This is a construction
article for the venerable ESCI M3 Scout Car 1/72-scale model kit previously
released by ESCI and recently released by Italeri. In 2012, Ken Overby
released a spiffy conversion set in cast resin so as to convert the
plastic model to an M3A1 version, which represents the vast majority
of Scout Cars that were manufactured by White Company during WW2.
in-box preview of the plastic kit and Overby’s resin conversion
set please see here.
We Start With
Above is a photo of an old ESCI M3 Scout Car that I built out of the
box many years ago, one of the first small–scale models I ever
built. In this and the lower three photos let us see what features
it has, and what is right and wrong with it.
We see that ESCI molds the engine louvers closed. Rather than teardrop-shaped
headlights, ESCI represents the headlights as raised blobs on the
fenders. The hand tools are separately molded and look decent. The
wheels here are the most obvious feature indicating this is an M3
variant of the Scout Car. Compare these with the wheels above with
those below offered by Overby for the M3A1. (By the way, that is either
dust or thick paint all over the model, not simulated mud.)
We can see the
gun skate rail that goes around the interior, typically holding up
to three machine guns. There is a gap under the armored windshield
that I do not think should be there. The fuel cans are simplified
with a single handle rather than the correct three handles.
In this photo of the out-of-the-box M3 Scout Car we have a good view
of the gun rail that was also used on early M3 Halftrack. There is
a large canvas wrapped around the front section of the rail; I suspect
this is the canvas cover for the vehicle. There are rolls of cloth
also wrapped around the rail above the side doors; I suspect these
are here to protect the driver and passenger from painful bumps on
There is stowage
that comes with the kit on the rear bumper that appears to be magnetically
affixed. The machine guns looked great to me when I first built this
model but right now seem very simplified; Ken Overby’s machine
guns are considerable better. The vertical rod rising from the floor
is for a radio antenna, but no radio set is included with the ESCI
The Scout Car
is painted in olive drab. By the silvering of the decals, these were
obviously applied before I learned to apply a clear gloss coat under
Here we see the underside of the ESCI model with the drive shafts
going to both the front and read axles indicating 4-wheel drive. There
is a muffler and tail pipe included which is good, but no cables or
steering rods. I think the rear axle is mounted a millimeter or two
too far forward.
It is important when assembling the new resin wheels that we get them
located correctly and mate them with the kit parts correctly.
The Scout Car armored body is assembled from kit parts, but leaving
out the crew seats. One of the kit parts, a thin wall between the
driver area and the cargo compartment, was replaced by more in-scale
white plastic card. The brake and gear shift levers were replaced
by wire and plastic levers. Some of my styrene parts were warped so
they had to be assembled in stages and clamped together till the glue
Both the frame and the body suffered from warped plastic parts so
had to be glued and clamped in stages till the glue set. I left the
kit radiator off the frame as it is unseen when the model is assembled
and actually got in the way of the resin replacement part for the
The kit underside was largely assembled out of the box except for
some scratchbuilt details for the steering mechanism and bolt details.
Overby’s replacement wheels have considerable nicer tire tread
detail than the original kit tires.
Jumping ahead, the radio has been raised up on a base based on historical
photo of an M3A1 with a radio installed in this location. I have four
photos of the Scout Car carrying radios and they all have the radio
mounted in a different way or location. One middle seat was left off
to make more room for the radio operator.
The doors are nice and thin and great detail inside and out. Here
one is portrayed with the upper armored window raised and on the driver’s
side the window is lowered. On the dashboard the dials are drilled
out deeper to better accept paint and Krystal Klear to simulate glass.
machinegun skate rail to preserved M3A1’s I believe that Ken
Overby’s rail fits too tight to the inside of the armor hull;
there is supposed to be a gap where brackets attach the rail to the
hull. Considering the overly thick side armor I think his approach
is a fair compromise and I have no problem with the lack of a gap.
A test fit on a base. In order to handle the model with less chance
of breaking off small parts with my fat fingers the Scout Car is glued
to a base made from a small chip of Formica sample built up with sculpted
foam to represent a dirt road. The bottoms of the tires were sanded
flat a bit to represent weight upon the tires.
The rolled tarp wrapped around the rail above the driver’s door
should go all around the rail and there was often one above the passenger’s
door as well. The machine guns are left off till after painting so
they don’t get accidentally broken off.
This photo shows well the two Scout Cars, an M3A1 at left and an M3
at right, prior to painting. Though intending to build the M3 version
out of the box I could not resist a few improvements: the headlight
bumps were shaved off, the old decals scraped off, and rolled canvas
was simulated over the driver and passenger doors.
M3A1 the painting will be done before the glass windshield will be
On the M3A1 at left a good view of Overby’s machine gun tripods
mounted on the rear below some canvas cover supports made from brass
wire. Tie down straps were simulated with tape.
On the M3 at right I’ve added some foil to improve the look
of the rear window flap. The M3 appears overall lower because of the
original ESCI kit wheels are smaller than Ken Overby’s resin
Jumping ahead a few steps, the M3 has been painted in olive, with
a dark point wash and a light coat of OD. ESCI kit decal marking for
a French Army Scout Car serving in Northern Europe are applied over
a clear gloss coat. Red-brown paint has been applied to the tire tread.
At this point a dusting of wet pastel powder has been applied. Much
of this powder will later be brushed off and blended in to a softer
edge. The vehicle edges have been lightly highlighted.
Behind the ESCI
kit brushguard we can see the new, scratchbuilt headlights produced
from styrene rod.
The M3A1 with Overby’s resin conversion parts, painted and with
decals but waiting on the clear dullcoat and weathering so the hull
matches the groundwork. You’ll notice that one of Overby’s
machine guns has been replaced by a Russian Maxim gun, my attempt
to make the M3A1 look a little more Soviet. I have no evidence that
this machine gun would actually mount on the US machine gun mount.
The open engine
louvers we get with Overby’s conversion set is for me the best
part. Note the three rods holding up the armored windshield.
I found the Cpl
Overby Motor Pool’s resin parts did not hold the acrylic paint
well even though I thought I washed it well in dish detergent. Perhaps
there is residual mold release lubricant and next time wiping the
resin parts with lacquer thinner would help the paint adhere better?
A clear acrylic dullcoat spray has gotten rid of the glossy decal
area. Pastel powder added for weathering has not yet been blended
in and the edges softened. I typically don’t go in for complicated
weathering for my own personal reasons.
Fini ! A significant thing I do not like about the model is that the
rear wheels seem too far forward in the wheelwell, which is also a
characteristic of the Scout Car I built many years ago so I conclude
this is an error with the kit. If I ever build another one I’ll
modify the rear axle to sit further back, which also requires me to
make the drive shaft longer.
machine guns are an excellent upgrade to the ESCI kit.
The old ESCI kit decals slid off the paper easily and settled down
on the model well with a little decal solvent.
When weathering remember to add soil to the floors where dirty boots
would set. The machine guns and periodic edges were rubbed with pencil
graphite to simulate gunmetal and worn spots respectively. The decal
film seems to have disappeared pretty well (?).
tarps and stowage were given different shades of OD from the Scout
Car body to make the vehicle less monochromatic.
Hanging off the rear is the Soviet Maxim machine gun mount tied on
with some simulated rope.
Overall I am pretty
happy with Ken Overby’s conversion set and the final model.
I would not build another Scout Car without a nice detail set like
warped body parts made assembly challenging and unfortunately resulted
in the body still being a little warped when complete so it would
not sit flat on a table.
Some crew figures
will be added later, partly to help protect parts of the model like
the doors from accidental damage by clumsy handling.
it also looks like I should paint in the red tail lights?