Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.
6381; M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage - Smart Kit; 470 parts (443 in
grey styrene, 17 etched brass, 8 clear stryene, 1 brass chain, 1 nylon
string); estimated retail price US$42-50
Advantages: first new kit of this vehicle in 30 years; very detailed
and complete Maxson turret and hull details in rear compartment; uses
previously designed rear suspension which solves much of the problems
with American halftracks
Disadvantages: retains same moldings as original M2/M2A1 release
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all American halftrack fans and =93Duck Hunters=94
Nearly every army in WWII realized that for low altitude air defense
heavy antiaircraft guns were too slow and awkward to use against enemy
aircraft. As a result, they tended to adopt light weapons =96 either
heavy machine guns or small caliber automatic cannon =96 grouped
together to provide maximum firepower and =93wall of lead=94 tactics. The
Soviets used a quadruple Maxim machine gun mount (7.62mm), the Germans
quadruple Flak 38 guns (20mm) and the Americans quadruple .50 caliber
machine guns (12.7mm). The US originally used a twin .50 caliber
mount, but realizing that it could carry four machine guns with little
additional effort, the mount was quickly upgraded to four weapons.
Back in the late 1950s Monogram released a 1/35 scale model of the
first series vehicle, the M13 with twin .50 caliber guns, which was a
very nice kit in its day. In the late 1970s, Tamiya released the M16
version with four machine guns which proved popular, but both kits
were really let down by their clumsy suspensions (in Monogram=92s case
it was the 1950s and =93play value=94 =96 e.g. rolling wheels and tracks =
had the advantage over scale results.) When DML announced it was going
to do a new series of halftracks and then released their first one
(6329), a combination M2/M2A1 =93Smart Kit=94 in October 2006, the M3/M3A1
and M16 were also announced. But while test shots of the M16 went out
in January 2007, for reasons best known to themselves DML did not
release this kit until now (September 2008) and are still holding the
M3/M3A1 2-in-1 kit.
Having received the test shot in 2007, it was only recently that DML
permitted Steve Zaloga to release an article on his build of that
model, and as it was very nice and covered the history of the vehicle
as well I will not rehash what he has already written.
DML has taken their solid basic sprues for the American halftrack
series and provided six new sprues of parts for this particular
variant. One sprue is a continuation of the =93C=94 sprue with the parts
for an M3 series hull such as the longer mine racks, which is apropos
as the M16 series halftracks normally used the longer body of the M3.
The sprues cover the new rear hull with separate flaps at the top for
road march or combat poses, modified frame and body parts, and the M55
Maxson electrically powered turret.
The turret is a late model one with the gunner=92s platform at the rear
and is very nicely done, complete with a clear styrene reflector
sight; the earlier metal =93spiderweb=94 ranging site is not provided.
Each of the machine guns uses slide molding to achieve a hollow bore
and consists of a gun and separate ammo loading cover, as well as
three 200 round ammo cans for each weapon (e.g. four loaded and eight
spare for the kit).
Steve noted that due to the test shot version he had it came with
multiple radio sets; this one does not, and only comes with the
complete late-production SCR-528 radio set in a forward facing
cabinet. There is no provision for the earlier radio mount on a shelf
facing the rear compartment (which Steve noted had to be added from
scratch as it was not in the kit; this is not a lick on the kit,
however, as it builds as the later production variant and not the
As it uses the M2 base kit parts, the bogies and track runs are very
impressive, as the idlers and drivers are =93slide molded=94 with
respectively thin details and openings. Each bogie assembly consists
of 18 parts and is very petite; the mounting suspension provides five
more with the track tension adjusters nicely portrayed. The tracks are
very interesting: DML molded them in hard styrene plastic in two
halves, cut in such a way that the =93chain=94 plate drive tooth guides in
the center are represented as they are found on the actual vehicle.
Since the tracks were metal with rubber =93endless belt=94 casings
vulcanized onto them, this is a neat way to portray it.
While the sides of the cab unit are molded in one piece as well as
the hood DML has grooved the inside and provided open space for the
stowage bins if the modeler wants them opened. =93Boo birds=94 carped that
the vehicle is assembled with screws and not rivets (true) and that
DML provided no screw head slots. This is still the case, but since
each screw head is about 0.008" or less in diameter, if you are really
that picky get a sharp Number 11 blade and score them.
The =93cab=94 is neatly done, and two sets of grille mounts are included
=96 open and closed, but the open one must use the etched brass louvers.
This vehicle only comes with the =93Combat=94 lights which mount on the
grille shell. The model has the =93civilian=94 style dashboard, so note
that the instruments are a brushed aluminum color on preserved/
restored vehicles and not the more common black with white numerals.
DML provides no decals, but Archer Fine Transfers has a dynamite
dashboard set for all M2/M3 series halftracks.
The winch and roller each come with their own bumper and
accouterments. The winch has a length of nylon string for the cable
and a chain for the final hook arrangement, which matches photos of
wartime models in service. Note that the driveshaft for the winch
needs to be installed in Step 4.
Other bits include the fact it comes with the so-called =93potable=94
water carrier versions of the =93jerry cans=94 with flip-up lids (the gas
cans normally had screw-type caps with better seals). Steve noted that
the mounts for these are not correct (solid versus skeletonized) but
once the cans are in place it is a moot point; if you leave them off,
you need to scratch build new ones.
The only item of major discussion with this kit remains in the box =96
the =93bulged=94 tires. While a large number of =93Boo Birds=94 complained
they were wrong, for every photo of a US halftrack with round tires
one with slightly bulged ones can be found, and the majority of
preserved ones always seem to bulge a bit (recall the weight of the
engine and armored cab are on the front axle.) Still this tends to be
an individual matter of taste more than a major error.
Markings and finishing instructions are provided for six vehicles:
482nd AAA Battalion, 9th AD, Remagen 1945; 390th AAA Auto Wpns
Battalion, Germany 1945; Unidentified Unit, Western Front 1944 (codes
mudded out); 457th AAA Auto Wpns Battalion, Luxembourg 1945; 209th AAA
Auto Wpns Battalion, Luzon 1945; 1st Light AA Regiment, 1st Polish
Armoured Division, France 1944 (black and OD camouflage). A targeted
sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall, even with nits to pick this is a superior kit and a great
advance over its two predecessors. Still, no clue why we had to wait
20 months for it to be released!
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
- posted 13 years ago