U.S. Tank Destroyer M-10 Gun Motor Carriage
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


The U.S. Army doctrine for tanks in the Second World War was rather different from the German blitzkrieg techniques. The Germans viewed the tank as an integral part of a force, which had to be independent, self-providing, and capable of fighting enemy tanks by itself. The U.S. Army had a different approach: tanks were mainly used as infanty support. Large scale enemy tank attacks were to be fought back with anti-tank guns. In the early stages, these should be emplaced in defensive positions, and after the initial attack had been blunted, the infantry, in cooperation with tanks, would drive the enemy back.

The military tacticians soon realised that static AT defense alone wasn't sufficient. The Army needed mobile AT weapons. There were various experiments and tests, and the first vehicle to emerge was the M6 37mm GMC. While effective against lighter armor and softskins, this was barely adequate to fight enemy armor, even though the 37mm remained in service until the end of the war. Heavier guns were warranted and the "ideal weapon," as envisaged by Army Ground Forces, who led the programs for new weapons. An expedient stopgap weapon was the 75mm gun mounted on an M3 halftrack. This was later followed by the subject of this review, the M10 Gun Motor Carriage.

This was an open topped vehicle, based on the M4A2 Sherman chassis. The crew consisted of five: the driver and assistant driver/radio operator in the hull, and gunner, loader, and commander in the turret. Armament was a 3" main gun, with a .50 cal M2 machine gun on a pintle at the rear of the turret. The M10 as a fighting vehicle itself wasn't the best of its day. The open top turret made it vulnerable to small arms fire, grenades, and overhead artillery bursts. Because the doctrine was to strike quick and get out even more quickly, the armour was rather light. This made the M10 vulnerable to just about any German anti-tank gun in the field. The M10 was not very well suited to infantry support, because the turret was exposed to sniper fire.

While the main gun was up to the task of knocking out a Panzer IV, it could not frontally pierce the armor of a Panther or Tiger-a major flaw for an offensive weapon.

On the other hand, until July 1944 the M10 had a better gun than most Shermans. Its support fire was more accurate than indirect artillery fire, and the larger gun was better suited to bunker-busting than the Sherman's 75mm gun. The M10 remained in use until the end of the war. It also served with the Frence, British, Canadian, and other Allied forces. The AFV even saw action in the 1990s in the Bosnia war.

Academy's kit offers nearly 600 parts, many of which will resupply your spares box. The M10 suspension is quite comprehensive and is in my opinion the nicest suspension available from a plastic kit. You're provided with several options. Drive sprockets are the simple plate sprockets, or the revised fancy sprockets. Road wheels are either the stamped or spoked versions, both with excellent details and the stamped wheels come with rear inserts for detail on both sides. The idlers again give you the choice between stamped and spoked. Suspension bogies are the heavy duty VVSS with flat return roller arm and spacer, and casting numbers are included. You have a choice of the earliest, half-moon track skid or the more familiar later oblong skid that leans toward the front of the vehicle. For a late vehicle like the M10, the later skid seems the best option. If you decide to model an African campaign vehicle, the early skid might be appropriate. (If building an early M10, remember that the turret counter weights need to be replaced by simple steel blocks.) The skids are moulded separately, thus making clean up and filling of the joint on the top of the bogie quite easy, and some thinning will improve their appearance. More detail can be included by adding the bolts to the skids, and drilling four mounting holes on the front of the bogie. These bogies were interchangeable and the return roller arm could be mounted on either side of the bogie. There are two choices for the one-piece tranmission cover, one sharp nosed and the other more rounded.

The lower hull includes such major interior features as the gearbox, crew seats, steering levers, foot pedals, radio, and instrument panel. The fighting compartment has the lower floor included, together with a fire wall and the sponson-mounted ammunition in cardboard tubes. The rounds do not line up with the pegs on the walls as they actually should. Nevertheless, it would be hard to notice and at least there's something down there to look at. The engine compartment gets side walls and fuel tanks, but no engine. That's a pity because the engine doors are separate parts. Overall, the interior looks crowded, and it would be sufficient to view through the hatches and open turret. Purists can spend quite some time detailing the lot, but Academy has given enough in the kit to satisfy most tastes.

The hull construction is fairly typical for U.S. vehicles. The rear plate of the hull has the correct M4A2 details. The upper hull is one piece, including the glacis. Hull features are finely detailed, including separate tools (which would benefit from straps), fuel filler caps, and grab handles. The headlight guards could use some thinning down with a file, or can be replaced with photo etched parts. The crew hatches in the kit are quite nice, with separate periscopes and handles.

The turret goes together rather well. The seams at the front might be a bit tricky and dry fitting is recommended here. The turret is quite busy and has major details included. The most prominent feature is the gun itself, and its impressive breech looks quite good compared to photographs. At the rear of the turret, you get an ammunition rack for ready rounds. There are also some stowage boxes provided, plus a Thompson for the crew. If this level of detailing is not sufficient for your purposes, you could install additional elements, such as wiring and stowage.

Tracks are of the continuous vinyl type, and represent the T49 steel track. They are quite nicely defined, with the end connectors connecting the link, and the retaining bolt included on the end connectors.

There are numerous other accessories, including musette bags, jerry cans, nylon string for the towing cable, and an assortment of raised numbers, letters, foundry marks, bolts, and tie-downs to further detail your kit.

Markings for two U.S. and two French vehicles, however, are rather generic. They seem to be based on photos seen in several books, but it's a pity Academy doesn't give more information than just "U.S. Army, France 1944."

Overall, this is a good kit. The quality of detail and molding is good, and there are a lot of extra parts, resulting in a nicely filled Sherman bits box. Of course, there's room for improvement, but OOTB you get a nice model of the M10.

For an overview of upgrades and accessories for both the Academy and AFV Club M10s, read my article Aftermarket Sets for the M10 Tank Destroyer.

- Martin Dogger


The question often comes up as to whether Academy or AFV Club has the better M10 kit. Generally, most modelers appreciate Academy's more extensive interior, sharper detailing, and ample amount of extra parts for the spares box. Some reviewers have pointed out that AVF Club's hatches are the wrong shape, and more accurate in the Academy kit. The AFV Club also has a more complicated suspension assembly and a spring-loaded breech/barrel scheme that is more for toy effect that serious modeling. On the other hand, Steve Zaloga points out in "Modelling US Army Tank Destroyers of WWII" that the turrets on both kits are off: Academy's is too narrow and long from front to back, while AFV Club's is too wide and short. He gives the nod to AFV Club for better overall dimensional look.



Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter