M3A1 Scout Car
Tamiya 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
B a c k g r o u n d
The M3 Scout Car was designed by the White Motor Company of Cleveland Ohio in 1937. Following assessment of the initial vehicle by the US Army, an improved version was developed with a longer and wider hull. The characteristic unditching roller was also added to the front of the vehicle. This improved version was designated M3A1, and it commended production in 1940. The vehicle was commonly called the White Scout Car after its manufacturer.
The M3A1 was a full-time four wheel drive armoured car powered by a six cylinder, 5.2 litre engine developing 82 kilowatts (110 hp). The transmission featured four forward gears and one reverse and a two-speed transfer case. It was fitted with two seats at the front, and up to six infantry could be seated in the rear. The steel body featured armour thickness between 6 mm and 13 mm. A skate rail was fitted around the inner circumference of the body, providing mounts for one .50 cal and two .30 cal machine guns.
The White Scout Car fulfilled the roles of reconnaissance, ambulance, command car and gun tractor. It first saw action against Japanese forces in the Philippines during 1941 and 1942; and was then used by Cavalry units of the US Army during the North African and Sicilian campaigns of 1942 and 1943. The M3A1 proved itself vulnerable in front line operations due to its open top and its relatively poor firepower. Its off-road abilities were also limited. By the end of 1943, the White Scout Car was largely replaced in US service by the new 6x6 M8 Greyhound and the M20 Utility Car.
The M3A1 was also supplied to the USSR, Britain and Commonwealth nations, as well as other Allied armies under the Lend-Lease programme. More than 3,000 were supplied to the Soviet Union alone.
Despite its limitations, the White Scout Car saw widespread service with Allied armies until the end of the Second World War and beyond. Although the M8 was generally an improvement over the M3A1, the newer six-wheel Greyhound performed even more poorly than its predecessor in deep snow and in muddy conditions, so the White Scout Car retained an important role during 1944/45 in the difficult terrain of Italy and the harsh winter of Northern Europe.
In 1948, at least a few vehicles took part in the Arab-Israeli War; and France used the White Scout Car in the First Indochina War and in Algeria.
T h e W h i t e S c o u t C a r i n 1 : 3 5 s c a l e
Peerless Max released the first 1:35 scale White Scout Car during the 1970s. This was actually a very nice kit for its day but it suffered from some typical shortcomings of the era. These included thick plastic, a plague of intrusive ejector pin marks – both raised and recessed – and some oversimplified detail. In the intervening three decades, the kit has been reboxed by Italeri, Zvezda and most recently Revell.
During 2004, Zvezda added an injection-moulded canvas cover to their version of the kit. This tonneau was also included in Revell’s 2006 release.
The Peerless Max / Italeri / Zvezda / Revell kit represented the later version with jerry can racks on the side of the body, but early-style wheels with the large lightening holes were included.
Hobby Boss released an all-new M3A1 Scout Car in 2011. This model represented the early version with lamps fitted on the side of the body in front of the doors. This was a generally good kit with just a few head scratching goofs including a mysteriously missing radiator and inaccurate decals.
F i r s t L o o k
Tamiya’s 1:35 scale M3A1 Scout Car comprises 232 parts in dark green plastic, 39 parts in grey plastic, four parts in clear, four polythene caps and markings for three vehicles.
The grey plastic parts cover five Soviet crew figures – a driver, a Commander and three soldiers.
The quality of moulding and detail appears to be well up to Tamiya’s usual high standards, with only a few ejector circles on the inside surfaces of parts.
The kit includes the unditching roller, side-mounted jerry cans and individual crew seats in the fighting compartment. Optional parts are supplied for an open and a closed armoured radiator louvres. Radiator face detail is provided, and it is nicely done.
Decals are supplied for the instrument panel.
The machine gun skate rail is made up from four sections and three mounts are included. These may be left unglued and moveable along the rails. This should make it easier to pose the hands of the figures precisely with the guns. An M2 .50 cal and a .30 cal machine gun are supplied as the armament.
Clear parts are included for the windscreen and the headlight lenses.
The five Soviet figures are moulded perfectly in action poses. The drape and detail of the winter Telogreika uniforms and the realistic facial expressions are very impressive.
Markings are supplied for two Soviet Lend Lease scout cars and one US M3A1 in Sicily, 1943.
The latter option includes optional decals for the closed or open louvres.
C o n c l u s i o n
This is another interesting and useful addition to Tamiya’s WWII US and Lend Lease family.
I’ll be building this model for the next issue of Model Military International magazine (I'm working on it right now actually), and Bruce Culver is busy writing a new Think Tank research article to accompany the model.
Thanks to Tamiya Japan for the sample
Tamiya kits are distributed in the UK by The Hobby Company Limited
Text and Images by Brett Green