Having only seen similar weapons in injection plastic, I was intrigued to see just what quality was on offer from a resin and brass photo etch kit. Not being completely knowledgeable about the specific subject, I had a peruse to try and find some photographic evidence of the model on offer. It is simply labelled as a 'US MACHINE GUN .30 WATER COOLED', but knowing there were at least a couple of versions, I basically pinned this one down to being a M1917 version. (All photos I found did not show the carry handle on the barrel in place.)
The kit comes in a cardboard box 4" X 3" and 1.5" deep and contains a small single page instruction sheet with a numbered 'exploded' diagram featuring assembly of the gun and tripod, and another alongside of the .30cal ammunition can assembly. The resin parts are cast in a dark grey and are attached to a couple of casting blocks which have their corresponding part numbers in place on the block below each part. Easy enough to follow (a magnifier may help though) A razor saw is recommended for removal from the blocks as there are some seriously small parts. I found myself constantly referring to the colour photograph of the assembled model on the front of the box in addition to the simple instructions while assembling
A brass photo etched fret is also included which has some exquisite detail including the parts to make 2 full ammunition cans, plus a length of rounds on a belt to simulate the rounds feeding into the breech out of the can, or to pack out a can with the lid open (or both!). It contains the cradle for the machine gun as well as the sight and carry handle arm. There is also a length of lead wire to simulate the hose from the water can, which is highly malleable and can be posed perfectly as needed.
I started by removing and attaching the two largest parts of the gun, being the receiver and the barrel. There is a locating plug to fit the barrel in but I felt that a squarer as opposed to circular plug would help with alignment of the barrel, which had to constantly be checked as the superglue dried with the front sight vertical. To this you can show an open breech mechanism. The grip was added to the end of the receiver. The receiver rests on a neck piece which has a small pin to drop into the tripod fitting. As this is the main anchor point for the weight of the gun upon the tripod, I removed the small pin, drilled out the neck piece, and added a thicker and longer piece of sprue which gave much more support.
The cradle was assembled next. This was clearly the most frustrating part of the assembly, as there are two opposite sides to the cradle which has a resin 'bridging' piece at the rear, and has two holes to accommodate two pins on the neck piece. This is hard to do without a temporary jig holding the cradle sides square to each other, and to carefully fit the neck piece into place. A couple of resin levers added to the cradle and tripod, and we are nearly done with that assembly.
The tripod unfortunately was damaged on arrival, and I think this is due in part to the tripod being in one piece. It also had some warping to two of the legs. For the sake of the review I built it 'as is', but it could certainly benefit from some brass rod legs to replace the resin ones. One of the legs had snapped at the top fitting and was missing what would have been a hinge-like part to show the adjust-ability of the legs (and therefore the height of the machine gun above ground level). For photo purposes I didn't remove the tripod from its base because of fragility. There is some movement of the gun on the cradle, and of course it can rotate on top of the tripod.
I assembled one of the .30cal cans shown in an open position and the belt feeding into the mounted machine gun as per the box photo. The cans are amazing with embossed lettering on the sides of the cans and have fold lines to ensure clean lines when folding. But yet again there are some seriously small parts to add to the sides of the can and the lid also. The PE shortcoming is its inability to show what are clearly 3D items in anything but 2D? Namely the .30cal rounds. These would definitely benefit from other manufacturers 3D brass rounds, or even some plastic/resin versions.
The water can could do with drilling out the hole for the hose; same with the connection under the barrel to allow for a tight fit once the hose is in place.
A hard-fought journey to get this one completed. I feel I have a reasonable grasp of both resin and photo etch, but the way the kit combines the two left me speechless at times. Case in point, the carry handle on the barrel. Resin barrel, PE arm, resin handle, with no notches or locating points to mate the parts together. Same problem with PE cradle assembly and resin bridging part at the rear of the cradle. Pin to attach gun mount to tripod is too thin and short to support the guns' weight when mounted, and could do with replacing. The tripod would have been great to be height-adjustable, and the legs are quite brittle. With that said, once built it has tremendous detail and even with a coat of paint they would still stand out. I could see people buying this kit for the PE ammunition cans alone, as they are of exceptional quality!
Highs: Detail is great on both photo etch and resin parts. Minimal flash to remove off parts.Lows: Some poor assembly options between photo etch and resin parts. Instruction diagrams are printed quite small. Verdict: A lovely kit once finished, but not for the faint-hearted during some assembly points. These can be overcome with some modellers ingenuity however.