Home > Reviews > USA > Monogram Kit No. 85-0035; U.S. Army Personnel Carrier (M3A1 Combat Zone Armored Vehicle)

U.S. Army Personnel Carrier
(M3A1 Combat Zone Armored Vehicle)

Monogram, 1/32 (1/35) scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Monogram Kit No. 85-0035; U.S. Army Personnel Carrier (M3A1 Combat Zone Armored Vehicle)
Scale: 1/32 (1/35) scale
Media and Contents: 82 parts in olive drab plastic, 4 black vinyl, 1 strip of acetate.
Price: US$17.00 (now OOP)
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Nice, simple kit that is pretty dimensionally accurate.
Disadvantages: “Child of the Fifties” and shows it; soldiers armed with M14 rifles!
Recommendation: Recommended with reservations for younger modelers or nostalgia.



During the 1950s there were four competing lines of armored vehicles and soldier kits vying for young modelers’ attention: Aurora in 1/48 scale, Revell/Adams in 1/40, and Renwal and Monogram in 1/32 (3/8”) scale. While Renwal was doing an honest 3/8” scale, Monogram actually produced all of their early kits in 1/35.

All of them had several smaller size kits selling for 98 cents to $1.49 each with a few top of the line ones like the Revell Sherman, the Monogram M48, the Renwal Atomic Cannon, and the Aurora M8A1 tractor with 155mm or 8” howitzer kits. But one thing in common is that they all figured kids would play with them so all of them had to have “play value” built in. That translated to two things: working features and soldiers.

The figures in the Revell/Adams and Monogram kits were the best and most numerous, with the average being four to nine figures in each kit. Guns could be deployed and “recoil”, hatches and doors opened, turrets turned, and wheels and tracks rolled. But as each company staked out its “turf” they were not compatible.

All of that changed in late 1968 when Tamiya rolled out its first “Military Miniatures” kits such as the VW Kubelwagen and the Panther. From that point on nearly all manufacturers moved into 1/35 scale with a few exceptions (Monogram produced a line of true 1/32 scale kits and Bandai had a large line of 1/48 kits). All of the early efforts again came with figures, but as the years passed by the figure sets were soon removed and offered as additional purchases.



This kit, released by Revell in 2017 as part of their Selective Subjects Program, is one of those 1950s kits (released for the first time in 1958) and based on their M13 .50 caliber AAMG version of the M3 halftrack. It provided the halftrack with the M3A1 variant with the M49 ring mount for the .50 caliber machine gun, working wheels and tracks, opening doors, and a crew of nine figures plus packs and stowage. For the princely sum of $1.49 back them (or equivalent to two smaller kits) it was a great model with a lot of fun options.

This model was a fairly accurate 1/35 scale representation of the vehicle but for simplicity’s sake (and a view to younger modelers) it had some oversized parts such as thick doors with hinges and a one-piece machine gun. The hardest part in those days was the fact the front tires had a web across the wheel opening that had to be removed with a knife or sharp scissors; the rest of the kit was quite simple.

 This version is a nice recreation of the original kit with the only exceptions being replacing the simple four-page instruction sheet with a 12-page manual (!) and the fact that the tires come wrapped separately with the webbing removed. But now it is an international effort rather than out of Morton Grove Illinois: plastic parts were molded there, tires made in Poland, decals printed in Italy and the box made in China!

Given its ancestry it can be built up to a nice replica if you accept its flaws, but there are some other oddities. As it was made in the 1950s they used live US Army troops for reference and as a result they are armed with M14 rifles and not M1s. Of the nine figures (driver, five seated infantrymen, Tommygunner, radio man, and standing rifleman) only the latter has a Garand rifle. Molding was very good for the day and even now a good paint job will yield a good figure.

If you can accept the kit with its flaws it is a fun build and a good place to start getting kids interested in the hobby.


Sprue Layout:

26 x Bumper, fuel tanks, side racks, machine gun

28 x Figures, details, M49 ring mount

16 x Left side, floor, bulkhead, windshield, doors

12 x Right side, chassis, wheels, rear floor, details

4 x Black vinyl

1 x Clear acetate