Vehicles of the 640th Part 2

In this second installment of the Vehicles of the 640th Tank Destroyer Battalion we look at the M8 Armored Car. Tank Destroyer battalions in WW2 were heavily equipped with scout vehicles like the M8. Each battalion had an organic scout company which served as the battalion’s eyes and ears. This mission demanded speed and agility, not firepower and armor. When on the march, the Scout Company’s mission was make contact with enemy forces at the earliest practicable moment and maintain it thereafter. In this role, the recon troops identified hostile units and reported their strength, composition, disposition and movement. During withdrawals, the cavalry often served as a screening force for the main units. The M8 performed this function with distinction. Each M8 armored car was equipped with a long-range radio set to communicate with higher headquarters and another short-range set to communicate with lateral units. The M8 weighed 16,400 lbs fully loaded and was capable of cruising 100–200 miles cross country or 200–400 miles on highways without refueling. On normal roads, it was capable of a sustained speed of 55 mph. The M8s of the 640th’s Reconnaissance Company were instrumental in racing well ahead of friendly lines during the battle to retake Luzon.

Members of the 640th's Scout Company in front of their M8 Armored Car.

The Kit:
The Tamiya M8 kit filled a void with fans of US armor when it was released in 1998. Prior to that time there were no up to date kits of this important vehicle in production. The kit lives up to the high standards in engineering and detail we have all come to expect from Tamiya. Still, there is plenty of room for adding detail if you’re into that sort of thing.
I purchased the Eduard PE set for this kit. It had some very useful parts such as the large hull ammo bin, ammo racks in the turret, brush guards and some components for the driver’s position. I also used the Archer Fine Transfers set for this kit. The numbers for the turret ring display very well through the open turret top.
I also used a fair number of tie downs from Tiger Models in the turret. These little resin beauties are inexpensive and give eye popping detail way out of proportion to their cost an effort. As with the M-10, these tie downs are very prominent on the turret.
Other than that the build is pretty much stock box. I did sand off the molded in handles on the drivers and co-driver’s hatches and replace them with stretched sprue.
I painted the base color using Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab lightened to scale with XF-60 Dark Yellow. I then post shaded with straight Dark Yellow diluted to almost water consistency with isopropyl alcohol. Following this I treated the wheels and wheel wells with a sludge of mineral spirits mixed with ground pastel chalk. I applied the thick mixture so that when dry it would have the three dimensional feeling of caked on mud.

I followed this with another wash of mineral spirits mixed with the same ground pastel chalk only this time much thinner so that when dry it would have the appearance of a coat of dust, not mud. Once this was fully dry I went over it with another wash of black artist oils cut with mineral spirits. This subdued the pastel wash and gave it a deep three dimensional effect. The final weathering touch was a light dry brush with ground pastel chalk to bring out the fine detail.
The only stowage I placed on the exterior of the vehicle were some rolled tarpaulins made from rolled tech wiped stiffened with diluted white glue. I also fabricated an orange air-recognition panel from Tamiya Epoxy Putty rolled paper thin. The tie downs are lead foil.
The markings are from the Archer Dry Transfers Tank Destroyer set. One photo of 640th M-8s on Guadalcanal shows them sporting the TD branch insignia on the bumper.

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