1943 White M3 Halftrack. Post WWII, 1990s ‘RENOSTEEL’ construction vehicle. 

    After WW1 and all the transportation issues encountered it was not only clear that the dependence on horses couldn’t continue and cross country capabilities were vital. French inventor Adolph Kegresse worked with Citroen to create a system of multiple wheels within a track which, in place of the rear wheels, greatly improved cross country capabilities. The Citroën-Kegresse P17 half-tracks proved interesting to other countries too. The US army bought several for evaluation between 1925 and 1931 and this led to a more in-depth program of development carried out largely with the White motor company. 

   Using the White scout car as a starting point and adding tracks the M2 halftrack artillery tractor came into being. This was intern extended and became what was officially called the “Carrier, Personnel, Halftrack M3”. 

   The front end of the M3 halftrack has clear relationships to the M3A1 four-wheel-drive scout car but the tracked rear half is clearly different. Testing through 1939 proved the design and production started in 1940. As the tensions of the 1930s Europe had erupted into full blown war, and the U.S. itself was facing mounting tensions with Japan, the halftrack was going to be an important part of the new mechanised armies of the world. 

   As an armoured personnel carrier the M3 required only one crewman, to drive the vehicle, but in combat situations it would obviously needed more for self-defence so would more normally carry two or three. Having a larger fighting compartment, fabricated from sheets of armoured steel, than the M2 the M3 could carry 10 combat equipped troops, but this seating arrangement required the removal of the internal stowage bins and the resultant reduction in ammunition and weapons carrying capacity. 

   The M3 design consisted of many standardised parts to aid manufacturing and service in the field. Not just for the M3 but the M2 and scout cars too. It may have been a cost reduction effort too as each M3 cost $10,310. The White Flathead 160AX engine, a 6-cylinder, in-line, liquid-cooled, gasoline motor put out 148hp (110kW) at 3,000rpm; good enough for a top speed of 45mph (72km/h) on the roads. On a full 60 US gallon tank the M3 could have an effective range of 200miles. 

   U.S. forces were not the only ones to make use of the dependable M3 halftrack. British and Commonwealth countries as well as the Russian Red Army forces all used M3 halftracks making it one of the most common vehicles made during the second world. It could be found all over the worlds battle fields and served long after than the global conflict, through the Korean war and even on into the 1990s with some countries armed forces. 

   One of the reasons for this longevity was the adaptability of the vehicle. The army was able to mount mortars, heavy guns even Quad 50 anti-aircraft turrets on the M3 chassis as well as using them as machine gun platforms. Others were used as command cars, wireless trucks and ambulances as well as the obvious load carrying and towing applications. 

   Although the White Motor Company was the primary manufacturer the need for halftracks was so great Diamond T, Autocar and International Harvester also built the M3. Between 1939 and 1944 some 41,000 M3s were built. Across all variants and including the M5, where the only real difference was the manufacturing of the rear fighting compartment with welded plates instead of bolts, and the production figure rises well past 50,000. 

00-H0 scale kit.
Converted by Ian.

   It is no surprise that post war surplus and left behind broken down M3’s found themselves working as all manner of roles in civilian hands. From fire tenders to cranes to civil engineering companies M3 halftracks popped up all over the world doing things they were never actually intended to do. 

   Our model represents one of three M3 chassis owned by British civil engineering firm RENOSTEEL. 

   Incorporated as a Private limited Company on the 16th of July, 1985, Renosteel Construction Ltd., of North Walsham, Norfolk, undertook all manner of contracting work. Architectural, heavy and civil engineering construction, professional, scientific, and technical support services under the leadership of John Roylance. Sadly, Renesteel were a victim of the Covid19 years and the firm went into Liquidation being declared insolvent on the 4th of February, 2022. 

   However, one of the jobs they did was in support of archaeological work on the cliffs and beach of Cromer in Norfolk and a few photographs of the vehicles were available in order to make a re-creation of a Renosteel M3. Apparently the three halftracks were bought from Israel and fitted with Bedford diesel engines. Today these M3 halftracks are in private hands and at least two of the three have been returned to authentic WW2 combat status.  

   Originally released in 1966 as “Half-Track M3” by Airfix, kit # A13V in 00 scale (1/76th), as a bagged kit with header card. The same kit has been re-releases on numerous occasions since then with different product numbers. The kit has remained the same with only the packaging being changed between bags, boxes and blister pack variations. 

   Our kit is the Airfix kit # 1653-15, bought, and originally built, by Ian in the late 1970s and now recycled and converted in 2022. 

   A whole list of scratch-built items were needed, including: A new front windscreen and cab roof. Opened out side door window hatch and slit windows. Crew compartment dash’ and lever details. Front chassis extension, front corner indicator pole and the plank. Front wing arch edgings not on the kit parts and a new exhaust pipe. At the rear the fighting body had to be cut away and a new wooden flatbed and load frames made. Canvas sheeting was made for roof box and rear flat bed, as was the Lockable tool box and some of the rope. 

   Other stowage was added from the spares box and generic sets, including the bucket, upturned wheel barrow and the cylinders on rear flat bed. 

   All the painting was done by hand with brushes to garner the feeling of a vehicle that had had a long life and multiple layers of paint covering some rust too. All paints used were acrylic, from the Tamiya, Deco-Art, Revell and Citadel ranges. Decals had to be scrounged from the spares box or homemade. 

   Over all the finished article as some atmosphere and allows the viewers imagination to create their own stories about the vehicle.