U.S. Howitzer Motor Carriage M8
Tamiya, 1:48 scale
The 75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M8 was a self-propelled howitzer vehicle of the United States in use during World War II. It was developed on the chassis of the M5 Stuart tank and was equipped with a 75mm M116 howitzer in an M7 mount.
After a mock-up had been produced, it was ordered into production as the 75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M8. Like the M5, the M8 had a crew of four; commander, gunner, driver, and assistant driver/loader. When the M8 was in action, the commander positioned himself at the antiaircraft machine gun and directed his crew, the gunner sat in the turret on the right side of the howitzer, the assistant driver/loader moved up from his seat in the right front hull, and the driver stayed at his position.
Due to the larger turret, the driver compartment crew hatches on the top of the hull had to be removed. These hatches served double duty on the M5, offering crew access as well as allowing the driver and assistant driver/loader to raise their seats and drive with their heads out of their hatch for greatly improved visibility. In the M8, the hatches were replaced with smaller hinged plates on the front of the glacis that could be opened by rotating them upward or lowered to "button up". To provide visibility when the hatches were closed, periscopes were placed on the top of the hull in front of the driver and loader. These openings were too small to be used for crew access, so those crew members had to access the tank through the open-topped turret.
In early 1944, production was phased out in favour of the M4 or M4A3 armed with the M101 howitzer, having better protection, firepower and mobility (albeit not as fast). In November 1944, the Ordnance Department recommended that the M8 be called the General Scott, after American general Winfield Scott, although there is no evidence this name subsequently entered general use.*
This is Tamiya’s debut 1:48 scale offering in the M3 / M8 light tank family. They have decided to kick off with the Howitzer Motor Carriage M8.
Tamiya's 1:48 scale HMC M8 comprises 142 parts in dark green coloured plastic, two metal ingots, four small polythene caps, a length of string plus markings for two vehicles.
Surface textures comprise recessed panel lines, bolt heads, screws and more. These look every bit as good as we have seen on Tamiya's other recent releases..
Hatches, hinges, rails, hand holds, weld beads and other features are all crisply done, with many moulded in place.
The lower hull is made up from separate panels for the bottom and sides.
Two cylindrical metal ingots are included for fitting in the lower hull. This is intended to deliver "scale weight", but they are entirely optional. I quite like these so I'll use them on mine.
The inner halves of the bogie trucks are moulded to the lower hull sides. The outer halves are separate pieces. The one-piece road wheels (pressed metal type) are simply glued to the inner bogie axles.
The drive sprockets are free to rotate thanks to the use of polythene caps. This will make alignment with the tracks easier.
The tracks are injection moulded plastic lengths and links. Detail looks excellent and with the long top and bottom runs, assembly is straightforward.
There are some ejector pin marks on the inside surfaces of the tracks (there are some on the lower hull sides too) but they will be almost completely hidden once the full running gear is in place.
The upper hull is moulded as a single shell onto which the sloped front hull and the top hull are glued. The engine deck grilles are moulded in place. They look good. Separate sponson covers block off the openings in the bottom of the upper hull.
Grousers, packs and a tow cable are supplied.
The turret is broken down into separate parts for the sides, bottom, rear and front mantlet.
The gun is moulded with nice breech detail. The barrel may elevate and depress due to the use of two polythene caps.
Inside the turret we find a few MG ammo boxes and optics for the gunner.
The front crew hatches are moulded shut.
Clear parts are not included. The headlights are separate solid green plastic parts. Brush guards for the headlights and the horn are plastic. They are inevitably slightly over scale but I am sure that we will see photo-etched upgrades from Hauler and the like quite soon.
A length of string is supplied for the tow cable.
A nicely moulded standing crew figure made up from six parts is also included.
Markings are offered for two vehicles. Both are finished in overall Olive Drab.
Decals are nicely in register and should snuggle down perfectly under a coat of setting solution.
Tamiya’s brand new 1:48 scale HMC M8 is a simple kit that will be easy to build. Surface textures are really well done too. This is another welcome addition to Tamiya's 1:48 scale military vehicle family.
I do hope we’ll see the family expand with M3 and M5 variants soon too.
* Historical summary adapted from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howitzer_Motor_Carriage_M8
Text and Images by Brett Green