Photos Taken By Rodney Williams
All Rights Reserved

Page One

Awards & Honors

AFV Club #35024 is a great model - don't let anyone steer you wrong. It seems that even though we're living in a Golden Age as far as armor modeling goes, with every new release there seems to be even more willy-nilly, nit pickers, who whine and complain about every single release. If you can't shake the box up and produce a perfectly detailed and constructed model kit - then it's time to complain. Model kits are so well engineered, like Tamiya's releases, that the novice has little difficulty getting them together. This probably jades most - as little is called for in the way of skill, tenacity, and ingenuity when building the model nowadays. It's as if most have forgotten the lumps of plastic from the 1970's - and too the sheer pleasure of model building - because that's what it took to get them together and end up with a fine miniature.

Yes - there are some problems with the AFV Club kit. The Turret is too wide - and plain wrong as some purists feel - as the model kit's hull better represents a mid-production vehicle, but the Turret is more representative of the revised later version where one would find "Duck Bill" counterweights mounted. The Road Wheels might be a tad oversized but do look okay when in place, the Hatches could be rendered better (too square) and the Rear Panel is questionable but not too noticeable in the final product. I chose not to change these details building this model kit.

With a little extra effort (plain old fashioned model building) this kit can build up into a wonderful addition to you miniature AFV collection. For me, this was a double-treat, as every five years I seek out a military miniature to build that bore one of wife's nicknames - "Babs". At our Fifth Wedding Anniversary, I selected to model the M10 Tank Destroyer "Babs" as she might have appeared in Fall 1944 during the drive through southern France.

Using a photo of "Babs" found in Concord's US Tank Destroyers in Combat 1941-1945 I set out to make some detail changes to the AFV Club model kit as it comes from the manufacturer. First off, I obtained two sets of RHPS T-48 Rubber Chevron Block track links to retrofit to the model kit, as "Babs" is wearing these in the photograph of the tank destroyer advancing up a sandy beach. I needed two sets of links because I didn't have enough left over to model the spare track link runs stowed on her glacis plate as a form of supplemental armor.

Secondly, "Babs" is wearing Wading Trunks in the photograph, but I wanted to display her a couple of months later, having moved inland in the drive to liberate France. The AFV Club kit does not come with Wading Trunks nor a Exhaust Deflector Baffle common on these vehicles - which I had to scratch build. As these are flimsy, and were often torn away by the crew after landing operations. They also come in different varieties - giving you an opportunity to set your model apart from other M10 Tank Destroyer miniatures.

Beginning the Build

AFV Club's model kit's biggest nagging point is that the wonderfully detailed Bogeys and Idler Wheels don't have details on the backsides! This deficiency in the Idlers is most apparent when viewed from normal modeling angles. It is perfectly acceptable to clean up the ejector pin marks in the voids behind the wheels and finish the kit as is, however, I chose a different route - which works with the AFV Club supplied Laced Drive Sprocket.

Academy's equally wonderful model kit of the M12 155mm GMC comes with two sets of Bogeys, Idlers, and Drive Sprockets - open spoke and dished. Their dished wheels have inserts for the backsides! On happy day - both sets of wheels are also drop-fits onto the AFV Club Bogey Trucks. Since I had a choice, I chose Academy's open-spoke Idlers and Bogeys to fit onto my AFV Club M10 Tank Destroyer - to go with the AFV Club Drive Sprockets.

Now, the only caveat here was using the Academy Idler Wheels and the RHPS T48 Rubber Chevron Track Links. In order to get this combination to fit on the AFV Club M10 Tank Destroyer, you'll have to break out the battery-powered Dremel tool and sand down the outer rim thickness of the Academy Idlers. They were a bit too thick and I couldn't slip the RHPS track links between them and the sponson floor of the model kit when it came time to attach them. You don't have to remove too much plastic, and take your time to rotate the wheel and make sure it remains round. The end result is so nice no one would know you thinned the Academy Idlers unless you told them. The RHPS track links set the model miniature off too.

The four photos of the Fighting Compartment interior were digital images taken by Master Aircraft builder Rodney Williams. All of this had to be completed and weathered prior to mating the upper and lower hulls of this miniature. Naturally, I'd go back in the end assembly and add small nick-knacks and other small details easily reached through the Turret Race. The electrical junction box in the center of the Fighting Compartment floor is made from scrap styrene strip. The five canteens are Tamiya Infantry items. Retaining Straps around the cardboard ammo containers are made from 3M Post-It-Notes - painted Khaki. I did rework the rear wall of the Fighting Compartment, so that the cardboard ammo containers would line up with the holes over the Sponsons properly. The Breech Area is essentially the same as the model kit's details, except for a few small bolts and eye-ring for the travel lock mechanism. The center rail in front of the eye-ring comes from AFV Club's stainless steel M10 Detail Set.

