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
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
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
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
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
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.