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1/48 Tamiya M8 Greyhound Armored Car

Kit Review

By Patrick Keenan - Aurora, Illinois USA

Basic Item Information

Item

U.S. M8 Light Armored Car Greyhound

Stock Number

32551

Manufacturer

Tamiya

Scale

1/48

Medium

Injection Molded Styrene Plastic

Kit Contents

(124) olive green plastic pieces, (1) White Metal Chassis “bottom” and (2) screws

Retail Price

$27.00 USD

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan

Review Date

October 27, 2007

Review Summary*

Review Type

In Box/First Glance

Basic Positive Features

Kit very accurate.  Typical great Tamiya engineering and instructions. 

Basic Negative Features

Only two decal/marking options; The white metal hull bottom provided is less detailed than an equivalent plastic piece.

Overall Rating

4.5 of 5.0

Kit Accuracy Rating

4.5

Parts Fit Rating

Not Rated Yet

Parts Casting Quality/ Detail Level Rating

4.5

Decals, Marking/ Painting Information Rating

4.0

Instructions/Packaging Rating

5.0

Recommendation

 Highly Recommended

* For information regarding the review terms, grading scale, etc. please go to the WarWheels Review FAQ/Key

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Detailed Review

Background

This review is only an "In Box" or "first Look" review. I've done a rudimentary review where I closely examined the kit parts, instruction sheet, packaging, etc. I've provided comments of my first impressions gathered while viewing the contents. I did NOT construct the kit, but a full build review is forthcoming.

Even though Tamiya is not producing as many new 1/35 scale model kits these days as I’d like to see, they have been pumping out the 1/48 stuff quite vigorously lately.  One of their latest kit offerings is their M8 Greyhound Armored Car.  I am primarily a 1/35 modeler, but I do dabble a bit into smaller scales.  So, being that I am not afraid of model kits smaller than 35th scale, and since I am an armored car/wheeled fighting vehicle (WFV) nut, getting the new Tamiya kit eventually was a no-brainer.  Getting it for review so quickly after its release was even better.

My first thought when hearing that Tamiya was coming out with a 1/48 greyhound was, is this kit a scaled down version of their excellent 1/35 M8?  I was hoping so as their 1/35 kit is a beauty.  Well, the answer is mostly yes.  Geez, don’t you hate it when I do stuff like this?  Anyway, I compared this 1/48 kit to its larger 1/35 brother and the kit is mostly the same.  I’d estimate about 90% of the kit is an exact duplication of the 1/35 scale kit.  In fact, the two decal marking options mimic two of the marking options in the 1/35 kit.  The 10% or so of the kit that is different was probably designed that way so as to facilitate the building of a smaller 1/48 kit, when compared to the bigger kit.  So, great news.

 

Kit Accuracy

After checking the numerous resources I have on this vehicle, I have found no major discrepancies in size, shape or dimensions. 

Other than the point about the hull bottom (as mentioned a bit later in this section), Tamiya has done their homework and made a very accurate kit.  The main resources I used are:

·        George Bradford’s 1/35 AFV Plans of the M8 Greyhound;

·        Allied Command Productions’ Military Vehicle Workshop Series MV-08: Light Armored Car M8/ Armored Utility Car M20;and

·        Easy 1 Productions TM-9-743 M8/M20 Informational CD.

You can see my review of the Easy 1 CD hereFYI, Easy 1 was a sponsor of WarWheels.net at the time of the review.

To go back to the hull bottom, the minor problem I’ve found is the lack of a few basic details, specifically with the engine.  Normally, I wouldn’t say much more (if anything) about missing small details on the bottom of small kits as they don’t bend me out of shape.  That is unless I am displaying the kit with the bottom showing.  But I had to mention this hull issue because on the side of the kit box, Tamiya states “Die Cast Chassis enhances realism”.  What?  As a side note, I believe Tamiya uses this medium for all their 1/48 kits (or at least all of the ones I’ve seen).

Also, another deciding factor toward me mentioning this point is that some of those same missing details were provided on their 1/35 kit.  The most obvious missing details are the oil pump screen circular cover and oil drain plug.  The circular cover is fairly large in diameter (about 4” on the real vehicle) and so fairly basic in detail where I am puzzled why they weren’t depicted in 1/48, especially when Tamiya made smaller parts perfectly fine.  Therefore, I believe that the lack of detail on the bottom doesn’t appear to be related to the scaling down of the 1/35 kit to 1/48. 

To me it appears the lack of detail is due to the limitations of the white metal medium or due to a choice by Tamiya not to include the detail.  Also with the white metal, you now have to use the metal screws to secure it to the plastic or glue it and fill the screw holes.  That is, unless you want the screws showing on the bottom of the vehicle or big screw holes showing.

So, with these facts, my opinion is the white metal bottom makes the kit “worse” than had they used plastic instead.  Again, this is a pretty minor nit to pick, but Tamiya’s choice is a “head scratcher”.  As Tamiya states the metal enhances the realism, I’d definitely be interested to hear from Tamiya as to why they made this choice.

