Dragon 1/35 M21 Mortar Motor Carriage
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Includes photo etch fret and aluminum gun barrel|
Between the world wars, the US Army sought to improve the tactical mobility of its forces. With the goal of finding a high-mobility infantry vehicle, the Ordnance Department had evaluated the half-track design by testing French Citroën-Kégresse vehicles. The White Motor Company produced a prototype half track using their own chassis and the body of the M3 Scout Car.
The design, using as many commercial components as possible to improve reliability and speed production, was standardized in 1940 and built by the Autocar Company, Diamond T Motor Company, and the White Company.
Offered with a choice of White 160AX or IHC RED 450 engines, the M3 was driven through a manual constant-mesh (non-synchromesh) transmission with four forward and one reverse gear, as well as a two-speed transfer case. Front suspension was leaf spring, tracks by vertical volute spring. Braking was vacuum-assisted hydraulic, steering manual, without power assist. The electrical system was 12-volt.
The M3 was the larger counterpart to the M2 Half Track Car. The M2 was originally intended to function as an artillery tractor. The M3 had a longer body than the M2 with a single access door in the rear and seating for a 13-man rifle squad. Ten seats were arranged down either side of the vehicle, with three in the cab. Racks under the seats were used for ammunition and rations; additional racks behind the seat backs held the squad's rifles and other stowage. A small rack for mines was added on the outside of the hull just above the tracks. In combat, most units found it necessary to stow additional food, rucksacks and other crew stowage on the outside of the vehicle. Luggage racks were often added in the field, and very late vehicles had rear-mounted racks for this crew stowage.
Early vehicles had a pintle mount just behind the front seats mounting a .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine gun. The later M3A1 adopted a raised, armored 'pulpit mount' for the .50 caliber, and .30 caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns could be used from mounts along the sides of the passenger compartment. Many M3s were later modified to the M3A1 standard. The body was armored all around with an adjustable armored shutter for the engine's radiator and a bullet proof windscreen.
Total production of the M3 ran to nearly 41,000 vehicles. To supply the Allied nations International Harvester produced several thousand of a very similar vehicle, the M5 half track for Lend-Lease.
A huge number of variants were produced of this vehicle. The subject of this kit is one of the SPG versions, the T19/M21 81 mm MMC It was a M3 based Motor Mortar Carriage equipped with the M1 mortar (81 mm)(97 rounds), designed to allow the mortar to be fired from within the vehicle.
Basically, this is your standard Dragon M3 Halftrack with the additional parts for the Mortar in the back. I like that the mortar has an aluminum barrel and that the kit does not have individual track links, something that can keep a modeler from completing a kit as they may be a bit gun-shy about assembling all those bits. I should add that this is not a curbside so has a full engine and chassis. There are more details on this and I'll let the Dragon PR folks chime in:
- Newly tooled Mortar ammo in rack
- New arrangement of M21 fighting compartment cabin w/interior details
- MG w/hollow muzzle produced by slide molds
- Accurate rubber track modeled w/center guide band
- Full drive train assembly complete w/engine transmission, differential housing and suspension units
- One-piece chassis frame w/correct details
- Rear luggage rack can be assembled in folded or open mode
- New rear door can be assembled open or closed
- 81mm mortar gun barrel made from aluminum metal
- Rear panel w/crisp details
- Side armor peculiar to M21
- Radio w/crisp detail
- Super-detailed multi-direction slide-molded sprocket wheels
- Bonus driver
- New ladder is finely reproduced for M21
- Individual mines w/photo-etched parts
- External mine rack for M21
- Optional one-piece external mine rack (w/mines inside)
- Multi-direction slide-molded idler wheels are superbly reproduced
- Tires intentionally shaped to mimic bulging caused by a heavy load
- Road wheels w/crisp details
- Slide-molded wheel couplings
- Hubcaps w/superb details
- Bogie assembly w/internal spring detail
- Differential housing comes w/bolt and rib details
- Steering mechanism in full detail
- Spring suspension is reproduced well
- Engine complete w/radiator and oil sump
- Headlights w/corresponding light guards
- Winch assembly especially for M21
- Armored front grill w/accurate bolt details can be modeled in two modes: bonus individual photo-etched slats available for the open mode
- Engine hood w/detailed bolt and hinges
- Front window armor can be assembled open/closed; includes finely molded struts
- Front windshield made w/clear parts
- Photo-etched windshield wipers in fine details
- Photo-etched visors for armored wondow covers
- Detailed dashboard instrument panel
- Delicate steering wheel and controls
- Top half of cab doors can be assembled in swing-down position
- Jerry cans w/delicate strap details
- One-piece exhaust and muffler
- Rear tow hook is fully detailed
- Rear mud flaps made from photo-etched parts
- Sharply reproduced on-vehicle tools
Instructions are superb, as we have come to expect from Dragon. Color information is in both Gunze and Model Master paints. There are no areas requring the builder to modify things and the only two real options are open or closed windscreen armor and radiator shutters. Markings are for a vehicle from the 2nd AD in the Ardennes in 1945 and an unidentified unit on the western front as shown on the box art. The decal sheet includes a full run of numbers and letters so you can do your own serial number. Apparently these vehicles rarely carried any sort of non-standard markings.
Another superbly done military vehicle kit from our friends at Dragon. You'll want to add this one to your halftrack collection.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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