High Speed Tractor M6 with 240mm Howitzer M1

The Models and Materials needed
I came across the M6 model of Balaton Models. A resin kit that looks very good. It is 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, which 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.

During the years I was collecting models and books, the Allied and Axis series from Ampersand Publishing was fresh and good. Showing big and clear pictures that, along with some extra info, gave me the inspiration for this project. Especially the next photo with text was the trigger for me. It shows an M6 HST with a 240 mm Gun in tow. This picture was taken on february 27th 1945 in Düren Germany.
"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 itself weighed over 5 tons and rode on 6 18.00 x 24 16 ply earthmover tires. The loaded Cannon Transport Wagon was 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)"

Above a British combination of the M6 with the Gun in tow.1945 Netherlands. Location not known.

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

And some additional info from the Catalogue of Standard Ordnance Items from 1944. Of particular interest is the fact that this picture of the M6 HST shows the canvas door covers or side curtains as they are called in the manual, fully closed. Most other pictures show this vehicle with open doors and without its covers.

Some pictures from the Technical Manual TM 9-788 in which this vehicle is shown in great detail. For a more detailed view of the M6 HST,
see this article written by myself.


Above the M6 HST with front windows half opened.
Above a good vieuw of the top of this vehicle showing stowage of ammunition.

An M6 HST in the tall grass during exercises in 1944. Although the overall vehicle was approved for production in June of 1943, it appeared in service during the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945. It was mentioned and shown to the public 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 the lend-lease program. They were mostly put into service in South and Western Europe.

Above a small article out of "The AC-Line". A publication for the personnel of the Allis-Chalmers LaPorte Works depicting the 1000th M6 HST built. In the background another is visible maybe no 999 or 1001 ? Published March 1945.

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

Where to find information
As I already noted, the best information is that of the Technical Manual of this vehicle, the TM 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 needed 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 using 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, some manuals 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 and also 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

ORD 9 SNL-G184 - List of All Service Parts for
Tractor, High Speed,
38-Ton, M6

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.


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 possessed the best artillery for nearly a century. The American 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

Below some other "in action" pictures of the assembly of the 240-mm Howitzer.

Even the Germans were aware of this big gun. It was mentioned with a picture in the "Taschenbuch USA-Heer Bestimmt für den Gebrauch der Truppe im Felde 6. Auflage" from November 1944. In this publication the weapons and equipment along with tanks and trucks were listed with some info on the subjects for the field commanders, so they were aware of what they could expect to encounter on the battlefield.


Publications found on the 240-mm Howitzer M1

Ampersand Publishing - Allied-Axis no. 14

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

What to think of this "in the field" storage of shells as a quick way to make sure ammo gets to the front.

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 which is not the scale I build in. But I don't 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 Military Police figures that complement this diorama. As to what I can gather from the text at the beginning of this project they guided the traffic. And also a nice addition is the cameraman. Although not all figures will be used. It would be a little too much.
- 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 Balaton. I got my model in 5 working days as they stated on their website. From Hungary that is very quick. Thank you guys from Balaton! a first look inside the box shows that the parts are very crisp. It's a complete 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 extra "weight" so to speak. First, let us take a look at what's inside. I made some pictures so you can see them for yourself. This is the box after I unpacked it. When you get it home it is packed with some extra material 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
Bombs away !!!
The front of the beast !
Planning the Diorama

The picture is 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 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.

To obtain a little feeling for the scene. I colorized the picture from above and straightened it out. That gives a more realistic view of the situation and a sense of how the completed diorama looks for a small part.

But.......! As I was planning this layout I came across an article that was quite interesting. It described the fact that the U.S. Army was building a large number of trailers for the transport of heavy artillery ammunition 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.

In the diorama, the idea was to place a cameraman in the scene who is filming the action for a newsreel, as was common during WW 2. I chose the Legend figure, but there are other possibilities as the following pictures show. These cameramen are active in 1945 somewhere in Germany.

Below cameramen in action in Normandy 1944.

Because the idea of a cameraman in the diorama still kept on popping up, it pushed me to look for some more motives for the diorama. In a wartime documentary, I saw this scene of a cameraman on a Jeep filming a Sherman passing by. This scene was taken somewhere in Germany too. The Jeep would be a nice addition. Let's see what comes up for the diorama.

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