by: Andras [ ]
The M56 Scorpion was an attempt to supply a gun platform for the US airborne forces that can be easily transported by airplanes, and can be deployed using an air-drop. This requirement pretty much made it impossible for the vehicle to be armored, so it is essentially a gigantic 90mm M54 gun on a dodgem chassis. Crew comfort (and safety) also took second place to the size requirements that came with the airborne deployment option.
The M56 was developed and manufactured by the Cadillac Motor Car Division of GM from 1953 to 1959. It was a small, fully tracked vehicle (with a rare feature: its road wheels had tires on), powered by a 200 hp engine, with a maximum road speed of 45 km/h. It had a crew of four: commander, driver, loader, gunner. The ergonomics of the vehicle were, letís put it lightly, not very good. The loader had to disembark before the gun fired, and jump back holding the ammunition. The gun recoil also endangered the commander. The only part that can be considered armor on the vehicle is the gun shield, which has a large windscreen cut into for the driver negating its effectiveness somewhat; the rest of the self-propelled gun is about as armored as my Nissan Micra.*
The M56 was in service in the USA, Spain, Morocco, and the Republic of Korea. It was used in Vietnam by the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
There are not many models available of this little AFV; Iíve found a very expensive resin one in 1/35th scale by Hobby Fan, and thereís an old OOP (and quite inaccurate) Revell kit; other than that thereís the 1/72nd scale OKB kit reviewed here.
*I have nothing against Micra; I love that car.
The model comes in a surprisingly small cardboard box, with the parts safely packed into Ziploc bags, and protected by bubble wrap.
Considering the size of this vehicle the number of parts (especially the amount of PE) is nothing other than astonishing. The model is made up by approximately 70 resin pieces and about 70 PE partsÖ all this is in a model that can almost fit into a matchbox.
The resin is smooth, dark, and very crisply detailed; the PE frets are the thinnest Iíve ever seen. (Itís quite easy to crumple them, so be careful.) The tracks come as resin sections which need to be warmed up before shaped to the running gear. The detail is excellent, and there is very little flash anywhere.
The model does come with instructions (not something that's a given with resin kits). The instructions are very detailed; they are computer generated, which makes them outstanding, and also unusual in the resin kit world. In my sample both the cover art and the instructions were badly faded, which makes the assembly a tad more difficult.
The sheer number of parts and the small size makes me a bit cautious about the build, but I'm definitely looking forward to it. It promises to be a fun challenge, and the end result will be a rare -and tiny- model of a lesser known vehicle.