Ironside, part of the French ADV/Azimut company, has a kit of the M67A2 flamethrower tank, which was used for this model. The contents of the kit basically consist of a poor Korean copy of the Tamiya
M48A3 kit (minus the tracks and clear sheet for the searchlight), a set of AFV Club T-107 tracks, and some resin and etched brass parts by Azimut to convert the M48 into an M67. The plastic parts for the tank itself
are of mediocre quality; in some areas the mold hadn't even filled completely so there were gaps in parts, and huge sink marks. Luckily this was all on parts that are not needed, so it was not a real problem. The
tracks and resin parts are good quality, though.
Unfortunately, however, Ironside seems to have taken one or two shortcuts and also made a few dimensional errors. Starting with the first, the instructions tell
you to cut the bore evacuator off the plastic barrel and fit it to the resin barrel supplied for the conversion. The problem is that the M67's fake muzzle brake and bore evacuator are noticably different from those
of the M48's 90 mm gun... That meant I had to scratchbuild these bits from plastic tubing, using photographs of the real thing to measure and estimate the dimensions.
Similarly, no parts are provided for the
gunner's sight. The kit says to use the plastic sight and housing, but on the real tank the gunner used a sight like that fitted to the commander's cupola. As such, I had to fill the sight's location and replace it
by a scratchbuilt one.
The dimensional errors are mainly in the photoetched pieces. The outer part of the headlight guards, for example, is too large — it won't fit the internal braces if you glue its
base in the right place, or if you make it fit the braces, it ends up sitting too low at the bottom. My solution was to cut about a millimeter off both ends, which solved the problem neatly. Getting them to be
properly round was just about impossible, though it wasn't really a problem as I was building this model after a photograph, and the tank in that had its headlight guards crushed down a bit anyway.
replacement fender braces suffered from the same problem: they are about a millimeter too long, and this is very obvious because it means they extend all the way to the edge of the fenders, whereas they should stop
Cutting them back on the inside solved this, too, but it's something that really shouldn't have to be done in the first place, certainly not with photoetched parts (there's no shrinkage on them during
production, after all).
Another thing that Ironside doesn't point out, and which I also discovered when it was too late (that is, after my model was fully painted and weathered) is that the raised lip around the
loader's hatch should be removed for an M67A2. The M67A3 did have it, so if you want to model that then leave it there (and fit the plastic cupola with vision block rather than the resin parts) but for the vehicle
as presented in the kit, it should be filed off.
Lots of other details were added or improved, such as the bolt heads on the lips running along the fenders, just in front of the stowage bins; lifting eyes on the
commander's cupola; grab handles on hatches; handles on the fender stowage bins; commander's and gunner's sights; mud chutes in the drive sprockets; and so on.
As I was building this vehicle from a photograph
‐ to be precise, an M67A2 of 3rd Marine Tank Battalion in Hue, 3 February 1968 — there were a large number of specific details I needed to include. The main was stowage, but also things like the
damage to the fenders, and I even went so far as to fit the stowage bin handles in the same positions as in the photograph. (Hey, if you're making new ones anyway, you might as well go all the way...)
main features of the stowage are the spare track links on the turret sides, and the tarp covering the stowage in the turret bustle rack. The links are AFV Club, and these were a lot harder to get right than may seem
at first. Each AFV Club T-107 sprue has a single spare link (that is, without the central guide tooth), making six in a set; unfortunately, there are twelve links on each turret side, so I needed four sets of tracks
just to get the spares... Luckily I had enough in my spares box from previous projects and from sets of these tracks stowed away for future Pattons that I didn't need to actually buy four sets for only these links,
but still... Once I'd scrounged them all up, it turned out that these spares are intended for fitting to AFV Club's M88 — they have clasps molded onto them between the pins, and these need to be removed
before spare end can be installed. This is one of those jobs that make you think you'll lose your sanity if you do it all in one go :)
The model was sprayed with Testors olive drab acrylic (the kind from a bag,
but squirted into a cup because it won't come out of the bag if sprayed at low pressure), and the markings were applied by taking bits and pieces from Tamiya M48A3 decal sheets, of which I have quite a few, to
assemble the "USMC 211227" registration numbers on the fender bins. I'm not 100% sure this is the actual number, but it's what it looks like in the photograph of the original tank. As no other markings
were visible, the stowage was fitted next, again modeled after the photo. The sit of the tarp isn't correct on the model, but if one thing was a bitch to get right, this was, so I figure I did fairly well after all.
Most of the stowage in and on the bustle rack is simply plastic bedrolls and things, as they're hardly visible and are only there to give the impression of a full rack under the tarp. The only difficult item to make
was a pack frame, hanging on the left rear of the rack, made from steel florist's wire bent to shape. Other stowage on the tank consists of three helmets with camouflage covers, from DML's Korean War US Marines; a
canteen; and an M16 rifle with a spare magazine on the turret roof, also from DML. The hull has an M2 carbine on the front fender, made by mating a Tamiya M2 magazine onto an Italeri M1 carbine; three Italeri US
jerry cans on the rear fenders; and a tow cable (kit parts) plus a folded-up field bed from Tamiya's M113 ACAV on the engine deck.
Weathering came next. This was painstakingly applied using a fine brush and
thinned Testors enamel paint, after "painting" the section of the model being worked on with clean white spirit to make the paint flow a little differently, creating feathered edges. The aim of this was to
copy the pattern of dirt on the real tank, which I felt I did pretty well. However, when I entered the model in the competition at a TWENOT convention in Spring 2002, the jury's main criticism about it was that the
weathering "is not realistic"... (I chalk that one up to them being members of the Wash-and-Drybrush School of Model Painting. Still, it earned a bronze, so I guess I can't complain. Much, anyway.)
commander is simply a plastic torso with a Hornet head. He only extends down to the chest line, but this is invisible unless you really look into the cupola.
Now the only thing left to do is place the model in a
diorama, for which the problem is that I need about ten or twelve Vietnamese civilians, including a whole bunch of children, and I don't quite feel like scratchbuilding them just yet...