U.S. Airborne Scooter with Machine Gun

Published on
January 16, 2014
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Company: Plusmodel - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Plusmodel - Website: Visit Site
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U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet

Cushman Airborne Scooter - In the late stages of the war in Europe, Allied paratroopers used scooters like this one to maintain contact between units, increase their mobility and haul small loads. The Cushman Motor Works designed the Model 53 Airborne Scooter to be airdropped by parachute or carried by glider, and it had a hitch to pull a model M3A4 general-purpose utility cart. By adding certain equipment, the cart could be converted to carry a .30-cal. or .50-cal. machine gun or an 81mm mortar, though the scooter often could not pull a heavy load. Cushman made nearly 5,000 airborne scooters for the military beginning in 1944. The rugged, simple Model 53 could travel through a foot of water, climb a 25 percent grade and had a range of about 100 miles.


The Plus Model kit comes in two plastic bags, one containing the Scooter and one containing the Machine Gun & Cart, both packed in bubble wrap inside a small box. There is one small sheet of hand drawn instructions with the Scooter on one side and the Machine Gun & Cart on the other side. The instructions are a little vague in placement of a few parts but generally clear enough. Model includes resin parts, photoetch, brass wire, small piece of solder, and decal sheet. A bedroll & knapsack are also included with the Scooter.

The Scooter has 13 resin parts, 20 photoetch parts, copper wire, and decals. The photoetch parts are miniscule but add great detail to the scooter.


Assembly begins with the Scooter frame, engine, and rear tire. There aren't any locating pins for the engine. I drilled the rear wheel, installed a brass rod for an axle and also located the sprocket on the engine with a brass rod to help determine the location of the engine. The engine is offset and not centered in the frame.

I bent the rear Fender part M2 around the tire to get the correct shape of the fender.

In the third Step, the frame for the seat and gas tank is a very delicate casting. I cleaned it up before removing the part from the casting block. The location of the frame is not very clear but from online references the front left member should install just in front of the kickstand. The front fork, part #2, was warped but straightened up with a dip in hot water.

Machine Gun Cart

The Machine Gun & Cart have 39 resin parts, 23 photoetch parts, and a small piece of solder, The resin parts are attached to casting blocks, and all have flash that needs to be removed. The resin is brittle and some of the parts are very small. The part numbers for the Machine Gun duplicate the Cart numbers, but it’s relatively easy to differentiate them. The illustrations clarify which part goes where.

In the first step, install the Cart trailer tongue into the two axles, parts #5 & #6 before they're glued to the cart frame. I replaced the cart axles, parts #3, with brass rod as I had broken one of them anyway.

I could not determine where to install the trailer lanyards, parts M8 & M9 so I left them off. The tiedowns, parts #M10 are very small.

Installing the Machine Gun tripod legs, parts #13, #14 and #15 is very difficult to get the trailer brackets aligned properly. I used brass wire drilled into the joints on the tripod legs to help with the assembly, but still couldn’t get the brackets to lay flat on the trailer sides.

Photoetch cartridge belts are provided, but no open cartridge cases. The cartridge belts would only be used if the gun is in action and not stored in the Cart for transit. The solder is used for the line to the water tank, and also would not be in place if the gun were in transit.

It’s very difficult to get all of the kit parts lined up as there are a few locating pins or references for installation. It does, however, end up with a nicely detailed little cart with the machine gun.


I washed & primed the kit, painted it with Lifecolor Olive Drab Faded, and followed with a MIG Brown Wash & MIG Europe Dust pigment.

The kit goes together well despite its miniscule size and the lack of mounting pins for some of the pieces. The resin and photoetch pieces have nice detail in spite of their tiny size. I recommend drilling the Scooter front wheel & Cart wheels to use brass rod for an axle, and using the chain to correctly locate the engine. It is challenging build due to the small size but a fun kit! Highly recommended for an experienced modeler willing to work with the small parts.

Thanks Plusmodel for producing this unique scooter subject, and thanks IPMS for giving me the opportunity to build it.


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