Hervé "Charby" Charbonneau|
AFV modelers have never had it so good. More and more accurate kits of WWII Allied
subjects are becoming available, and the quantity and quality of research material
and references available to modelers are growing rapidly. In the midst of this
era of opulence, however, there is one subject that still seems to elude both
manufacturers and modelers: vehicle mounts for the .50 cal M2 heavy machine gun!
Part of the problem is that many modelers are either content with using the kit-supplied
part, or convinced that the fancy aftermarket part they bought is flawless. The
issue is further compounded by the apparent lack of adequate reference on the
topic, and this is what this article will try to address.
Bit of History
weapon Bruce Canfield describes as "one of the most formidable and versatile
infantry weapons of World War II" was type classified by the U.S. Army as
the BROWNING MACHINE GUN, HEAVY BARREL, CAL .50, M2, HB in the years before the
outbreak of WWII. In addition to being issued to the heavy weapons companies of
infantry regiments, it was mounted on just about every kind of vehicle from light
trucks to heavy tanks. Although, in the latter application, it was officially
considered an antiaircraft weapon, it performed magnificently against ground targets
like machine gun nests and light vehicles.
attempts by the U.S. Army to mount machine guns on vehicles consisted mostly in
adapting the cradles used with ground tripods through the addition of a longer
pin adaptor, or pintle. However, since these provided insufficient elevation for
use in the antiaircraft role, new cradles were developed. Early ones were generally
made from steel sheeting, but these were gradually replaced with cast parts. Ammunition
holders also evolved from fixed boxes that had to be loaded with lengths of ammunition
belts to trays that could accommodate standard ammunition boxes with minimal handling.
of WWII Vehicular Mounts
would take a whole book to go over all the different types of mounts developed
for the .50 cal machine gun. However, since this article is intended for modelers
of American vehicles of 1941-1945 period, the list shall be restricted to only
those most likely to be seen on currently available kits. Let us review, therefore,
the types of vehicular mounts for the M2HB most commonly used during WWII. It
must be noted that many of these assemblies could accommodate either .30 or .50
cal machine guns, as illustrated in some of the accompanying pictures.
should also be noted that because they were scanned from a large book, a few of
the images presented here have a blurry left or right edge. It would not have
been possible to make better scans without damaging the book
the end, two types of cradle, pintle and ammunition box assemblies were retained
as standard for most applications. The first was the E10014, which consisted of
the 7068880 (D68880) cradle/pintle assembly with the D90078 ammunition tray. It
replaced most other types for use on pedestal mounts. The other was the 7046650,
which was basically the D80030 cradle with the D90078 ammunition tray from the
E10014 assembly in place of the original tray. It was destined to be used on concentric
ring mounts and cupola mounts, but did not supersede the D80030 before well into
the 50's. This is why it does not appear in the listing above.
Gun Mounts in 1/35 Scale
going into an exhaustive review of the available kit parts, it should be known
that, for the most part, the cradle and pintle assemblies found in many of today's
kits are either oversimplified, inaccurate or just plain useless. Another problem
is that the type of mount represented is often incorrect for the vehicle depicted.
Such is the case with Tamiya kits like the M20 armored car and the M26 tank transporter,
which come with Tamiya's representation of the D80030 pintle assembly while in
reality, these vehicles used the D40733 cradle/pintle assembly.
manufacturers deserve high marks for their efforts in that field. The first is
Dragon for including nicely done D36960 cradle assemblies in its M2/M2A1
Half-track kit. This type of mount had previously only been represented in
Tamiya's old Jeep kit, and maybe in some of the ancient Monogram kits, and those
were definitely not up to current standards. The second company is Tasca,
who developed the most accurate mounts ever made in plastic, with three different
types available, and separated the gun from the cradle assemblies.
aftermarket manufacturers offer more accurate and better detailed replacement
machine guns, either in full resin or as multimedia kits. However, the use of
photo-etched parts to represent cast components may be questionable in some cases.
and Photo Sources
Infantry Weapons of World War II, by Bruce N. Canfield, 3rd edition, Andrew
Mowbray Publishers, 1998 (originally published in 1994), ISBN 0-917218-67-1.
Tank Destroyers in Combat 1941-1945, by Steven J. Zaloga, Concord Publications
Company, 1996, ISBN 962-361-609-0.
Mounts for Secondary Armament, by G.O. Noville & Associates, 2nd edition,
Long Mountain Outfitters LLC, 2007 (originally published in 1957), ISBN 13-978-0-9742724-4-3.
Photo Archive, hosted by Google, http://images.google.com/hosted/life.