During the cold war it was necessary for to develop a heavy tank to compete with the Russian tanks JS-3 and T-10. This led in England to the Conqueror and in the USA to the M103 which entered service with the USMC. It was obviously that the existing TRVs would not be able to recover a damaged M103 properly, so in 1951 Chrysler started to build 2 prototypes of the new heavy ARV, the T-51 and was standardised in 1953 as the M51 “Tank Recovery Vehicle” with 187 vehicles produced between 1954 and 1957. Due to numerous technical problems which resulted in 52 substantial improvements from 1956 to 1958, the first M51 ARVs were delivered to the U.S.Army 3rd AD in Europe in 1958 followed later that year to the USMC.
The M51 ARV was powered by a Continental AVSI-1790-6 petrol engine with turbocharger and fuel injection coupled to an Allison XT-1400-2A automatic transmission. The maximum speed was appropriate without load 35mph (approx. 56km/h) or with 60ton load at around 25mph (40km/h).
The M51 was equipped with a 45ton main hydraulic hoist and a 5ton auxiliary hydraulic hoist, located in the middle of the vehicle allowing for 30° movement left and right.
The M51 TRV was used by 3AD in Europe from 1958 to 1960 before being replaced by the M88 and from 1965 in Vietnam by the USMC till also replaced by the M88. The USMC lost two M51s during the Vietnam conflict while proving its abilities very well especially for recovering tanks and other vehicles in rough terrain.
Following their recent kit full resin kit of the M74 ARV
, Perfect Scale Modellbau
have now released this full kit of the big M51 ARV
with the kit having 260 parts in light grey resin, 52 etched metal parts, a length of braided wire and one of steel wire plus a short length of plastic rod. Also included is a small decal sheet and a set of AFV Club
T97E2 tracks (from set #AF3505) and of course the instruction sheet.
The kit comes in a large box 300mm (12inch) x 220mm (8.5inch) and 120mm (4.5inch) high with the parts packed in a couple of large zip loc bags which resulted in a bit of minor damage to some parts but most of the loose bits were still in the bags and could be repaired without any trouble.
The quality of the resin casting is again very good overall with the most notable thing being the absence of casting blocks on the larger lower hull and superstructure parts due to the use of one large casting pour point on the inside of the parts leaving just some minor cleanup of the edges. The remaining stub from the pour point can be left as is unless you wanted to add an interior as they are fully hidden after assembly.
The remaining parts have the usual casting blocks and some fine resin film to be removed which is quite straightforward although there are quite a few very fine parts that will need care removing from their casting blocks and some parts have small air holes that will need filling as well as few minor casting seams but overall the parts are what you would expect in a full resin kit.
Detail on the parts is very good on the most part with crisp well defined details but as mentioned care will be needed with the smaller parts during assembly and cleanup.
The three main parts the large lower hull, the rear engine deck and upper superstructure which are cast with quite thick walls that eliminate any warping for a good start and after minor cleanup of the edges the fit of these is good overall with only minor trimming needed.
It is best to use thicker cyanoacrylate (super glue) or two part epoxy for the main hull assembly for added strength and to allow a little time to align the parts before the glue cures and thick or thin cyanoacrylate can be used for the smaller parts.
The lower hull in one large casting perfectly square without any warping and includes the underside details, the axle and final drive mountings and detail on the front and rear plates with all other details as separate parts such as the axles, shock absorbers and return rollers for well defined details.
The axles are cleanly cast and fit into holes in the hull axle mountings but a number of these holes had some excess resin inside and you will have to remove this for the axles to fit. Also the axles have a fair bit of movement and it’s best to use the shock absorbers as a guide to the correct ride height and to ensure the axles without shock absorbers are aligned correctly.
All the road wheels are resin reproductions of the AFV Club M88 wheels as are the return rollers and drive sprockets and have the same level of hub and rim detail although there was the occasional bit of excess resin in some rims to carefully remove with the road wheels gluing directly to the axle stubs.
Assembling the drive sprockets is a little tricky as while based on the AFV Club sprockets there is no positive join between the inner and outer sprocket as these are just butt joined together after adding the two small guide rings and aligning the drive teeth will take some care.
To do this I found it easiest to assembly a length of the AFV Club track supplied and use this as a guide to keep the teeth aligned while ensuring the central hub is also lined up evenly and once glued together you have to drill a small hole in the inner sprocket to accept the stub on the final drive housing.
Using the assembled track links to align the sprocket halves
Be sure not to drill all the way through the outer hub while doing this and shortening the final drive stub will help as you don’t have to drill as deep hole, also do not glue the sprockets in place until later when fitting the track as there is not a lot of room under the fenders when fitting the track.
Other details added to the hull are the side lifting eyes and the various towing shackles, rear tow hook and tail lights with etched guards as well as other smaller fittings as indicated in the instructions.
Added inside the lower hull is the central bulkhead and floor section for the crane jib mounting and these both fit precisely into place without any additional trimming after removing the casting blocks, just watch as the instruction are not clear what direction these parts are added and they should be installed facing the rear of the hull.
It is essential that the rear fender sections are fitted to the lower hull next but the instructions are not clear on this and the fenders themselves are cast nice and thin without any warping at all with inner locating ridges that make fitting in the correct position a breeze and the large engine deck casting can then be fitted in place.
