With the (basic) chassis of the U.S. M2/M3 Half-track, a series of applications to mount heavier armament was soon developed. Roughly, they could be put into the following categories: Anti-Tank, Self-Propelled Artillery, close-support artillery and mobile Anti-Aircraft artillery. With the H/T they would have increased mobility to the towed weapons and, with the armor of the vehicles, increased survivability.
Although some of the conversions were succesful, others such as the 37mm AT gun mounted on the M2 were of little practical value as, could be argued, was the T48 GMC which mounted the 57mm AT gun..
Whatever their technical drawbacks, the U.S. Halftrack remains a rich vein for armor modelers.
The Book - basics
Apart their well received (and highly useful) 'Specials' the German Publishing House, Tankograd Publishing
have also produced a series of 'Technical Manuals' dealing with U.S. equipment. These take, as their primary source, the U.S. Army 'Owner's Manuals' which covered all vehicles and weaponry in absolutely fine detail. The TMs use this material along with supplementary images and descriptions and present a very detailed overview of a vehicle or series of vehicles using a common chassis.
U.S. WWII HALF TRACK Mortar Carriers, Howitzers, Motor Carriages & Gun Motor Carriages (6010)
is a 48 page, softcover publication. The book contains 2 color, 232 black and white photos and 6 line drawings. The editor is Michael Franz who also provided many of the (previously unpublished) archive images in the book.
Ten vehicle types are dealt with in the book, these are:
Half-Track, 75mm Howitzer Motor Carriage T30
Half-Track, 57mm Gun Motor Carriage T48
Half-Track, 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage T19
Half-Track, 75mm Gun Motor Carriage M3/M3a1
Half-Track, Mortar Carriers M4, M4a1, M21
37mm Gun on Half-Track M2
Multiple Gun Motor Carriages T28e1, M15 and Combination Gun Motor Carriage M15a1
Multiple Gun Motor Carriages M13 and M14
Multiple Gun Motor Carriages M16 and M17
AntiAircraft Gun Motor Carriage Prototypes
Each section comes with a page of description of the vehicle along with notes on its development. On the same page is a chart with full technical specifications of the vehicle. ALL text is bilingual (English/German) with NO short-cuts taken, all details of both text and captions are COMPLETELY translated - avoiding the need to resort to one's schoolboy German!
If there is one thing which sets Tankograd Publishing apart from it's competitors, it the uniqueness of their images. This book is no exception. Apart from the photos taken from the U.S. Army manuals, the others are from the editor's own private collection. The photos concentrate on external differences, internal arrangements, detail photos of the armament and, highly useful images of the ammunition types (WP, HEAT, AT etc.) These also show the stencilling on the rounds. The storage containers (including coloring) are also shown.Quality of the images is excellent with good contrast and everything (again, thanks to the U.S. Army) detailed description of all of the component parts.
Effectively, having the M2 Halftrack available in kit form gives the modeler an enormously useful starting point as many of the GMCs were based on this vehicle. With the (imminent) release of the M3, options become expanded. However, as it's unlikely that the IHC-chassised vehicles will be done by a 'mainstream' manufacturer, some heavy conversion work is in prospect. For the modeler there are some very attractive ideas for conversion and scratchbuilding, for the AM manufacturers some interesting possibilities for new product lines...
Combining this with the other volume - U.S. WWII Half tracks - APCs (LINK)
should give the modeler a very good introduction to the the technical 'minutiae' of U.S. half-tracks although for more 'in-theater' photos other sources should also be considered. An extremely useful book which seems to have been developed with the modeler rather than the military historian in mind..