M3A1 Scout Car

Kit #: 7063 Review by Bill Powers - Jwp968(at)aol(dot)com

The M3A1 Scout Car was first produced in 1938 and was basically obsolete as a frontline vehicle after the North African campaign because of its limited seating and thin armor. By the time the Allies invaded France in 1944 the car was relegated to MP and rear echelon units in the U.S. Army, but was more widely used at the front by the French and Russians.

The vehicle could carry a crew of eight and was armed with a .50cal M2 machine gun and two .30cal 1917 Browning machine guns, all three guns mounted on a continuous skate rail so they could be moved around the vehicle. Photos show a variety of interior arrangements.

One of the most famous M3A1 was used by Gen. George Patton in North Africa/Tunisia and Operation Husky/ Sicily.

This kit is a reissue of the old ESCI molds. This is NOT a war games model but a very detailed and beautiful kit.

In the usual box are two sprues of Italeri's hard OD plastic with 77 pieces. The box top cover has a picture of the completed model, a nice touch. There are markings for four vehicles: 1st army Tunisia (for a three star general. I wonder who that might be?), Free French, and two Russian Army, all in very plain Jane O.D. finishes!

The good news: beautifully molded, a set of separate tools, a complete drive train, wheels with good tread and open "openings". The interior is all seating with no radio in sight. That tall thing in the center of the seating is a mast for a "whip" antenna. The doors open, the window hinges down, the armored windshield is two pieces so it can be open or closed. There are gas cans, knapsacks, tent rolls, shovels, axe, etc., all as separate pieces!

The bad news: the sides are very thick relative to what they should be, the "gun skate" cross section is horizontal when it should be vertical and the headlights are molded as semi circle bumps on the fenders. All these can be corrected with minimal effort. There is only one .30cal machine gun and there should be two but compared to Academy's guns they are really simplistic! (the green guns are Academy's) I guess that illustrates the kit's age. The mount for the .50cal is correct for the M3. In my kit there are some sink marks all on seats and knapsacks…oops…one around the rim of a wheel that I didn't see until the photos. Some ejection "discs" but nothing some sandpaper can't handle.

Kit tub

Sink marks on wheel rim

Academy 30cal MGs

Academy M3 halftrack wheel needed for Patton M3A1

Allied Axis Issue 12 has photos of the Scout Car with some great interior shots that show the interiors were not consistent. Plus there is a photo of Patton riding in his in Tunisia. Note: Patton's has a later wheel, like the wheel on the M3 Halftrack. Have someone mold you four from the Academy Halftrack (see picture). They are the same diameter, or maybe some aftermarket will make them! Pictures show the Scout car with six or eight openings in the wheels. The kit has six.

In conclusion, this is a very nice kit for its age, with crisp detail and let down only by those simplistic guns and some sink holes. Anyway, it's the only act in town and with some TLC will make a beautiful model!

The two websites below have great interior shots of the real thing. The first site the interior seating etc. has been removed while the second link shows the interior arrangement as found in the kit.

Steve Zaloga modified a 1/35 M3A1 as Patton's vehicle during Operation Husky. It's the same as the Tunisia car but the finish is much more colorful! Patton's would require some scratch building and those later wheels, but it is really colorful!

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Article Last Updated: 23 November 2009