In 2006, Dragon introduced its M2/M3 Half-track series. The following is a review of the newest member of the family, the M3 75mm Gun Motor Carriage kit #6467. A build blog will be posted in the forums at a later date.
Impressed by the speed of which the German Army advanced across France and realizing a need was there to defend against tanks, the United State Army put forth requirements for development of tank destroyers for the U.S. Army.
In June of 1941, the M3 half track was joined up with the M1897A4 75mm gun. The M1897A4 was the American version of the famous French 75mm gun used in World War I. The M1897A4 had an indirect fire range of 9,200 yards. At 500 yards, firing the AP M72 shell, the gun was capable of penetrating 3.2 inches of armor plate. And firing the APC M61 shell could penetrate 2.8 inches of armor plate at 500 yards also. This experimental combo was dubbed the T12. This combination seems to have worked well since the trails only lasted four month and the design was standardized in October of 1941 as the 75mm GMC M3.
Upon unwrapping the outer layer of plastic and opening the box, I found the following: Total part count, over 250 pieces. All parts are grayish in color.
There are ten sprues total. They consist of the following:
contains parts for the motor, frame, front drive, and other chassis parts.
contains parts for the cab, dash, doors, and pioneer tools.
contains parts for the rest of the frame, winches, etc.
"D" sprue (x2)
contains the front wheels, return rollers, bogies, and tracks.
contains clear parts (90% of which will not be used.)
It should be noted that these sprues are also find in the M2/M3 Half track kit. Some of these parts will be left out of the M3 75mm build because they are not needed. New cab sides are contain in sprue "T", which I'll cover, the "B" cab sides are not used.
deals with the fighting compartment of the 75mm and the mount.
is the 75mm M1897A4 gun itself.
deals with the new cab sides and hood, along with the gun shield.
The reason for the new "T" sprues is when the kits first came out, a few reviewers had stated the cab lacks the screw head slot detail. Well, I'm happy to report that new "T" sprue cab sides have the screw head slots.
"H" sprue (x2)
deals with two different radiator grills, one is the winch option, and the other is the roller front end option. The kit shows the roller version on the box art.
contains the driver figure.
There are two frets of photo-etched parts contained in the kit, labeled MA, and MB.
deals with the replacement of the jerry can holders on the cab sides.
deals with front grill and headlamp improvements.
A small chain and rope are included.
Finally, two small resealable plastic bags contain the idle and drive sprockets, labeled "W."
There is no flash but there are some ejector pin marks present. Some of these may need to be filled during the build, but it looks like some may not be seen. Dragon missed the mark on the gun shield which does not have the screw head slots. The 75mm gun barrel is a 4 piece assembly which will create some seam removal issues. The front wheels are "bulged" as if there's massive weight up front.
The other low point in the kit are the tracks, two piece molded in plastic. No Magic Track or "rubber band" are provided. Fit issues may show up during the build because the tracks are molded in hard plastic if the idler and drive sprocket placement has not been measured correctly on the frame.
Marking and painting options, instructions
The kit contains Cartograf decals for 7 different vehicles:
601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, U. S. Army, Tunisia 1943.
U.S. Army, Sicily 1943, unit unknown.
U.S. Army, Stateside 1943, unit unknown.
"L" Co., 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, USMC, Saipan 1944.
1st King's Dragoon Guards, British Army, Italy 1944.
1st King's Dragoon Guards, British Army, Germany 1945.
"A" Sqd., 27th Lancers, British Army, Italy 1945. "Acorn Inn"
The instruction sheet is made up of 14 steps detailing the various options of the kit; choice of winch or none, opened grill slats or closed grill slats, etc. Looks to be easy to follow. I'll tackle this in more detail during the build blog.
More technical information about the M3 75mm Gun Motor Carriage can be found here:
The American Vehicle Database
A Build Log
has been started on the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.