|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
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.
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 armoured all around with an adjustable armoured 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. The M3 went on to serve in world military services for decades after the war and was prominent in many movies, often used to portray German equipment.
Dragon has taken their very nice WWII era M3 Halftrack kit and provided upgrade bits to make it into the IDF version. This includes a new machine gun mount above the front windscreen armor. A typical characteristic of Israeli halftracks was the mass of backpacks and kit stowed on and dangling off the sides of vehicles. This flurry of equipment is provided with a range of kit accessories made from DS, the ideal material from which to make such items.
The kit includes an etched fret as well as a short chain and silver thread to use as a cable. The etched bits include the front cooling louvers, some brace reinforcements, storage containers and a mount for the fuel cans on the front fender. Not surprisingly, there are quite a bit of bits that are not used on this boxing, but that is pretty much standard stuff for Dragon military kits. For options, one can build the front cooling louvers open or closed, the armored door section up or down, the rear carrying racks down or folded up, the armored windscreen up or down, and the rear door open or closed. This is not a curbside and the kit comes with a full engine and completely detailed suspension system. The kit has solid plastic tracks so no separate links or even link and length construction needed, just right and left sides. No figures are included so those will need to come from one of Dragon's figure sets.
Instructions are well drawn and rather busy. Though 'only' 330 parts, this will not be a weekend build. Markings are for four unidentified units in overall sand. The decal sheet provides all the required markings, however, two of the options have black and white hood markings that will need to be painted by the builder.
This is a welcome release and one that should be greeted with open arms by IDF modelers as well as those who just want a nice M3 half-track kit.
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