M-48A3 Mod B Patton - US Army Vietnam - Build

Postby lmcq11 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:36 pm

Hi Everyone,

I am presenting my new project, an M48A3 in Vietnam.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Early


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1/18 RC M-48A2


After the Ludwig Centurion build, I really need to do something simpler and cheaper. I mean, I cannot afford to spend 2K on builds every 3 or 4 months. My wife is also starting to ask me questions as to how much do these things costs. I say, oh, a couple of hundred bucks, and she says Wow that's expensive... If she knew but she's right. This hobby can keep you broke if you are not careful.

So, this will be a budget build and will be based on the 21st Century 1/18 static M48 that has been sitting in my office for the past 15 years. Sitting there, silent and unable to do anything. It's his turn.

I started to investigate possibilities during the summer. I have seen what others have done but I will do it my way. The plan is to completely break up the static model and use its main components as a base kit for a total rebuilding into a highly detailed RC tank. Most of the detailing will be redone or improved.

The model will have the following features;
- 21st Century Ultimate Soldier 1/18 model as a base kit for main components
- Heng Long suspension, gearbox, turret rotation
- Clark Tk-40 control board, main gun recoil unit and gun flash, coax mg sound and flash, 2nd mg flash sound and movement on cupola turret, head and tail lights
- Mato M-26 metal tracks and sprocket. Yes I know, not perfect but its the closest available.
- Scratch built detailing
- 3 tank crews
- up to 10 US Army infantry riders when in static display

The model is broken apart for the investigation. The details is rough with simplifications and sharp edges but the dimensions are quite good and all the components are there for a successful build. For the 50$ I paid for this static model, it contains parts that could cost $500 if sold as an RC kit with hull, turret, road wheels, gun, cupola, etc. So this model, although 1/18 scale, is a real bargain for the modeller like me who is used to purchase base kits.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The hull structure is sound, with good anchor points for the top of the upper hull, making it quite adaptable to RC. From what I have seen, the only structural issue is on the lower hull sides below the fenders which are not as wide and bulged as they should be, but it shall not show too much.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Road wheels and rollers are excellent, looking good and of the right size.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The static and glued suspension arms are useless and need to be replaced by Heng Long suspension arms.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Turret main components, size and shape look good. I did not notice any structural issue so far. It comes with Xenon searchlight and G305 cupola riser, great.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Turret halves are great for RC build.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


And I have loaded up on 1/18 US Army Vietnam tank crews and infantry. All the joints and toy like features will be removed and polished for cool figures with M16s, M60s and M79.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The build started a few days ago so I will show progress on following post now.

Regards, Louis
Last edited by lmcq11 on Mon Sep 02, 2019 2:12 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Postby Son of a gun-ner » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:48 pm

:haha: :haha: There's no stopping you Louis :clap: :clap:

After saying 200 bucks, you should have added, "but when I'm finished with them, they are worth a whole lot more" ;)
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Postby BarryC » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:55 pm

Louis, you are a lean, mean tank building machine! :O

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Postby c.rainford73 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:02 pm

Yes indeed the tank factory never stops! I am tuned in and watching this one
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Postby lmcq11 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:10 pm

Hi,

As with any build, the most complex task is to build the suspension. I purchased Heng Long suspension arms and springs from Mato Mart. It was actually cheaper to buy a whole M26 hull than individual parts so I get all the screws and pins as a bonus.

First task is to remove the suspension housing from the hull, went well

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Cracking open each road wheel, the glue was quite resistant.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The suspension axel housing are too long when used with HL arms. A lot of analysis is required before determining how much to cut them. They were shortened in steps.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The plastic housing are put back.

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Metal inserts are created for the suspension housing, into which the shaft of the suspension arm will go into for a solid and tight fit.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The metal shaft housing are installed by drilling a hole of the appropriate size all the way through the plastic housing to the hull interior. Special care is needed to ensure the hole is fully horizontal. A simple jig was created for the purpose to keep the hole centered on the plastic housing.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


In similar fashion as what I have done with road wheel 3 and 4 of the M41 walker bulldog, the suspension spring is installed inside the hull and connected to the suspension arm with an axel made of brass and fitting the dimension of the HL hole. Below are the parts used, assembled on the left side, held in place with M1.6 brass bolts on both extremities of the shaft. A plastic ring was cut from the M26 hull and reused here for the external fit with the HL arm.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Shaft arrangement with the housing parts seen earlier.

