Charles Pecquet takes us through how he constructed and converted an US M16 AA Halftrack and a British Bofors into a US M15 AA Halftrack.
Charles: The M15, officially the M15 Combination Gun Motor Carriage, was a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on an M3 halftrack chassis and used by the US Army in Africa, Italy, and France. It was equipped with one M1 automatic 37 mm gun and two .50 Cal heavy machine guns. It was very effective as an anti-aircraft vehicle.
In the Bolt Action game, this conversion makes an ideal vehicle to support an infantry platoon in a smaller game as it combines the heavy machine guns to help keep air strikes at bay as well as a heavy autocannon that can take on lighter vehicles and tanks without taking up too many points in the OB. Plus, it’s always fun to run something most people haven’t faced yet.
Creating the M15
- US M16 MGMC AA half-track kit
- British Bofors QF 40mm Mk I kit
- US Army heads (4 heads needed)
- Sheet brass (or plastic)
- Brass strip (or plastic)
- Craft knife, clippers, drills, glues etc.
I chose the M16 as a starting point because the heavy machine guns and distinctive magazines gave me the correct bits for the conversion. I started by cutting the sides off of the M16. I did this in three cuts. First, cut vertically down the inside of the rear of the vehicle. This piece will be moved forward to close in the passenger area. Then cut vertically down behind the passenger area. Finally cut horizontally from the rear to the front at the height of the inside floor area. I then finished assembling the M16 with its standard parts.
Next step was to create the M15 turret. I created a cardboard mock up to get the proportions right and use as a pattern. I cut the parts out of brass because I like my models to have some heft to them when playing, but plastic sheet or balsa would work just fine. I cut the strip brass to create the storage boxes that line the inside of the M15 turret.
I converted a brass screw into a pin and drilled a hole in the floor of the M16 to allow the turret to pivot easily during play without falling off easily. I also saved some of the plastic heavy machine gun magazines cut from the sides to glue to the floor of the turret.
I then turned my attention to the Bofors 40mm gun. It is a bit larger than a 37mm, but I think it works well for the conversion. Do not attach any of the heads from the Bofors kit to your crew. You’ll be using the US heads.
To convert the British spotter into a US spotter and vehicle driver, the head has to be cut off of the figure and the base removed. A utility knife has stronger blade than a craft knife that made this a bit easier. Then drill a hole in the neck to accept the new US head.
I assembled the gun as normal except for the standing British loader. The M15 loader is seated. To accomplish this, I cut his legs apart a bit more and bent them a bit. In the end, I removed his feet to make him sit about right. I made a seat for him by cutting one of the stabilizers from the Bofors carriage bits that weren’t being used for this build. I then cut the M16 Heavy machine guns apart and glued one to each side of the Bofors gun.
This is the finished vehicle, patrolling and keeping the weapon ready for any incoming aircraft.
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We need to hold the line!