by: Chris Hughes [ ]
Originally published on:
The Quad Gun Trailer M55 was developed in 1943 and combined the Trailer M20 with the Multiple Machine Gun Mount M45. It provided airborne units with a lightweight anti-aircraft platform that could be airlifted by a glider and towed by a jeep. During the Korean War, M55 equipped units were among the first U.S. troops to see combat against the North Koreans. After air superiority was established, M55’s were used successfully in the anti-personnel role. In Vietnam, they were used for perimeter defense at fire support bases and as the main armament on a variety of “Gun Trucks”.
With Dragon’s release of the Multiple Gun Motor Carriage in 2008, the M55 is a logical follow up. The kit uses the same M45 sprues as the M16 with only a new sprue for the Trailer M20 being added.
The kit consists of 133 parts on six plastic sprues and one PE fret. Also included is a small decal sheet with markings for the Ammunition Chest M2. Of the 133 parts, 27 are not used. These include parts for 4 Ammunition Chest M2, 4 spare .50 caliber barrels, and some clear parts such as headlight lenses and a M2/M3 half-track windshield. If you have an older Tamiya U.S. halftrack, these will be nice parts to use on it. A 6 page, 7-step instruction booklet is also included.
All of the parts in my sample kit were crisply molded with no flash or warping. Very few injector pin marks were evident but several of the parts did have injector tabs attached to them. The ones on the .50 caliber barrels need the most care in removing so you don’t gouge the barrels too badly.
Step 1 consists of 6 subassemblies. Subassembly “A” covers the Ammunition Chest M2. There are 4 of them to assemble plus the “unused” ones. “B” has you assemble the Briggs and Stratton power motor and consists of 5 parts. The instructions aren’t real clear on how the exhaust pipe, part P13, sits. The long end loops over the top of the motor and rests on the right side of the motor as it sits facing you. This exhaust pipe is just one of several configurations used on the M45 mount, so check your references if you want a specific set up. This also applies to the fuel tank attached to part P9. A detail you may want to add to the motor is a pull cord which is used to power up the motor, just like a lawn mower.
Subassembly “C” is for the 2-part battery. In “D”, the modeller is to assemble 3 sets of trailer support legs. Each one of these assemblies consists of three parts. You’ll probably want to drill out the opening for the jack handle in part R11. If you’re into further detail, manufacturers lettering can be added to R11. The jack stand itself, R13, is one of two types used on the trailer. The type in the kit has teeth only part way up while another type used had teeth that ran the whole length of the stand. Subassembly “E” covers the wheel assembly while “F” is for the figure.
In Step 2, the base(P21) of the M45 is assembled. The battery and power motor subassemblies are added to the M45 base along with the gunner’s seat and controls. The sole PE part, MA1 is added to the bottom of the base at this time. It appears that this PE piece is too wide. I didn’t get a chance to measure one during the time I’ve had this kit. However, reference photos show that the openings for the fasteners should be flush with the edges of the strip. On the kit, there is space on each side. You’ll want to carefully trim the edges of this piece to get the correct look. Also, adding hex-head nuts on top of the raised dimples will greatly enhance the detail of this. Furthermore, when attaching the strip to the base, place the seam at the back of it so the Cannoneers Platform (P30), which is added in Step 5, will hide it.
The 4 .50 caliber machine guns are assembled in Step 3. All of the parts in this step except for the previously assemble ammunition chests and parts P1 are “handed” in this step. Make sure to pay attention to which parts go where so they end up in the right places. The machine guns themselves look good. The detail on the cooling jackets is a bit shallow so you may want to deepen it or replace them altogether. The charging handles are molded directly to the receiver covers. While okay if modelling the covers closed, you’ll have to cut them off and attach them to the guns if you’re modelling the covers open. The handles themselves are a bit anemic looking so you may want to make new ones. A nice bit of detail is the firing solenoid that is molded to each gun. The ammunition chests are not a perfect fit so you’ll probably need to make adjustments to them as the glue dries.
In Step 4, the gun shield, trunnion mounts and other small parts are added. Part P32 which is a brace with an ammeter attached to it was molded in such a way that it was a little bit bent on the sprues. With a little bit of pressure, it easily straightens out after cutting it off of the sprue. If you’re not going to use the gunner figure, you’ll need to fill in 4 injector pin marks on the interior of the gun shield (P20). The gun shield is also missing the weld seams on the top and bottom of it. The trunnion mounts, P14 and P17 are each missing a support brace. The position of the brace can be seen in one of the accompanying photos.
Final assembly of the M45 happens in Step 5. The gunsight, E6, has an injector pin molded directly onto the sight lense. Some sanding with 1500-2000-grit sandpaper and a bit of Future should clear it up.
The Trailer M20 is assembled in Step 6. Dimensionally, the trailer platform matches up perfectly with measurements I took off of several M20's prior to receiving the kit. The mounting tab for the taillight, R1, would have you place the light upside down. Cut the tab off and glue R1 with the longer light slot on the bottom of it. Part R26 is for the forward jack and electrical conduit. The fit is a bit loose so it may require some adjustment. The handles on R21 should be hollowed out.
Step 7 is the final assembly step and instructs you how to place the wheel and jack subassemblies from Step 1. Parts R2 are the brackets for the jacks and they along with the jacks themselves need a bit of sanding to fit each other smoothly.
This kit was not completely glued together for the review. Many of the parts were dry fitted into place. This is why many of the parts and sub-assemblies appear to be crooked and uneven.
The painting chart is for 2 U.S. Army M55’s in World War 2. One calls for standard olive drab while the other has a winter scheme for the Battle of the Bulge, which appears to be based on the winter camouflage scheme of a MGMC M16 that was photographed during the same time period.
Dragon has done a very nice job with this kit. Overall, the parts and details are very good. The assembly sequence is logical and easy to follow. As the Maxson turret was used on several different vehicles, this is a good way to make one of those conversions without having to take the turret off of a M16 kit. Highly recommended.