M8 Greyhound

Tamiya 1/48 M8 Greyhound  by Russell Eden

The purchase…

Whilst trawling the net looking for future projects I stumbled upon HobbyLinkJapan’s latest sale. I had a browse and with nothing I was desperately after I managed to resist buying anything, but not for long. Next day an email appears from HLJ.com – free shipping if I pay with paypal – now that makes it worth ordering some kits. So I ordered a KV-1 Russian tank and a M8 Greyhound armoured car, both Tamiya in 1/48 scale. Both kits coming to less than I would pay for one in this country. Result. The KV-1 will be built out of the box, with the only aftermarket addition being an aluminium barrel. The Greyhound is another matter, more on that later.

History

With a top speed of 88km/h, the M8 Greyhound lived up to its name as a fast reconnaissance vehicle for Allied armies in WWII. The M8 was equipped with a liquid-cooled 110hp gasoline engine that powered all six wheels, giving it excellent off-road capability. An open-top turret armed with a 37mm cannon and M2 heavy machine gun also gave it a powerful punch for supporting infantry, especially in the Far East where it was a match for the poorly armed & armoured Japanese tanks. Approximately 8,500 were produced during WWII, serving in motorized cavalry units of U.S., Free French, and British armies. Many developing nations also continued to use the M8 after the war.

The kit

Consisting of 124, dark-green injection moulded parts, on five sprues, a metal chassis (plus screws) an instruction booklet and a decal sheet covering two vehicles. Initial impression are that the kit is up to Tamiya’s usual high standards – no flash, very few sink marks with nice crisp detailing. The instructions are very well produced, as ever, with nice clear drawing in 16 easy to follow stages. The decals are a bit thick and with only 2 set of markings a bit limited, especially with so many being used in WWII alone, let alone after the war.

My only major gripe is the poorly detailed 0.50cal machine gun. This will be rectified later, along with the lack of markings.

Research

As most of you know I loathe doing anything out of the box and I love doing research – trawling through my book collection and the internet – so I had a look for pictures of Greyhounds in action. Most were covered in stowage and varied between having a full compliment of mudguards and lacking the lot. I even found some pictures of winter ones with snow chains on the tyres and winter whitewash paint schemes.

I decided to build mine late war, European theatre, missing the mudguards with snow chains fitted and covered in stowage and mud.

Shopping

After doing my research and formulating a few ideas it was onto my second favourite part – shopping.

Onto www.track48.com to see what they have. I ordered a lovely machined barrel and the M8 stowage/wheel set with snow chains fitted. I also ordered a set of US vehicle decals – this gives me a huge choice of marking and even some names – I think I shall call my greyhound Bobcat!

That gave me some stowage but I really wanted replace the awful machine gun so I checked out Verlinden’s 1/48 sets – I used one of their .50cal’s on my M10 Tank Destroyer. I found one in a set of Sherman stowage which I ordered from Historex-Agents. What I don’t use on the Greyhound will be used on one of my many other 1/48 planned projects.

Crew next – MIG have just released a set of very nicely sculpted crew for the Greyhound so I will order these eventually.

The Build

Initially this kit was going to be part of a larger convoy diorama but as I’ve had to put that on hold I decided to go ahead and build the Greyhound and mount it on its own base.

Stage 1 – clean up – All the resin parts were trimmed off their casting blocks and cleaned in hot soapy water to remove any release agent. I then primed the wheels and stowage.

Stage 2 – hull build up – this was done over a weekend at my girlfriends – luckily she was designing tattoos on Saturday and working Sunday so I could model guilt free! As with all the 1/48 Tamiya kits I have built so far it contains a metal chassis part for weight. This is bolted to the hull bottom and the running gear is added around it. It is very basic but very well detailed. The wheels will be added last so this stage was ignored. The top of the hull was built next and added to the hull bottom – the front hatches were mounted closed and as there’s no interior detail this completed the hull in about an hour and a half – wow – that’s a quick build – the joy of not using an etch kit! I won’t be using the armoured skirts either so that’s another stage ignored.

Stage 3 – turret build up – This was the only stage of the build that involved an aftermarket part – a very nice turned aluminium barrel. Fitting this involved cutting away part of the original barrel and drilling out the mounting – not a hard job at all and as there’s no need to rub the barrel down to remove mould lines they look so much better. As with the hull it went together very easily in about an hour. The .50cal machine gun will be added last as one of the crew is resting his arm on it, so currently I’m not sure where I’m mounting it. There is very little interior detail – mainly just the breach for the 37mm main gun with the sights and coaxial .30cal machine gun. The crew, once mounted will hide this lack of detail nicely. Another nice detail is the surface of the cast mantel. The crew cradle was next, another well detailed but simple build. This will be painted then attached to the turret. This completed the build, in about 4 hours!

Stage 4 – painting – With the basic build complete I got a bit carried away, as ever, and primed what I hadn’t primed earlier. With everything a nice shade of grey I waited over night, until I got home and after a quick clean I sprayed everything that needed it in Humbrol dark green, which isn’t as dark as is suggested by its name but turns out a nice shade of olive drab. As the weather is currently so hot I managed to do 2 coats in an hour with them drying completely. Over this everything got a wash of Games Workshop black ink. This didn’t bring out the detail as much as I hoped on the hull and turret so I gave them a wash of MIG dark wash which worked a lot better and even gave it a rain streaked appearance.

