1/35 IDF M3 Halftrack W/ SS-11 Anti-Tank Missile Carrier
The Middle East War series is a constantly developing collection of armor used by middle eastern nations during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Nations showcased include Israel, Syria, Egypt, and others. Continuing its line of kits commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Dragon models has provided number 5 in the Middle East War Series, an M-3 Half-track modified to fire the Nord SS-11 wire guided anti tank missile. The SS-11 was one of the first of these guided missiles.
There have been several wars between the Arab states and Israel, dating back to 1948 when Israel was officially declared a State in its own right. No less than 7 conflicts of war have occurred in the region, and tensions to this day keep the IDF training hard and making the most of their military equipment. They are particularly known for making off the shelf military items uniquely suited to their type of warfare, and the M-3 is no exception.
VITAL SIGNS: Dragon has produced this model in grey plastic, with photo etch details, twine, and a small length of brass chain. The kit comes packaged in a sturdy box typical of Dragon style, with information and highlights of kit construction on the reverse face from the box top. Box top artwork is crisp and clean.
Sprues are identified by both letters and numbers, and there are a total of 15 sprue pours and one photo etched fret. Individual pieces of drive and idler sprockets come separately in zip-loc style plastic bags.
Typical of Dragon instructions, they are provided in a fold out design. Contained inside are 20 steps that require close attention to complete accurately. Those unfamiliar with Dragons assembly instructions could be overwhelmed by the amount of operations in each step, but careful dry fitting and attention to the directions will help build this into a fine kit. Also important to note is that there is a fairly large amount of parts NOT USED on this PARTICULAR model of the M-3. Dragon has produced several other M-3 kits in this series and some parts are specific to other models. No worries here, the spares will surely come in handy (even if you just feed the carpet monster with them).
Paint and markings are for an "unidentified unit, 1967". Colors needed are fairly simple and Dragon has provided call-outs for GSI Aqueous hobby color, MR Color, and Model Master paints. Users of any other brand will have to refer to the users favorite color chart for equivalent paints. Decals are printed on water slide transfers and are very small. Fortunately, or unfortunately as per your taste, there are only a few quick decals that need be applied. Take care to cut them out closely as it appears the entire sheet is a water slide with no clearly defined separations between decals ( and be SURE to not get the sheet itself wet!).
I have to say, Dragon seems to have really gone out of their way to make sure their parts are CLEAN! Inspection of the sprue trees reveal some very finely detailed construction parts. As a test, I tapped on the thinnest pieces I could find and had no breakage. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because the sturdiness of the plastic Dragon used to inject the kits, and a curse because in order to remove them, you really want to take care not to break them. I recommend a razor saw to cut the parts away from the sprue gates they attach to.
One of the things readers will notice in the last picture, is that there are several redundant parts found on the sprue. This is by design, as there are as many M-2/2A1 sprues contained as there are M-3! I find this really exciting in that I THINK this will allow the builders who want to try, the ability to frame up alternate cargo areas for the frame of the M-3. This is not included in the instructions at all, but a quick look and some dry fitting should result in really interesting options for display of the model! It will require some degree of imagination and test fitting, but I myself plan on giving it a shot during the full build ( to be showcased here AFTER the half dozen other projects in the to finish list!).
Detail is a mix of raised and recessed parts and lines, I found several ejector pin marks in places where they MIGHT show, but they are so subtle and level that a quick swipe with a sanding stick should remedy any that do show. Again, sprue gates hold the parts solidly in place and will benefit greatly from a razor saw ( as well as reduce the need to sand).
Reference material for the M-3 chassis can be found just about anywhere, but this particular example is unique to the IDF and might require a deeper dive into the book nook, or more diligent searches of the WWW. It is box recommended for modellers age 14 and up, and based on the number of construction steps and MSRP, I can understand how this high quality kit might be labor intensive for someone new to modelling. Please note however that I did not say impossible! Careful attention to detail and the instructions, dry fitting, and patience will build this into an amazingly detailed subject for just about anyone.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Dragon for this review kit.
Reviewed by Brian Messier
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