1/35 M3 Stuart/BT 42/M4 HST Frankenstein

Gallery Article by Valentin “Huh?” Bueno on Jan 27 2012


Igor threw the spanner at the wheel in utter disgust. “This stinking wheel will never come off!” he yelled. Yuri, his mechanics assistant agreed, “I think you are right Comrade Igor Stanislov Ivchenko. That wheel will never come off unless we blow it off.” 

Igor looked at Yuri and then at the BT-42. Comrade Commander Piotr needs the 42 up and running in order to stave off the invading Hun horde. Just behind the BT-42 lay a M3 Stuart with its turret blown off and running gear ruined by a mine blast. And next to that was a M4 High Speed tractor whose engine was scavenged for a generator. 

Yuri noticed what Igor was looking at. His eyes widened in alarm, “No Comrade, that is not possible!” 
Igor looked at Yuri. “Oh yeah Comrade Yuri Petro Blastikovich, and who’s going to stop me?” Igor stood to his full 2.3 meter height. “You?” 

The Evil Mad Cao 

When Tom at Wellers Hobbycraft got in the free sample of BT-42 parts from Tamiya, I couldn’t resist. I bought the parts from Tom and went home and fondled the new parts. The new parts for the P-51 Mustang in 1/32 scale were also in the box, but that’s another article, if I ever get around to it! I soon noticed that almost all the parts for the tank were in the box save the lower hull. Arghghghgh! Maybe I will get lucky and Tamiya-san will send Tom the lower hull. Until then, I had an all new turret, wheels, fenders, tracks and upper hull to play with. 

As I sat in the workshop looking at the parts, I noticed an unstarted set of M3 Hull parts sitting on the bench. Like Igor, the light bulb in my head went off. I taped the turret for the BT-42 together and placed it on top of the old Tamiya M3 Stuart hull. It looked good. The Turret diameters were almost the same and all I needed was to add on some AFV Club running gear and I was good to go. But then the evil black light over my head blinked on, would a standard M3 be able to handle the weight of the BT-42 turret? How about putting the wider running gear from the M4 HST on there instead? The Brazilians did that to their M3 Stuarts, so why not. I had already planned on doing this to create a Brazilian M3, I already had an extra M4 HST, Modelkasten tracks and who’s going to stop me…. you? 



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Parts is Parts
As quick as a rabid bunny rabbit, I started assembling the turret and hull. Since these were Tamiya parts, all went swimmingly smoothly. I attacked the lower hull with my trusty sprue cutter and snipped off all the protrusions that would interfere with the Hobby Boss M4 HST running gear. 

The HB M4 HST running gear fit rather well to the existing M3 running gear locations. A slight adjustment to make sure the tires clear is all I did. The Idler wheel was left in the same location as the M3 idler, but I probably should have moved it backwards a bit to give more clearance to the boogies. I had to modify the sprocket to fit the existing M3 final gear axle. 

In a horrible misstep of excitement, I “temporarily” glued the rubber M4 HST tracks onto the running gear just so I could get a feel for the wider running gear versus the regular running gear. When I tried to remove it, I ended up almost breaking the plastic parts! Drats! So I glued the tracks to the boogies, idler and sprocket with CA glues. It is still a little fragile, but better than when I first glued on these parts. 

Who’s Parts are Parts?
Now that the basic structure was done, I started adding all the little parts. I used the tow hooks, headlamps, horn and tools from the BT-142, 0.30 cal MG gun and gun barrels from Tasca, radio antenna mount from Tamiya and 2M antenna from Adler’s Nest. The tool boxes and crowbars are from the Bt-142 kit as well. 

Going Green
Since this model represents an amalgamation of three different vehicles, I used three different colors for the base coats, Tamiya Rattle can Olive Green for the turret, Olive Drab II (USAF) for the upper hull and NATO black for the lower hull. After all the paint had dried, I added a very dark but controlled pin wash to all the detail. A slurry of MiG Pigments Dark Mud, Earth and Russian Soil (black) was used to add dust, dirt and mud to the running gear. The dark mud pigment was carried up to the lower side of the upper hull and finally Earth applied over all. Rain streaks were added with Tamiya Thinner and weathering powder. A final highlighting was done with Tamiya’s weathering set using sand color.

The model has no markings on it yet. At this point it probably won’t as it is an amalgamation of different parts from different models. This model took from April 2011 until October 2011 and that’s really fast for me at five minutes a night.

"Val “The Evil Mad Cao” Bueno"

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Photos and text © by Val Bueno