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First Look Review
148
M2 Cletrac
M2 Cletrac
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Introduction
Since WW2, the M2 Cletrac High Speed Tractor was one of the most ubiquitous support vehicles on U.S. air fields. This 1/48 3D printed model is available from Viking Models on eBay, under the seller name pathfinder44.

Officially, the Cleveland Tractor Company M2 High Speed Tractor (HST) (in Army jargon, the "Tractor, High Speed [sic], 7-Ton, M2") served all over the world during, and after, WWII. Over 8,000 were built. Nicknamed the "bomber nurse", the tracked tug was equipped with a generator, a 2-stage, intercooled, PTO-driven air compressor paired with regulators and a booster pump, a 7,500 lb winch, and spotlights (which also doubled for driving lights).

Viking Models also offers M2 Cletracs in 1/72 and 1/35; pathfinder44 may make a 1/32 Cletrac if the 1/32 modeling community shows them some love.

Praise for Viking Models! You might notice the photos of the unpainted model features two backgrounds. If you look hard enough you will see why. The rear track sprockets were distorted, and the fine guard around the air compressor had a couple pieces broken. I contracted Viking Models and they fixed the problem. My new model arrived undamaged and with round sprockets. I decided to keep the original photos as they focused on some detail areas better.

Those of you who would like to compare the model to the real thing will find URLs to three (3) reference sites (including a walkaround here at KitMaker Network) and a U.S. Army tech manual. A very detailed walkaround can be accessed via Click here for additional images for this review, at the end of this review.

The Model
Pathfinder44's Viking Models M2 Cletrac is not a kit. It is a single 3D printed sculpture of the M2 HST.

My first impression upon unwrapping it was that it is remarkably smooth and crisp for a 3D printed model. It features deeply defined shelf/undercut sculpting. The only layer lines I saw are on the seat cushions. Small diameter components such as braces and brackets are thin. I am amazed at the fidelity of detail and sizing, i.e., the brush guards for the headlights and radiator, the control levers, the rear guard stakes.

As impressive as the model is, it is not perfect. A small hole, part of the molding process, is present between the windshield and the operator area, and needs to be filled. (No big deal.) Photos of preserved Cletracs show what looks like a fuel cap goes there. The brush guard grille for the headlights and radiator looks thick, although to size it closer to exact scale would probably require photo-etch. As the scale increases to 1/35-1/32, these printings should become closer to scale. Many M2 HSTs had their engine cowl sides open. This model hides the view of the engine with a grille.

Prototype photos show control rods in the area between the tracks and frame; if that bothers me I'll simply stretch some sprue and cut some lengths to fit in the void.

No clear sheet is provided for the windshield. You will have to make the glass, as you will an inclement weather tarp.

Regardless, I think this model is worthy of a high quality rating.

Detail
The prominent low in my eyes is the lack of track detail. The model also lacks the tow pintle hook, and the tow bar seen in some photos. The bar can easily be made while the hook will require some cutting and forming and gluing, or plundering of an appropriate 1/48 kit.

As mentioned, up front that grille guard and lamp brush guards are open. "Cletrac" is emblazoned on the hood. A winch equips this model although it needs a tow cable and hook.

On the left fender is an air cylinder and piping, and hole reels, for the air hoses. Hose reels are in front of the cylinder but those are empty; you will have to create the hoses. A gauge panel is behind the valves and piping. A sheet metal foot plate for an operator sitting on the left side was molded.

On the back is the 2-stage, intercooled, PTO-driven air compressor, protected behind the guard. A rear lamp is present, too.

The right fender features the generator and controls, reel for cables, and stowage lockers.

The operators compartment features several small control levers, an instrument console, seat, and unfortunately layer marks.

Modelers who enjoy cutting and modifying components have a great model for super-detailing. There is little clearance between the grille and and the headlights so painting the lenses will be tricky, unless one wishes to cut away the grille temporarily.

Regardless, this is a good looking model with plenty to keep your eyes engaged.

Instructions and Decals
No decals. The paperwork that comes with the model is a small page that shows some M2 HSTs, presents a data table, a basic history, and basic three-color painting guide.

I painted mine with a lacquer ANA-613 Olive Drab. The lacquer did not affect the resin. Decals were pirated from a Tamiya model.

Conclusion
Viking Models' M2 Cletrac High Speed Tractor is a very welcome addition to airfield equipment. I am especially gratified that they made one in 1/48. As far as I know, the only other 1/48 Cletracs are the crude injection-molded kits by Monogram in their B-24 and (if you can find and afford one) GAM-63 Rascal missile, and the Lindberg Snark.

This model features crisp fine casting/molding/printing and good detail. Fine sized braces/brackets, and levers, too. The only printing layer lines I saw without magnification are those on the seat.

You will have to create glass for the windshield, tow bar and pintle hook, servicing hoses and cables, a winch cable, and fill that hole net to the windshield.

I think this is a very welcomed addition to airfield equipment, especially since Viking Model sized it to 1/48. Recommended!
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Sources

https://gallery.kitmaker.net/showgallery.php/cat/13737

http://svsm.org/gallery/m2_tractor

http://cletrac.org/pages/model/pic-MG.html


TM 9-2800 Standard Military Motor Vehicles, 1943 https://archive.org/stream/TM9-2800#page/n327/mode/2up

Click here for additional images for this review.

SUMMARY
Highs: Very good crisp molding/printing with good detail. Fine sized braces/brackets, and levers.
Lows: Lack of track detail and no towing hook. You will need to fill the molding process hole between the drivers seat and the windshield.
Verdict: A very welcome and detailed addition to airfield equipment, especially since Viking Model sized it to 1/48.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:48
  PUBLISHED: Sep 07, 2020
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.04%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.00%

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2020 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



   

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