Almost as soon as WWII ended, the U.S.Army was looking at a replacement for the M24 Chaffee Light Tank, which had served well in the European war, and later in the Korean War.
Wikipedia has an excellent article on the Walker Bulldog’s history, and there are many others just a Google search away.
Here a few things I found interesting.
The tank did not prove to be up to what the U. S. Army wanted, i.e., a small, easily transported, light tank with a gun that could kill any tank it encountered. Various issues got in the way. The stereoscopic sight was not successful, the turret rotation system was not what was wanted and there were some engine issues. The tank was eventually given to allies such as the nascent German and Japanese reconstituted militaries in the 1950’s.
While there have been some claims that early models of the Walker Bulldog were taken to Korea for combat testing, there is a lack of evidence that ever happened.
As the war in Vietnam boiled over, the U. S. gave many of these tanks to the ARVN’s (Army of Viet Nam). It proved a great hit with the Vietnamese whose small stature fit comfortably in this tank which had proven to be cramped for American soldiers. Since armored formations slugging it out was not a feature of the Vietnam War, there is not much history left behind of even ARVN use. From what I read, these tanks were widely used as patrol vehicles as well as infantry support.
And, finally, the U. S. Army was falling in love with the M551 Sheridan which was under development in the 1960’s and had a main gun/rocket launcher that could destroy anything on tracks, and it was deployed to Vietnam along with the M48 Patton tanks.
The frank fact seems to be that while the Walker Bulldog served in combat with some of the countries the U. S. sold the tanks to, there is no evidence it ever served in combat with the U. S. Armed Forces.
The kit was first produced by Tamiya in 1973. A half century ago, it was battery powered like almost all the Tamiya 1/35 scale armor kits. The sprues are marked “1973”. The hull bottom is marked “1973 2019”. I think that Tamiya reworked the hull bottom to get rid of most of the battery power necessities, probably c. 2019. There are few parts compared to modern kits, but I submit adequate detail. I do wish Tamiya had provided some clear lenses for the driver’s viewing ports. The figures supplied were WWII American Infantry and a generic commander. An ARVN commander or driver would have been nice, but one cannot have everything.
Sadly, the Walker Bulldog was less than successful, but still an important tank at the beginning of the Cold War. And it contributed to successfully preventing the expansion of communism during the Cold War, as did the millions of Americans who served the country in our Armed Forces during that not stressless period.
And now to the workbench to get the build under way.