by: Pete Becerra [ ]
Originally published on:
This kit is number 5 in a series representing vehicles seen during the Six-Day war between Israel and its neighbouring states in June of 1967. Surplus M2/M3 Halftracks where used by Israeli for different weapon platforms. This particular halftrack mounts the NORD SS-11 Anti-Tank Missile. The SS-11, also known as the AGM-22 while in American service, entered service in 1956 with the French Army. The SS-11 is a MCLOS, Manual Command to Line of Sight, type missile. It is wired guided and uses a joystick and periscope type telescope to sight in on the target. A flare on the back of the missile is how the gunner tracks the missile to its target, like a tracer bullet. Unlike the TOW system which the gunner just has to keep the cross hairs on the target, the gunner of the SS-11 has to track the target and the missile.
The kit is essentially Dragons M3A1 3 in 1 half track, kit #6332. The difference between this kit and the original halftrack kit is the addition of the IDF parts on Sprue N and a different set of photo etch. You will have lots of parts left over for the spares box, especially Sprue J which is the 50 Cal and 30 Cal machine guns and accessories.
The instructions are not without error. Let's just go step by step and call out what's wrong in each step, if anything is wrong.
Step 1: Part A38 should be attached to the engine block, part A28, instead of part A36. Part A35 should be attached above where it says to attach it in the instructions.
Step 2: Part D34 is shown being attached the wrong way. Just turn it around.
Step 3: There are no locating marks or pins for Part C31 to the frame, part A42. Looking at part C31, the spring/nut is off centered and has to go a certain way.
Step 5: Here is one of the biggest mistakes of the instructions. First, the instructions say to go to sub-step "Q" to assemble the winch. Well, there is NO sub-step "Q" that shows the assembly of the winch. Second, in the parts layout, it shows that the parts for the winch are not going be used.
Parts for winch: C5, C6, C7, C8, C19, C28
Finally, the winch should be installed after Part H3, the front "grill" is installed in Step 20.
Step 9 and 10: On parts B11 and B14, the frame that attaches to the windows, part E1, needs to be cut at the tip in order for part N13, the roof, sit right and be flush. See the picture of Step 9 for a better understanding. In one part of the step it shows the tip there and in another part of the step, it's gone.
Step 12: Again, a sub step "Q!" I believe this sub step is referring to the cable reel, parts N3 and N4, but who knows!
Step 18: Ok, now we know what sub step "Q" is. It is the whole right rear wall that is assembled in step 12.
The build starts with the engine, axles, front tires, drive sprocket and idler wheel. Tires are already weighted and flatten and look pretty nice for plastic. The engine is very nice but is missing some details like spark plug wires and distributor cap. No other issues with engine other than those I mentioned above.
Next was assembly of the road wheels and attaching axles, engine and other parts to frame. One thing here missing that was not mentioned above in the instructions issues, is the omission of the "U" bracket that holds the exhaust pipe to the road wheel. Wire and plastic stock fixed that issue.
Front fender, winch, and tracks came next. How I figured out about the construction of the winch since it wasn't in the instructions, was I went to Hobby Search and pulled up the regular M3 halftrack instructions and went with that.
Engine plumbing came after I constructed the cab, so the built frame was set aside. The interior of the cab had no problems except that there were no instrument or data placard decals provided. I was lucky to have a few left over from the Archer Dry Transfers M3 halftrack set. The engine bay was a different story. Parts B11, B14, and B5 have lines on the inside that can be cut to open up the engine covers. Since there is an engine, why not detail it and show it off. So, I cut open just the left side and added some bolt detail on the underside. The coolant reservoir and electronic distribution boxes are missing on the inside firewall on the left. Plastic stock and lead wire for plumbing added the missing parts. Pioneer tool rack, jerry can rack and stowage boxes were added here also. NO Israeli jerry cans are provided though, spares box to the rescue.
Now the engine got plumbed. Lead wire was used for spark plug wires, coolant hoses, and generator cables. A distributor cap was added and I replaced the under-scale solenoid with plastic stock.
The rear area went together fairly well, but in my honest opinion, I think a lot is missing from here. Know this could be from the lack of reference when it came to the R&D of the kit or just laziness. I myself only found just a few pictures on the internet of this vehicle and none of them showed the interior. First and foremost, WHERE ARE THE FUEL TANKS? On the regular M2/M3 halftracks, the fuel tanks are very visible. There are none on this kit at all! There is no radio called out in the instructions, but you attach an antenna. I'm pretty sure the fuel tank and radio were in the closed compartment right behind the driver and passenger, but I didn't want to guess and add this and be wrong. The missiles have some type of control box, a telescope/periscope for sighting, and a joystick for missile control, but is also missing from the kit. So, having the doors and upper hatch open is useless because it will be bare inside. The missile themselves lack some detail. On the real thing, there are two silver tubes, which I think are the flares mentioned above, that stick out from the rear of the missile. I chose not to add them, but can be easily added with plastic rod or tubing. Lastly, I have no idea what type of antenna they have you mounting to the left side. So, looking at what little reference I had, it came to be that the antenna is the same that is found on US WWII vehicles. I happen to have some left over and switched it out.
Painting and Weathering
There are two paint call outs offered in the instructions. One just has vehicle ID numbers on the left and right engine access panel and the other has the white and black stripes painted on the hood, fenders, and rear hatch. Both are from unidentified units. The decal sheet only provided the black background for the ID number and white numbers. I chose the white stripe version and had to mask the vehicle to spray the black and white stripes. I was going to paint the vehicle a middle stone color, but I wanted to go with what Andy on Andy's Hobby Headquarters used on his Israeli models. He suggested a 50/50 mix of Tamiya XF-49 Khaki and XF-66 Light Gray. I'm not sure if I messed up on the portions, but I think it came out way to dark. Since this was a review item and on a time line, I chose to leave it as is instead of re-painting it. All other detail painting was done with Vallejo paints. Dirt in the tracks, road wheels and underside were done using Vallejo pigments and washes. A wire antenna and gear from the spares box completed the build.
Aside from Dragon's instructions and lack of reference for this vehicle, this was a good, quick build for me, even with the added detail to the engine. Would I recommend this to a novice builder, no. Don't get me wrong, the build was not complicated, but with the instructions having errors, it would probably confuse the novice builder. Also, if you’re the type of modeller that has to have lots of reference when building a kit, this is not one for you. The lack of reference would be a turn off.