M24 Chaffee

Kit #: R72001M Construction review by Rob Haelterman

For a preview of this kit, see here.
For a construction review by Kris Carlier, see here.



Encouraged by the honorary president of IPMS/Belgium, I decided to build the kit as "APACHE", an M24 of the Belgian Army, or more specifically the vehicle used by the Platoon Cdr of the 1st platoon of A Squadron, 1 Jagers te Paard during a parade at Arnsberg in 1952. The vehicle was extensively researched by our erstwhile editor, Marc Mercier, and the decals are available from Aleran.
Note that the kit that was provided to me by IPMS/Belgium was the Mammoth Edition, which is called "Mammoth" not because of the oversized box, but because of the addition of resin and metal parts. A small inconvenience of the Mammoth Edition lies in the observation that the instructions of the basic edition haven't been modified; the modeler must clearly investigate which parts are meant to be replaced by metal or resin parts before starting.





Not much needs to be said about the turret. Fit is as good as it gets in this scale. Points of possible interest are

  • Weld lines should be added around the base of the turret (coinciding with the parts breakdown).

    The turret with weld lines, but before I noticed that I needed to change the antenna mount and add some extra details.
  • Originally, Chaffees had a smoke mortar at the front right edge of the turret roof, which was often replaced with an antenna base [1]. The kit only provides the latter
  • When installing the spent shell hatch on the right rear of the turret, make sure there is no panel line or seam after gluing. I felt that the hatch created a slight recess, unless I thinned down the locating pegs just a little bit.
  • When installing the cupola, make sure it is perfectly aligned. I first glued the cupola and later the hatch and only then noticed that it was a few degrees off. Fortunately, I used little glue and was able to reposition both of them.
  • Both the commander's and the loader's hatch can be positioned open, but apart from the bottom of the hatch all the interior detail will then need to be scratchbuilt.
  • Note that the inner section of the commander's cupola could rotate on the real vehicle [1] which is an option the kit doesn't provide without surgery and that the periscope on that lid is only given in the closed position, while all other periscopes can be positioned in the open or closed position. Fortunately, there are enough spare open periscopes on sprue C to rectify this without too much trouble, if desired.
  • When installing the turret bin, it is perhaps best to first glue the lower half to the turret and the hatch afterwards, so you are sure it all fits nicely. I should also have left a slightly bigger gap between the lid and the turret. Note that I didn't use the PE parts of the Mammoth Edition for the bin as I saw no added value in it, unless you want to open the lid (except perhaps for the latch, but I didn't trust my own skills for that). I even felt that the result would have been inferior to the plastic parts as I had trouble folding and gluing the PE parts at the correct angles and without gaps.
  • I didn't use the PE parts for the small armor plate in front of the spent shell hatch either, but decided to thin the part down except at its base. In this way I felt I would end up with a sturdier joint. Note that a weld line should be added at the base of this plate.
  • I used the metal barrel of the Mammoth Edition.
  • When fitting the coax MG, it's a good idea to drill a small hole through its mounting in the mantlet to ensure a sturdy fit and too allow it to positioned so that it sticks out just enough.
  • The small ovals on the cheeks (next to the mantlet) are actually more like rings on the real vehicle, instead of plates like in the kit. At first I thought I would have been able to live with it, but, in the end (after priming), I didn't. I shaved of the oval plates and replaced them with oval rings, made by inserting a suitable shaped, and heated, brass rod into a sheet of styrene. When pressing the hot rod in the plastic a small rim is created which can be shaved off and placed on the turret.

    The ovals added at a late stage in the construction sequence
  • I left of the MG, antenna bases and other small parts until later in the construction sequence.


Specifically for APACHE, I needed the following modifications

  • The antenna base on the rear left of the turret is of a different kind than that supplied in the kit. Note that three configurations existed in the Belgian Army: the type in the kit, the type used by APACHE and both used together.

    Photo's supplied by Marc Mercier, found on the internet, except for the one on the top left, which is from the collection of the museum of 1JP.
    Also note the atypical box on the left fender of the vehicle in the bottom right picture..

  • An MG mount was added to the front on the turret roof. This seems to be a type seen on many vehicles from the Korean war onwards (although not all the Belgian vehicles had it installed). In fact it's so common that we might have expected OKB Grigorov to provide it as a kit part.

    Picture on the left from the collection of Marc Mercier, picture on the right found on the internet.
  • One of the few items that is not include in all the PE sets that the Mammoth Edition offers are the two hooks for the right side of the turret (behind the small armored shield), which held the MG when not in use. I made mine from scratch.
  • The turret MG was left off untill the end, as it is a beautiful, but delicate affair.

The turret ready for a coat of primer. At this point I had yet to make my mind up about the ovals on the cheeks and many small parts still needed to be added.

The turret with almost all small details added, ready for a final coat of primer to detect any remaining blemishes. The small sighting vane for the commander was later blown away by the airbrush and replaced with small leftovers from the PE sheet.


Also note that at least one Belgian M24 had a modification of the antenna base at the turret right front.

Pictures from the collection of the museum of 1JP.




