Stuart began production in April, 1942. Field usage in North Africa
demanded improvements, most noticeably a newly designed turret, where
a rear bustle housed a SCR508 radio. Factory work on the M5A1 began
in September, 1942. Over 6,800 were made before production ceased
in June, 1944. It held a crew of four, weighed around 17 tons, and
could reach a maximum speed of 36 mph. The light tanks were built
for speed in supporting reconnaissance work but their firepower was
inadequate against anything larger than halftracks or armored cars.
Tamiya kit is a late M5A1, with the quirky-looking .30 machine gun
shield on the right turret side. The kit's tracks are one of the
legendary blunders in modeling lore -- the end connectors do not
reach from link to link, but are on individual tracks. In effect,
there is nothing holding these tracks together! The other main complaint
about the Tamiya kit is the shortened length of the hull, designed
to accommodate the motorized version of the kit.
aftermarket sets to fix up the Tamiya kit check out my article Knee
Deep in the Stuart Stew. Formations also produces a nice resin
to convert the AFV Club M3A3 kit. Or you might want to wait on putting
a lot of time and effort into the Tamiya kit since AFV
Club has announced a new Stuart for 2007.
below is an early M5A1 (note the absence of the turret side machine
gun shield) displayed at the Fort Snelling Military Expo in May
2007. I happened to be on the base in 2005 during its restoration
and snapped off a few pictures which you can see on the next
This is a late
M5A1 featured in a Veterans' Day parade in St. Paul in 1990.