I have built my model of the M41A3 out of the Tamiya set number 35055. This set hit the shops first time in 1969. It must have been something special back then, because even today (2023) it has areas like the engine grilles or the weld lines on the turret top, that still look very good. Other parts, like the jerry cans or the machine gun, really show their age. I have swapped the kit's vinyl tracks for ones from the AFV-Club set AF35052, I have also used various details from different sources that I had just laying around. The Tamiya M41 set has a very good fit and doesn't make problems with the general assembly. The accuracy isn't toogreat, many prominent features of the real tank, like the reinforcements of the fender boxes, some fender supports or the driver's hatch supports, are missing and have to be scratchbuilt.
I have started the build with the assembly of the hull and the turret, immediately starting to add the missing detail. I have added the reinforcing corrugations on the fender boxes. The kit's headlight guards were swapped out for ones I have fabricated out of copper sheet:
I have filled and sanded the hull bottom. Luckily the motorization holes were already blanked off by Tamiya in this version of the kit.
I have replaced all of the grabhandles by parts made out of copper wire - this not only makes them look better, but also allows to save time that would otherwise be spent for cleaning up the seams.
The kit's pioneer tool rack was replaced with a photoetched frame of my design and separate tools. I have also scratchbuilt the front lifting rings - another detail missing from the kit.
Moving on I added the cans on the turret bustle from the Academy tank supplies - the Tamiya parts are particularily bad looking in this case. I have also scratchbuilt the auxiliary (APU) muffler with its flexible pipe:
From some wire, styrene sheet and hex rod I scratchbuilt the fasteners for the mantlet cover (I decided not to make the cover itself) and I have also built the braces that support the driver's hatchwhen it's open. I have also added the blackout headlight together with its brush guard:
Next step was the painting of the model. I started by putting a layer of grey Tamiya spray primer on the model. I put the parts on improvised holders for that. On the primer, and in some cases directly on the parts I applied preshading using Humbrol 113 that in my opinion represents the red Vietnam soil really well. "Rubber" tracks got a special undercoat as the first layer - it was an automotive plastic primer, used to keep the paint on the tracks from flaking:
The holder for the turret is an empty lighter gas can. The photo below shows the finished preshading. The mufflers are painted rust colour:
The next colour is Humbrol 66 - my favourite equivalent to the American Olive Drab. I used hair spray and salt on the mufflers to show the chipping of the paint due to the heat generated by them:
After the paint dried throughly I applied some water to the mufflers and started working them with an old tooth brush. This allows to achieve the effect shown on the photo below. I have also painted the yellow rectangles that will become the South Vietnamese registration plates:
The painting of the turret looks like that:
On the tracks painted with Humbol 113 I painted the places worn to the raw steel and rubber (using dark grey). I sanded the rubber track pads with coarse sandpaper - this allowed to get the colour but also the structure of worn rubber by exposing the material the tracks are made of. Tracks on the model look like in the photo below:
To introduce some variation to the one-colour paint scheme I decided to try out some shading with oil paints. I have applied very small dots of white, pale blue and yellow oil paint to the surface of the model. Then I started to rub that paint with a brush moistened with minimal amount of thinner. The effect is good in my opinion, with the exception of places that got the yellow paint - it tends to make OD paint too green:
Photos taken during the Vietnam War show the South Vietnamese (ARVN) M41s carried a lot of various equipment strapped to their armour. Big quantities of boxed .50 ammo are most commonly seen. Using various photographs as reference I started gathering and painting up all the objects that I wanted on my tank. Many of those came from the Academy set number 1383 "AFV Tank Supplies Set", some of them also from the Tamiya set number 35266 "Modern U.S. Military Equipment Set". I have also used ammo boxes from the AFV Club set number 35035 "Cal.30/Cal.50/40mm Modern U.S. Ammunition Box & Ammunition Belt":
The crew figures consist of various parts from Tamiya (dark green plastic), Dragon (grey plastic) and MasterBox (tan plastic) sets:
I started putting the stowage and crew on the tank. I have also added the radio antennae on the MP-65 bases. The antenna masts are made out of a guitar string:
The Browning M2HB machine gun is probably the weakest kit part, and I decided to replace it with something else. From a friend I got some Tasca M2HB parts that still needed the M23 cradle, feed tray and so on. After finding and assemblying those I got a subassembly like on the photo below:
And this is how the machine gun looks like after painting: