Dragon 1/35 M3A1 Half Track
|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.
Dragon has done a few M3 Half-track kits over the years and this one has to be one of their best. The kit is a 3 in 1, meaning that you can build an M3, M3A1 or M3A2 with the various parts that come in the kit. As part of their Smart Kit line, there are etched frets as well as very detailed parts included. A full set of new idler and sprocket wheels are part of the kit. 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, the rear door open or closed, and there are a number of newly tooled detail parts just for this particular boxing. This is not a curbside and the kit comes with a full engine and completely detailed suspension system. The kit includes a driver figure.
Since you can build one of three versions, the instructions are more extensive than before with pages dedicated to the version that you are building. Means that you'll need to make your choice from the start as there are differences in the construction of the vehicles. For markings options, you have five. There is one M3 from the 2nd Armored Division in Morocco, 1942. This has the large US flag on the side. The lone M3A2 is standard US Army with no unit specified. The other three are M3A1s with one from the 4th AD in Germany during 1945, another with the 1st AD in France in 1944 and the last option from the 3rd AD in France during 1944. The extensive decal sheet includes all the markings you'll need for the version you pick. These are very nicely printed by, you guessed it, Cartograf of Italy so you know the quality is first rate.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Review Index Page
Back to the Previews Index Page