"Between Life and Death in the Hürtgen Forest"
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

The M3A1 Halftrack

This comes from Tamiya's M3A2 kit, which actually was only a prototype vehicle that never saw production. There are a number of faults and corrections vary from simple to extensive. The Eduard photo-etch set for the "M3A2" is a good asset for this project. There's not much apparent overlap with the new Verlinden set, which I also used.

In background is a kit I built more than ten years earlier, in 1991.The M3A1 did not have ladders. The easiest way to remove the ladder is to get Tamiya's M21 mortar halftrack and swap the sidewalls. I removed some locating tabs that differ between the two kits and puttied the ejector pin holes, taking note of the guides where the walls meet the floor and chassis assembly and where the interior pieces are mounted to each set of walls, and which ones needed to be removed. By hanging ditching timbers on the sides I avoided having to shave off the solid tie-downs on the outer walls and replace them with Accurate Armour brass pieces.

M3 HalftrackI replaced the kit's solid drive and idler wheel with the resin set from The Tank Workshop. They need some clean up but they're worth the effort. I also used TTW's nice front wheels with chains for the muddy autumn setting.

The rubber track does not have the correct center guide teeth. Tracks that come with TTW's wheels have teeth, but the treads are not as well defined as Tamiya's (from which they were obviously and poorly molded). And the TTW teeth are too large to fit in the space between wheel halves. Because each option had it's own deficiencies, I used the rubber band tracks because they were easier to install. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the delicate resin wheels. The rubber tracks have some spring which raises them a bit off the tops of the wheels. I glued my track down securely onto the wheels.

The MG pulpit falls woefully short. I carved out the gun ring and replaced it with the ring from Tamiya's M8 Greyhound. I detailed the outer face of the pulpit with rivets (shaved from old Tamiya M3Lee pieces) and Accurate Armour tie-downs.

I replaced the .30 machine guns and cradles with those in the new VP set.

The rear seat back along sidewall behind driver should have one long pad, not be split in two. I used putty to bridge the gap.

M3 HalftrackThe gun racks were replaced with Verlinden photo etched pieces but unfortunately they are too small to accommodate slipping Garands into them. Consequently I ended up stacking the guns in the stowage bin. Support brackets were added to the back seats.

I ran Evergreen strip along the top of the sidewalls (except rear door) and drilled holes for canvas cover support brackets.

Exterior detailing included adding tie-downs to side walls and fenders; bolts for the battery case; new mud flaps from thin plastic card; and the kit's jerry cans, trays and attachment brackets, mine racks were replaced with Eduard pieces.

Apparently only platoon leaders had radios in their halftracks, so if you don't use the radio, remember to not use the antenna. Verlinden's set comes with a nice radio, but the Tamiya version is fairly decent.

The kit's driver sits so high he cannot see through the windshield --- half his head is above the walls. I not only sanded down his the butt, but remade the seat out of thin plastic card (eliminating the padding) to further reduce his height. I also replaced his head with a smallish one from Scale Model Accessories, scrunched it down tight on his shoulders, and did likewise with the passenger next to him.

Rear view

"Between Life and Death..."
The Battle of the Hürtgen Forest
Evolution of the Diorama
M3A1 Halftrack
Dodge Ambulance and Beep
Willys Jeep, 2.5 Ton Cargo Truck, Trailers
The Figures


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2009 Timothy S. Streeter