M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier and Variants
One of my planned retirement builds is a Resolution Island, Labrador winter diorama scene. My father, a retired career pilot and Colonel in the USAF, passes along a magazine he receives each month as a member of the Air Force Association. Several years ago, an article in one issue titled “Life on the Pine Tree Line” captivated me. The article details daily activities at a remote DEW-line radar site on Resolution Island in far North Newfoundland back in the 50s and 60s. In particular, photos of an H-21 Shawnee or “Flying Banana” as it is more commonly referred to in Artic Red conspicuity markings, caught my eye. Other aircraft and vehicles documented in the photos included a C-123, a TWA “Connie”, various cargo trucks and vehicles, and a small WWII utility vehicle known as a “Weasel”. Visions of a winter diorama scene began to take shape.
Fast forward several years, and after researching availability of the necessary vehicles in each scale, I acquired the both the Italeri and Special Hobby 1/48 H-21 kits, along with a couple of 1/48 Weasels from CMK to go with a Tamiya 1/48 US 2-1/2 Ton 6X6 Cargo Truck.
The opportunity to review this fine reference book to help research the correct look for the two weasels that will live on the snow-packed tundra adjacent to the ramp area of my diorama was a no-brainer. The opportunity to acquire a signed first edition of a reference put together by military history author David Doyle was an added bonus!
The softbound 9-1/2” X 7-3/8” book runs 168 pages divided into six sections: Acknowledgments, Introduction, Chapter One – The T-15/M24, Chapter Two – The T-24/M29, Chapter Three – The M-29C, and an appendix. Photographs of actual vehicles are copious.
If you’re not familiar with the Weasel military vehicle, it was conceived as a small multi-purpose cargo carrier that could be air-dropped from the bob bay of a Lancaster or carried in a towed glider. The T-15 prototype’s compact 11’X5’X5’-7’, 3,400 lbs. size worked just fine in that role. As the vehicle gained popularity with Allied troops, modifications naturally occurred in the field for specific uses, and design update requests made their way back to the Studebaker factory. Updated models were produced, ultimately resulting in the M29 version, which remained in use well into the 60s.
If you’re familiar with David Doyle’s books, you know that they are complete reference guides for modelers. This volume doesn’t disappoint in that regard. There are color and/or black/white photos on almost every page, from virtually every angle of the different variants presented. Did I mention that there are LOTS of pictures!
There are many photos of obscure concept tracked snow vehicles illustrated in the Introduction. Chapter One’s T-15/M28 vehicle is illustrated with photos of the variant restored by the Military Vehicle Preservation Group of Spooner, Washington. Line drawings of the vehicle are also included.
The four passenger T-24/M29 carrier examined in Chapter Two is illustrated with numerous photos of different vehicles, covered, open, interior and exterior. A copy of an original factory cutaway drawing illustrates the power plant and rive train layout.
The definitive M29 variant receives the bulk of the book’s attention. The “Ark” as it was nicknamed was the conclusive variant, modified for amphibious performance. Again, copious color photos illustrate the vehicle from both inside and exterior viewpoints.
Interspersed throughout the book are actual wartime photos of the different variants in real settings to illustrate the vehicles many uses and field modifications. The appendix lists the statistical information relative to each of the variants.
To summarize, David Doyle puts together the definitive references for the model builder of any vehicle he researches. This reference has already been given a permanent place on my hobby bench as I begin work on the two M29 weasels that will share ramp space with the H-21 (reviewed here) I built for my planned Resolution Island diorama.
Highly recommended for modelers interested in obscure WWII vehicles and their history.
Thanks to IPMS Reviewer Corps and David Doyle for the opportunity to review this publication.