Well, this guy has been sitting in a box forgotten, for years. (OK, not forgotten. I did think about painting it a lot.)
Well, after a short time building and painting, he is done. One more long-bought kit off my conscience.
I’ve written an in-box review of this model for Armorama; I think it’s time to show how it looks when finished.
The M56 Scorpion was an attempt to supply a gun platform for the US airborne forces that can be easily transported by airplanes, and can be deployed using an air-drop. This requirement pretty much made it impossible for the vehicle to be armored, so it is essentially a gigantic 90mm M54 gun on a dodgem chassis. Crew comfort (and safety) also took second place to the size requirements that came with the airborne deployment option.
The M56 was developed and manufactured by the Cadillac Motor Car Division of GM from 1953 to 1959. It was a small, fully tracked vehicle, powered by a 200 hp engine with a maximum road speed of 45 km/h. It had a crew of four: commander, driver, loader, gunner. The ergonomics of the vehicle were, let’s put it lightly, not very good. The loader had to disembark before the gun fired, and jump back holding the ammunition. The gun recoil also endangered the commander. The only part that can be considered armor on the vehicle is the gun shield, which has a large windscreen cut into for the driver negating its effectiveness somewhat; the rest of the self-propelled gun is about as armored as my Nissan Micra. (Another thing that it has in common with my Micra is that it has pneumatic tires…)
The M56 was in service in the USA, Spain, Morocco, and the Republic of Korea. It was used in Vietnam by the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
There are not many models available of this little AFV; I’ve found a very expensive resin one in 1/35th scale by Hobby Fan, and there’s an old OOP (and quite inaccurate) Revell kit; other than that there’s the 1/72nd scale OKB kit reviewed here. As usual, World of Tanks introduced me to this vehicle, where it is a premium American tank destroyer; and since I liked the way it looked (and have it in my garage) I was really anxious to get a model of it.
Considering the size of this vehicle the number of parts (especially the amount of PE) is quite high. The model is made up by approximately 70 resin pieces and about 70 PE parts… all this is in a model that can almost fit into a matchbox.
The resin is smooth, and of different color. The detail is crisp, and the fit is quite good generally. The PE frets are the thinnest I’ve ever seen. (It’s quite easy to crumple them, so be careful; it feels like a thick aluminium foil rather than photo-etched brass.) The tracks come as resin sections which need to be warmed up before shaped to the running gear. The detail is excellent, and there is very little flash anywhere.
The instructions are computer generated, and frankly, not very helpful. They show different views of the assembled model, but unfortunately do not instruct on actually how to put the model together. Before gluing make sure you understand how the parts should be fitting; I did make a couple of mistakes during assembly.
The exhausts for the engine seem to be shorter; there should be a section that is turning down at a right angle from the end of the exhaust pipes.
First mistake I made was to wait with the mud guard until I finished with the running gear.
If you decide to give this kit a go, make sure you glue the mudguard onto the hull first. The simple reason is that the PE covers the whole side with cutouts for the suspension units. These holes are way too tight to slide it over the suspension if it’s already in place. I had to widen these holes considerably in order to be able to fit the mudguards into place.
The other big issue for me was the suspension arms. They look very similar, but the front and rear suspension are not identical. I accidentally mixed up on one side, and hence the wheels are a bit wonky.
Other than that, most of the model went together OK. I had to make the headlight protectors out of thin wire (I normally use soldering wire as it’s quite soft). The tracks were somewhat thick and rigid, but with a lot of patience (and hot water) they did go on eventually. The hole on the gun shield has a plexi protector for the driver; I left it completely empty, since any transparent acetate sheet would look foggy and thick in this scale. (I would need something that’s about 0.2-0.3mm thick.)
I’m not sure that the back platform is depicted as open or closed up; probably closed up due to the 2 PE rails sticking out of them. (If it’s folded down, it should be longer; if it’s folded up, it should have some extra bits for the mechanism that keeps it straight in a folded -off state.) I also noticed a bit late that the loader’s seat was left off… my mistake.
