Tamiya 1/35 Mortar Carrier M21
|PRICE:||800 yen when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The M21 Mortar Motor Carriage (MMC) was a self-propelled artillery mount on a half-track chassis used by the United States Army during World War II. It was equipped with an 81 mm M1 mortar and an air-cooled M2 Browning machine gun. It was produced by the White Motor Company in 1944. Only 110 examples were produced.
It mainly served on the Western Front in Normandy, and Southern France, and then later in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. It was deemed to have been outclassed in 1945 when the 81 mm M1 mortar was found to have insufficient power to provide effective artillery support.
This is one of Tamiya's older kits and while many today consider these kits to be obsolescent and lacking detail, for those of us who are not fond of the 500-700 part kits, they are perfect. The US halftrack was used for a variety of purposes besides its initial one of moving troops in a somewhat protected vehicle. This kit depicts one of the later model White-built vehicles. I cannot attest to its fidelity to the prototype, but it certainly looks the part to me.
In line with most military vehicle kits of the time, it is a curbside, but that does not mean it is lacking in detail. The kit's chassis is a single piece with the lower engine molded in place. After doing some minor surgery, one then attaches the suspension and drive train. There are a considerable number of small road wheels to deal with. The idler and sprocket are held onto the chassis with polycaps which helps. This kit has the 'rubber band' style vinyl tracks. These interlock on the ends to hold them in place.
Once the chassis is built up, one then deals with the body. Aside from the front piece which contains the fenders, you have a lot of fairly flat pieces to glue in place. The very front provided optional pieces so you can have the radiator louvers open or closed. It looks like you can also have the armored windscreen piece lowered. You'll find that the fighting compartment also has things like ammo racks and fuel tanks molded in place as well. The clear windscreen is simply a piece of pre-punched acetate.
There are a number of jerry cans to build up and when doing the .50 cal, you can have the ammo can lid open. Doors and the front roller are separate assemblies and one could probably pose the doors open if one wishes. A couple of other options are the ability to build up the mortar and have it used external of the vehicle. You have four figures included. One is a driver, one is a soldier on the radio and the other two are involved in firing the mortar. Also provided is a framework for the top. The builder will have to provide their own canvas top and the instructions (written entirely in Japanese) imply that one can use tissue for this. There are some other accessories like a rolled up top. There are also some additional baggage items included to put on various places around the vehicle if you wish.
As mentioned, instructions are Japanese with no English at all. However, construction steps are well drawn and parts are clearly listed so it shouldn't be an issue. The decal sheet may well be unusable after all these years and is in off-white so typical of Japanese decals until fairly recently. Several different serial numbers are provided, though one would be better off finding aftermarket. Can't really show the sheet as off white against a slightly darker background just doesn't scan well.
Not the newest kit and probably not that difficult to find, these older Tamiya kits make into very nice models. Some of them have shape issues, but those of us who don't build much in the way of military vehicles don't really care about all that as long as they look pretty much like what we see in photos, and this one does. Probably the most difficult part of the kit will be painting the vinyl tracks. Well worth looking for in my book.
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