High Speed Tractor M6 with 240mm Howitzer M1

The Models and Materials needed

I came across the M6 model of Ballaton Models. A resin kit that looks very good. Its available with resin tracks, very tricky, but also with full metal tracks,
they look very good. From DES Kit we can obtain the 240-MM Howitzer M1, that also looks very good. A nice combination that will turn a lot of heads when completed.

 

And to complete the diorama, the MP Jeep from Takom. together with some figures from various sources.These will be in the text below.

Background

During the years I was collecting models and books, the Allied and Axis series from Ampersand Publishing were a fresh and good series. Showing big and
clear pictures that, along with some extra info, gave me the inspiration for this project. Especially the next photo with tekst was the trigger for me.

"The transporters for both the howitzer shown here, and the carriage, were termed wagons by the military The howitzer rode on Cannon
Transport Wagon M2, while the carriage was conveyed on a Carriage Transport Wagon M3 The Cannon Transport Wagon by itse'f
weighed over 5 tons and rode on 6 18.00 x 24 16 ply earthmover tires The loaded Cannon Transport Wagon v/as 438.5 inches long
which, when combined with the 257 13/16-inch length of the M6 resulted in an ungainly combination approximately 58 feet long. Route
planning was cntical and Jeeps often served as pilot vehicles in case there were unexpected obstacles The wagons were true trailers (not
semi-trailers), which, combined with the track-laying prime movers, made reversing almost impossible (NARA)"

The TM 9-2800 from 1943 gives us the following info.

And additional info from the Catalogue of Standard Ordnance Items from 1944.

Some pictures from the Technical Manual TM 9-788 in which this vehicle is shown in great detail.

 




An M6 HST in the tall grass during excersises in 1944. Although the overall vehicle was approved for production in June of 1943, it appeared in service
during the end of 1944 and beginning of 1945. It was mentioned and shown to the in the publication of the april 1944 issue of the Field Artillery Journal
together with the M4 and M5 High Speed Tractors and their use. A total of 1235 vehicles were produced. No information is available of vehicles delivered
under lend-lease program. They were mostly put into service in South and Western Europe.



One of these vehicles surviving time can be found in the Overloon war museum.

Where to find information

As I allready noted, the best information is that of the Technical Manual of this vehicle, theTM 9-788 from 1944. It gives us a wealth of information on the
vehicle itself. A lot of photographs show all parts of the vehicle nesseccary to build and detail it. You can find it in the TM section of this site. Download it if
you need it, I can only recommend to use it. Other sources are books, there are a few books that describe the M6 in detail and these are very good starting
points. Regarding the M1 Howitzer, there are also some manuals that give information about this big gun. But if you know where to look, the Internet gives
you some more information on both the M6 HST as on the 240-mm Howitzer.

Publications found on the High Speed Tractor M6

Technical Manual TM 9-788 - Tractor, High-Speed, 38-Ton, M6 (1944)

Technical Manual TM 9-788 - 38-Ton High-Speed Tractor M6 (1952)

Tankograd No 6002 - U.S. WW II M4, M5 & M6 High Speed Tractors

Ampersand Publishing - High Speed Tractor

Also for the 240-mm Howitzer M1 there are technical manuals with information and pictures for the building of this artillery piece. And in the
Catalogue of Standard Ordnance Items Volume 2 there is some information on this subject. This Gun was nicknamed the "Black Dragon". This
name was used in several contemporary publications like the Army Ordnance Magazine and Popular Science from 1944. Normal transport of
this beast is in two parts, the 12½-ton barrel (1) and the 20-ton carriage (2) which made up the heaviest mobile gun then in use.


(1)


(2)

Below are some pages from the Army Ordnance Magazine dated September-October 1944 in which a nice article about
the 240-mm Howitzer was published. It also give some further information along with some nice photos.

In the Allied and Axis No. 14 book a very nice range of pictures is shown on how the two parts are put together to form the 240-mm howitzer M1.
This includes the crane. Used to assist in building this construction. This on its own would be a very interesting subject for a diorama as you can
see below. This Gun could be assembled and ready for action so quickly, that it could be used on moving targets as well as on demolition work.
And its functional simplicity helps to explain why the men in the field defeated the Germans, who posessed the best artillery for nearly a century.
The Amercan Army had gained in strength enormously with this big gun. Below are some additional pictures and some info on the assembly in the field.

With the clamshell bucket on the crane the recoil pit is dug. The crew formerly did this job with shovels for the old 240-mm howitzer.
 
Only two pairs of turnbuckles hold the gun’s carriage to the transport wagon. These can be loosened quickly to free the carriage.
 
In the m eantime, each of the four mammoth spades that brace the carriage against recoil is quickly tightened into place. In the field, the pit is not plank-lined.
 