Lower Hull and Suspension

The lower hull goes together well, if some care is taken. Detail is absolutely amazing.

While the modeler can choose between two lower glacis plates, one with and one without the adapter plates for the amphibious pontoons (which were mostly just plugged with bolts on operational vehicles as in the kit parts), you only get the option of installing the adapter plates for the rear, or plugging them with whatever suits your fancy. I feel that OKB should have at least given flat plates to fill the gaps, or better, given a complete plate as was done for the front. As my vehicle didn't have these plates, I filled the recesses with plasticard and smoothened them out. Obviously, I should have done this before actually installing the rear plate, but I wasn't thinking ahead far enough.

Note that according to [2], these attachments were introduced in November 44, while [4] mentions a gradual introduction between October 44 and January 45. [3] on the other hand claims they are attachment points for a bulldozer blade.

The suspension itself is superbly rendered, with many separate and delicately detailed parts, that will make it possible to articulate the suspension and adapt it to rough terrain with only a little work.
When installing the shock absorbers (parts C32), be careful to install them with the correct face pointing outwards. Both sides are detailed and can easily be mistaken for one another.

Having the Mammoth Edition, I could choose between plastic idlers and resin idlers. The resin idlers have the advantage of having the typical slots cut out in the rim, while the plastic parts lack them. While the extra detail is nice, I feel that the detail of the resin parts is actually slightly inferior due to some irregular casting of the rim.

The plastic drive sprockets are also very nice, but I discovered that I needed to add a little spacer to the central drum as the sprockets turned out slightly too narrow for the tracks.

The tracks are very delicately done (and are among the best link-and-length tracks that I have seen) and will require some dexterity to install. The kit comes with far too many single links, which is a blessing as

  • you need more of them than the instructions would have you believe: 5 for the drive sprocket (instead of 4) and 5 for the idler (instead of 3). I also installed one or two single links between the longer runs, in places where the instructions don't mention them, to have a more convincing flow of the tracks.
  • I managed to install the tracks on one drive sprocket backwards and destroyed them while removing them.

About installing the single links to the sprocket: I discovered that I needed to cut down the guide horns by half to make them fit (which is nothing to worry about, as you won't see them there anyway) and had to thin down the teeth of the sprockets that engaged the track links. Be careful when applying glue on the teeth as there are slots on the central drum through which the glue can run and mar the detail on the faces of the sprockets.
Note that the tracks in the kit are T72E1 metal tracks. Postwar Chaffees were often fitted with T85E1 rubber tracks (that apparently required a different sprocket) [1].
While installing the suspension, one of the arms of the idlers broke. Fortunately, the kit has two of each on sprue C. The careful reader will notice a slightly different color on the finished kit as, at this point, I had already painted all the areas that would be difficult to reach afterwards.




Upper Hull

Construction of the upper hull didn't reveal any particular issues; the upper and lower hull are a near perfect fit. (Be careful to keep the lip between the lower and upper glacis: it's supposed to be there.) Some minor sanding was needed, but as there are delicate bolts on the engine deck near the joint, this is not an easy task in this area. In the end, I decided to shave off the bolts to be able to get a smooth joint and build up the bolts afterwards from sprue, sanded down to size. Admittedly, the result is not up to the standard of the original kit bolt

From left to right: kit bolts; bolts removed and holes drilled; shafts from sprue glued in place, to be cut to length afterwards. See pictures below for final result.

I had some trouble making the front of the fenders conform to the hull perfectly. In the end, I removed the small vertical segments and replaced them with better fitting bits of plasticard.

I raised the vent covers (parts C8) on the engine deck just a little bit by adding a very thin plastic strip between the hull and the cover. As I had glued them on in an early stage, I temporarily removed them while fixing the joints and bolts on the engine deck.


Another thing that I changed in a late stage, was the basket at the rear of the hull. I forgot to check the PE parts when gluing the (rudimentary) plastic basket, but, in the end, felt that the PE version was far superior, though difficult to assemble; it ended up slightly bent, which I believe would have happened to the real thing as well after a few days in the field. Note that some vehicles had a different type of basket (actually, more a type of shelf) in this position.

Left picture: plastic bin; right picture: PE bin.

Modelers should also take care that most postwar Chaffees had a telephone (to communicate with accompanying infantry) on the right rear fender and a jerrycan on the left rear fender (where the kit has spare track links). In that instance, the track links were carried on the front fenders. Sometimes the jerrycan was found on the right rear fender. A fire extinguisher was also often carried near the front of these fenders. Jerrycan, telephone and fire extinguisher all come from the spares box, albeit with some modification and/or scratchbuilding. I also removed four of the "bolts" on the left rear fender, assuming they were only there to accept the spare tracks.

Picture showing the jerrycan holder, telephone and alternative rear shelf (via Marc Mercier).

Position of radio and track links. Fire extinguisher just behind spare track links. Picture from the collection of the museum of 1JP. Notice the way the tools are attached above the right fender; we'll come back to this later.

Picture from [5], showing jerrycan, field telephone, shelf and other equipment.

Detail of telephone, from [5].


