U.S. Self-Propelled 155mm Gun M40
Tamiya 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
B a c k g r o u n d
The 155 mm Gun Motor Carriage M40 was an American self-propelled artillery vehicle built on a widened and lengthened Medium Tank M4A3 chassis, but with a Continental engine and with HVSS (Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension), which was introduced at the end of the Second World War. Equipped with a 155 mm M2 gun, it was designed to replace the earlier M12 Gun Motor Carriage. Its prototype designation was the T83, but this was changed to the M40 in March 1945.
A single pilot vehicle was used in the European Theatre in 1945 by 991st Field Artillery Battalion, along with a related 8 inch Howitzer Motor Carriage T89, (later re-designated the M43 Howitzer Motor Carriage) which was sometimes also equipped with a 155 mm barrel. A total of 311 out of a planned 600 were completed by the Pressed Steel Car Company before the end of the war, 24 of which were later converted into M43s. From there it was deployed during the Korean War.
After World War II, the M40 was used by the British Army, who designated it 155 mm SP, M40 and called it Cardinal in the tradition of using ecclesiastical names for SP artillery, such as Deacon, Priest, Bishop and Sexton.
A complete gun section consisted of one M40 GMC and one M4A1 high-speed tractor towing an M23 ammunition trailer. Each battery had four gun sections. The M4A1/M23 combo replaced the earlier M30 cargo carrier.*
F i r s t L o o k
Tamiya’s new 1:35 scale M40 GMC comprises 424 parts in olive coloured plastic, 50 parts in grey plastic (figures), 20 parts in clear and two black full-length flexible tracks. In addition to the plastic parts, there are quite a few multi-media elements too including 10 parts on a modest photo-etched fret, 17 polythene caps, 2 brass tubes, 2 steel pins, 1 chain, several lengths of string, tiny screws and nuts and even a small screwdriver.
The kit is almost all new. The running gear sprues are taken from Tamiya’s 2011 Israeli M51 release, as are the full-length vinyl T80 tracks. The running gear depicts the later Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension (HVSS) suspension units. These are well detailed but simple to assemble with only eight parts per bogie. Although the M40 hull is wider and longer than the M4 Sherman, the bogie units are the same – just spaced out further along the hull. The additional width is achieved using wider final drive housings on the standard transmission cover.
The T80 tracks are full-length and flexible. These may be glued using regular polystyrene cement. Exterior and side connector detail is excellent. The guide horns are solid blocks with a hole in the top of each one. The guide horns on the real T80 track were hollowed out from front to back, but fortunately the absence of the open guides is almost completely hidden once the model has been assembled.
The clear parts have also appeared previously in a couple of recent Tamiya Sherman variants.
The hull and superstructure are made up from a “flat pack” arrangement of separate floor, sides and firewalls. Engine deck grilles are supplied as photo-etched parts.
The large travel lock is designed to be workable. The spade and the rear deck may be posed up or down. String is supplied for the spade’s winch and pully system, with fine chain included for the rear deck. Due to the nature of the rigging, it is not really practical to make the spade and rear gate workable – you’ll need to decide one way or another.
The driver’s and radio operator’s cupola each feature separate clear vision blocks fitted from the inside. The two hull hatches may be posed either open or closed.
The interior of the fighting compartment includes six seats which may be stowed or folded down, plus ammunition racks and additional stowage bins.
The gun and its mount are very detailed and are made up from a number of sub-assemblies. Despite its size and weight, the gun will freely elevate and traverse when complete, including working equilibrators, thanks to the use of polythene caps, steel pins, brass tubes, screws and nuts.
Markings are supplied for two Korean War era vehicles.
The eight crew are well up to the high standard of recent Tamiya figures. They are all provided in natural loading poses, and effectively lift the contents of the kit to an instant diorama.
In addition to the basic kit, Tamiya has released a separate metal gun barrel set with a turned metal barrel and eight turned brass rounds.
The barrel is rifled at the end and decals are included for the rounds.
C o n c l u s i o n
Tamiya's 1:35 scale M40 SPG is a well detailed model with a nicely fitted out fighting compartment and a set of crew figures that lifts it into the category of instant vignette. The decision to include full length flexible tracks is entirely appropriate considering the tracks are "live" on HVSS suspension and were therefore stretched taut while fitted to the vehicle, and the workable nature of the gun and other features is a useful attribute.
* Historical summary courtesy of Wikipedia
Thanks to Tamiya Japan for the sample
Tamiya kits are distributed in the UK by The Hobby Company Limited
Text and Images by Brett Green