Home > Reviews > USA WWII > MRC/Academy M36 90mm GMC


MRC/Academy M36 90mm GMC

by Frank De Sisto

Contains 591 injection molded styrene parts, one piece of nylon string, two vinyl track lengths, four decal options and16 pages of instructions in 29 steps. Price: $38.95 USD.

This latest derivative of this manufacturer’s rather nice M10 series contains 102 new parts, which can be used to construct variations of the M36 90mm Gun Motor Carriage. Beginning with the turret, there are several options.
There are parts to depict the earlier M3 90mm gun tube with either a double baffle muzzle break or a thread protector, or the later M3A1 gun tube with a bore evacuator and single baffle muzzle break. There is also the option of adding roof armor as seen on post-war M36 and M36B2s.

The hull has parts for either an M10-based M36B2 (diesel engine) or an M10A1-based M36 (gasoline engine). This includes the proper deck layout with different engine access doors, different lower rear plates, a different engine exhaust pipe layout for each type and a new rear plate with mounts for the 90mm gun travel crutch.There is also a choice of exhaust deflector or wading trunk adapter for the exhaust area. The front of the hull has a choice of either the standard glacis plate or one with a .30-cal. Browning machine gun. But the modeler who wishes to use the configuration that features the machine gun should consider these three points.
1. I have never seen a photograph depicting any operational postwar M36 with this machine gun. Of course that does not mean there are none, only that I personally have never seen one.
2. In Hunnicutt’s book on the Sherman, he states that several modifications based on reports from the field, were recommended for the M36. One was to improve overhead protection for the turret by adding roof armor, another was to space out the VVSS suspension from the hull and add extended end connectors to both sides of the track shoes for better flotation. This is sometimes referred to as the “E9” suspension. The last recommendation was to add a bow machine gun and a coaxial machine gun to the turret. Until recently, photos indicate that only the first two recommendations were eventually carried out.
3. A recent posting on Missing Links has produced a pair of photos taken of a South Korean vehicle at a museum in that country. They clearly show a modified bow plate with a .30-cal. machine gun. However, the area where the gun is mounted features a protrusion in the armor that is very smoothly faired into the front plate, totally unlike the kit part, where the MG mount, apparently the standard type as seen on a Sherman tank, is welded on. So, there is finally compelling evidence that does indicate that the bow machine gun was added. But did it ever see combat or wide use? Thus, the plot thickens!

The remaining new parts cover the turret and its interior including gun breech and mount, seats, sights, internal travel lock, turret basket floor plate and ammo ready round racks. The turret upper shell is from a multi-part mold and has nice detail including counter-sunk screw heads and cast texture on the bustle and forward turret edge, plus weld seam detail. All tie downs and stowage brackets are included. However, there are no 90mm ready rounds provided for the turret bustle ready rack.Note that the overhead armor is given in two sections, front and rear, which is incorrect.

The folding rear portion should be in three sections and can be easily corrected by making two cuts. Also, the ready round racks should not be “mirror images” of each other. When facing the turret rear, the right hand rack should carry only five rounds; the left should carry six, for a total of 11. The modeler should refer to photos and drawings to get the proper configuration of these items.Since the hull interior parts are all from the original issue M10, the ammo racks only depict the standard 3-inch rounds in their stowage tubes. So, much like the Achilles kit, the proper ammo and racks are not provided. The M10 carried a total of 54 rounds, while the M36 carried 47 rounds, with 18 per side in the modified sponson racks (plus the 11 rounds in the turret). Purists should also note that the dial configuration on the driver’s instrument panel differed depending on the engine type fitted. So, the kit’s instrument panel is not accurate for an M36, but is correct for the M36B2. The hull pan’s belly plate also has access panels that are only appropriate for a diesel-engine vehicle, and if the modeler is fussy, they will also need to be modified in order to properly depict a gasoline-engine M36.

