M16 Halbkette Flak (Antiaircraft half-track)
Item: 743686 (Roco Minitanks item Z-279)
Label: Former German Army
Series: Military vehicles
HO modelers can detail their layouts with an extensive selection of military vehicles from World War Two through the present; available from Herpa, many are former Roco Minitanks. This review is of the U.S. M16 antiaircraft half-track.
Minitanks is a rich in tradition military series which was launched by the model railway manufacturer Roco in 1960. The brand name has stood for detailing, scale and precision in the model building world ever since. On October 1, 2007, Herpa has taken on the worldwide distribution of the military series Minitanks and will continuously advance and extended the program. - Herpa
M-16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage, HalftrackThe Multiple Gun Motor Carriage (MGMC), Halftrack, M16 was based on the reliable M3 Halftrack chassis. The M16 carried the Quad-50 antiaircraft machine guns, consisting of four M2 HB .50 cal. machine guns in the electrically powered M45 turret. The rear box side armor panels had a hinged upper section, with a centered notch to allow the guns to fire horizontally when the armor was raised.
A total of 2,877 M16 Halftracks were produced in 1943-1944. As noted on the Quad-50 antiaircraft machine gun page, some units created their own "M16B" by bolting Quad-50 mounts taken from trailers to halftracks.
The 9.5 ton vehicle was powered by a White 160AX 6 cyl. 128 hp gasoline engine that moved it at up to 40mph on the road. They were used in World War II and the Korean War for air defense and infantry support. It was superceded by the M-19A1 Twin 40mm Gun Carriage and the M42 gun carriage (Duster).*
The M17 was an alternate version of this vehicle that used the M5 halftrack manufactured by International Harvester as a carriage, instead of the White M3. The M16 and M17 were nearly identical in appearance, with the major differences being the engine and drive train.
Herpa M16 Antiaircraft half-track (Halbkette Flak)
Roco released these Minitanks in the late 1970’s or early 80’s. I recall seeing some in the orange and blue Minitanks packaging. Herpa has updated the packaging to an ochre label backed end-opening carton with a cellophane window. The assembled half-track model is held in a clear plastic tray, with loose parts held in a plastic baggie tucked under the tray. Herpa have three types of U.S. half-tracks and includes a basic instruction sheet showing where to attach optional parts of each. Twenty-four separate parts for the M16 include:
2 jerry cans
2 tow hooks
2-piece Maxson gun turret
3-piece anti-ditching roller assembly (four pieces if you include the extra roller)
4 ammo cans
Extended bumper with winch
Large and small stowage box
The basic model represents a track built by White Motor Company and is made of nine components: chassis; cab and hood; raised windshield armor; M16 fighting compartment; left and right single-piece vertical volute springs running gear with treads; and front wheels pressed onto a metal axle. Minor flash was noticed on a few parts but no visible ejector marks or sink holes. I only found a single burr where a part was de-sprued. Molding is crisp. Surface detail consists of fine rivets, hinges, latches, pioneer tools, tail lights, etc., recessed and relief, as appropriate. The drive sprockets and idlers, open spokes on the real thing, are molded solid closed. When attached to the chassis, the front and rear superstructure fit is impressively tight. Although Minitanks are engineered to snap together, by the time these models were created Roco had moved away from the unsightly slot and tabs that ruined the appearance of early Minitanks.
The Maxson M45 Quadmount turret is a two-piece assembly with the gun frame – gun sight sliding over slots on the body so that it can be raised and lowered. The body simply slips onto a pedestal molded onto the floor of the fighting compartment. The .50 caliber M2 Browning machine-guns are molded for left and right attachment. They snap into holes in the turret. The ammunition canisters attach by slot and stem to the machine-guns. These attachments are not robust and may need glue.
Finally, pins and holes secure the stowage boxes to the rear, the winch bumper to the chassis, hooks to the winch bumper, and the lights to the fenders. I did not try to snap the anti-ditch roller assembly together; it looks like the one assembly that requires glue!