Having cleared the big hurdles in the project, the rest was simple. Hobby Fan makes a nice interior detail set for the AFV Club M10, but I decided to go with parts from Legend Productions' Interior Set. I used their side walls and floor to replace the missing detail in the basic AFV Club kit. I set aside their Transmission and Fighting Compartment Assemblies for use in another project. To the Legend Interior, I only added Escape Hatch detail to the Floor. A simple rectangle became a missing Electrical Junction Box on the center floor of the AFV Club Fighting Compartment - to which I would later connect in the end assembly.

I replaced AFV Club's Radio with one from Verlinden, and added some minor detailing of my own in the Fighting Compartment that basically adds depth to an already great amount of detail. Little else is called for to satisfy even the most finicky of modelers. Missing from the AFV Club kit are small items - like a First Aid Kit and the M2 Chemical Decontamination Apparatus. The First Aid Kit came from Verlinden - and decaled with the item from Archer's dry-transfer set. The M2 Chemical Decontamination Apparatus comes from Tamiya. The five Canteens suspended on the right sponson wall are Verlinden items. For another touch, I added a Tamiya M3 'Grease Gun' Sub-Machine Gun to the gear inside the co-driver's compartment.

A Thompson Sub-Machine Gun is mounted, with foil clips, on the upper rear of the Turret - on the outside of the spare ammo clip box. The Tommy Gun is a Tamiya item. An Italeri Helmet, with scratchbuilt foil Liner and Straps joins the other details in the miniature's interior. I scratchbuilt three Signal Flags to stow on the upper left side of the Turret out of pre-painted tissue. Red, Orange, and Green, I wet the pre-painted tissue with a mixture of white glue and water, rolled and shaped them, and when dry, I mounted them in place.

AFV Club doesn't give you 3" ammunition to supply the Ready Racks in the Turret. This leaves the area quite bare. They recommend utilizing their brass 76mm ammunition detail set, but this isn't quite right for the M10. I used Kendall Model Company's 3" Ammo Set to add this detail to my model. KMC's original set is difficult to find, but Warriors makes a set you can use for your M10 miniature. Spare .50cal and .30cal ammo cans are Verlinden items.

To finish it all off, I also purchased AFV Club's M10 Etching Set too. This stainless steel set is nice - with an incredibly small Gun Sight Vane - but at times quite tricky to use. The stainless steel isn't as pliable as the brass I've grown accustomed (spoiled) to in an Eduard detail set. Here, I only used a handful of parts to add to the kit, and totally went away from using the stainless steel straps. Here, paper works much better.

Finishing and Weathering

I painted the RHPS track links with Tamiya's new NATO Black. This is a very nice weathered black finish that's perfect for simulating rubber on tires and track links - as well as mimicking the modern US AFV color. I varied the colors used for the end connectors, some were painted Tamiya Metallic Grey, and the rest were painted Testor's Model Master Metallic Graphite. I wanted to vary the tones of the end connectors, and when I put them one, I did so in a random manner. When the model was weathered and dulled out, the little variation breaks up the uniformity and adds a little more subtly in depth of the details already present in the miniature.

I did not glue the end connectors to the rubber track blocks - so nice was the fit in the RHPS set. However, leaving them flexible like this means you have to take extra care in getting the alignment proper. It took a long time to paint and assemble the runs, but it was worth it in the end. Once applied to the model, and the running gear suitably weathered - I drybrushed the chevrons with a mixture of Ivory Black and Zinc White oil paint - to simulate the worn rubber that contacts the ground. Another subtle tone to add to the finished product.

Posed on her display base while the earthwork is beginning to dry, "Babs" is still without its external stowage. I like to mount the model on a base before going to this step - so that I can handle it better - and keep my mitts off the model as much as possible. Her display base is a little oversized for my preference too, but will work fine in the end.

The exhaust deflector does not come in the AFV Club kit. I scratchbuilt one to add more character to this miniature. These items were pretty flimsy in reality, and took quite a beating. They came in different shapes and varieties, so you have a little leeway in fashioning one for your model. Mine appears a bit long, but I decided against changing it because I like the way it looks. That's what's important ultimately. The Academy Idler Wheel shows no sign of the sanding I performed to reduce it's diameter to get the RHPS tracks to fit on the kit.

The AFV Club kit, sadly, comes with no external crew gear to add to your completed model. No problem for me, but I have a pretty well-stocked detail box. The basic external equipment is provided, however.