This has excellent louver and hatch details included and again cast without any warping and fits perfectly to the rear hull after adding the lower inner louvered panel (part 24) and additional etched and resin detail parts that can be added after gluing to the lower hull. The placement of all the additional parts is quite straightforward but careful study of the instructions would be advised.
Additional large storage boxes and air tanks are added to the fenders and again their placement is straightforward following the instructions.
This again is one large casting without any warping or other blemishes other than minor trimming of the rear lower edge and the huge pour plug on the inside can be left alone as it is hidden once fitted to the lower hull.
The level of detail on the superstructure is superb with well defined details including the weld seams, panel detail and recessed bolt heads around the top and front access panels, the level of detail is best illustrated by the top hatch hinges cast with gaps between the roof and hinges and on the rear wall where there is also gaps between the fine piping and the hull with no cleanup needed.
Fine detail on the superstructure casting
There are two large sponson fillers to be added under the superstructure to eliminate the see through look and these are numbered incorrectly with 33/34 engraved on the parts but they are identified as parts 27/28 in the instructions and these will need a little trimming to fit into the superstructure contours. There are also no locating lugs for these and you will need to ensure they are lined up evenly with the lower superstructure while gluing in place.
Again there are numerous smaller details added to the superstructure such as the separate Commander’s cupola and hatch that can be fitted open if adding a Commander figure to the head lights and other parts as again indicated in the instructions. There should not be any problems fitting these parts other than taking care during cleanup and assembly due to some being quite small and delicate and it would be best to leave many of these off until the superstructure is fitted to the lower hull as a little trimming may be needed here. A number of the parts have etched brackets or detail parts to further enhance the detail and again there shouldn’t be any problems fitting these.
Fitting the superstructure to the lower hull requires the front hull join and the two side fender sections to be aligned correctly and there was a bit of trimming and test fitting required on my parts but nothing excessive and careful test fitting before cutting or gluing is the best option to get the proper fit.
The main armament on the M51 was the cupola mounted .50cal machine gun and this is nicely done in resin although the barrel was badly warped on my gun and also the cooling jacket lacks detail as is common with plastic or resin .50cals and I replaced this with the excellent Adlers Nest metal .50cal barrel to deal with the warped barrel and improve the look. The gun mounting and ammo box mounting are cast extremely fine and care will be needed removing the casting blocks from these but look very good when assembled. The ammo box is also nicely done but the space between the box and lid is filled in with resin and carefully removing this will improve the look of the box.
.50cal resin parts and barrel replaced with the Adlers Nest metal barrel
Ammo box with resin removed from under the open lid
The main crane jib is made up of four main parts, the jib upper and lower sections and the large curved forward section and extendable arm and again these are all cast perfectly without any warping and the fit is very good with just some minor cleanup of the side joins. I did remove the two locating ribs on the end of the upper jib (part 4) as these hindered the proper alignment of the curved mounting (part 82) but once removed the fit was better.
The jib end plate (part 88) also fitted perfectly as did the extendable jib (part 86) which fits precisely through the end plate and into the guides included inside the main jib allowing this to be extended or retracted at any time as you wish.
Added to the end of the extendable jib are additional pulleys and turnbuckles and after careful cleanup these fitted easily but take care when fitting the wire cable supplied as this needs the be treaded around the pulleys as you go and working out the best threading for this will need a little planning.
The curved mounting “legs” fit into the lower mounting plate (part 80) with the plastic rod supplied used to secure in place allowing the crane to be raised but you will need to drill out the locating holes for the rod “pin” a little more and I also adding the larger 5mm plastic rod “pin” to the underside of the mounting bracket for a more robust locating point when fitting the jib to the lower hull mounting plate as it’s a bit flimsy in the kit considering the size of the crane jib.
The two upper connecting rods are fitted between the large superstructure roof mounting bracket and the main crane jib with the large attachment eyes provided but you will have to supply the rods yourself as they are not included, I used lengths of brass tube cut to length for better strength.
Holes were drilled into the top of the crane jib for the connecting rods and you slip these in place as you fit the crane jib into the lower mounting plate and there are also additional smaller details added to the crane which again is easy enough following the instructions.
The two large dozer blade spades are added to the front and rear and these consist of the resin dozer blade and mounting arms that fit into the brackets on the front and rear of the hull with additional smaller resin and etched detail parts.
As mentioned the kit has a set of the AFV Club workable T97E2 tracks that are nicely detailed but each link has a couple of small pin marks on the inside to be removed with the separate end connectors making assembly quick and easy. As mentioned above it is best to leave the drive sprockets separate from the kit until fitting the tracks as this will make it easier to fit these under the rear fenders.
A small decal sheet provides markings for one USMC M51 ARV of 3rd Tank Battalion from Vietnam but no unit info is provided
These are in German and English but the parts list description is only in German but it’s easy enough to work out the parts with the assembly sequences are exploded view drawings that are adequate but you will have to study these carefully in some places and test fitting before gluing is also advisable.
Overall this is an excellent kit of the big M51ARV with the standard of resin casting being first class, not only in the fine details included on the parts but also that none of the main parts are warped or have any other major blemishes which aids considerably during assembly.
The many fine parts will require care during cleanup and assembly and there is some trimming required here and there during assemble but nothing out of the ordinary for a full resin kit.
The inclusion of the decal sheet is also a nice bonus as are the AFV Club tracks and the kit will build into an impressive replica of the big M51 ARV.
Highly recommended for Modern Armour fans 7.5/10