M35A1 Quad .50 Gun Truck
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AFV Club's first gun truck release, #35034 represents the best known of all the Quad .50cal armed gun trucks from the Vietnam War. "Nancy" represents a rare breed of convoy escorts that was armed with the devastating firepower of the M55 anti-aircraft weapon system. With American dominance of the airspace over Vietnam, artillery trucks that had been converted in the 1950's to transport anti-aircraft guns were diverted from this mission to convoy escort roles. Late in WW II - the same had occurred with the original transport of this weapon. M16 MGMC's turned this weapon against ground troops and vehicles with success. So much so that the Quad .50 earned the moniker "meat-grinder" relating what it did against troop pockets. Below are two photo of "Nancy" as she appeared in 1968.
AFV Club took their excellent M35A2 Deuce and added parts to convert the model kit into both the earlier M35A1 2 1/2-ton cargo truck and further to a representation of the vehicle dubbed "Nancy". All be said, this is a good kit and can be worked into an accurate representation of the 1968 armored convoy escort "Nancy" without too much additional effort. The model kit is not accurate right out of the box, but the modifications are easy for the novice modeler to accomplish. The primary flaw - the M55 Quad .50 Turret - is more of an expensive fix and a difficult modeling task. Here is my original effort based on photographs of the original vehicle for comparison to the built-up example above.
As I related on my webpages dedicated to this miniature, I originally built "Nancy" back in 1995-1996, only to go back and rebuild the miniature in 2001 with additional information and photographs. I started out with AFV Club's M35A2 Deuce too, and backdated it to M35A1 standard before adding the parts to model "Nancy". All of my miniature's logos were generated on my computer and printed on decal paper. Visible is the major deviation from the model kit as produced by AFV Club - the M55 Quad .50cal Turret itself. I'll get to that later, but I will start out with technical manual photos and notes to accurately render the M35A1 6x6 cargo truck chassis.
I've used illustrations from TM 9-2320-209-10-Change #1 M44A1 and M44A2 series trucks, TM 9-2320-209-10-Change #9, and TM 9-2320-361-10 M44A2 series trucks where relevant to help show some finer details. Later this year I plan to create separate pages for conversions to different M44 6x6 chassis trucks as well as for building the basic M35A1 and M35A2 cargo truck.
Typical M35A2 6x6 Cargo Truck - note the vertical exhaust stack configuration and integrated turn signal marker lights - easy visual identifiers of the A2.
AFV Club's Deuce is unquestionably the best 1:35 scale miniature of the M44 series 6x6 truck chassis produced to date. Perhaps best described as a finicky build-up, the model kit presents no problems for the experienced scale modeler to complete. It also provided fantastic conversion potential The M35A2 as presented by AFV Club was introduced in the early 1970's and not accurate for modeling "Nancy"'s base truck chassis Backdating the M35A2 to A1 standard isn't difficult for you to accomplish on your own - and in this release AFV Club gives you a lot of the parts already. I'll mention additional modifications / corrections you can insert while following AFV Club's suggested assembly sequence.
First off in Step 1, replace AFV Club parts #A44. These tie-down loops for rail shipment were staple-shaped components on the earlier M35 an M35A1 6x6 trucks. Below in Photo TA044902 is the exhaust system component drawing for early model LD465-1 and LD465-1C multi-fuel engine trucks. AFV Club's model kit adequately renders this configuration.
In Step 8: do not attach the flying extensions (parts #B18) from the frame rails for the tail lights. In the M35 and M35A1, the rear blackout marker lights are suspended from the underside of the cargo box - just behind the end panel. Immediately above in Photo TA5144 the configuration of the A2's integrated turn markers (colored white) is shown marked by Indicator A. Note, I also highlighted the reflectors on the cargo box rear panel too, appropriate for the A2 variant. Remove the reflectors for modeling a M35A1.
Below in Photo TA51431 is the M35A2C truck showing the tail light configuration. Note that the M35A2C is essentially the same as the AFV Club M35A2 as modeled - except that the A2C is equipped with cargo bed drop-sides - and not all A2 variants use the flying extensions from the frame rails. The M35, M35A1, and M35A2 does not come equipped with drop-sides. Note the staple-shaped frame tie-down on the rail near the right tail light cluster. This correction is referenced in Step 1.
