The M2 Machine Gun (or Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun) is a heavy machine gun designed by John Browning towards the end of WWI. M2 is very similar in design to Browning's earlier M1919 .30 Caliber Machine Gun, but uses much larger and much more powerful .50 cartridge. The M2 has been referred to as "Ma Deuce", as a GI phonetic slang, or "the fifty" in reference to its caliber.
The M2 Machine Gun is belt-fed, air-cooled machine weapon capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire. The M2 uses a disintegrating steel belt, with the feed switchable from one side to the other through the re-installation of certain parts in the feed unit. The weapon is designed to provide suppressive fire for both offensive and defensive purposes, and can be used effectively against infantry, unarmored or lightly armored vehicles and boats, light fortifications and low flying aircraft. The system can be installed on standard M3 tripod, or on various vehicle pedestal and ring mounts.
The Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun has been used extensively as a vehicle weapon and for aircraft armament by the US Military from the 1920s to the present. It was used during WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and also during the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s and 2010s. M2 is the primary heavy machine gun of NATO countries, and has been used by many other countries as well.
Live Resin released a vast number of different M2 Machine Gun variants in 1/35 scale. This review covers the M2 in its state-of-the-art configuration found almost exclusively on Special Forces vehicles: M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun on MK93 Machine Gun Mount, high adjustable pedestal and wide S.A.G. (Save-A-Gunner) armour shield and Surefire HellFighter Mount barrel bracket, Night Reaper CSWL (Crew Served Weapon Light), M2 NV sight mount and DCL401 Dot Sight (LRM35050)
The set is packed in a cardboard box featuring CAD boxart images; the one on the front shows the schematic of all the kit parts and lists accessory sets that can be used with the M2 Machine Gun (LRE-35007, LRE-35008, LRE-35028, LRE-35052, LRE-35053, LRE-35091, LRE-35092, LRE-35093), while the one on the back shows different views of the M2 Machine Gun setup which can be built using the parts provided in this particular set.
The box contains a zip-lock bag with 18 parts and an instruction sheet. The parts are cast in grey resin; the smaller pieces are organized on 2 large casting blocks, while the bigger pieces are cast separately. The resin parts are perfectly cast, however the long M2 barrel in my sample was slightly bent. Some hot water easily solved that problem. As with all Live Resin sets, the parts display impressive details superbly rendered in 1/35 scale.
The M2 Machine Gun is made of three major subassemblies: the receiver, barrel support and barrel group. The receiver features the backplate assembly with the standard firing control consisting of a push-type thumb trigger and sear release buttons located between the dual spade grips, top cover, feed opening, cocking handle and sights. Standard M2 sights consist of a rear flip-up sight and front sight protected by an arc-shaped sight cover. Additionally, various types of telescopic and night sights can be installed using appropriate mountings. The barrel support features perforated cooling jacket. As for the barrel assembly, due to the long procedure for changing the barrel, an improved system was developed called QCB (quick change barrel). It includes a removable quick change handle and a new flash suppressor. Most of these M2 features are clearly identifiable and magnificently rendered in this kit. My only nitpick with this set is the lack of the muzzle bore hole. The carrier stub, although very thin and easy to remove, attaches to the end of the muzzle. Modelers would have to use a very fine drill to make a perfectly centered hole in the middle of the muzzle... this is not an easy feat.
The M2 is in this set is depicted on MK93 Machine Gun Mount and with a Save-A-Gunner (SAG) armor shield. The MK93 Machine Gun Mount is a dual purpose, soft mount for the M2 Heavy Machine Gun and Mk19 Grenade Machine Gun. The soft mount optimizes operational capabilities of both weapon systems, providing platform stabilization, improving accuracy, and increasing hit probability. This kit also features ring mount with the Bearing Sleeve and Universal Pintle Adapter (UPA). The UPA accepts MK93 mount and with its Y-shape arms provides a platform for connecting Traverse and Elevation Mechanism (T&E) to the MK93 mount for precise control of the weapon. All the pieces of the mount are perfectly executed in scale, featuring amazing level of details. I compared the resin parts to the references and again found an excellent match. SAG armor shield is constructed by USGN Inc. using an experimental G-LAM lightweight nanofiber material which is over 100 times stronger than steel and offers protection from up to 12.7mm AP ammunition. The SAG shield is represented really well in this set and features very sharp bolt details.
M2 is belt fed using disintegrating steel belts, with the feed switchable from one side to the other through the re-installation of certain parts in the feed unit. This set features a Mk93 Multi-Purpose Ammo Can Holder and PA70 ammo box. PA70 is used for storing 60mm Mortar cartridges, but can also hold 225 rounds of .50 cal ammunition. The ammo feed system is well depicted in this set and I found an excellent match to the real thing. All the intricate details of both the MK93 holder and ammo can are beautifully rendered. The ammo belt segment supplied in the set fits to both the weapon and ammo can; I trimmed just one cartridge from the belt for a perfect fit. The trimmed cartridge was used for depicting the belt on the opposite side of MK93 holder ammo locking mechanism. I wish Live Resin used a different approach when designing these pieces; supplying full length ammo belt going all the way from the weapon feed to the far end of the ammo can, and MK93 ammo locking plate as a separate piece which would be installed only after fixing the ammo belt in place, would have made the ammo feed system more realistic.
The additional details contained in this particular M2 configuration include M88 Surefire Hellfire barrel mount, BE Meyers flash hider and rear scope mount with DCL120 red dot biocular sight. These details, along with the SAG shield and MK93 Multi-Purpose ammo can holder, designate this M2 as a Special Forces weapon system.
Assembling this M2 set is not as hard as it might seem at first. Take some time to identify all the parts in the kit and check the reference photos before actually starting the build. Also, study the instructions provided with the kit; these are well printed, concise, clear, and easy to follow.
Live Resin did a superb job designing this kit; the pieces feature protrusions or indentations which help to align the parts correctly. The parts fit really well and there is almost no need for putty work throughout the build. You can see a short photo summary of my build: I annotated the parts on the resin carrier blocks and I'm also showing photos of the assembly progress noting the position of each part. The main weapon assembly is shown on photos 1-2, the weapon mount on photos 3-4, and two subassemblies together with the ammo feed and the UPA/T&E mechanism on photos 5-6. The rest of the photos show the completed M2 Browning set with the SAG shield installed (LRE-35050).
Live Resin produces 7 different M2 Machine Gun versions in 1/35 scale. The set reviewed here depicts the state-of-the-art M2 configuration seen on Special Forces vehicles operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As always, Live Resin casting is second-to-none, and the details the company is able to reproduce in scale are absolutely amazing. Also, Live Resin designs their models very intelligently, so the pieces fit perfectly and the assembly of complex weapon systems is very much straightforward. If your model needs a M2, I really think you can't go better then what Live Resin is offering. Their M2 sets really are top notch, and will bring your model to a next level of realism.
Thanks to Yaroslav from Live Resin for this review sample.
MilSys Group gun mounts
MilSys Group ammo holder