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REVIEW
DML M4 Mortar Carrier Half-track
wbill76
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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2008 - 04:03 PM UTC
Gary Kato provides a detailed In-box look at DML's 1/35 kit #6361 M4 81mm Mortar Carrier half-track.

Link to Item




If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks!
c5flies
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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2008 - 05:37 PM UTC
Thanks for the review, Gary. Having just picked this up myself, you have me pondering which option to go for....early, late, 1-32 hmmmm.
Grumpyoldman
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Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2008 - 01:46 PM UTC
Nice review Gary.
GaryKato
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Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2008 - 08:19 PM UTC
Thanks, guys. I thought it would be a quick review since it was based on a previous kit, but it seemed like there were problems everywhere I looked. Still a good kit though.
CDK
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 04:02 AM UTC
It was a very thorough review Gary, thanks for taking the time to do it.

If I may add something ?

The entire decal sheet is flawed, Prowler can be found in another publication which escapes me at the moment, perhaps the Tankograd Tech Manual, it is clearly an M4A1 as well, with the rear stowage boxes and the forward facing mortar, so one would have to do some scratch building for those markings as well.

The early, perhaps pilot version numbers that make up the third decal option should have been pre-D-Day blue, not white as they are on the sheet.

This kit could have contained perhaps one more medium sized sprue to make it an outstanding 3 in 1 kit, IMO.
GaryKato
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 05:24 AM UTC
I did skip reviewing the decal sheet. They are printed by Cartograph. I will have to see if I can find a picture of "Prowler". It has "SPHQI3", which might mean 3rd Infantry Division?

I did find a picture of "Prowler" in Squadron/Signal's "M3 Halftrack in action" and is an M4A1. The only forward pointing mortars on the M4 were the 2nd AD modification. The M4A1 had the mortar mounted higher as the feet of the bipod were on a plate mounted at the same height as the rear seats so the mortar could have more traverse. I had the mods for an M4A1 in the review but ripped them out because I didn't think any of the marking examples were M4A1.

The first decal option was an brand new early M4 that was photographed extensively somewhere. It is missing the jerry can mounts in front of the drivers compartment, which is as it should be for an early M4. The serial number does look a different color than the "M4" stenciled in front of the drivers compartment.


Quoted Text

If I may add something ?

The entire decal sheet is flawed, Prowler can be found in another publication which escapes me at the moment, perhaps the Tankograd Tech Manual, it is clearly an M4A1 as well, with the rear stowage boxes and the forward facing mortar, so one would have to do some scratch building for those markings as well.

The early, perhaps pilot version numbers that make up the third decal option should have been pre-D-Day blue, not white as they are on the sheet.


CDK
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 08:36 AM UTC
Gary,

the photo is in Squadron/Signal publications M3 Half Track in action, number 34. The photo can be found on the top left of page 20.

One mistake in my statement is a forward firing mortar, which was incorrect. It is however an M4A1 with added boxes on the rear bumper shelf and the mortar is clearly on a raised I-beam pedestal judging by how much of it shows protruding from the crew compartment, versus how little protrudes on a standard M4

The caption below the picture says nothing regarding the unit but does explain what makes it an M4A1 and why. So without some major scratch building, the kit decals are fairly useless.

I missed your edit when posting that, so I will address your points.


Quoted Text

The only forward pointing mortars on the M4 were the 2nd AD modification.



Well, not quite true, the 2nd armored may be famous for the forward facing mortars and use of the skate rail, but the 3rd armored actually had their own style. They removed the sides, fuel tanks etc. switched them around and faced the mortar forward by leaving the I-beam raised platform in the middle of the crew compartment and placing the bipod directly behind the driver/gunner seats, this allowed the use of the rear door, while the 2nd armored's version did not. This can be found in two publications as well, Tankograds manual has an interior shot on page 22 which explains in detail what was done and the Zaloga book, " in combat " has a picture of one on page 47 showing the reversed side panels, with the access doors to the rear.


Quoted Text

The M4A1 had the mortar mounted higher as the feet of the bipod were on a plate mounted at the same height as the rear seats so the mortar could have more traverse.



Yes, exactly. I have an extensive collection of photos of this. The flat steel plate with holes in it was used by the 3rd armored behind the driver/gunner seats, unlike the 2nd armored who used a skate rail piece instead. Perhaps I will post some photos.


Quoted Text

The first decal option was an brand new early M4 that was photographed extensively somewhere. The serial number does look a different color than the "M4" stenciled in front of the drivers compartment.



