The box contains two kits, each separately bagged. Each bag contains one olive drab sprue and a small etched fret. First impressions are good -
the moulding is nice and crisp, with details like the M2 50-calibre machine gun looking very nice.
The hull is moulded in 3 main parts - the bottom including the sides, the roof including the upper front plate, and the rear plate. The engine
deck is moulded separately - perhaps to allow a M113A2 or later kit. The driver's hatch, commander's hatch and cargo hatch can all be posed open,
though the rear ramp and personnel door are moulded shut. Unlike the earlier kits, there is no interior provided.
Like other S-Model kits, the track is moulded as a single piece, including the outer halves of the roadwheels, sprocket and idler. The detail on
the wheels is nice, but the detail on the track face is not great. With the track guard installed, only the front and rear sections of the track
run are visible, so improving the track face detail in these areas would help a lot.
I started assembling the main parts, with an eye to finishing one quickly, but soon decided to try to make some improvements along the way.
Below is the wheel and track assemblies. Unlike ESCI, S-Model included track guide teeth! One subtle detail S-Model missed - as moulded, the left
and right track assemblies are mirror images. In reality the wheels on the left side are offset few inches ahead of those on the right, to
accomodate the torsion bar suspension. I also noticed S-Model forgot the torsion bar offset on their otherwise excellent M551 Sheridan. I'm going
to leave this as is.
Below is the track face detail. You get a general sense of the track pads and the section around the track pins. Possibly this is OK for a wargaming model,
or if you cover this with mud, but I'm planning to try to improve this area.
Below is the separate lower hull side with the suspension arms, which can be added at any stage of the assembly. I made a correction here - the shock absorber
on the second roadwheel arm is only present on the M113A2 and later, so I carved it away (this is almost impossible to see with the wheels in place). Another
point that bothers me - I think the final drives are mounted about 1 mm too far back (the forward edge of the raised bolted cover should match the front edge
of the part). Fixing this would mean cutting the one-piece track assemblies apart, to change the distance between the sprocket and the first roadwheel.
Below is the rear hull, with the ramp moulded in place. The detail is pretty good - the tail lights are nice, and the separate jerry cans are some of the best
I've seen. Another quirk here - the personnel door (the small side-opening door in the ramp) should be flush with the ramp, but S-Model mould it standing
proud of the surface. Barely visible here are two small improvements I made - drilling out the towing eyes and the lifting eyes at the rear of the roof. For
some reason, S-Model provide the distinctly three-dimensional towing clevis as a very flat photoetched part - hopefully I can find something suitable in the
Below is the hull roof. The detail is nice, though the tools look a little undersized. All the hatches are separate, as is the upper portion of the engine deck.
On the cargo hatch at the rear, S-Model moulded a beveled edge around the hatch, which I can't find evidence of. All the persicope guards around the hatches and
in the driver's hatch cover are moulded open. One subtle detail of the M113 hull is that there is a prominent step where the main hull plates are welding together
along their edges. ESCI captured this, but Trumpeter and S-Model did not. I added some thin shims under the edges of the hull roof to raise the roof panel slightly
and create the step. Another detail on the M113 hull roof is the four antenna guards. ESCI neglected these, Trumpeter moulded them solid on the roof, and S-Model
provide them as separate photoetched parts - bravo for S-Model!
I didn't show the separate trim vane, but S-Model omitted the prominent operating handle (ESCI and Trumpeter included this item). All three omitted the lifting eyes
on the front plate.
Below is the S-Model track guards (top), compared with ESCI (middle) and Trumpeter (bottom). Note the incorrect shape at the front end (right side) of the Trumpeter part.
Another odd thing about the S-Model kit is the sizes of some of the detail parts shown below. The M2 50-calibre is nicely detailed (and features a really nice slide-moulded
ammo box), but the gun itself is probably about 15% too long. Meanwhile the spade is puny. Here's a shot comparing the S-Model 50-cal and shovel (top row) with
parts from ESCI (2nd from top), Trumpeter (2nd from bottom) and Dragon Sherman spares (bottom). The detail on the S-Model 50-cal is really nice, almost comparable
to the fantastic Dragon part. Like Dragon, S-Model provide a separate spade grip for the 50-cal, and like Dragon, your chances of removing it from the sprue without
it shattering are minimal!
Overall, I'm a little less impressed with the S-Model M113 than when I first opened the box. Certainly the kit is impressive for a quick build, but I was hoping for
more improvements over the Trumpeter or ESCI kits. Still, it's inspired me to start building, so I'll keep you posted on my progress.
Preview sample purchased by the author.