 
Fit of Parts

Not Rated yet.  A detailed build review is forthcoming.

 

Quality of Casting/ Detail Level of Parts

The quality of the casting of the kit plastic pieces is top notch and typical of Tamiya kits.  There is no flash present on the parts, and even the smallest pieces are also very well cast.  Very little clean up and putty work will be needed.

The detail level of each individual plastic part is again, excellent and typical of Tamiya kits.  This scaled down 1/48 kit surprisingly retained a lot of the crisp detail of its bigger 1/35 clone.  The overall detail level of the kit should be outstanding as well when completed.

As mentioned above in the “Kit Accuracy” section the one problem I do have with this kit is Tamiya’s use of die cast white metal for the bottom of the vehicle chassis.  The good news is the piece is pre-primed though. Anyway, the white metal hull bottom is not as detailed as the plastic bottom of their 1/35 M8 greyhound as I’ve stated before.

Remember, this is REALLY a minor point to the kit detail/accuracy.  And, I know Tamiya has been in the modeling biz as long as I’ve been alive and I KNOW they have specific reasons for providing white metal bottoms to their 1/48 kits.  They’re an experienced and savvy company and they wouldn’t just do this for the heck of it.  But, I really don’t see the point of using the metal for any reason related to improvement of the detail level of the model kit or making it easier to build.  Throw in the fact that the die cast metal is probably more expensive to produce than plastic and I can only think I now have a more expensive, yet less detailed kit due to Tamiya’s puzzling decision to include a metal bottom.  

 
Decals, Marking Information and Painting Information

The decals Tamiya provides look to be of good quality.  The decals are vibrant and printed in register with no color overrun.  But like most Tamiya decals, they look a bit thick when compared to other companies’ decals and may need a generous amount of decal softening solution.  Of course as I’ve not used them yet, I cannot confirm this aspect yet.  More later.

Tamiya provides only 2 marking options for the M8.  As mentioned earlier, these markings were also provide with their 1/35 kit. The markings depict vehicles in the units:

  • A Troop, 25th Mechanized Cavalry Recon Squadron of the 4th Armored Division; and

  • 3rd Platoon, C Company, 82nd Recon Battalion of the 2nd Armored Division.

Honestly, I am a bit disappointed in the fact that markings for only two vehicles are provided.  Since the Greyhound usually didn’t have too many or too gaudy markings, I really thought more options could have been provided since the decal sheet is pretty small anyway.  This is my opinion only, but I tend to like to get many marking options with my kits. 

The painting & marking guides are one in the same and printed in black and white.  Four views of the 4th Armored Division vehicle and five views of the 2nd Armored Vehicle are provided to help you place your decals.  Like their instructions, Tamiya’s marking guide is very understandable and can be easily followed.

 
Instructions/Packaging

I believe that kit instructions are one of the most underappreciated, yet most important aspects of hobby modeling.  A bad set of directions can cause unnecessary grief with an otherwise superbly designed and engineered kit.  In my opinion, Tamiya consistently designs and produces the best hobby kit instructions in the modeling biz.  Don’t get me wrong, some other companies produce very nice sets.  However, whenever I get a kit and look over the instructions, I always compare them to Tamiya’s directions.  After all, in my book, they set the gold standard for instructions.

With their M8 greyhound kit, Tamiya again matches their high standards in regard to excellent instructions.  They are “typical” Tamiya directions, so if you’ve seen one set, you’ll know what I am talking about.  However, if you are not familiar with them, Tamiya provides VERY easy to understand directions.  They provide great illustrations that usually make difficult steps easier.  Plus, their instruction sheets are totally clear in where each and every part should exactly go. 

Also, I believe that they produce instructions that have perfectly proportioned assembly steps.  What that means is there doesn’t seem like there is too much or too little to accomplish in each step.  Some companies knock down the total number of steps to a bare minimum but include way too much in each step to clearly understand what to do and/or they give a zillion sub-steps that further complicate matters.  Other companies will provide instructions where there are 200 steps. When just two or three parts are set to go together, they considered it a full instruction step.  To me, Tamiya hits a happy medium with just the right amount of work for each step.

As usual, Tamiya provides excellent kit packaging and “safety” by providing a box constructed of sturdy cardboard.  They also follow the practice of bagging all sprues and decals separately so as to protect the contents.  Finally, the white metal lower hull bottom is also packaged separately in a cardboard holder so as to not allow it to move around and damage the other parts.
 
Conclusion

Once again, Tamiya has another winner with their new 1/48 M8 Greyhound.  It is pretty much a scaled down version of their wonderful 1/35 kit, so you should be very happy with the model.  It was nice to work on a well designed and engineered kit after struggling with a couple of my past few projects.  This kit exemplifies how fun our hobby can be.

My only MINOR criticisms are with the choices Tamiya made to include only two decal marking options and to include a white metal hull bottom.  The white metal part is less detailed than the equivalent plastic piece in their 1/35 kit.

Thanks to Tamiya and IPMS/USA for providing the review sample to me.

Highly Recommended
 
Copyright: Patrick Keenan - October 27, 2007