I opted to go with a combination of my own scratchbuilt items, and some nice after-market items. Verlinden's external stowage was a welcome addition to my miniature. I used their rolled tarps, along with mats to place underneath sleeping bags made by AEF Designs.

Before the final dull coat and attaching the external stowage and equipment, I deftly applied a mixture of Hudson & Allen Mud with a generous amount of grass clippings from their Summer Grass packet, to the underside of the Hull and around the running gear. I say deftly because I applied a good amount - careful not to obscure the detail present in the basic model kit's moldings. I can't bring myself to glop on the mud, but did apply it where it would normally collect in, around, on, and between the suspension components. Doing this weathering step is almost an art unto itself - so that you convince the viewer that this is how a typical vehicle of this type looked in the field, while satisfying the finicky contest judge that you really aren't hiding a flaw or two in a bunch of goop.

My favorite technique when using Hudson & Allen Mud is to apply the mixture to the portions of the miniature where I want it. When dry (probably 15 minutes to a half-hour) I spray the newly muddied area with a dull coat spray. This changes the 'color' of the mud to a 'wet' appearance. After the dull coat sets, I go back and add patches of a new mixture of Hudson & Allen Mud to various spots on the Hull. This creates patches of dried mud amongst the wet mud. I do this at the end of the miniature's end assembly - so I'm not tempted to shoot more dull finish on it. This will change the dried mud to a 'wet' appearance again. Vary your sequence and you'll be pleased with the end result. Mud should never be applied evenly nor uniformly.

Finishing all of this off is a light dusting around the lower hull and suspension. First is a dirty mixture of grimy black - literally from the well-used thinner on my workbench that cuts a 1/3 Tamiya Flat Black and 2/3 Flat Brown by 70%. I don't know what to call the ruddy color I get, but I airbrush this on first. It's the consistency of thinned milk. It dries dirty brown. Road dust is simulated with a very light airbrushing of a 50% thinned combination 1/2 Polly S Dust to 1/2 Polly S Mud. In the end, my lower hull and suspension areas are a different color that the upper hull and surfaces of the miniature tank - the desired result. I mix it up differently for each miniature, so the tones and end results are different per model.

I decided to remove the previous stowage I had on the Glacis Plate to try out portions of the new Hobby Fan (#HF014) M10 Accessories and Sandbags set. Photos below are of the bare resin to show you the fine detail they cast into their parts. Luckily, I made everything easily removable, so that retrofitting these parts to my miniature wasn't a difficult task.

This is the Hobby Fan M10 Accessories' sandbags all painted up and weathered. It is a wonderful resin casting - note the bullet holes and torn bags. I painted this with a base coat of Tamiya Flat Black. Then I over-sprayed in a thin cloudy pattern with Tamiya XF-57 Buff for the basic sandbag color. I brush painted the wooden dam Tamiya XF-60 Dark Yellow to simulate a pine board. To this I would add another simulated pine board - made from a length of coffee stir stick - painted to match. After drying for about 30 minutes, I washed the parts with a mixture of Raw Umber oil paint diluted with Turpenoid. This doesn't react with Tamiya acrylic paint, allowing you to move pretty fast. After allowing the oil wash to dry for about 30 minutes, I removed most of the wash with a brush dampened in Turpenoid, leaving it in the recesses for depth. I let the whole sit for two hours, and then made up a drybrush highlight with oil paints - seen above. The mixture is 80% Zinc White and 20% Yellow Ochre - mixed until it was pleasing to my eye, and then applied with the flat brush captured in the photo.

When the whole was dry, I attached it to the model. The dirt inside the torn bags was the same as applied to the display base - to match. I wet the torn areas with diluted water / white glue mixture, and sprinkled the earth powder into the area. When set, I lightly brushed away the excess.

All in all, this was a fun, but involved miniature. I set out to make it a fun 'weekender' but it turned into a build that took some time. I wound up finishing other projects between sessions with this one. It wasn't because the model kit was difficult to assemble - it was because the basic AFV Club offering is so nice that it compels you to 'do just one more thing' to it in every step. It goads you into AMS quickly. I'd get bogged down, swimming in ideas so something else to add to the miniature, and wound up putting it aside to take a breather. I highly recommend the model for building - just be ready for the ride it can take you on...

Update: September 2002

I pulled my M10 Tank Destroyer out for a little cleaning and decided to paint chip and weather the model a little bit more - and mounting it on a more compact display base. I think the weathering served to give the miniature a little more character, though the effect is subtle. There aren't many lines on the M10 that will jump out and grab you, but the weathering will draw you in a little closer.

All content Copyright 1998 - 2019 Jim Lewis, guntruck.com, guntruck.us, guntruck.org, guntruck.net and GunTruck Studios.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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