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Starting to install the suspension arms.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The arms are not yet anchored. Need to install the roadwheel first. I agree it is quite un-orthodox but it is very efficient and tight. There are no loose parts.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Continuing on following post
Last edited by lmcq11 on Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby lmcq11 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:29 pm

Although not running on ball bearings, I did create a long brass roller that is locked to the HL suspension and will fit inside the hole I created on the road wheels. The original road wheel hole for the static suspension arm was way too small.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


View of the M1.6 brass bolt keeping the suspension arms on the shaft.

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After temporarily putting the road wheels in place, the suspension springs are anchored to the bottom of the hull to get to the right hull height.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


view of the suspension before permanently installing the road wheels.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Road wheels are in place. Cost of M48 suspension, $40 and about 10 hours of work, not including analysis and design. You will notice a white stopper that I needed to recreate. This is due to an earlier unfortunate suspension design that had the spring going through the stopper, bad idea.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The stoppers coming with the model are terrible; wrong shape, too big, too high.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


After many attempts at reducing their side, I aligned with the new shape on the right.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


After recreating the cast effect on the hull sides with putty, the stoppers are installed a few mm lower than they were before. Th putty was freely applied with the finger, and then sanded a bit. Once painted, it will realistically look like cast metal. It will be refined after the first primer coat. The model needs a good shower.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


continuing on following post
Last edited by lmcq11 on Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:41 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby lmcq11 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:41 pm

The three shock absorbers on each side (2 at the front, 1 at the rear) are called friction snubbers. They are important for the side look. Here, the gearbox, sprocket and M26 tracks are installed. The snubbers are static and glued in place without touching the suspension arm.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Here you can see that the suspension shaft screw hole is now hidden by a metal washer, plasticard piece and a nut.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The front snubbers seen here on the real tank. Not easy to recreate and I will certainly not spend a week on these.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


To help me, I reused some panzer 4 stoppers that came with the sprues for a build long time ago.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Mixed with aluminum tubing, the basic shape is created.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The HL gearbox is installed on a upper plateau. The continental housing is large enough to have my suspension at the bottom, and gearbox on top.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


continuing on following post
Last edited by lmcq11 on Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby lmcq11 » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:52 pm

View of the gearbox arrangement on top of the suspension.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Vertical panels were installed for solidity under the plateau behind the suspension and at the front. Got to keep weight down on this model. I mean, the Centurion at close to 12 pounds was way overweight and hard on the suspension.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


It is a tight fit but it fit, thanks to the height of the Continental engine upper deck. Now that I know the integration worked, i ordered Mato M26 metal tracks and sprocket with a good deal on Mato Mart.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The 4 central attachment points between upper and lower hull were kept. Only the one at the rear had to be removed. The interior of the M48 is cavernous. Another plateau for the control board and battery will be created on top of the suspension in the middle and front of the tank.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


What remains of the M26 suspension donor.

Regards, Louis

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build

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Postby midlife306 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:18 am

Fantastic work & the perfect inspiration to convert a static M113 I’ve got running on the printer
Cheers
Wayne


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Postby Model Builder 4 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:20 am

Great work as always Louis, with your attention to detail I can see this turning into another masterpiece :thumbup:

Cheers, Lee.
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Postby Raminator » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:28 am

The Americans have been building tanks for 100 years, and the M48 is the only one I like. ;)

You've picked a great subject Louis, I'm looking forward to seeing you work your trademark magic to transform a toy into something really special.
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Postby c.rainford73 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 6:10 pm

Louis I expect this to be another amazing build. How does this 1/18 scale tank compare to your other 1/16 tanks? It appears the 1/16 scale parts fit perfectly :thumbup:
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Postby lmcq11 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:47 pm

Thank you guys for your encouragements, I will try to make something special and exciting, ensuring the Vietnam vets will be proud of their tank but also a model that anyone with basic tools can replicate.

c.rainford73 wrote:How does this 1/18 scale tank compare to your other 1/16 tanks? It appears the 1/16 scale parts fit perfectly


