by: Darren Baker [ ]
Dragon Models has taken a look through there catalogue of past releases and turned their attention to the American half-track again, this time it rolls out as an M3 version in the Israeli Defence Force as used in the Six Day War in the year I was born, 1967. The half-track used by the Israelis was getting long in the tooth by the time of the Six Day War, but it was still a capable vehicle. I know that my father used one as a mobile garage while in the REME into the early 70’s, a vehicle that he was very keen about and had a lot of faith in.
As is usual with Dragon Model offerings that are another version of a previous release there is a lot of plastic here, but you guessed it not all of it is used. I have included a scan of the parts map and as you can see nearly a third of the plastic is not required. The model is packaged in the typical separate card lid and tray and the plastic only just fits inside the box. The contents break down as follows:
10 grey sprues
1 clear sprue
1 dragon styrene sprue
4 drive rollers
4 return rollers
A length of twine
A length of chain
A photo etched fret
A decal sheet
A fold out instruction sheet
Starting with a look at the plastic and a fairly positive opinion is quickly reached; despite some of these mouldings dating back to 2009 or a little earlier, the mouldings appear to be very clean for the most part. Looking over the parts thoroughly only really picks up on some ejector pin marks that will need to be addressed, if I am totally honest more than I expected to see due to Dragon being so fond of the nipple method. A minor concern is that all 10 grey and the clear sprue are packed in four bags and this can result in breakages, fortunately that has not occurred in this example.
The chassis of this model is a single moulding and so avoids the potential issues of a chassis that is not true. The drive and return rollers are slide moulded offerings and so easy to use and pleasant to look at. Dragon has offered a very nice engine and gearbox, the sump of the engine and bottom half of the gearbox has been moulded as a part of the chassis and so that ensures that these elements are in the correct location and secure. All told I am happy with the oily bits of this model.
The front wheels have some very nice detail present on them, but Dragon has provided them as weighted and looking through my reference material would seem to indicate it is not a common look. Due to this weighted look on the front wheels I feel they will need to be hidden. The road wheels of the track assembly are pleasing and I see no issues. As with previous releases the tracks are two injection moulded halves and that is an interesting approach that really works well due to the live rubber nature of these tracks.
This offering from Dragon offers two options for the front end of the vehicle; a roller or a winch is provided. Well that is all dandy but Dragon tell you to use sub-assembly (Q) for the winch, now the issue is that there is no sub-assembly (Q) and that is a problem. A search of the sprues found what I was looking for on sprue (C) the drive for the winch are parts (C5 &6), the drum is made of parts (C19&28). I cannot be sure but I believe these are the only four parts of the winch used in the missing (Q) assembly.
The cab is the next area I looked at and for the most part I am happy with the content. I like that the construction is fairly logical having nothing to trip you up. What I don’t like is the need to take a knife to the model to alter parts prior to use, I know not a major issue, but if I am being charged £60 or $75 for a kit I do not expect to have to hack at it, I expect the manufacturer to have done the work for me. With all that said the finished area should be very pleasing. An issue that occurs to me is that the modeller is instructed to build the model in three main sub-assemblies, the chassis, the cab and the cargo area. I believe this is a mistake and will result in a lot of tears as parts or broken or bent bringing the assemblies together. One aspect I really like is the seats as they have that lived in look that adds so much realism to a model.
Moving to the rear of the vehicle and I am again disappointed with the need to take knife and or chisel to the model that has set you back a day’s wages. The armoured side of the half-track need an amount of fine detail removed. Moving into the crew area and you find a nice anti-slip diamond plate floor with separate hatches also with the diamond pattern. Here again though Dragon has let me down by not providing the lived in look that is present on the parts from the previous model. As that part is also in the box you could cut them off and transfer to the other parts. The machine guns provided with this offering have the benefit of having been slide moulded, but again there is the need to take a knife to them to alter the detail.
Supplied with this model is some dragon styrene stowage. The Dragon Styrene does have some flash present and so will require careful work with a very sharp knife to clean up unless you know of a better way of tackling this material. I would have liked to see some figures included with this model or a figure set released to accompany it, here’s hoping.
Four finishing options are provided, but they are all listed as unidentified units of 1967.
Knowing just how popular Israeli vehicles are in modelling today I am sure this offering will be a success, but I cannot help feeling that this is another case where Dragon Models has left us short. They have corrected the floor of the vehicles rear and taken away those lovely lived in seats. Some of the photo etch such as the fuel can holders are going to drive people mad, and to instruct modellers to attach this very fragile photo etch before bringing the elements together is a recipe for disaster. The need to take knifes and chisels to a model costing what this kit does really irritates me. I know that there will be modellers out there saying “we are modellers not assemblers” but by the same score model costing this much should have the required moulded parts included as required, not taken from another model with the attitude of that will do.