is an extensive set for detailing the Academy
mid to late M7 Priest, but does not go to the extravagent lengths of Eduard's
six-set update. The main highlights here are inclusion of ammo bins for the 105mm
rounds and .50 M2 machine gun boxes, rear exhaust screen, and plastic sheet and
templates for the additional raiser armor around the fighting compartment. The
set is rounded out with the usual attachment fittings for tools, light and siren
guards, and engine deck stowage bins. It also provides some resin replacement
parts and the necessary thicknesses of plastic rod and brass wire to get into
the more picayune detailing. However, let it be stated early: this is not a set
for beginners, who might find picking and choosing among the various Eduard sets
less daunting (even the much simpler Edurard set for the Italeri kit has some
useful replacement parts for the Academy kit).
it's not quite everything it purports to be. The box cover shows a Priest dressed
with Voyager parts, including brass for the distinctive hull side racks typically
used on M3A1 halftracks. There are a few pictured items called out as not being
included in this set (an "extrafee" is required for the baskets, resin
machine gun and brass barrel parts, and resin tools), but nothing points to the
racks as being MIA. I was disappointed as I wanted to use them on my build of
Academy's "Baboon" of the 2nd Armored Division, where these racks were
prominently used. (Fortunately, I'm covered by some spare Tamiya parts set aside
long ago. Lesson: Don't throw away spare parts.) Also, the armor covers
over the engine deck gas fume vents are shown in the cover, but are not included
Voyager set has some good things going for it. It's barely perceptible, but the
brass comes on sheets of different thicknesses that would seem to be more scaled
to their relative size. They're not too thin, nor are they too thick like some
of the older Verlinden pieces. These seem to be just right. Bend lines are clearly
etched and I was able to fold even the longest pieces easily with a hobby blade
against a metal ruler. You also get some small frets with bolts and straps. The
resin parts are well cast and free of air bubbles.
the quality of the parts is only part of the value. The others are accuracy and
ease of use. This is where the set falters some.
resin bits include a new bulkhead wall with the radiator and oil line molded in
situ; it would be more accurate to stand the oil pipe away from the wall. The
sheet metal cover is fashioned in brass, but oddly: there are etched recesses
that run across the top and bottom of the center section which I thought either
served to represent how the cover was attached to the bulkhead, or acted as locator
marks for affixing the small bolts. But they don't appear in the instructions,
and the way the shield is folded (ominously, the instructions don't show how to
fold the piece as they do other pieces), the etched recesses end up on the back
side, obscured from view, as you can see in the photos where the Voyager brass
is accompanied by the Academy plastic part.
provides a pair of nicely-cast M1 Garands to insert in the long scabbards mounted
in the pulpit. Unfortunately, the Priest was initially equipped with M1 carbines,
and later with Thompson submachine guns. Ditch the Garands and scrounge up some
carbines or Tommy guns (which appear in the August 1944 tech manual equipment
it's easy to thin down the kit's bogey skids, Voyager supplies replacement skids
in the mid and late styles for the VVSS suspension, if you use that option from
the Academy kit. Voyager thoughtfully provides the oft-missed bolts for the skids,
and they are called out in the instructions.
was apprehensive as I approached building the ammo bins, but the process went
much more smoothly and quickly than I anticipated. The parts are logically deconstructed
into pieces, so the outer walls come together easily. The full-length interior
dividerswhich the Academy parts lackare either short single walls
or sheets of multiple compartment walls that are interlaced together like dividers
commonly seen in cardboard boxes. Best of all, they are large enough to accept
the Resicast fiberboard ammo tubes. That enables the modeler to depict bins that
may be half full (I wish I had used these in my Italeri Priest for that reason!).
I will set these aside for yet another Priest I have in mind that can use this
versatility. You can see how my bins turned out below.
large rear stowage bins can be positioned with their lids opened; with thinner
walls than the plastic counterparts, the brass will present a more realistic character
with an open lid.
supplemental armor plate around the top of the fighting compartment is easily
scratchbuilt with the plastic and template provided in the instructions. However,
the rear wall is constructed out of three pieces, which is fine if you want to
have one or all of these sections raised or lowered. But if not, it's easer to
cut one long length and then add the brass parts over the joints.
brings us to the more complicated aspects of this set. The hinged upper armor
plates were secured with small bars that slid through three rings welded to the
wall. To accomplish this with the parts, you need to measure the locations and
drill shallow holes into which the male prongs coming off the rings are glued.
You need to do this with the supplied tie downs, as well, should you chose to
use them (personally, I think Accurate Armour's tie downs are easier to use and
represent the original tie downs well). The hinges that secure the additional
plates to the wall need to be formed over short lengths of wire. The effect is
to more accurately reflect the real world objects, or perhaps to make these parts
movable. There are additional hinges and machine gun cradle parts that also are
designed to be assembled for possible mobility. So that's why I pose the "not
for beginners" qualifier in the opening paragraph. If you don't have more
than a few Eduard sets under your belt, you might get put off by the more intricate
nature of this set. On the other hand, I'm sure there are some brass masters who
will find this to be an enjoyable challenge.
maddening aspect of this set is the instructions, which comes in two double-sided
30" x 4" strips. Not very workbench friendly!
deficient in numerous areas, this is an impressive set overall that will shine
in the hands of highly experienced modelers. But buyer beware!
to Saul Garcia and Voyager Model for the review sample.