Yes it is, I believe it's the pilot version or the next in line. It can be found in the Hunnicutt book, several photos actually. The numbers ARE a different color, as I stated, it is light blue, which would fade into the olive drab at a distance so as not to stand out. This was a pre D-Day thing which was later changed to white, but those markings on the decal sheet should be light blue.
GaryKato
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Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008 - 02:30 PM UTC
I remember seeing the reversed access door picture in Zaloga's book, but he didn't mention the reason. I also could not see the mortar in that M4. I'll have to look again. None of the references I used mentioned the 3AD mod. When did they do this?
CDK
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Posted: Monday, January 21, 2008 - 03:45 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I remember seeing the reversed access door picture in Zaloga's book, but he didn't mention the reason.



While I have the utmost respect for Mr. Zaloga, that is an older book and is not without it's mistakes. Look on page 69, the caption under the top photo says it's an M3, well, the M3 had the pedestal mounted .50 cal in the front of the crew compartment and no "ladder" like racks on the sides. The picture is clearly that of an M21 mortar carrier, which did have those newer style racks as well as the pedestal mount to the rear of the crew compartment to allow for the forward facing mortar.



Quoted Text

I also could not see the mortar in that M4. I'll have to look again.



You can't see the mortar because it's most likely stowed for transport, considering it is a photo of a column of vehicles moving through town, that would make sense. Fact is though, with the large stowage bins moved to the rear of the crew compartment, the bipod couldn't fit in between them. So that is of no consequence really.



Quoted Text

None of the references I used mentioned the 3AD mod. When did they do this?



According to the descriptive text under the interior photo in Tankograds Tech Manual no 6010, it says England May '44, so it's around the same exact time that the 2nd armored did it as well, prior to D-Day, which makes sense.
GaryKato
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Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2008 - 04:27 AM UTC
Voyager has two PE sets which has fixes for some of the things I complained about. One set is for the M4 and the other is for M4 ammunition storage. Since Lucky and Mission Models uses the same picture (which shows the sets combined), I don't know which set comes with what. They have jerry can mounts for the late M4 which have the correct bracket. They have top and side doors for the side ammo bins as well as the top ammo rack if you have the top door open. They also have the bipod chain.
CDK
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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 10:36 AM UTC
Hi Gary,

I have both of those sets, I bought them for fairly cheap money on ebay.

The M4 detail set is almost identical to Voyagers M2 set, the main difference being the rear bumper/stowage shelf assembly, it has the narrower shelf found on the M4 etc. It also contains the chain as you mentioned and it lacks the mine racks. This set comes in the typical Voyager 'box'

The M4 ammo set contains the four internal boxes and dividers, plus several plastic tubes to fashion the ammo tubes from. I would have preferred it to all be in one set but others may be happy with just the ammo bins. This set comes on a 'card'

Those all inclusive photos are annoying, I think manufacturers and suppliers could better inform us of just what is in each set, but that's just an opinion.
GaryKato
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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 12:13 PM UTC
Thanks for clearing that up! I was thinking I might have to buy them myself just to figure it out. I'm undecided about whether I want to go whole hog with the M4. I'm more of a OOTB builder.
CDK
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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 12:53 PM UTC
Gary, if you normally build OOB then by all means do. It is a sweet kit as is and a good portion of the stuff in these sets are un-warranted IMO. The best thing about the ammo bins is that you can portray some empty as opposed to the completely full kit parts. I bet you could just as easily scratch build your own bins though.

The things like the doors and hood panels in the Voyager set fall short of being useful IMO considering the screw head detail is flush instead of 'proud', which will only stand out like a sore thumb next to the kit parts.

If all one wants to do is fix the jerry can holders and brackets, Eduard make a set of four I believe, which would work just as well and save a few bucks at the same time.

GaryKato
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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 02:14 PM UTC
I already have an Eduard Jerry Can set here (Great Minds...). I bought a few months ago to see if they would really add to a kit and to practice with folding PE.
CDK
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Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 04:27 PM UTC
Gary,

That's the route I would go if extreme detailing wasn't a big concern. The four pack Eduard set is the easiest I've ever used because if I remember correctly, the holder ( not including the mounting bracket ) is one piece while the Voyager is a multi part affair making it a bit more tedious. The large square hub ( a-la 70's era Tamiya ) on the cab side is by far, my biggest gripe with both half track offerings from Dragon. Other than that, the kit almost falls together and is a great build OOB ( any small inaccuracies aside of course ).

The only other thing I think worth mentioning is after market tires/rims, NOT solely because of that whole bulged tire issue, which I wouldn't want to get started up again but because you may have noticed on pre D-Day vehicles, a directional chevron tread and/or early 'standard' style rims. ( this all depends on theater and time frame of your build of course ) One brand is Trakz, found on the Perth site here:

http://www.perthmilitarymodelling.com/reviews/vehicles/trakz/tx0127.htm

Perhaps even look into the Archer fine transfer 'Surface Details' to fix the missing tread plate pattern on some of the floor plates in the crew compartment.

http://www.archertransfers.com/AR88008.html


Again, this all depends on how far you want to take it.