by: Anirudh Arun [ ]
History and Design
The M134 is a 6 barrel, air cooled, electrically powered heavy machine gun that fires the standard 7.62x51mm NATO round. The US army had been experimenting with multi-barrel machine guns for use in Vietnam. Helicopter crews had complained that using a single barrel weapon to repel enemies often led to jams and overheating.
To solve this problem, General Dynamics scaled down the M61 Vulcan to fire the 7.62mm round. Originally the specifications listed a maximum fire rate of 6000 rounds per minute, but this was later lowered to 4000 rpm. The weapon was adopted into the US arsenal in 1962 and used on everything from the OH-6 Cayuse to the A-1 Skyraider under its Air Force designation of GAU-2/A.
The basic weapon has been improved since its introduction and the current version is produced by Dillon Aero Inc. Currently the weapon is still used on helicopters, but a few examples have been mounted on Humvees.
This new kit is a vast improvement over Legend Productions original release, LF1038 which lacked the ammunition belt and box and represented an older Vietnam era weapon. This version represents the latest version of the M134 and has enough pieces for 2 weapons. The new kit contains:
• Barrel x 2
• Motor x 2
• Gun Control Unit x 2
• Handles x 2
• Gun mount x 4
• Ammo box x 2
• Ammo belt x 2
• 0.5 mm Brass wire
The parts are packed in the standard Legends box, and in my example all parts were intact. The parts are very well cast with no air bubbles present on any of the pieces. The detail on the ammunition belts is especially well done and is very realistic.
There are no instructions in the conventional sense. Instead there are a few clear colour photos showing the gun and some of its sub-assemblies from different angles. All the parts are clearly labelled so there should be no ambiguity when assembling the pieces.
Comparison between the resin pieces and photos on the Dillon Aero website show that the Legends offering is complete and accurate. All the resin pieces are still attached to the pour plugs so care should be taken when removing them, especially with the ammunition belts.
The barrels and flash suppressor are cast as one piece with each individual barrel clearly visible.
The Gun motor, Clutch and improved Dillon Aero Delinker are also cast as one highly detailed piece and only requires a few wires to complete it. For this purpose, Legends have supplied a length of 0.5mm brass wire. I would recommend drilling out the location holes for the wires so they sit properly.
The spade grip is made up of 1 photo etched piece and 2 resin handles, so again care should be taken to align the handles correctly. The gun control unit is also attached to the spade grip and is another detailed part with a locating pin to allow proper alignment within the spade grip.
The gun mount, ammo belt and ammo box are all cleanly cast and are accurate representations of the real parts. However the ammo belt may need to be heated to be bent to the required shape which may lead to a loss of details on it.
The only painting guide is the photo on the box which gives a good idea of the basic colours, but it may be useful to consult references to accurately paint the weapon.
Overall the Legends kit is a very complete and accurate representation of a widely used weapon which will find many uses for both armour and aircraft modellers. Additionally the kit is a vast improvement on the original Legends release.