Special connections at the center of gravity make the job of lifting the 20-ton carriage a smooth operation. Set a few hooks and it's off!
 
The huge Carriage is lifted to be set down over the pit. The carriage was unbuckled in one minute.
 
The crame picks up the barrel to set it on the carriage.
 
The barrel is swung from its wagon by the powerful crane over to the waiting carriage.
 
Then the long tube is maneuvered into the ready-made fittings on the gun carriage and locked in place.
 
The 360-pound projectile is put into the trough that guides it into the breech. A 240-mm. shell is almost 9½ inches in diameter.
 
With 90 pounds of powder behind the shell, the breechblock is closed.
 
A Gl works the elevator mechanism.
 
M1 Howitzer "Black Dragon" is ready for action
 

And a little video of the "Black Dragon" in action.

 

Publications found on the 240-mm Howitzer M1

Technical Manual TM 9-1341A - 240-mm Howitzer M1 and Carriage M1; 8-inch Gun M1 and Carriage M2

Technical Manual TM 9-1341B - Transport Wagons M1A1, M2A1, and M3A1 for 240-mm Howitzer and 8-inch Gun Materiel M1

Ampersand Publishing - Allied-Axis no. 14

Above some extra information on the 240-mm shells in use for the Black Dragon.

 

The MP-Jeep

A lot has been published about the ¼-Ton 4x4 Jeep. A few of these are in the list below. This list is in no way complete, but gives a
decent starting point. Also take a look in the manuals section and search for 1/4-Ton. You will get the appropriate manuals.

Publications found on the WW 2 Jeep

Steel Master Les Thematiques No 7 - Jeep Legende

The Military Jeep

The Jeep

Ord 9 SNL G-503 - Parts list

WW II Jeep in Action - Squadron Signal no. 2042 - David Doyle

The U.S. Army Jeep at War - Steven Zaloga - Concord 7058

Building The Models

My research on the Internet showed me lots of things about this subject. A firm called Millicast has a nice model of the M6 and the 240 mm Gun
and the crane shown in the pictures below. This would be another great subject for a project. But unfortunately it is in 1/76th scale wich is not the
scale I build in. But I dont want you to miss it, because it's a very nice kit combination to build.

 

 

As is visible in the beginning of this project, I used the following models, all in 1/35th scale:

- The Ballaton Models M6 High Speed Tractor  
- The 240 mm Howitzer from DES Kits  
- The MP Jeep from Takom  
I also purchased some figures that complement this diorama as to what I can gather from the text in the beginning of this project. And also a nice addition is the cameraman.
- U.S. Military Policeman with Motorcycle from Miniart  
- U.S. Military Police from Miniart  
- US MP WWII from Legend Productions  
- US cameraman WWII from Plusmodel  
   
   

First let us take a look inside the box from Ballaton. I got my model in 5 working days as they stated on their website. From Hungary
that is very quick. Thank you guys from Ballaton! a first look inside the box shows that the parts are very crisp. Its a completely resin
kit with a lot of parts. This will complete in a very nice model when ready. I also love the metal tracks that came in the box.
These give the model the exttra "weight" so to speak. First let us take a look at whats inside. I made some pictures so you can see for yourself.
This is the box after i unpacked it.When you get it home its packed with some extra materal to prevent the parts from damaging.

The Box
 
with contents
The Decals
Photo etch set
The manual to build the model
The windshield glass, the detailed bottom part and roof part
The detailed metal tracks
Wire for the tracks
Chain
 
Bombs away !!!
 
The front of the beast !

 

Planning the Diorama

The picture shown in this article from the Allied and Axis book no. 14 gave me the idea for this project. I wanted to
build a diorama that represented what was told in the text that came with the picture. That meant for me to put the
three models in the diorama with the appropriate figures. The situation should be somewhere in Europe after the the breakout from
Normandy in France. At first the planning stage for the diorama gave me some problems because the M6 and the 240 mm gun
are huge. the M6 is 21ft 6inch according to the manual. Here's the initial (crude drawing) layout I planned.

But.......! As I was planning this layout I came across an article that was quite interesting. It descibed the fact that the U.S. Army was building
a large amount of trailers for the transport of heavy artillery ammuition such as the shells for the 240-mm howitzer. Here is the article:



What could be better than implementing this combination in this diorama. Wow !!! We have the M4 HST as a model from
Hobby Boss. And for the M23 trailer hmmm.... And just for fun, another picture of the same combination in the field.

Or what to think of a tandem combination ? Maybe another project ? M6 with ...... See Project 7.

The Final Result

The following pictures show the completed diorama from several viewing points. One project gone from my bucket list.