M4A3 (Tamiya) Build #21 – Installing Bow Gun, Attaching Hull Top and Making Exterior Details Fit

Before I can permanently attach the upper hull to the lower, there are just a few of things left to do; attach the .30 caliber (7.62mm), shoot the surfaces with clear matte and then apply pastels to grunge it up a bit. First the .30 caliber (7.62mm):

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Then clear matte and pastels:

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And then the hull gets glued into place:

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 Now I can redress Tamiya’s oversight regarding lack of sponson bottoms. Archer Dry Transfers has this template on their site:

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However, its length is a bit off:

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Unlike some things, adding a bit of length is easy:

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When I assembled the tracks, I tried dry-fitting them to the spare kit and in addition to realizing that I was about two hands short of what I needed to easily add them, they were a tight fit. TMD has a simple solution that I availed myself of. These mounts are eccentric (unlike your humble Narrator, who is merely “colorful”) and thereby can adjust where the rear idler wheel sits and allowing for easier (I HOPE) fit and tensioning of the tracks:

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First, the molded on mount gets removed:

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Then a hole of the proper diameter to mount the eccentric is drilled:

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And now adjustability is possible:

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 I cut the sponson bottoms from .010″ (.254mm) styrene and glued them into position. Yes, the template suggests .040″ (1.016mm). The reason I went with lighter stock was because the resin AM parts would support the thin stock.

I checked the fit of the exhaust deflectors and though not quite as precise a fit as I would hope for, it certainly falls within the 90-95% tolerance:

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And perfectly hides the radiator ducting I’d made (oh well):

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Okay, pay attention. This is a test. Aside from the fact that one part is resin and the other injection-molded styrene, what’s different between these two parts? (Hint: Look at the round depressions on either side of the engine access door, particularly to where the “D” shaped depressions are and are not.):

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In case you didn’t see it, because I didn’t see it until I figured out why the exhaust tips did not fit, the depressions are reversed. Yes, the AM set got it wrong. When you look at this photo you will see the styrene I had to add (the white areas) to get the tips to (mostly) fit:

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I inserted “mostly” next to “fit” because the tips are supposed to fit into the slots of the deflectors and this is the closest I can get them:

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But given how hidden area is from casual view (because anybody picking this model up to look at it will have other things to concern themselves with, namely a “colorful” and irate builder), this is what I’m going to stay with:

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