The Commander Series M103 U.S. Heavy tank is a combined resin, photo-etch, and plastic part kit that offered this modeler many challenges during construction.
The turret and chassis are solid
resin pieces that add visual â€śweightâ€ť to the model. The turret is a beautiful resin casting that needs absolutely no clean up. The gun tube and mantlet are also very clean pieces making the turret build pretty
smooth with this kit. Completion of the turret is accomplished through the kit provided photo-etch brackets and wire for the turret basket, along with resin gas cans and commanderâ€™s copula. A 50 cal is not
supplied with the kit, nor is the searchlight seen on this model, so the spare parts box provided these, (and also the turret lift rings and tow cable).
The hull is where things started to get difficult. The
suspension mountings on the resin hull were partially cast in some instances, or not fully bored out to receive the road wheels for the suspension properly. In addition, the kitâ€™s road wheels and shocks were
disappointing pieces with lots of air pockets, groves, gaps and mold edges. A lot of filling and filing time made the road wheels presentable, but frankly some of the shocks could not be used. Luckily the spares box
provided replacement shocks, track return rollers, and torsion bars where required, (thank goodness for spare parts!).
The hull also included casting difficulties where the front fenders mate to the slope of
the cast hull. The inside lips of the fenders are supposed to be cast vertically onto the hull to be joined by the track fenders provided with the kit. Unfortunately these vertical cast pieces were broken off in
several spots. To rectify, the broken cast pieces were shaved off and replaced with plastic card stock and then joined to the fenders. The spares box provided the driving lights and hull tow hooks, as the parts
included with this kit were poorly cast.
In addition, the kitâ€™s directions are at best â€śSpartanâ€ť leaving the modeler guessing on exactly how to proceed successfully through the construction. However
there is a build article of this kit in Military Miniatures that is a lifesaver in assisting in the construction of this model. Do yourself a favor and get the magazine if you can. I picked mine up off the Internet.
Lastly, one of the nicer aspects of the kit are the tracks with the Company providing Academyâ€™s indi tracks and pins---very very nice.
It should be noted that Commander Series has a no questions
asked policy for providing replacement parts for their kits. An email request for some replacement parts was promptly addressed and filled, by the Company. Thatâ€™s good service!
This is an expensive model.
I paid approximately $120 U.S., and have seen them advertised at even higher prices. For my money, I canâ€™t recommend this model to anyone, but its up to you, (after all its your money and time).