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Saturday, February 11, 2012

American Half-tracks

This post is about US halftracks based on the M3 model, aka as 'Carrier, Personnel Half-track M3'. This vehicle was desinged prior to WWII as an infantry transport. It was capable of carrying 13 men, 10 in the back and 3 in front. The ten men in the back sat in two rows against the sides of the vehicle with a door in the back. The top of the vehicle was open which was a cause of concern for those riding in them. It was armed with a .50 cal Browning machine gun behind the passenger seat and two smaller .30 cal MGs mounted on the back. It was only lightly armored, with enemy machine gun fire able to penetrate it. The radiator also had an armored shutter for protection. Literature says that the windshield was bullet proof, but the models in this post show them armored with vision slots. The fact that it carried 13 men meant that storage space was often an issue and future models tried to add extra storage compartment or racks on the outside for this purpose. The top speed was 45 mph, and with a 60 gallon fule tank it was able to travel 175 miles. Somewhere between 41,000 and 43,000 of them were produced, across their multiple variations, and it was used by all the allied armies.

21st Century Toys M3 Halftrack

This is the basic M3 Halftrack. It comes to us courtesy of 21C Toys. It is nicely detailed, but a bit too clean for my taste. The troop compartment is also well detailed with the seats and rifle racks. The crewman on the front is a tank man from one of the FOV sets. As far as I remember it came only with the driver and the man standing at the .50 cal.
Forces of Valor US M3A1 Halftrack
This is the M3A1 model. Besides some mechanical improvements, the main fighting upgrade was that the .50 cal maching gun came mounted on a ring, which made it easier to traverse it to wherever the fire was needed. This model was released by Forces of Valor. It is a  metal, die-cast model, with even more detail and accessories than the 21C halftrack. It comes with backapacks that can be hung on the sides and more crew figures ready to go into action.

InAir / New Ray EZ Build M3 Halftrack
This is an all-plastic kit that required a bit of assembly -about 6 or 8 small screws to hold it all together. The sides of the halftrack are a bit low in my opinion, and it has a light feel to it when you hold it, but the appearance overall is acceptable.

CTS M3 Halftrack
Here's a halftrack from CTS, painted by a prior owner for the North African campaign. I don't know if the crew came with it, or if they were part of a model kit and were added later. I have to say that when I saw the picture, I had higher expectations, but when I got it, I was a bit disappointed by its size. Even though it's supposed to be 1/32, it is smaller than 1/35. Hard to combine with any other vehicles or troops. So it's only purpose will be to check a box in the list of items to collect. 

Forces of Valor US M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage - Normandy
This vehicle was built on top of the M3 chassis, but instead of being a troop transport it hosted a quadruple machine gun, called the Maxson M45 Quadmount. This was a set of 4 .50 cal M2 Browning machine guns which could be used against air and ground targets. The round ammo boxes, nicknamed 'tombstones' held 200 rounds each. Forces of Valor released this vehicle in two models: The one pictured and another one labeled as the Ardennes model, with a slightly whiter paint coat. This one, the Normandy model,  is well covered in mud, and it comes with a crew of two: a driver and an observer.  

InAir / New Ray EZ Build US M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage
Another plastic kit requiring some assembly. The quad machine gun is definitely under-scale. As far as the manufacturer goes I have seen the kits marketed as New Ray and InAir. The kits I just bought came labeled as InAir, so perhaps the brand got purchased?

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