Review Mirage Hobby 1/72 M5

To relieve the demand for the radial aero-engines used in the M3, a new version was developed using twin Cadillac V-8 automobile engines and twin Hydra-Matic transmissions operating through a transfer case. This variation was quieter, cooler and roomier. Owing to its automatic transmission, it also simplified crew training. The new model (initially called M4 but redesignated M5 to avoid confusion with the M4 Sherman) also featured a redesigned hull with sloped glacis plate and driver’s hatches moved to the top. Although the main criticism from the units using it was that the Stuarts lacked firepower, the improved M5 series kept the same 37 mm gun. The M5 gradually replaced the M3 in production from 1942 and, after the M7 project proved unsatisfactory, was succeeded by the Light Tank M24 in 1944.

On the 8th November 1942, 70th Tank Battalion (Light) landed in North Africa, as part of Operation “Torch”. Company “A” landed as attached to 39th Infantry Regiment of 9th Infantry Division, in the vicinity of Algiers. Initially, they covered the airfield in Glida, and reinforced the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment. After this Company “A” of 70th Tank Battalion was attached to French infantry units. Company A accepted the surrender of over 17,000 POWs from May 11th to 13th 1943 and 25 of its soldiers were decorated with French Croix de Guerre. Company A was picked for fulfilling the duty of Guard of Honor at the international victory parade in Tunis on May 20th. From this parade comes the most well-known pictures of its M5 light tanks.

The kit is in a top opening box. All the parts are mounted on 5 sprues which are sealed inside 2 plastic bags.

Attached to the front of the instructions is a resealable bag containing a small decal sheet. The instructions have one page of background information, 2 pages of build instructions in black and white and 3 pages of colour painting instructions with decal placement guides.

The box contains:

  • 145 plastic parts on 5 sprues
  • 2 tracks and towing cable on a flexible rubber sprue
  • 1 small decal sheet
  • 1 small PE fret with 3 parts
  • 1 double-sided instructions sheet.

This kit was originally released in 2012 and is of the early version of the M5. Mirage-Hobby then use most of these sprues again two years later when they released mid and late versions of this tank. I think these are the only kits of the M5 in this scale. The sprues are bagged in the box and the decal sheet is in a small bag that is attached to the instruction sheet.

The sprue attachment points are not too bad, a little large in places, but nothing that will be a problem. The ejector pin marks are either out of the way or on the sprue and not a concern. There’s no flash as I can see. The level of detail on the parts of the kit is quite good with small raised rivets and other details. There’s no interior detail in the hull or turret.

The instructions are clear and are shown in black and white diagrams. They start with a page of background and technical information. Then 11 steps over 2 pages, although step 11 seems to be just looking at the finished product. The diagrams are 3D images and could be a bit bigger so you might need a magnifier to see some of the finer details for placement of parts. The actions for each step are described below:

  1. Build the lower hull
  2. Assemble the bogies of the running gear
  3. Add parts from step 2 and dive gear and idler to the lower hull
  4. Add the upper hull and hatches
  5. Add small parts to the hull rear
  6. Add small parts to the hull front
  7. Add small external parts to the turret rear and right
  8. Add small parts to the turret left side and the main armament
  9. Add the lower part of the turret to the assembly
  10. Add the completed turret to the tank and add the one piece tracks.

Paints and Decals
You’re given 3 painting and decal guides and a small decal sheet. The paints are named and referenced in the Vallejo catalogue. All of them are very similar being overall green with similar decals too. Your decal options are:

  • Company C, 70th Tank Battalion (Light) Oran, Morocco, Dec 1942
  • Company A, 70th Tank Battalion (Light) Casablanca, Morocco, Jan 1943
  • Company A, 70th Tank Battalion (Light), Morocco, Feb 19432

This is a nice little kit with some nice detail and fairly high parts count for such a small kit. You will need to work with small parts, but the end result should be very nice.

I found this kit available at Mirage Hobby for $14.00 plus shipping.

Many thanks to Mirage Hobby for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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