Ruining a perfectly good kit.
The mortar carrier I chose to build this time around, (I have three more in the stash) is a 3rd AD version. Ask anyone who's seen an M4A1 mortar carrier with the mortar facing forward and they'll probably tell you about the 2nd AD and their 'funnies'. While the 2nd AD definitely has the spotlight, the 3rd AD certainly gets my vote for the better design.
If you are familiar with the crew compartment layout of the M2, you'll know the fuel tanks were at the rear and the stowage boxes in the front, the M4 was based on the M2, being the only true 'variant' in the whole half track series. The improved mortar carrier M4A1 raised the mortar on a pedestal and had a base for the bi-pod to allow for traversing. The 3rd AD weren't satisfied, and went to work on their M4A1's.
By removing the side armor, from the entire crew compartment, swapping the fuel tanks to the front and the stowage boxes to the rear they could leave the elevated pedestal in it's place and have the bi-pod to fall directly behind the cab. Placing the left side armor on the right and the right side on the left, they had the access doors to the rear of the vehicle to match up to the now moved stowage boxes.
This is an interior shot of a 3rd AD mortar carrier during training prior to D-Day, it should be apparent with some careful study, that something is out of the ordinary.
Now the biggest problem with this plan is that the sides of the fuel tank are molded to the side armor and the fuel tank armor is molded to the floor. After some careful surgery and re-attachment, followed by some scratch building of the rear exterior stowage boxes and a brass traverse plate, the crew compartment looked like this.
The mortar carrier was from what I can gather up to now, was built by only one manufacturer, the White Motor Company. Many of the other half track models were built by two and sometimes all three manufacturers, Diamond T and Autocar. The manufacturer responsible for mainly lend lease vehicles, International Harvester not included of course.
White seemed to have two styles of skate rails and most of the mortar carrier pictures I've seen show the later style. The early style was a solid one piece welded gusset design, while the later style was more flimsy and made up of thin bolted brackets. Perhaps to save on raw materials, perhaps to cut down on wieght. Whatever the case, I tried to emulate this style the best I could, hopefully my future attempts will improve.
For the last bit of this entries photos I decided to add the de-mountable headlight brackets scratch built from brass and using resin headlights, The radio shelf and radio, the .30 cal MG and a resin rear tarp made by Blast IIRC. My next entry will be the last few details and then paint!
Thanks for following along.