Classy Hobby have moved on from large scale German models, and released a large scale World War II American model in the form of M5A1 “Stuart” Light Tank. This 1/16th scale model from Classy Hobby is the 3rd offering of the Stuart as regards this US military vehicle family. The drive sprocket, suspension and main gun is as used in previous Stuart tanks, however the rest of the vehicle is all new. The M5A1 Stuart is a blockier vehicle with better armour and a slightly higher weight, this resulted in it being slower than previous vehicles. The easiest way to spot an M5A1 Stuart is the raised profile of the engine deck, the M5A1 was built by the Cadillac Corporation and it housed two Cadillac V8 engines housed side by side and unlike the previous air cooled radial engines fitted previously these engines were water cooled and so required the installation of radiators hence the raised engine deck. Armed with a 37mm gun and a number of Browning machine guns, it was never going to win any battles against other tanks. But in the spotting role it performed its job admiraly.
This offering from Classy Hobby is packaged in a large cardboard tray, with an additional flip top lid and an additional card lid featuring the artwork. Upon opening the box, you are presented with a plethora of plastic and ziploc bags. I have noted that the flip top lid has pressure and puncture marks caused by the large quantity of parts inside, and this just goes to show just how much plastic has been included in this model. An examination of the parts has not indicated that any damage has been caused to the mouldings but it will mean that parts will need to be checked carefully. Quality of the mouldings is very high, as I have come to expect from Classy Hobby, but at the same time while enabling the building of a high quality 1/16th scale model it does appear to me that effort has been made to keep it within the abilities of most modellers.
This model provides a number of features that I believe the modeller will be more than pleased to see. There is photo etch covering the expected aspects of the model such as engine deck grilles, the air cooling fans are replicated in the model, which is a nice and unexpected touch. The turret offers a nice interior, including the cradle. The one disappointment I have noted is that there are holes that need to be opened up in some parts, and no drill size has been included. I have found odd pieces of plastic that have come loose from the sprue carriers, but this does not appear to have damaged the part. I feel my most unexpected observation is that there are a large number of ejector pin marks both raised and recessed and in a few cases both raised and recessed, obviously most of these will be hidden but it is not something that I had expected to find.
Back to the high points, the model offers workable tracks using the two halves of each track link are joined and this traps another part consisting of two track pins and end links between them. In 1/16th scale this process is much easier to deal with than it perhaps it is in 1/35th. The Browning machine guns have been slide moulded, and offer a very good level of detail throughout. This includes ammunition belts from the supplied ammunition boxes to the mg itself. While the mg themselves have been moulded as a single piece, the level of detail is of a more than acceptable standard for me, and lets be honest apart from the one that sits outside the turret you are only going to see the barrel of the other two. The other ammunition boxes I have not seen utilised on the model, and so can be used as stowage by the modeller. When it comes to high levels of detail some obstacles will always present themselves, such as bolt details and that is the case with this model. The modeller needs to shave off bolt details from the sprue and attach to the wheels. This presents a big risk as regards the carpet monster - You have been warned!!!!!
Returning to the turret interior, I am rather pleased with what has been presented. As it will enable the hatches to be opened, regardless of whether crew figures are utilised or not. The reason for the wide flat back of the turret, has been well replicated and is due to the British requiring the installation radios at this point. It is my understanding that the Americans were not concerned about the radios but were accommodated because of the British request. A detailed radio is included by Classy Hobby as is the traversing unit, detail has been provided for the sides and the interior roof of the turret which are going to be difficult to see but are very nice inclusions none the less. Good breach detail of the main gun is also present and finally I was very pleased to see the inclusion of clear periscopes for the model.
I have deliberately kept this review sort, due to a build of this model being under way in the forums, by Donald R Wolozanski aka Old Warlock a link to which I have included in this review. Please take the time to comment on his build as I know it means a lot to those displaying their efforts and the amount of extra work it adds to the process.
M5A1 “Stuart” Light Tank build by Donald R Wolozanski aka Old Warlock
This offering from Classy Hobby, provides some exceptional details such as the turret interior, the radiator fan detail, and workable track links. These will draw the large scale modeller to this offering from Classy Hobby. Not so pleasing to find are the ejector pin issues and the unspecified size of holes that need to be made. But this is not the end of the world, and should not overly concern modellers. All told this model has a great deal of appeal, and I do look forward to finding some time to actually build it.