I left off the side skirts as they were omitted on APACHE (as they often were, especially after the war). Note that the bolt pattern to accept these skirts is still seen when the skirts are removed completely. The kit fenders (B2 and B3) don't have this bolt pattern, though.
Belgian Chaffees apparently kept just a little bit more of the skirts (as many vehicles did, actually). Compare the pictures below (found here), where you can see the small strips of fenders on the front and rear and completely removed fenders in the middle. Also note in this picture that the front of the fenders have three small bolts (just above the small fender flap), which the kit lacks.

The easiest solution is to carve away the unwanted bits of the kit skirts (parts B31 and B32) along a panel line, leaving only a strip with the bolts.
Having the Mammoth Edition, PE parts for the side skirts and for the fender supports are given. The PE skirts were not an option, as it would have made my job of getting only a strip that much more difficult. The fender supports are nice, but not being a hero with PE and superglue, I felt that
the plastic parts were well up to the job. (Removing the plastic fender supports would have been a challenge in itself.)

The three bolts above each fender flap were made with Archer rivets.

I feel that the bolts on the glacis maintenance hatch are nicely done, but stand too proud as the real bolts were (partially) countersunk. Small handles were added, as they are rather prominent on the real tank. The small footholds for the lower glacis were not used, as APACHE was not equipped with them.

While building the kit, one of the lifting rings was ritually offered to the carpet monster. I made both lifting hooks on the glacis from lead wire. Another part that went AWOL was one of the latches for the driver's and radio operator's hatches. Having lost one out of four, I had to leave them all off. (Both hatches can be positioned open, by the way, but then some interior needs to be created, or figures used to plug the hatches.)

I tried hard to use the photoetch headlight guards (parts 9, 10 and 12) and failed utterly to get them to look right. (I take all the blame for that.) I finally settled for thinned down plastic guards (they really are too thick for their own good) and only used the PE supports (parts 11).

The hull with almost all small details added, ready for a final coat of primer to detect any remaining blemishes.


Note that some Belgian vehicles (but not APACHE) had an extra antenna mount instead of the bow machine gun and some had a big box on the left fender.

Photo's supplied by Marc Mercier, found on the internet.



While the kit MG is not bad at all, the PE update will lift it to a higher level. That is... if you have the skills, which I clearly lacked. Not only did I lose many parts to the carpet monster, but I also destroyed others or failed to glue them on properly. In the end, only the following parts were used from the PE sheet:

  • The frame for the grab handles at the back. The handles themselves are not provided and need to be scratchbuilt.
  • Handhold for underneath the barrel.
  • Holder for the ammo box. (The plastic ammo box was not used as it had a sink mark.)

The barrel was replaced with a metal barrel from Schatton. The whole gun was positioned pointing upwards as seen on many Belgian Chaffees. In order to be able to mount it that way, the plastic gun mount was repositioned and thinned down. As it is molded integrally with the MG, this requires some dexterity. Using the PE holder would have been a far easier option had I not managed to lose it..... ***sigh***.

The bad weather windscreen was installed in the stowed position and the glass made from clear styrene as it is not included in the kit.

The rack that OKB Grigorov provides for the tools on the right fender is different from what is seen on the real tank; a detail that I caught too late. Straps to hold the tools in place are also missing (which could easily have been included in the PE set of the Mammoth Edition). The latter were made from aluminium foil.

In hindsight, I should have drilled out the headlights and made the lenses from Krystal Klear. Having already glued them on the tank, the next best thing was to flatten the front, put some silver paint on the surface and add a drop of Future to make a lens.


Painting and markings

As mentioned earlier, the tank was painted as APACHE in 1952. The green was mixed from different paints until it looked right and decals were custom made by Aleran. (If you want some yourself, feel free to contact them.) The markings were originally applied for a parade but kept for a short while afterwards, so a little bit of weathering can be tolerated.

Modelers interested in other schemes or diorama settings need to take into account that the tank only reached operational status in December 1944 [3].



The diorama represents a section of heavily worn tank track, made in the following manner:

  • Cut sections of "carton plume" (aka foamcore) to correspond to the shape of the tiles.
  • Spray a very thick layer of automotive primer onto them and while still wet...
  • ...sprinkle a coat of flour onto them.
  • When dry, sand flat, normally revealing an irregular pattern of cracks and dimples.
  • Paint with acrylic grays and give an oil wash with burnt umber.


Looking at the diorama, I think I should perhaps add a few figures to balance it out and draw attention to the small size of the vehicle.


With modified Milicast figure (FIG004).


For those among us that really want to go crazy with this kit, what about this picture ?


[1] M24 Chaffee in detail, K. Frantisek & M. Velek, Wings & Wheels Publications
[2] M24 Chaffee Light Tank 1943-85, S.J. Zaloga, Osprey Publishing
[3] M24 Chaffee in action, J. Mesko, Squadron/Signal Publications
[4] Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank, R.P. Hunnicut, Presidio Press
[5] U.S. WW II M24 Chaffee Light Tank, Tankograd Technical Manual Series Nr. 6024, Tankograd.




Preview sample obtained through IPMS Belgium.

This model can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated:
12 October 2019
15 November 2019

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