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Maxim M-4

AO 1/35 M4 Soviet Quad-Maxim Machine Gun Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review June 2005 Manufacturer AO
Subject M4 (M1931) Soviet Quad-Maxim Anti-aircraft Machine Gun Scale 1/35
Kit Number 3503 Primary Media White Metal, Resin
Pros Unusual Subject Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $27.00

First Look

Maxim M-4
Maxim M-4
Maxim M-4

Between the 1st and 2nd World Wars, there was an increase in the use of aircraft in the ground-attack role. Armies were using more and more motorized vehicles. These were prime targets for marauding aircraft.

The development of large-caliber anti-aircraft guns was being pursued then. However, light, mobile weapons, to be used by troop units, were sorely needed too. Most armies relied on their standard infantry machine-guns for the simple reasons of availability and standard ammunition. They could be used against ground targets, if need be, too.

Small, rifle-caliber ammo was deemed sufficient, but also to retain a light and mobile weapon. Aircraft, at this time, were of light construction, had little or no armor or self-sealing fuel tanks. They were very vulnerable to even small-caliber bullets.

The Soviets determined that aircraft usually attacked ground targets at speeds up to 200mph, from no greater than 5,000 ft. The anti-aircraft weapon needed to be mobile, with an extremely stable mount and must sustain a high rate of fire. This was demanded to increase the chances of hitting an aerial target.

One method to maintain sustained rate of fire was to simply fit 4 guns on a single mount. This retained effectiveness if one, or even two, guns malfunctioned.

Hiram S. Maxim (a U.S. weapons designer) invented his machine-gun in 1887 and made a sales tour of Europe with it. The Russians were slow in purchasing them, but eventually bought large numbers of them, in the 1890’s from Vickers.

At first, they were used on high, two-wheeled artillery carriages. This exposed the gun crew and they suffered heavily because of this. The guns then went on low, shield-protected mounts. In 1910, another mount appeared. This was on a 4-wheeled cart that was drawn by 4 horses in tandem. It did not allow for 360 degree traverse, which was essential for anti-aircraft use. This led to the M1931 Quad Mount (subject of this kit).

The M1931 Mount was complicated. It consisted of a vertical pedestal, supported by 3 legs and a 3-fold mounting bracket. The pedestal had a telescoping tube, which was raised and lowered by a crewman operating a hand crank, while the gunner changed elevation.

Fitted below the guns were stout mounting brackets for four 500 round ammo containers. Each container held two 250 round web belts linked together. The guns used 7.6 and 34mm ammo. The 4 gun’s had a combined rate of fire of approximately 2,200 rounds per minute and were highly feared by Luftwaffe pilots. The guns were water-cooled.

The Quad Maxim was mounted on all sorts of Soviet vehicles during WWII. The most common vehicle was the GAZ AAA truck. The Finns and the Germans used captured ones to some extent.

The set-up was very heavy and expensive to produce. It was later replaced by the Degtyarev 12.7mm gun.

The kit comes in a small, sturdy, end-opening type box. The box art is a grainy black and white illustration of the Quad Maxim mounted in the bed of a GAZ truck. This box art has several Russian words on it and the designation “M4”. However, my reading only calls the weapon the M1931.

Inside the box is 2 zip-lock cello bags. One holds two tan resin parts: the cone-shaped pedestal base and a combination ammo locker and crew seat. The other zip-lock cello holds 4 other cello bags that are heat sealed shut. These 4 bags hold all the white-metal parts for the 4 Maxim machine guns and all the plumbing that goes on them. Make no mistake, there are a lot of these white-metal parts and this anti-aircraft weapon will make up into one highly detailed model.

There is cleanup needed on parts, both the resin and white-metal ones. A set of needle files will definitely be needed. However, the molding on these parts is very good and I detect no surface bubbles on the resin parts or pitting on the metal ones.

The weakest part of the kit is the instructions. This consists of a single sheet that is 8 ¼” x 4 ¾”. What few words are on are in Russian. The box art drawing is repeated and there are 3 very small illustrations to be used for assembly. One shows just the pedestal assembled. The second one shows a confusing exploded drawing of the 4 Maxim’s, and the 3 rd is a drawing of the whole thing assembled. Better, larger, and more clear assembly drawings are needed. I was fortunate that Vyacheslav Ryzhenkov, the owner/manager of Thetankmaster store, who sent me the review sample also sent me a magazine article with better illustrations via e-mail. These will help, immensely when I build this kit and mount it in the back of a GAZ AAA truck that I have here.

I want to thank Vyacheslav Ryzhenkov of The Tankmaster store for this review sample.