Hi Carl, the 1/18 M-48 is exactly of the same size as a 1/16 Tamiya M-26 Pershing or a Hooben T-55. It's big.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Keen eyes will notice the M-48 model is currently about 2mm too high on its suspension. I expect the metal tracks to come, and the equipment to add weight that will put some pressure on the suspension springs. Its always better to have a bit more torque than not enough, specially on road wheel 1, 5 and 6. If not, then I will likely adjust the anchors on the hull to lower the hull a bit. Its done by snapping the superglue of the anchor with pliers and reposition. Done it twice already... Once happy at the end of the build, the anchors of the suspension springs will be permanently reinforced in place.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Regards, Louis

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Postby c.rainford73 » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:54 pm

Wow Louis that is a very big model!
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Postby mutt71 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:30 am

I am following this build very closely, as I have one of these M-48's sitting on a shelf as well, just gathering dust. Your looks great! I know that it will only get better and better as your progress on it. Thanks for posting you work and your solutions to the various changes that you have been making to the suspension, etc.

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Postby Ad Lav » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:48 pm

Good start, nice base for the conversion by the looks of it!
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Postby lmcq11 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:23 pm

Hi, thank you for your interest.

Before starting with the hull, it is important to decide which type of M48A3 you want because there are noticeable differences between early A3 and later A3 versions.

First, i would like to mention that the book M48 Patton by David Doyle is an absolute must for this build. It contains detail info on all variants from A1 to A5 and is full of great quality close up pictures in color and on nice glossy paper. Highly recommended.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


A key differentiator for the M48 is the presence or not of the G305 turret cupola riser. It was designed to improve visibility with all around periscopes and providing extra space for the commander. It is interesting that the American raised the cupola on their already high M48 for use in Vietnam's jungle while the Israeli did everything to lower it for desert warfare.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The early variant does not have the G305 and can be easily recognised by the fenders brackets and head lights with rounded guards.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


This is the US Marine Corps field modification variant as shown on the Dragon 1/35 box. It has the early fenders and head lights but received the G305 and Xenon search light in the field. This is the variant of the Ultimate Soldier model, accurately representing a USMC tank.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


And this is the later "Mod B" introduced by the Army. It has the G305 riser, new fender brackets, new X embossed stiffeners, armored tail lights and plates around the grill, and M60 style head lamps with new square guard. This is the variant that I decided to represent.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


continuing on following post.

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Postby lmcq11 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:33 pm

During my analysis of the 1/18 Ultimate Soldier model and pictures of the real tank, it became obvious that I would need to redo the fenders and brackets for an accurate model.

The model air filter and fender bracket.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Same area of the real thing. While still being somewhat accurate in size and shape, the model is highly simplified. The richness of details seen on the real tank is simply not there on the model. It might be acceptable to many but these are the kind of detail that I love to reproduce.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


This is the model's heater exhaust pipe.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


This is how it should look.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Brackets and bolts are important to me...

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build
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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Continuing on following post

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Postby lmcq11 » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:50 pm

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

All features on the fenders were removed with the Dremel, safeguarding the filters and bins for reuse as base kit components. The Dremel was overheating and it was a really dirty business, with plastic residue flying everywhere, smoke coming out of the melting plastic and with the sound of a dentist drilling someone's mouth. This needs to be done outside.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Plasticard pieces are cut and glued to fill in the holes.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Putty applied.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Then the fenders were sanded to a smooth surface, still needing polishing. The filters and bins were cleaned up and prepared for further detailing.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The front of the hull was also sanded to better represent the slope of the glasis. It will be given a coat of putty to represent the cast effect.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


With this important step done, I have a good base to rebuild the fenders with all brackets properly detailed, more accurate air filters, bins and embossed stiffeners of the Mod B version.

Regards, Louis

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Postby lmcq11 » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:40 am

Hi, presenting the air filter.

Just coming out of the Centurion Sho't Kal build, I am becoming quite familiar with scratch building the Continental engine air filters. Here shown on a M48.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The Ultimate Soldier rendition of the air filters has a somewhat resemblance to the real thing but has much simplications and contains some fantasy details on all sides. it is also a bit too high and too narrow.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


I reused the model parts as the core for rebuilding the details seen on pictures. It is easy to do with basic tools, taking about 5 hours of work for both.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


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The finished air filters.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


The boxy air filters are a trademark recognition point of the Patton tanks. These are highly visible on top of the fenders so for an accurate M48, it is worth spending a few hours to get as close as possible to the real thing.

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1/18 RC M-48A3 Patton build


Regards, Louis

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