Croco 1/72 M-76 Otter
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Designed by the Pontiac Motor Division in the early 1950ís as the T46, this vehicle began life as the intended replacement for the Studebaker M29 Weasel. This amphibious cargo carrier was designed to carry cargo or up to eight troops over shallow rivers and swampy terrains and would become the M76 also known as the Otter.
Development started in the late 1940ís with the less than enthusiastic US Army watching on. The Army soon lost interest in the project, but the United States Marines, who have a habit of accepting vehicles which the US Army disapproves of (for example the M103 Heavy Tank), became interested. Production would start on the M76 Otter in the mid-to-late 1950ís.
The M76 was almost entirely an aluminum construction. This made the vehicle extremely light, perfect for its intended amphibious role, but also made it vulnerable to enemy fire. As well as carrying troops and supplies, the Otter, much like its Weasel predecessor, could rescue wheeled vehicles from boggy areas where they may get stuck. The Otter was better equipped for this job, however, as all of the vehicles had a 5,000 lb. (2268 kg) capacity winch located in the cargo/troop bay under a fold away seat.
The USMC would continue to use the M76 into the 1970s in service and supply units, and also for operations in arctic environments. It was replaced in service by the M116 Husky, the next vehicle in the line of Amphibious Cargo Carriers.
Croco is a relatively new company that specializes in 1/72 resin cast items. They also like to produce the more unusual subject and the M76 is a case in point. Cast in white resin, the detail and casting is quite good. I did not see any air bubbles or other casting glitches and the parts are pretty flash-free. In fact, Croco removes the larger parts from the sprue for you, which is a nice touch.
The main pieces are a complete upper body and full lower hull. I have included photos of these. There are indentations in the hull for the attachment of the suspension arms. I would think that perhaps drilling these out would result in a better fit. About the only thing for the interior is a bulkhead between the driver's area and the rear along with a pair of seats. Really, there is not much you could see through the windscreen or door openings. Typical of many kits in this scale, there are no clear bits, but you could easily install windows from any clear plastic sheet The doors are separate for those with scratchbuilding skills who want to trick out the interior.
So most of the bits are on the outside including jerry cans, what look like large fuel or water tanks as well as the somewhat complex suspension with quite a few road wheels, sprockets and tracks. The tracks are four lengths and one simply wraps the suspension and trims them to fit. Though these are resin, they are quite flexible and I'm sure a bit of additional heat will help the conformation even more.
Instructions are a single sheet with photographs of the kit is various stages of being built. These are better than the previous set where they were so dark as to make it difficult to see what went where. Not so this time as they are clear without the deep shadows that plagued the previous instructions. No painting information is provided nor are their any decals, however, these were pretty much Marine green and you can find serials and such from a number of sources.
These sorts of kits are a real boon to the small scale modeler who wants to have something a bit different on the shelves. These were widely used in Vietnam in rice paddy country so would be quite appropriate in a diorama. Several vehicles are extant and the web has quite a few photos that should prove to be very helpful during your build.
Thanks to Croco for the preview kit. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and costs.
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