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Dragon 1/35 scale M2A1 halftrack

Kit: 6329
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Dragon, from Dragon
Models USA, 626-968-0322,
Price: 41.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 352
parts (24 photoetched), decals
Pros: Long-awaited subject, excellent
detail and photoetched parts, full engine
Cons: Flattened tires slightly overdone,
mines molded in place on side racks
Dragon has finally released a brand-new kit of the M2/M2A1 halftrack in its "Smart Kit" line. Dragon uses modern molding techniques, which provides excellent molded-in detail, eliminating the need for lots of photoetched add-ons. The kit allows the builder to make either a M2 or an M2A1. The major difference between the two is the M2 version features a "skate rail" gun-rail mount, similar to the one on its wheeled cousin the White Scout Car. The M2A1 has a pulpit gun mount over the passenger seat of the driver's compartment.

While the box would lead you to believe that all M2A1's had a front-bumper winch, you can also install the front roller if you wish. Decals are provided for five different vehicles, but Dragon also includes a generic sheet with white serial numbers and bumper codes, so the options are almost limitless. The instruction sheet is well illustrated and at step 13 the steps diverge, with one set of steps for the M2 and another for the M2A1, reducing the chances for confusion. The small photo-etch fret provides the parts that are best done in metal, such as the mud flaps and the grille louvers. Dragon also provides a piece of nylon cable and a small length of chain for the winch.

Assembly starts with the chassis. The one-piece chassis ensures everything will line up properly during construction. Take care in assembling the front axle. I think Dragon has the wheel hubs reversed. Make sure you have the curved side of the location lugs on top and the connecting linkage to the rear or you'll wind up with the flattened sides of the tires pointing up (ask me how I know). A complete engine is included with the chassis, but if you wanted to show the hood open, you'll need to modify some of the parts and add more detail. I had some problems getting the front bumper rails to fit the frame. On my next halftrack, I will add the rails to the frame first, then attach the bumper to them, rather than as shown in the instructions. The design of the rear running gear is spectacular and it accurately replicates this area. I found it best to leave off the idler wheel until both halves of the track pieces were in place. This gives a little wiggle room to get the guide teeth in the proper position.

Assembly of the front body and the fighting compartment went smoothly. There are a few ejector-pin marks on the interior of the driver's compartment that need filling. I also filled some of the more noticeable ejector-pin marks on the underside of the body. I was surprised to find that Dragon hadn't included any decals for the prominent gages and dials on the dashboard. I was disappointed to find the solid jerry-can brackets molded to the body. Photoetched parts would have been ideal. Two complete sets of walls are provided for the fighting compartment to accommodate the differences between the M2 and the M2A1. Everything fit perfectly and only a tiny bit of filler was needed around the fuel-tank ends. The model's mines and mine racks are molded as a single piece. The machine gun moldings and mounts are excellent, some of the best I've seen in an injection-molded kit.

I left my halftrack in major subassemblies until most of the painting and decaling was complete. The subassemblies fit the frame snugly and line up perfectly. The decals responded well to some Micro Sol. To get the decal on the front grille louvers, I stuck the louvers to a small piece of tape, overlapping them slightly as they would sit when closed. After applying the decal and letting it dry, I carefully sliced the decal with a scalpel. The model was then subjected to my usual weathering, washes, and drybrushing techniques.

I spent about 19 hours building my M2, not bad for a kit this complex. The finished model matches the dimensions I found posted on several Internet research sites. The few faults in this kit are very minor and easily fixed. I suspect Dragon will release several different variants of this vehicle, and hopefully some M3 versions as well.

- John Plzak


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