Below is a photo of a M34 (single rear wheels as opposed to the dual rear wheeled M35) showing an example of the earlier tail light configuration with reflectors mounted outboard of the blackout marker lights. This truck is an earth boring vehicle for pole setting with the older cargo box equipped with extended wheelhouses accommodating the larger rear tires. The M35A1 exhibits the same pattern for its tail light equipment.
Step 12's Winch subassembly could use a Clutch Control Lever (Number 1) - shown in Photo TA51455 below:
A bit of an annoyance here, in Step 13 you've go the Cab Fender (part #B45) to work with. The A1 is not equipped with the vertical exhaust stack / muffler arrangement as in the A2. Instead of remolding (expensive I know) or even supplying a little plastic plug (commensurate with a $40 US dollar model kit you'd think) you get the original A2 part. You'll be filling in this hole. This presents a challenge to get it smooth and flush.
In Steps 14 & 15 you'll begin assembling the Cab. Here are additional detail items from the A1 Technical Manual for superdetailing your miniature. Notably, and inexplicably, missing from the AFV Club kit is a pedestal mounted M60 7.62mm Machine Gun mounted in the Cab. I made mine from parts in Tamiya's M151A2 MUTT, with a scrap styrene block a scale 6 inches in thickness to mount the pedestal on the Cab Floor. This raises the weapon to the height as shown in photos of the real gun truck. You don't have to add this detail, but I haven't seen a photo (yet) of "Nancy" without this secondary weapon mounted.
If you wanna get fancy with your model truck, refer to Photo TA51454 below. The Hood Latch (Number 16) is a fine detail that you can add. Note: AFV Club only provides two T-Clamps (Number 15 in the drawing and AFV Club parts #B49). You're going to need four of these detail items for any M44 series truck. Two are positioned on top of the Hood, for both opening as in this drawing and for latching down the windshield in the depressed position. The other two secure the Hood in the front upper corners of the Grill.
In Step 18 delete Bracket (part #B20) as this is meant for the A2 vertical exhaust stack / muffler assembly. You'll also have to insert a small length of square styrene strip to plug the locating hole in the Cab Wall for this part.
In Step 20 you'll be attaching the rearview mirrors and mounts. "Nancy" exhibited different configurations during her service in the Vietnam War. In my miniature, I modeled a mix of mirrors and mounts - as in the 1968 photos of "Nancy". She carried on "west coast" styled mirror. Often armored convoy escorts came back damaged from their runs and were repaired in Depot. This is where the mix of equipment occurred. AFV Club represents this accurately, the only thing I'd recommend is replacing their Left Mount (part #M6) with the assembly from the M49A2C Fuel Tanker kit - as it is more accurate. If you don't want to spend that kind of money, then add styrene rod lengths to part #M6 accordingly. This is considerably cheaper! Some small details could be added here to the Cab exterior to dress up your M35A1 too.
In Step 21, the Cargo Box Rear Panel (part #C5) should be modified. The M35 and M35A1 did not have reflectors mounted on this panel. Just sand this detail away - if you've got spares. If not, carefully shave the detail off. The M35 and M35A1 have small panels that project from underneath the cargo box floor that carry the reflectors and blackout marker lights. The reflectors are mounted outboard of the blackout marker lights (parts #M5). Refer to Photo TA51444 above in Step 8.
The Cargo Box is also missing a significant piece in the steel box that the M55 Quad .50cal weapon rests. This box, easily visible in photos, is longer than the cargo bed itself - which means it sticks out of the rear. The tailgate is secured in the open position - but does not hang down against the rear panel. This is neither given nor presented in the AFV Club model kit.
"Nancy" carried virtually no armor plating. What little she did exhibit is represented essentially accurately in the AFV Club kit. Some experienced modelers will replace the kit parts with thinner representations. My original kit has parts made out of .010" styrene sheet stock with equates to 3/8 inch thickness steel in 1:35 scale. The model kit parts are more than twice this thickness.
