Most reference material, is by its very nature, a question of interpretation of documentation, photos and 'eye-witness' recollections. This can frequently lead to problems in identification, the correct time-frame to place a vehicle or unit or even incorrect information without a second source to confirm. Therefore, serious investigators will tend to constantly revise their books as new information becomes available. However, for the basic technical information, Allied modellers (particularly the U.S.ones) are fortunate in the work done with the publication of manuals on every piece of equipment in the U.S. inventory. Thanks to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, those of the WWII vehicles and equipment are all readily available in a variety of media, this is a compilation of three of the Department of Defense/U.S. War Department manuals - TM 9-710, FM 4-157 and TM 9-1710C.
Easy 1 Production's Material
Easy1 Productions have compiled a series of CD-Roms containing the entire contents of a wide variety of technical manuals, the title of this particular one is TM 9710 - Basic Half-Track Variants (White, Autocar and Diamond T). However, the disc also contains TMTM 9-1710C Chassis and Body, a scanned reproduction of FM 4 -157: Antiaircraft Artillery Field Manual dealing with the .50 Cal multiple mount for the M16. As an added and VERY welcome bonus, there are three archives of (modern) Walk-rounds of the M2, the M3 and the M4 Mortar carrier.
The sheer volume of information on the CD-Rom is enormous. TM 9-710 consists of 359 pages, TMTM 9-1710C, 309 pages, FM 4 -157 has 119. The text, is of course useful, but ultimately, the modeller needs visual reference points. Taking as an example, FM 4 -157: Antiaircraft Artillery Field Manual, no less than 51 photos and diagrams are contained in this section. These cover such items as overhead views of the layout of the vehicle and the real 'hyper-detail' of such things as the mounting bolts. Literally every possible aspect of the vehicle is covered. Inevitably of course, there is material which will be of little use to anyone apart from owners of the actual vehicle, however, there are some real 'gems' amongst the technical data. A good example of this are the details on the 'official' stowage diagrams. While obviously depending on the needs of the crew and subject to variation according to actual combat conditions, items such as this do, inevitably, serve as useful 'indicators' for the modeller.
Where this disc will come into its own, will be adding additional detail to the basic model. An area which inevitably (due to financial considerations), will benefit from additional detailing will be some of the visible wiring and improvement on the engine in the new kits. All this is covered in detail. It will also, inevitably, be of great use to reviewers... The group who will benefit less from this reference material will be those modellers who are content just to 'build from the box' although, some additional ideas are there for the finding.
This is a superbly thought-out resource and for the super-detailer or enthusiast, will be an excellent inversion. Saying that however, some additional reference material will be necessary to obtain images of the Half-track 'in-situ' . Good and useful as they are undoubtedly are, data on the vehicle in what is, in effect, 'laboratory conditions' has a limited application and will need to be backed up by data of the vehicle in the field. On an end-note, it's a thought which could never have occurred to the authors of these manuals, that 60+ years later, they would still be serving a highly useful function - albeit in a much-reduced scale.
Acknowledgments and Further Information
Easy1 Productions have reproduced a considerable number of the manuals in this format. Check their website for ordering details.
My thanks to Easy1 Productions for their HIGHLY efficient dispatch of this CD - I ordered on a Sunday and had it four days later.
With the (justifiable) excitement created by the announcement of a series of U.S. Halftracks in 1/35th scale from Dragon Models, now is the time to start thinking of some good, accurate reference material. Where better to start with the 'Official' technical manuals?
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...