1/48 TAMIYA U.S. M20 ARMORED UTILITY CAR

kit #32556 US retail price $29.00

A nice compliment to the existing 1/48 scale Tamiya M8 Light Armored Car.

THE KIT

The kit consists of 123 plastic parts on 5 sprues, 1 metal chasis piece, 2 screws, decal sheet and a 10 page instruction sheet.


With the exception of one sprue and decals, the Tamiya M20 is the same kit as their earlier M8. Because of this, much of the review will be the same as my earlier review of the Tamiya M8. Any differences will be noted as required.

The plastic is very crisp without any real soft detail. It is free of flash and most injector pin marks are in areas that won't be seen. Overall, it is a very good kit that builds up quickly and easily but it is lacking in some areas of detail and is incorrect regarding part placement for one of the marking options. These areas will be commented on during the step by step build up.

Step 1 consists of joining the metal chasis to the plastic lower hull piece. The metal chasis piece has no detail on it but it will be hidden by latter assemblies. Other than that, this is a very straight forward step and needs no additional comments.

Step 2 has you attach the rear suspension parts to the lower hull. You'll want to scrape the mold seams off of the leaf spring assemblies. Other than that, nothing special here.

Step 3 covers the drive shaft, differentials and axles. They are molded in one piece and all you have to do is clean the mold seams and add the steering knuckles to them. Very straight forward.

Step 4 has you add the parts from Step 3 to the lower hull along with the front shock absorbers.

Step 5 includes the front leaf springs and the lower front hull armor plate. Although it didn't happen on my M20, make sure you keep the edges of the armor plate(Part B7) aligned properly as mine slipped a bit on my M8 and I didn't see it until it was too late.

Step 6 covers the rear plate(part B20) and muffler. In this step, the instructions tell you to drill two holes for the first aid kit if you are building the M20 "TEX" from the 2nd Armored Div in the decals. However, this is incorrect. The first aid kit is a very late/post-war add-on while as marked, "TEX" is for Operation Cobra in July/August 1944. So, if you want to use the "TEX" markings, don't drill out the holes.

Step 7 has the modeller add the interior pan to the lower hull. The pan has the driver and passenger seats already molded into it. However, no other interior detail is included for this piece which is a real let down as nearly all of it is visible when the kit is completed.

Step 8 has you cleaning up the upper hull piece. At this point, you can drill out the locator holes for the pioneer tools.

Step 9 consists of assembling the upper superstructure. When adding Part D27 to Part D26 you may end up with a visible seam. It'll need to be filled in as these two parts were welded together on the real vehicle. Several boxes and a map table are attached in this step. A bazooka and ammunition packing tubes are also attached here. The firing handle and shoulder rest for the bazooka are quite thick and should either be thinned down or replaced. The bazooka openings should also be hollowed out.

Step 10 has you assembly the upper hull, superstructure and a couple of other pieces to the lower hull. You'll want to check the alignment of the upper hull(Part B24) with the lower rear plate(Part B20) and lower front hull plate(Part B7) to make sure there aren't any gaps between them. In this step, I didn't actually glue any of the sub-assemblies in place as I hope to obtain a Hauler photo etch set for this kit at a later date.

Step 11 has you assemble the wheels.

Step 12 has you attach the wheels to the vehicle. Make sure you get the correct ones(Parts A18) on the front as they are of a slightly different pattern from the rear ones.

Step 13 has you attach the side panels to the upper hull. There is a gap just below the antenna mount and the side panel that photo references show shouldn't be there. It should be filled in with strip styrene or putty. A couple of other parts are also added in this step including a folded tripod for the .50 caliber machine gun.

Step 14 covers the addition of the pioneer tools, wheel covers, and other small details. Here you have the option of adding mine racks(Parts A14 and A23) or stowage bins(Parts B10) to the hull sides. The mine racks are appropriate for most WW II M20's as the bin didn't show up on the production line until November 1944. I found the fit of the wheel covers to be fine without any alignment problems. They are taped on my sample as I will be painting the suspension at a later date.

Step 15 has you adding the siren and driver/co-driver's hatches. While no instructions are noted for leaving the hatches open, they can be and they do have some detail on them including protectoscopes, vision slots and handles. I left mine open as I had already closed them on my M8. Plus, once I obtain the Hauler pe set, I'll be able to show off the driver's compartment details included in the set. There are a couple of injector pin marks on each hatch that will need to be removed should you choose to leave them open. .

Before glueing the hatches opened, I did dry fit them in the closed position. Unlike the M8, these hatches did fit correctly.

Step 16 covers the assembly of the M49 ring mount and .50 caliber M2 machine gun. The .50 caliber is pretty basic in detail and would benefit from some pe or scratch built parts.

Step 17 has you attach the M49 ring mount to the upper superstructure.

Step 18 covers the two figures. They are the exact same figure except you get two different sets of arms so one can be posed with binoculars and the other can be positioned with the .50 caliber machine gun.

The markings included in this kit are for a M20 nicknamed "TEX" 1st Platoon, C Company, 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Armored Division, France, August 1944 and one from 1st Platoon, B Co., 807th Tank Destroyer Bn, Germany, 1945.

CONCLUSION

Like the previously released M8, the Tamiya M20 is easy to build and relatively free of fit problems. The poorly detailed interior is disappointing but the aftermarket companies can take care of that issue for a reasonable price. Recommended.

REFERENCES

Mesko, Jim, US Armored Cars in Action Armor Number 37; 1998; Squadron/Signal Publications; Carrollton, TX

Prigent, John, "A Great little Greyhound", Military Modelling, Vol. 28, No. 18 1998

Zaloga, Steven, "Gilding the Greyhound", Military Modelling, Vol. 32, No. 1 2002

My own personal photo collection


This kit was purchased at .


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