the M4/M4A1 81mm mortar carrier served a vital need at battalion level in armored
infantry units, it was recognized that it suffered from having the mortar oriented
to fire backwards and not forwards. While some units such as the 2nd Armored Division
corrected this, the Army moved to correct all of the flaws with a new vehicle.
result was the M21, which was based on the larger M3 body and not the shorter
M2. It retained the rear door for use in reloading of ammunition (two fold-down
seats blocked easy access for personnel) and added larger ammo racks. A pintle
mount for a .50 caliber M2 machine gun was added just behind the mortar. Other
late model features such as the removable combat lights and the side and rear
stowage racks were added to the vehicle. But as nearly 1,200 M4s had been built,
there was not a great need for the new vehicle and production was terminated after
only 110 were built.
battalion headquarters in tank and armored infantry battalions had a platoon of
three mortar carriers and a command half-track, so there were at least 18 to 27
of these vehicles in an armored division.
has now added this kit to their line to compliment the earlier M4
kit. It uses the M2/M2A1 chassis components verbatim but now adds the modified
M3 type body with ammunition racks, the rear end with door, and the mortar itself.
bulk of the kit is identical to all other DML half-track kits. Four sprues provide
the parts for the chassis and drive train, including a complete White engine and
transmission. While the hood is molded in one piece, DML has notched the back
side as well as the insides of the cab sides to permit easy cutting
to open them up for display. The tires have caused a lot of controversy as DML
molded them with a slight bulge to show underinflated tires under load; this has
been a love/hate feature of the kit, but personally I think it is not as bad as
some of the boo birds have claimed. To each his own on taste.
bogies and track runs are very impressive, as the idlers and drivers are slide
molded with respectively thin details and openings. Each bogie assembly consists
of 18 parts and is very petite; the mounting suspension provides five more with
the track tension adjusters nicely portrayed. The tracks are very interesting:
DML molded them in hard styrene plastic in two halves, cut in such a way that
the chain plate drive tooth guides in the center are represented as
they are found on the actual vehicle. Since the tracks were metal with rubber
endless belt casings vulcanized onto them, this is a neat way to portray
now comes with only one set of body panels for the rear body. But it also comes
with the original M2/M3 cab which does not have slotted screws. While this is
a minor glitch, a number of boo birds howled about it and DML did
eventually provide a modified set of cab parts with the slots present. This cab
is not provided with this kit, however. (I suspect the reason was that the early
molds had the water can racks molded in place whereas the corrected ones did not.)
The model has the civilian style dashboard, so note that the instruments
are a brushed aluminum color on preserved/restored vehicles and not the more common
black with white numerals.
winch and roller each come with their own bumper and accouterments, and as the
M21 had a winch (whereas the M4 did not) it comes with a section of nylon string
and copper chain.
with the M4 the new body has the ammo lockers molded in place on the floor pan,
but the molding is neatly done. However, all of the racks are full so it will
take some work to show an in action version with some of the bomb
stowage tubes missing. The well for mounting the mortar is present as are the
covers for the well and the extra frame braces under the floor. The mortar consists
of five styrene parts and a two-piece turned aluminum barrel with the knob
fitting for the baseplate turned on the base section.
kit includes a complete set of 24 mines with separate etched brass pressure plates
and carrying handles. They mount on the sides of the hull, or if the modeler finds
this tedious a pair of racks molded with the mines in place are also included.
The ladder-type equipment stowage racks are provided as are the luggageracks for
the rear of the hull, with an option to present them open or closed.
kit does provide a generic driver with tankers style jacket and helmet.
Note, he comes with his own seat cushion, but its not for use in this vehicle!
and finishing instructions are provided for two vehicles: one unidentified one
with a small bumper code of 93" and one from the 2nd Armored Division,
Ardennes 1945 (1-15 or a mortar half-track from the 1st Battalion, 41st Armored
Infantry Regiment). Two sheets of Cartograf decals (one for the markings, one
for the serial numbers) are provided.
this adds another member of the M2/M3 family and leaves only the short-lived M13
and the M15/M15A1 to complete the American family of half-tracks.
A 40 Chassis
B 28 Armored cab assembly
C 29 M49 mount and front bumper
D 48x2 Bogie assembly and wheels
E 7 Clear styrene parts
2 Front grille (open/closed)
J 37x2 Machine guns and radio set
J 14x2 Mine
racks with 12 mines
L 8 Driver figure
R 37 M21 body parts
T 5 81mm mortar
W 8 Slide molded drivers and idlers
MA 62 Etched brass
MB 1 Nylon
MC 1 Copper chain
MD 2 Turned aluminum mortar tube
to Freddie Leung for the review sample.