Missing in the AFV Club kit is armor plating detail on the M55 Quad .50cal Turret itself - behind the Gunner, but this is simple detail to add. I made all of mine out of .010" sheet styrene. "Nancy" also has a section of armor plating at the front of the cargo box - just behind the front stakeside, which is not provided in the AFV Club kit. Since you're gonna add the M55 Quad armor, save some for modeling this detail too.
The centerpiece of the "Nancy" miniature, and a principal source of contention. If you don't care too much about accuracy - or agree with me - then the parts as provided in the AFV Club kit are fine to use as presented. However, I rebuilt my original miniature because I noted mistakes I made the first time around in fitting this weapon to "Nancy". Noting the practice of mounting the entire M55 Quad .50 Turret and trailer in the cargo beds of 2 1/2-ton and 5-ton cargo trucks to make mobile anti-aircraft artillery trucks in the 1950's - I feel my original mounting of this weapon on a pedestal (a la Tamiya's M16 MGMC half-track) was inaccurate the first time around. I rebuilt my miniature accordingly.
The M55 Quad Trailer was produced by Kirin some years ago - and is a tough item to find. The Trailer itself is not difficult to scratchbuilt - I did so pretty quickly, and the shapes are easy to replicate for the intermediate modeler. If you can find the Kirin kit - you might decide to scratch yours too - and save it for your collection. Additionally, you won't get firing cabling or Turret electrical wiring in the AFV Club kit, so be prepared to add your own. I modeled the 40mm ammo canister holders based on photos - these are not represented in the AFV Club kit release. If you use the Kirin M55 Quad Trailer, you'll have to add retrofit 40mm cans too, as the standard drum shaped ammo containers are provided in this kit.
I got some dirty examples in my model kit, but I cleaned them off. Otherwise, AFV Club's decals are pretty nice - since there's nothing else to use and they beat making your own - trust me here, as I went through this effort. The M35A1 cargo truck's registration number is correct, as are the bumper codes for the unit "Nancy" was attached to. I can't vouch for "Nancy"'s truck number (presented as '12' in the AFV Club kit) because this isn't visible in the photos I have of "Nancy". Best guess will have to suffice here. I attempted to place these decals on another model, and though they appear thin, mine wouldn't lay down snugly without several applications of MicroSol and Micro Set. Then, I had to make more applications of GlossCote over them that I initially thought I had to, to get them smoothly covered and blended in for Dullcoting. They will present a challenge to novice modelers.
As much as I like the M55 Quad .50 Turret's grinning mouth and face decals - I don't agree with Decal #2 - 8GP-NANCY as presented to go on the Hood. The photograph I used in the original miniature has SP4 MORNINGSTAR in this position - the name of one of "Nancy"'s drivers. Hey - AFV Club's detail could have been applied at some point in "Nancy"'s tour in Vietnam, but I stuck with the photograph. I also added the small National Insignia on the left side rearview mirror to match photos. This decal isn't in the AFV Club kit. Not painted yet in this photo, the Convoy Plate appears to have been yellow on the real vehicle - though it can't be seen in the color pictures I have of "Nancy".
Also missing from the decal sheet, the same as in the conversion parts, are markings for the armor plating behind the M55 Quad .50 gunner. I generated the NANCY logo and little female figure on my computer for decal application. This is visible in the 1968 photographs of "Nancy". In my miniature, The lengths of the Bumper Marker Posts (equivalent parts #M9 in the AFV Club kit) are longer than in the kit because the driver couldn't see them with the cut-down windshield armor plate - and this matches photos of the real truck.
As I said above, this isn't a terrible representation of the armored convoy escort "Nancy" as produced by AFV Club. It is worth its retail price and a value for other projects - as both the M55 Quad and M35A1 cargo truck lend themselves to more modeling projects. If you want to make the model more accurate I hope you find the information I provide there helpful as it's based on photographs of the vehicle in service and the technical manuals produced for the truck. You can take this model kit as far as you're willing to go with it.