The remainder of the kit features the standard sprues used in this entire series of kits. This includes straight-arm return roller mounts on VVSS suspension bogies, two styles of track skids, complete sets of pressed road wheels with six spokes, or fabricated road wheels with five spokes, and a pair of solid dish road wheels. All feature grease nipple fittings and details on both sides. Likewise there are two styles of idler wheels provided; pressed and fabricated, again with details on both sides.

Finally, there are also two styles of drive sprockets given. The tracks are the plain rubber block type T41 or T51, and are in vinyl. There are also two styles of cast differential covers. One is the so-called “round nose”, while the other is the so-called “sharp nose” style. Separate mounting bosses for the hull auxiliary armor are provided as well as nice (but useless for this kit) 3-inch ammo storage tubes.The accessory sprues feature various machine gu ns, ammo boxes, jerry cans, grousers, packs, tools, tow cable ends and shackles, as well as buckles and foundry casting numbers. These last items are designed to be shaved off the sprue and applied to areas where the injection molding process would prevent their inclusion. They are very useful for other projects as well.

The instructions are clearly drawn and will prove easy to follow, but they do not properly inform the modeler which type of gun tube is appropriate for a given set of markings. The waterslide decals are cleanly printed and are very thin. The markings schemes appear to be accurate and are mostly complete. But I would advise the modeler to check photo references for such details as track configuration and other things. For instance “Puma”, the French vehicle, probably needs the so-called “Matricule” number blocks, prefixed by the letters “IC” for Indochina. It should mount the M3 gun with double baffle muzzle break and also needs roof armor.

Another thing to remember is that the lower, inner-slanting part of the superstructure and parts of the front fenders must be cut away. Then, the VVSS suspension must be spaced away from the hull to depict the E9 configuration and after-market extended end connectors on both sides of T54 (or T74) steel chevron tracks need to be fitted for maximum accuracy. The best source for this is RHPS.“Pork Chop” looks OK, compared to photos seen in various books by Steve Zaloga, but should mount the gun tube without muzzle break or thread protector, and feature extended end connectors on the outside of the tracks, which are of an undetermined type.

As an aside, I had the pleasure of meeting Cpl. Andy Tranchino, a member of the crew of this vehicle, back in the early 1980s. This M36 was a platoon leader’s vehicle from the 771st TD Battalion, attached to Patton’s 3rd Army. Andy was able to ID the entire crew by name, rank and function, and was delighted to see the photo in one of Zaloga’s now out-of-print “Tanks Illustrated” books (the photo has since re-appeared in Zaloga’s Concord book on US TDs). It is indeed a small world!

The South Korean (ROK 53rd Tank Co.) vehicle checks out. It needs roof armor and requires the M3A1 gun with the bore evacuator and single baffle muzzle break. I could not find any photos of the US vehicle belonging to the 706th TD Battalion, plus there is a fourth set of serial numbers for a US vehicle not provided for in the instructions. Finally, there is a blank bridge classification circle with separate numbers in black, which should come in handy for other projects.

This kit can also be fairly easily combined with any of Tamiya’s M4A3 Shermans so that the modeler can depict an M36B1, giving it additional appeal. The Sherman hull’s turret ring will need to be enlarged to accommodate the Academy turret. In addition, parts from the engine deck and hull rear plates can be swapped out to model an M10A1, by combining them with an academy M10 kit.

In discussing this kit with those more knowledgeable than I, I have been told that there are proportion problems with the turret and hull, as well as angle problems with the hull rear. So, beware if precise accuracy is what you are after.Compared to some of Academy’s recent kits, I think this is among the better offerings from them. Major glitches not withstanding, there are loads of options, and many of the extra parts can be used to modify other kits without effecting the modeler’s ability to construct the base kit itself. So, this kit, which has certainly been long-awaited by modelers of US AFVs, should not disappoint.


Model Rectifier Corp. is the North American distributor of Academy kits. Available from retail and mail order shops. For images see Academy’s site at: www.academy.co.kr.