The M2 Machine Gun (or Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun) is a heavy machine gun designed by John Browning towards the end of WWI. M2 is very similar in design to Browning's earlier M1919 .30 Caliber Machine Gun, but uses much larger and much more powerful .50 cartridge. The M2 has been referred to as "Ma Deuce", as a GI phonetic slang, or "the fifty" in reference to its caliber.
The M2 Machine Gun is belt-fed, air-cooled machine weapon capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire. The M2 uses a disintegrating steel belt, with the feed switchable from one side to the other through the re-installation of certain parts in the feed unit. The weapon is designed to provide suppressive fire for both offensive and defensive purposes, and can be used effectively against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low flying aircraft. The system can be installed on standard M3 tripod, or on various vehicle pedestal and ring mounts.
The Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun has been used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the US Military from the 1920s to the present. It was used during WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and also during the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s. M2 is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries, and has been used by many other countries as well.
Finally! I have been waiting for M2 from Live Resin ever since Yaroslav announced he is working on several different 1/35 scale M2 variants. This review covers the M2 in its basic configuration with GPK shield, still found on most vehicle weapon ring mounts: M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun on MK93 Machine Gun Mount with Bearing Sleeve Pedestal, Bearing Extension and Classic GPK Armor Shield (with / without shield) (LRE-35047).
The set is safely packed in a hard cardboard box. The box features CAD boxart images; the one on the front shows the diagram of all the kit parts and lists accessory sets that can be used with the M2 (LRE-35007, LRE-35008, LRE-35028, LRE-35052, LRE-35053, LRE-35091, LRE-35092, LRE-35093), while the one on the back shows different views of the M2 setup which can be built using the parts provided in this particular set. The box does not state it (as it does on Live Resin Mk19 or Mk47 sets), but this model is compatible with 1/35 scale HMMWV's and MRAP's from all manufacturers.
The box contains a zip-lock bag with resin parts and an instruction sheet. The kit is made of 18 resin parts; the smaller pieces are organized on 2 large casting blocks, while the larger pieces are cast separately. One of the pieces that should have been included (the short ammo belt segment) was missing in my set, but Yaroslav quickly sent a replacement to me. The resin parts are perfectly cast, however one of the smaller pieces was broken in transport. Some superglue quickly solved that problem. As with all Live Resin sets, the parts display impressively sharp details superbly rendered in 1/35 scale.
The M2 Machine Gun is made of three major sub-assemblies: the receiver, barrel support and barrel group. The receiver features the backplate assembly with the standard firing control consisting of a push-type thumb trigger and sear release buttons located between the dual spade grips, top cover, feed opening, cocking handle and sights. Standard M2 sights consist of a rear flip-up sight and front sight protected by an arc-shaped sight cover. Additionally, various types of telescopic and night sights can be installed using appropriate mountings. The barrel support features perforated cooling jacket. As for the barrel assembly, due to the long procedure for changing the barrel, an improved system was developed called QCB (quick change barrel). It includes a removable quick change handle and a new flash suppressor.
Most of these M2 features are clearly identifiable and magnificently rendered in this kit, and the level of details is absolutely amazing. As far as I can tell, it is one of the best M2 systems produced in 1/35 scale so far. However, I do have some nitpicks. First of all, although very thin, the carrier stub from the resin block attaches to the end of the barrel completely obscuring the muzzle bore hole. Modelers would have to use a very fine drill to make a perfectly centered hole in the middle of a muzzle. Not an easy feat. Furthermore, I'm not sure if the barrel depicted in this particular set is actually a part of the QCB kit. The set does supply the quick change handle, however the barrel does not display the new style flash suppressor. Also, I wish one of the M2 sets from Live Resin came with an open top cover, so the weapon could be depicted during the ammo loading procedure.
The M2 is in this set is depicted on MK93 Machine Gun Mount and with Gunner's Shield Kit (GSK). The MK93 Machine Gun Mount is a dual purpose, soft mount for the M2 Heavy Machine Gun and Mk19 Grenade Machine Gun. The soft mount optimizes operational capabilities of both weapon systems, providing platform stabilization, improving accuracy, and increasing hit probability. This kit also features ring mount with the Bearing Sleeve and Universal Pintle Adapter (UPA). The UPA accepts MK93 mount and with its Y-shape arms provides a platform for connecting Traverse and Elevation Mechanism (T&E) to the MK93 mount for precise control of the weapon. All the pieces of the mount are wonderfully executed in scale, featuring incredible level of details. I compared the resin parts to the references and again found an excellent match. The Gunner's Shield Kit (GSK) is a part of Gunner's Protection Kit (GPK), a system providing protection for the gunners who are otherwise exposed to small-arms fire. The complex shape of the steel shield is well represented in this kit.
M2 is belt fed using disintegrating steel belts, with the feed switchable from one side to the other through the re-installation of certain parts in the feed unit. This set features a Mk93 Ammo Can Holder cast together with M2A1 Ammo Can, which holds 100 cartridges of .50 cal ammunition. The ammo feed system is nicely depicted in this set and I found an excellent match to the real thing. All the details of both Mk93 holder and ammo can are beautifully rendered with two separate ammo belt segments included in the set as well.
Building this M2 set is pretty much straightforward. It is important to take some time to identify all the parts, check the references as thoroughly as possible and use the instructions provided with the kit. The instructions are well printed, concise, clear, and easy to follow.
I didnít have any issues building the model whatsoever. The pieces are very intelligently engineered; most of them feature protrusions or indentations that help in aligning the parts correctly. The fit is really good and I didnít have to use any putty throughout the build process. I decided to build a version with the GPK shield; the set provides an alternate piece of the mount assembly which allows building the version without the shield as well. I decided not to use the quick change barrel handle for this build; I'm not sure if the barrel assembly in this set actually depicts the QCB kit and, since the handle is removable on the real M2, I thought I should leave it off.
I annotated the parts on the resin carrier blocks and I'm also showing photos of all major sub-assemblies noting the position of each part as well. The main weapon assembly is shown on photos 1-2, the weapon mount on photos 3-4, the UPA and traversing & elevation mechanism on photo 5, and finally the GPK shield on photo 6. The rest of the photos show the completed M2 Browning set (LRE-35047).
I'm sure M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun sets are among most interesting offerings from Live Resin for most modelers. With all the different versions available, from basic configurations to high-end Special Forces systems, these 1/35 scale M2s cover a wide range of modeler's needs.
The set reviewed here depicts the most common M2 configuration seen on the US vehicles operating in Iraq and Afghanistan; the one featuring a Mk93 Machine Gun Mount and GPK shield. Utilizing the advanced CAD modeling and high-resolution 3D prototyping technique, Live Resin produced a real masterpiece in 1/35 scale. The cast is perfect and the set is very intelligently engineered with absolutely great fit of the parts. The instruction sheet is clear and easy to follow, and the assembly is pretty much straightforward. The only thing I'm really missing is the muzzle bore hole.
If you want to mount M2 with GPK shield to your vehicles, look no further. This is definitely one of the best 1/35 scale replica of the M2 system on the market.
MilSys Group gun mounts