ARM: Review - AFV Club 1/35 scale M2HB .50 cal Machine Gun Set

Kit Review: AFV Club 1/35 scale Kit No. AF35246; U.S. M2HB .50 Caliber Mach ine Gun Set; 91 parts (78 in olive styrene, 13 etched brass); retail price US$18.50
Advantages: provides all major barrel types for the M2HB machine gun; also covers most of the major ground mounts for this weapon
Disadvantages: one half of the guns provided is an M2 aircooled/M3 type wit h no barrel options; very expensive for value received
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all modelers needing ?Ma Deuce?
    Of all nominally small arms in the world today, probably none is as well k nown or widely proliferated than the Browning Model 1921 .50 caliber machin e gun family, better known as the M2 machine gun. It has been offered in th ree basic barrel types over the years ? water-cooled, air cooled, and hea vy barrel ground mount, and two basic firing rates: 550 rpm as the M2 and 1 100-1300 as the M3 aircraft version. Its 12.7x107mm round still packs a maj or wallop today.
    Over the years modelers have grown more and more fussy about their machine guns, and as nearly all US made vehicles packed an M2 as their turret exte rnal/antiaircraft mount, the old single-piece moldings from the 1960s have fallen into disrepute and any good modern kit needs a much more detailed ?fifty? for the turret. To that end, a number of resin kits have been o ffered over the years and now injection molded kits have caught and in some areas surpassed them.
    This kit makes the fourth after-purchase offering of a more detailed M2 fo r modelers to use. The oldest is a Tamiya set from many years ago which off ered a nice M2 with tripod. The most useful general kit is one from Academy that offers a variety of both .30 and .50 caliber weapons and accessories. Tasca offers a separate .50 caliber kit for less than US$10 that builds a single machine gun. Now this kit from AFV Club is offered which provides fo r two machine guns and a number of different mounts and accessories.
    The kit offers two different M2 variants: one is an M2HB with a choice of either the common barrel with muzzle reinforcement or the modern one with f lash hider bolted in place; the other, for reasons best known to AFV Club, is the air cooled barrel that is rarely seen anymore and was not common in ground usage. The HB one consists of eight parts including an etched brass forward sight; the air-cooled one only has five parts. Both come with slide -molded open bores.
    An M3 tripod is offered in either open or folded configuration, and comes with separate feet (?spades?) and pintle. Cradles add another five part s to each gun, and a choice of ammo boxes and ammo box holders completes th e weapons.
    The kit includes the M63 AA mount and a set of ?speed-ring? type sight s from etched brass for each type of gun. The mount comes in 17 parts and a lso includes the double-handled two position trigger frame assembly for the gun in this use. (I first saw one of these at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1975 when one of the infantry units set it up and left it. My guys wanted to swi pe it and put in on my jeep but we decided that all of us getting busted wa sn?t worth it!)
    The machine guns are very nice, but all things considered the choice of th e air cooled barrel is a bit odd as most ground mounts never used one. A fe w are in service with the USAF for protection on helicopters and some may b e in service with the Navy/Marine Corps but most are now gone. Two breech m echanisms with a choice of three barrels would have been a better option.
    But for nearly $20 this is a very expensive proposition for one machine gu n of use to armor fans. The Tasca gun is more detailed and under $10 so a b etter deal for a single detailed gun; overall, the Academy kit offers six g uns (two M1917A4 .30 calibers, two M2HB and two M2 air cooled) plus accesso ries for US $7-10 a set and is a much better deal.
    Overall the kit is nicely done but quite pricey.
Cookie Sewell
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