The model went through multiple rounds of priming, as usual. These coats were applied more for checking for mistakes and seams rather than to provide a base coat for the paint, and was applied using a spray-can. The model was ready (I left the gun detached for easier painting), I added a final coat, and then applied Tamiya Olive Drab lightened with some Tan. (The first two photos of the painted model show the color to be a bit too greenish, flat and dull.)
A bit of yellow and ochre filter later the green became quite nice with some brownish hues. I could not find any decals that were small enough to fit onto the model, so it remained un-marked. I used Tamiya’s weathering kit (the makeup set) to apply dust and mud to the vehicle, a silver pen around the edges, to give it a metallic shine, and called it a day.
Altogether, the model was a pretty pleasant build -except for the little issues I mentioned. It is certainly quite pricey, as all OKB kits are, but, just like in the case of the Batchat, you really have no other options. Overall I’m pretty satisfied with the results; it is a well recommended model of a very rare subject.
I was always fascinated by the Huey. It is the symbol of the US involvement in Vietnam, and of every horrible thing that came out of that conflict. Even the last event of the war -the fall of Saigon- is associated with the evacuation of the US Embassy using the Huey. The UH-1 was the first real combat helicopter, and it made insertion -and evacuation- of troops much faster; it made fire-support easier, and it lead to the development of the first dedicated combat helicopter, the AH-1. Its variants are still used widely all over the globe; all in all, it has proven to be a singularly successful design.
In other words: it’s a legendary vehicle in both the good and the bad meaning of the word.
I used to have an English teacher back home, who happened to be a Vietnam veteran; he was one of those guys who was dropped in jungles with these helicopters, carrying a radio and an M16. He did not really discuss his experiences in the war. He was (and is) a very good-humoured person; I think if you survive the horrors of war, you can either break, or be happy and grateful for every single day you get from life.
Anyhow, back to the model. MRC has issued a 1/35 version of this chopper with the engine added; I was very much excited to get my hands on one cheap (it was a second hand model). This was in my transition period between aircraft and armored fighting vehicles, mind you; about sixteen years ago. It’s also one of those models I got in Europe, brought to the USA to build, and then have it shipped back with the rest of my belongings…
The build, in general, went together quite well, although there was a gigantic fit issue with the fuselage; somehow the two halves just did not join up… A big problem, MRC. It took me a lot of time to fill up the gaps.
This is a retrospective post as well; I still have to find images of the completed model. (It’s in storage in my mother’s attic, along with all my builds from the US.)
The first steps of building the interior. So far, so good.
The rotor mast
The finished rotor looks really good; it is a very nice representation of the real thing.
The engine looks great; I’ve added some thin wiring for extra detail. Because the exhaust is corroded and darkened by the fumes, I started with a black base, and dry-brushed some brown on top.
Work on the engine compartment; because it looked a bit empty, I added some extra cables.
Thins are falling together. The straps for the seats were made from aluminium foil.
The instrument panel – base coat…
The painted instrument panel. I have to say, there’s a lot going on for pre-painted PE instrument panels.
Finished interior looks pretty good to me, even without PE or other aftermarket parts. The box of grenades stroke me as a strange addition to the model; I’d expect a wooden box laying around unsecured would end up sliding out into the big empty.
Finished engine bay. At this point I was seriously pleased with myself -until the next step, that is.
Nope. It does not fit. It does not fit at all.
Masking and painting. There was a serious case of filling everything up with two-part epoxy – the stress on the fuselage halves is so big, I needed to have the filler itself is acting as an adhesive. I don’t think plastic glue alone would have been sufficient. It made sanding around the windscreen pretty hazardous, though, and unfortunately some fine details (rivets, panel lines) fell victim of the process.
The finished model -well, almost finished. Some details were needed to be painted (I don’t have any more photos left, unfortunately…) As soon as I find some, I’ll update the post.