While I don’t have a 1/72 half-track in front of me, I believe the exterior detail molded onto this model rivals the larger scale. The rear superstructure features the notch at the top of the fighting compartment sides to allow the ammo cans to move. It has a (non-positional) upper flap that could be lowered, and lots of rivet detail. Inside are seats, fuel tanks, and extra ammo magazines. Unfortunately, these are all molded as part of the piece, although the detail is reasonable for this scale, and not very obvious with the turret installed.
Well rendered hinge and fastener detail festoons the hood and door and side detail of the front superstructure. The cab detail is seats and a separate steering wheel. Very visible, very bland.
Underneath is a chassis with basic detail: suspension gear, exhaust pipe, axel and differential, and front leaf springs.
Four caliber .50 M2 Browning machine-guns each have the barrel carry handle under the barrels and are recognizable as .50’s even with overscale surface detail. However, they also have grip handles on the backplate which is incorrect for the M2 Turret Type (TT) variant used on the M16. From “the 3-foot rule” they look good. The 200-round “Tombstone” ammunition magazines have remarkable detail on both faces.
Color, Decals, Instructions
Dark olive styrene, no markings. No decals. The instructions are a basic instruction sheet of line art showing where to attach optional parts of each version.
All parts snap into place: headlights into slots in the fender; jerry cans into the cab sides; stowage cases on the back of the fighting compartment; bumpers onto the chassis. The elevating part of the M45 snaps onto the turret. The .50’s were pressed into loose slots in the turret and then the ammo drums were attached to them.
I painted the model olive drab and then drybrushed it with various olive and khaki colors. The tool handles were picked out with a wood brown, and the lenses for the front and rear lights were painted. I also painted the fabric of the seats a khaki color. The tires were painted a worn rubber gray as were the tracks. Then I touched up the tracks, bogies, idler adjuster, and exhaust pipe with rusty colors. Finally I glossed selected arrears with Future for the decals. A bit of clear dull spray and the M16 is ready for action!
This is an impressive little model. Roco refined their tooling over the years to make models that, while perhaps not “models” to be built part-by-part, still hold up well against many contemporary 1/72 and 1/76 models. It features worthy surface detail and acceptable interior detail. Fit is impressive for the vehicle.
Yes, many parts are overscale but Minitanks were also intended for kids and wargamers so they need to be robust. And after trying to put rubber band tracks on braille-scale half-tracks, who would want to try the same in HO scale? However, the machine-gun detail is iffy.
Overall I think this assembles into a good looking model for HO layout scenes and rail loads; for wargamers; for braille scale dioramas.
Minitanks’ item numbers were Z- 278 for the M-21 halftrack, Z-279 for the M-16 halftrack, and Z-280 for the M-3 halftrack. For superdetailing Minitanks released set Z-438 Accessory Set for Halftracks. Another set is Roco item no. Z-442 (Herpa item 742139) Machinegun Set U.S., with air- and water-cooled caliber .30 M1917 Brownings, M2’s, M60’s, and other machine-guns. Minitanks also had a line of decals that can still be found.
"Halftrack" or "half-track"; "M-16" or "M16"?
You will find almost as many different spellings and word compounds and hyphenations as you find websites and articles. For continuity, while I use the text from a cited source I quote, I use the nomenclature of the period which I found in the Tech Manuals referenced below.
* Olive-Drab.com. M-16 Gun Motor Carriage, Halftrack
. [Web.] 19 June 2012.
** Antiaircraft Command. Antiaircraft Artillery - M16 Halftrack
. http://www.antiaircraft.org/M16.htm. n.d.
Archive.org. TM 9-705 Scout Cars, M3, M3A1, and 4.2 Mortar Motor Carriage, M2
. http://archive.org/stream/TM9-7051941/TM 9-705-1941#page/n0/mode/2up. 17 Feb. 1941.
Archive.org. FM 17-71: Crew Drill for Half-Track Vehicles Armored Command Field Manual, War Department, September 1943