Dragon 6467 M3 75mm GUN MOTOR CARRIAGE (SMART KIT) Für Military Vehicles Plastikbausätze
Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6467; M3 75mm Gun Motor Carriage - Smart Kit; 366 parts (329 in grey styrene, 17 etched brass, 8 clear stryene, 1 brass chain, 1 nylon string).
Advantages: first injected kit of this variant, very detailed and complete 75mm gun assembly; uses previously designed rear suspension which solves much of the problems with American halftracks
Disadvantages: retains tires from the original M2/M2A1 release
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all American halftrack fans
Most armies slowly began to realized that towed antitank weapons were a liability, and as a result began to experiment with self-propelled weapons at the end of the 1930s. The first two to be fielded by the US were the M6 – a Dodge WC-51/52 3/4 ton truck with a 37mm M3 gun on a pedestal mount – and the M3 75mm Gun Motor Carriage. The latter placed an American-built “French 75" with its Nordenfeld breech on the back of the new M3 halftrack.
The gun later turned out to have only marginal antitank capabilities, but it did see heavy use in North Africa and later in Italy as self-propelled light artillery. Tested as the T12, it was standardized as the M3 75mm Gun Motor Carriage or M3A1 75mm Gun Motor Carriage and a total of 2,204 were built. But once the guns ran their course, 1,360 were later converted back to M3 or M3A1 personnel carriers.
DML has now released the first injection-molded kit of this vehicle in this scale, and it is one which has been asked for over many years. It is the first full-up M3 variant of the halftrack to make its debut from DML – the M16 MGMC needed a large number of purpose-made parts – and has added some new wrinkles.
First off, this kit comes with new panels for both the cab and body using screw assembly, and under a good jeweler’s loupe the slots are visible in the screw heads. The main cab sections (sides and hood) are part of a sprue which also includes the gun shield for the M1897A4 gun.
The gun is a nicely done assembly, but the only point which will need care is the fact that the barrel assembles “stacking cup toy” style with one section stuck onto the next. There are five sections from the muzzle to the breech and care will have to be taken in aligning them correctly. While they offer the advantage of no seams to smooth off, they do introduce the problem of ensuring the barrel does not “snake” along the cradle.
The rest of the kit follows the first three halftrack kits. Note that this kit does not appear to come with a radio set of any sort and none is shown in the directions. An SCR-510 is listed by Hunnicutt as standard but none is provided, so you are on your own for this item.
As it uses the M2 base kit parts, the bogies and track runs are very impressive, as the idlers and drivers are “slide molded” 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 “chain” plate drive tooth guides in the center are represented as they are found on the actual vehicle. Since the tracks were metal with rubber “endless belt” casings vulcanized onto them, this is a neat way to portray it.
The “cab” is neatly done, and two sets of grille mounts are included – open and closed, but the open one must use the etched brass louvers. This variant comes with both the demountable “Combat” lights which mount on the grille shell and the “Civilian” lights on the fenders, so you will need to check to see which variant you are modeling and which lights it used. DML does not indicate that on its directions, which is unfortunate. . The model has the “civilian” 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 (A39) for the winch needs to be installed in Step 4.
Other bits include the fact it comes with the so-called “potable” water carrier versions of the “jerry cans” 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. Two more cans also go inside the vehicle body.
Once more the “bulged” tires remain in the kit. While a large number of “Boo Birds” continue to complain 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 seven vehicles: 601st TD Battalion, Tunisia 1943 (mud over OD); US Army, Sicily 1943 (OD with oversized “ring” stars); US Army, continental US 1943 (OD with white stars); L Company, 3rd Marines, USMC, Saipan 1944 (dark yellow over OD); 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, Italy 1944 (sand and dark green); 1st King’s Dragoon Guards, Germany 1945 (dark green overall); and A Squadron, 27th Lancers, Italy 1945 (“Acorn Inn”, dark green overall). A targeted sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.