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M3 to M5

Converting Rubicon’s US halftrack to its British lend lease cousin

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all late war Allied halftracks are the same (perhaps not by your friendly neighbourhood rivet counter) but certainly at first glance, US, British, Free French, Polish they all look the same. But take a closer look and you’ll note some subtle and actually not so subtle differences that mean that just a paint job and a set of decals are not going to cut it , well at least not for me.

I’m working on a British Recce list. 43rd Wessex division’s Recce Unit to be precise. The Wessex division recce regiment did not have a great start to their Normandy Campaign. Their ship struck a mine on approach to the beach and suffered not only significant loss of equipment but sadly many casualties too. This resulted in the need for a whole replacement squadron being assigned from another unit. The regiment was made up of 3 squadrons equipped with Humber armoured cars (yay! There’s a plastic one coming) Bren carriers, support equipment in the form of 6 pounder antitank guns and 3-inch mortars. And also included halftracks.

So far I have modelled 3 Bren carriers (need another one) a Morris light reconnaissance car resin, a resin Humber Armoured car, which will now be retired and repurposed. And, as of last weekend a Rubicon M3 Halftrack which I will here transform into an M5.

So, let’s do this, the Rubicon M3 body is a single piece which is actually quite useful for what needs to be done the engine compartment is a separate piece but there is no change that happens to that component. Looking side on the difference can be seen on the mudguard

Dealing with the passenger compartment is straight forward, shave off the rivets (not the stowage loops) and fill and sand the panel line. Clip away the side wall on the mudguard and file to ensure a smooth profile. On the rear of the compartment shave off all the rivets, again keep the stowage loops and other features like hinges and lights. Then shave the sharp edge of the corners and sand to a curve. To achieve the curve on the inside is a bit of a cheat. You could put some filler inside and file with a circular file. However, the M5’s regularly had a ‘rail’ or lip around the top of the compartment. So, I glued a very small plastic ‘angle iron piece around the inside, added a corner piece which I then filed to achieve a curve. Scale wise it is too big, but it does convey the right shape to the eye.

Many of the photos I have seen of the British vehicles show the upper part of the doors lowered. The inside of the doors are plain so having carefully cut the upper door off (I use a very fine saw tooth blade that fits a standard scalpel) the trick is to swap sides to indicate some degree of ‘mechanism’ – a sliding armour piece across the vision slit.

The kit comes with either roller of winch for the front so that’s just a question of choice. The gun ‘pulpit’ is an option. Picture wise I have seen both in British use. For this one I decided no and to have partial canopy (the canopy come with the Rubicon M21 conversion set which gives both mounted and dismounted mortars as well as canopy options for both pulpit or not.

So I cut the canopy just behind the driver and added a green stuff rolled up section and represented the rest as rolled up on the side using a British commonwealth accessory. Haven’t as yet decided whether I will go for a 50. Cal yet. Stowage on the other side, bit inside, cam net on the mudguard.

Head swap on the crew figure…….

Job done.

Well I say that…I now need to think about passengers, removable since I have a section on foot ( the other section are in the Bren carriers, and of course painting Which is going to have to wait a little since I’ve done so many vehicles that I find myself without undercoat! Bad planning!

Nice and simple give it a go.



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