ARM: Review - Commander Models 1/35 scale 90mm M1 AA Gun

Kit Review: Commander Models Inc. 1/35 scale Kit No. 1-062; US 90mm AA Gun
M1; 70 parts in grey resin; retail price US$79.95
Advantages: first kit of this weapon in this scale; nicely done parts break
down provides for a number of assembly options for either firing or transpo
rt modes
Disadvantages: few noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all US ?Duck Hunters? and WWII fans
When the US began to rearm just prior to WWII, they found the only medium
to heavy caliber antiaircraft guns they possessed were leftover 3" (e.g 75m
m) ones from World War I. While relatively powerful for their time they wer
e seen as obsolete for the new aircraft then coming into service. While the
guns were soon adapted as antitank guns and served in both towed and self-
propelled mounts, they were to be replaced by a newly designed 90mm weapon
that entered development in 1938.
The 90mm Gun T2 and 90mm Mount T1 were approved for service as the 90mm Gu
n M1 in March 1940, and soon entered production. While it weighed 19,000 po
unds (8626 kilograms) it traveled on a single axle four-wheel carriage that
unclipped for emplacement. Four folding platforms expanded to create an oc
tagonal work area for the gunners and loaders, and it provided an improved
altitude capability of nearly 40,000 feet when working as an AA gun. The la
ter M1A1 added a spring-assisted rammer.
But production was slow, and due to the way the war unfolded the US Army d
id not need the heavy antiaircraft protection that the Germans found necess
ary. While the 90mm was more than capable of dealing with tanks ? and did
so as part of the armament of the M36 tank destroyer and M26 tank in a mod
ified form ? they were rarely used as ground defense weapons and thus nev
er garnered the mystique of the German ?88". Some were used as auxiliary
artillery weapons and fired HE rounds for ground support. By the end of the
war just over 7,800 90mm AA guns (including the improved M2 model with tru
e dual capability and a twin-axle carriage similar to the 40mm Bofors) had
been built. Some 90mm guns served in Korea, but as with their service in WW
II due to US air superiority had little to do.
A couple of years ago Hobby Boss released two kits of the popular M4 18-To
n High Speed Tractor, the Type A version for 3" and 90mm Antiaircraft Guns
and the Type B for the 155mm/8"/240mm guns. While the latter sold very well
(as it could couple up with the very nice AFV Club 155mm and 8" howitzer k
its) the former was something of a drug on the market, and at one point Squ
adron Shop was offering them at half price to get rid of them. This was sim
ply due to the fact there was nothing for them to ?do? as there were no
guns for the tractors.
Commander Models has now risen to the cause and provided a nicely executed
kit of the M1 version of the 90mm gun in resin. Consisting of 70 parts in
grey resin and no etched brass, it provides for a model of the gun that can
be either modeled in travel mode on its carriage or deployed for combat wi
th its platforms down and gun elevated. It comes with the proper ?street
? tires on the axle bogie and a much improved set of directions over past
Commander Models kits.
Parts in this kit were ?full? shots and no problems were noted with ai
r bubbles or any ?short? parts. The four platform sections only had a m
inor bit of flashing in the perforations in their decking and are easily cl
eaned up. Assembly begins with the gun barrel and breech and the ?horseco
llar? recoil slide assembly. These go in the upper carriage cradle that e
ventually snaps into the lower carriage. Seats and controls attach to the l
ower carriage during assembly.
The base does not permit loose fitting of the bogie carrier and towing ton
gue to it so the modeler will have to decide on firing or towing early on;
as noted earlier the gun was not designed for dual purpose use, and thus ca
nnot be set up and fired from its transport position. Each outrigger comes
in two sections (there are three). The wheel bogie has to be either fixed i
n the down position for transport or the up position once removed from the
carriage (the counterpoise suspension pistons, parts 10/11 and 34, must be
assembled accordingly as either retracted or extended as a result). Also th
e platform sections must be attached to the tongue of the bogie carrier in
transport mode or snapped into position on the lower carriage for deploymen
No finishing directions are provided (the guns were OD overall with bare m
etal recoil slides and the only markings on the example shown were a warnin
g of DANGER POWER BRAKES on the top of the rear outrigger when folded). No
ammunition is provided, but any set with rounds for either an M36 or later
US tanks with the 90mm gun is appropriate.
Overall, this is a significant artillery piece even if it never became as
famous as its German counterpart. Now the problem is finding one of the Hob
by Boss Type A tractors from a dealer!
Cookie Sewell
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