Once everything green was dry I gave it a subtle dry brush with a pale green to highlight and bring out the detail. The tyres and tyre chains were painted GW black and once dry the chains were dry brushed with GW chainmail. I was unsure about the this as I thought the chains would have been a dark grey – that was until I found a wartime phone of a winter greyhound with bright silver chains – see last months pictures.

Stage 5 – decals – With everything the correct basic colour it was time for some decals. I had trouble recently with Tamiya’s decals so with my newly purchased set of American vehicle decals and some reference photos I planned what to do. With around 10 photos of different Greyhounds it showed there was very little consistency so that gave me free reign, within reason. I used a star with a broken outline on the front; 2 cut down stars on the rear, the rest of the star would have been on the side skirts I’m not using; the vehicle numbers on the sides and the ‘Bobcat’ name decals; the ‘lift here’ decals and lastly randomly chosen front and rear numbers. Not too much but enough to break up the overall greenness of the vehicle. Oh and not forgetting the turret stars which will mainly be hidden by stowage. Once in place everything was given a coat of matt varnish.

This completes this stage of the build.

Stowage

With the armoured car nearly complete it was onto the stowage. The main set came with the snow chained wheels. After playing with the placement I decided not to use the front stowage and just use the rear set. This consisted of several rolled tarpaulins, an ammunition crate and a kit bag all moulded in one block. This was primed previously and then painted a variety of military style colours for variation, given various washes and dry brushed. Once I was happy with it I used matt varnish to glue it to the engine deck. To this I also added 2 more rolled tarps and some .50cal ammo boxes. I did want to add a jerry can but wondered if it would have been wise to carry a fuel can on an engine deck…..? The rest of the stowage came from the British stowage set I bought previously for the replacement .50cal machine gun.

With these in place I moved onto the mud. Dale kindly supplied me with a jar of dark earth from Tamiya on the proviso that I did a review of it – http://www.tamiya.com/english/products/87109dark_earth/index.htm

With the wheels still not fitted I used it to muddy the underside of the greyhound – it is very thick and quite solid. This suited clumping it under the mudguards really well. I’d use old brushes only when using it too. The grains might be considered a bit over scale (I think it’s designed more for 1/35 scale dioramas) but with the addition of some water and MIG pigments it appeared less grainy and varied more in colour. Once dry I used some lighter MIG pigments thinned and painted it where I wanted dried mud. Dried mud is lighter than wet so the lighter shades should be done first and then built up to the darker shades. Mixing in a bit of acrylic semi gloss varnish to the MIG pigments made the mud thicker and will gave it a wet look. I used this technique on the wheels as the Tamiya mud did work very well on these. I think I’ll stick to using it on big areas only. This was the end of the first stage of mud application. On a separate note I used it on my Panther tank and it was brilliant for muddying the tracks and hull – highly recommended for the muddy look.

Mud application in progress

Onto the base; I was going to use one of my usual cases as they fit 1/48 armour so well. With a newly machined wooden base (thanks to Pete at work – it’s amazing what he’ll do for some custard creams!) I sat down with Malcolm and had a brainstorming session. After several cups of tea and numerous biscuits we decided to have the Greyhound driving down a muddy track with a ditch to one side. Using some heavy duty antistatic foam I sliced it, roughly, into shape. It was glued to the base with glass glue and once dry a coating of filler liberally applied over it. Thanks to Malcolm for showing me how to mix it properly – finally I know! We added some tyre tracks next and left it to dry over night. The next day I decided the ruts weren’t deep enough so added more filler and laid some deeper tracks into it. I drove the Greyhound into it to get the correct tyre patterns – one reason why I didn’t glue the wheels in place. After carefully removing it and washing the wheels the base was left to dry overnight. Next morning I painted it with the Tamiya mud and gave it few coats of various MIG pigments to blend the mud. I glued the Greyhound into the ruts with my trusty glass glue, making sure to coat the tyres and ruts in it as it dries shiny; this will give a nice wet appearance to the fresh tyre marks. I added a jerry can, a German helmet and some grass tufts to complete the scene.

Waiting for glue to dry

The .50cal machine was next – being resin the barrels are rarely straight so with some hot water to hand I very carefully bent it into shape. Once dry I primed it and painted it with Humbrol metallic gun metal paint, which once dry was polished to give it a nice metallic shine. It was carefully mounted on the original sliding mount and clipped in place so I could still move it – this would be handy as the crew weren’t fitted yet.

The crew came from MIG, specifically designed for this kit.

MIG Crew

As I wanted the vehicle to look like it was driving down the track the crewman standing on the back will not be used. The man in the olive jacket was assembled and painted first. After dry fitting and finding him too tall I filed his boots down several mm to make his arm rest on the turret ring. With him in place I could work out where to mount the machine gun – this isn’t shown on the MIG picture. It’s massive and sits very close to the crewman’s head – probably why he’s wearing a helmet – turn round too quick and ‘CLANG’ – one concussion!

The second crewman is resting his hand on the machne gun and unfortunately due to slight oversight on my part won’t fit in the model case as I made the base too tall – Doh! He’s left off at the moment – I might paint him and fit him when I’m at shows – if I can make balance securely without falling over all the time.

That concludes this little project. My weathering is improving I think and so are my bases – I get more adventurous with each project. I have my Panther & Schwimmwagen base to build next.

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