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M42A1 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun Duster (Late Type)

AFV Club 1/35 M42A1 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun Duster (Late Type) Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review May 2012 Manufacturer AFV Club
Subject M42A1 Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun Duster (Late Type) Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35042 Primary Media 440 in olive drab styrene, 18 black vinyl keepers, 3 etched brass, 2 black vinyl tracks, 2 steel springs, 1 black nylon string
Pros First new kit of this popular vehicle in styrene in more than 30 years; very detailed and nicely laid out design Cons Uses the Skybow M41 suspension vice the AFV Club M41 suspension
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $70.00

First Look

The first time I ever found out about how solid armored vehicles can be took place in mid 1969 while I was studying Vietnamese at Fort Bliss, Texas. Two of the guys in my class had an, um, up to recently illegal relationship with one being a big jock and the other being very rich. The rich kit had a pristine 19631/2 Corvette “split window” coupe in British Racing Green which he drove to class every day. One afternoon he let his boyfriend take the wheel and of course, Mr. Macho has to burn out in front of the pedestrians in the rest of the class. But while burning rubber and shifting, Mr. Macho did not see an M42 Duster pull out of a maintenance building and turn right into his path. BANG! The ‘Vette hit the Duster head on and both vehicles stopped. But whereas the Corvette was now totaled the Duster only had some scraped paint. The driver, a small black SP5, was not amused, and let go with a long string of invective at our wayward pair for scratching the paint job he had just cleaned and waxed! Score - Duster 1, Corvette 0.

While I had the old Renwal kit of the Duster back in the 1950s, I was not too impressed with the Tamiya one which came out in the early 1970s, and even with both sets of brass from Eduard and some new tracks from Model Kasten and the AFV Club M41 suspension figured it to be too much work to update. So, like many other modelers, I was excited to hear that AFV Club was going to do a completely new M42 Duster (or two). So I waited. And waited. And waited.

About five years after it was announced, the AFV Club M42A1 Duster kit has recently appeared on hobby shelves. Was it worth the wait? In short – you bet!

This new kit is full of details and has an amazing turret assembly – the guns take some 76 parts and the turret proper another 25. (I think there were maybe 12 in the Tamiya one.) The guns come with turned aluminum barrels with a choice of no flash hiders or the early three-prong ones (later ones had a ring that went around them for strengthening as the early ones tended to shatter). Two spare barrels are offered in styrene but come with the proper springs at the base that are visible when the barrels are stowed.

The complete ejection system is provided with the “jai alai” type catchers under the barrels and the chute in the hull which guides the spent casings out of the vehicle. All of the major details are provided to include a nicely done M60 machine gun and fire extinguishers plus etched brass “speed rings” for the gunners. Traverse/elevation gearing motors and cranks are provided as well as interior details for the upper gun shields.

The only oddity with the lower hull is that for reasons best known to themselves AFV Club has substituted the Skybow M41 suspension (which they now own as their kit AF35S51) for their own very nice M41 suspension (AF35045 if purchased separately). The apparent reason for this is that the later production Dusters used the same wheels with rubber tires as the road wheels for their idlers; early production ones used the steel wheels with lightening holes that come in the AFV Club suspension. Also the AFV Club wheels have the rim guards (“mud catchers” according to some older tankers) and the Skybow ones do not; however, the later production vehicles have the rings on them. There are a few detail differences (due to putting the “Flat” side of the pins facing opposite directions, they cannot be swapped, and the axles of the two kits are different in diameter). Go figure.

All of the bins on the hull have the internal partitions but none of the racks needed for 40mm clips as are carried on the actual vehicle. Ditto the hull which has all three hatches open but has no interior other than the inside of the main hull door.

The engine deck comes in three sections but has separate mufflers and muffler guards, plus nicely detailed air cleaners and a one-piece and very petite APU muffler. It also has a separate pioneer tool rack with separate tools.

The track runs are old-fashioned vinyl but are quite flexible. They would appear to use ACC cement as all the directions say is “agglutinate”! As these vehicles used live track, no sag would be apparent and unless the modeler HAS to have replacement tracks should be fine.

Five finishing options are offered, four Vietnam and one National Guard: A - XXIV Corps, 1-44 AW Battalion, Vietnam (OD overall); B - “You’re In the Hands of Duster Death!”, US Army stock number only (OD overall); C - I Field Force, 4-60 AW Battalion, Vietnam (OD overall); D - II Field Force, 5-2 AW Battalion “Have Guns - Will Travel”, Vietnam (OD overall); E - Unidentified unit, MERDC winter verdant scheme (field drab/forest green/black/sand).

A poster print of the 1-44 AW Battalion vehicle is included.

Overall this is a really nice change from the ancient Tamiya kit but the swapping of the wheels is a bit odd. Why didn’t AFV Club simply add two extra road wheels for the later production vehicles?

Sprue Layout:

  • A 25 Engine deck, mufflers, lights, tow hook mounts
  • B 62x2 Drivers, hull details, 40mm clips, fire controls
  • C 74 Twin 40mm guns and details
  • D 25 Turret, expended casing chute
  • E 44x2 (Skybow) M41 suspension
  • F 5 Pioneer tools and rack
  • H 2 Steel springs
  • I 18 Black vinyl keepers
  • J 1 Black nylon thread
  • K 7 M60 machine gun
  • L 41 Upper hull details, APU muffler, air cleaners
  • M 3 Etched brass
  • N 2 Turned aluminum barrels
  • 0 50 Fenders, upper hull elements, hatches, jerry cans
  • P 1 Lower hull pan
  • T 2 Black vinyl track runs