Wednesday, January 11

Preview: 24cm - 6-barreled fury of the Ontos from Takom in 16th scale

Takom has just released in 1/16th scale armour. The M-50 Ontos of the US Army with those six recoilless rifles & diminutive size make it the perfect showpiece. We look the Ontos, & Takom's CAD designs in our preview...

Preview: 24cm - 6-barreled fury of the Ontos from Takom in 16th scale

 M50A1 ONTOS w/ Interior
From Takom
Kit No 1019
1/16th scale
Plastic kit w/ Photo Etch included.
The Subject: the M50 Ontos
The Ontos - official name: “Rifle, Multiple 106 mm self-propelled M50.” Greek word for “thing.” was a joint Army-Marine Corps program. Specified simply that its running gear would be based on the M56 Light Anti-Tank Vehicle and that it would utilize the same six-cylinder, inline gas engine common to all the military’s 2½-ton GMC trucks. Designed as a tank killer, but not often seeing any tanks to fight, the machine still distinguishing itself at Hue, Khe Sanh, and countless other battles. 

An M50 Ontos, a lightly armored anti-tank vehicle with six mounted 106 mm recoilless rifles, in La Port, Indiana, in 1955
For all its out-and-out eccentricity, Marines found it handy to have around because it was nimble and fast. Thanks to its relatively lightweight, Ontos fairly glided through swamps and rice paddies, where heavier vehicles wisely feared to tread. And Ontos packed a punch that was way beyond its weight class. For this reason, the NVA feared it and avoided the Ontos wherever possible.

An Ontos crew drives along Chu Lai Beach in search of enemy positions shortly after rolling off landing craft in June 1965.
In 1953, the prototype was presented to the U.S. Army, who thought it was too small and too tall and that there was not enough room inside it, either for the three-man crew or for ammunition for the recoilless rifles, of which only 18 rounds could be carried. They didn’t like that the turret was so shallow, really little more than a cast steel turntable and hatch in the middle. They hated that the six recoilless rifles that made up its armament were externally mounted and had to be reloaded from the outside. They didn’t like that the half-inch armor plating on the sides wouldn’t protect the crew members from anything larger than .50-caliber machine gun rounds, and that the underside’s armor plate was not even half that thick, making it totally vulnerable to mines or anything that might explode underneath it. The Army backed out of the project, canceling their share of the 1,000 vehicle order.
The Marines, on the other hand, were not nearly so fussy. They liked that Ontos was so fast and agile and seemed capable of going anywhere they went, which was more than could be said about most tanks. They accepted that instead of being able to fight it out with enemy tanks, the Ontos would have to “shoot-and-scoot” to a place where it could safely reload. The Marine Corps placed an order for 297 Ontos, with the first vehicle accepted by the Marine Corps on Oct. 31, 1956.

An M50 Ontos and other US armored vehicles in Hue, Vietnam, in 1968. 
During the Ontos’ testing at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, all six guns were fired at once and the backblast was so great that it knocked bricks out of nearby buildings and shattered numerous car windows. The powerful recoilless rifles’ accuracy was greatly aided by attaching .50 caliber spotting rifles to four of the Ontos’ six M40s. The rifle fired a tracer round whose trajectory, at least for the first 1,100 yards, was nearly identical to the M40s, and it marked the spot it hit with a visible puff of smoke. 

A M50 Ontos fires at snipers along the urban streets of Hue during the Battle of Hue City, 1968. The Ontos proved its value during the Tet Offensive. 
Although deployed in the Lebanon Crisis of 1958 & the American intervention in the Dominican Republic, the Ontos was best remembered for its actions during the Vietnam War from 1965 onwards. They quickly proved themselves as highly capable infantry support weapons, providing excellent frontal fire and flank protection, Using HEAT rounds, the Ontos was an excellent bunker-buster. But where it truly excelled was as an anti-personnel weapon. A “beehive” round was developed for the M40 that, upon exploding, unleashed a massive whirlwind cloud of nearly 10,000 steel flechettes. As a result, the VC and NVA were terrified of the Ontos, and avoided it wherever possible.

An M50 Ontos passes US Marines in Hue on February 23, 1968
On Jan. 30, 1968, the NVA launched the Tet Offensive. It was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the entire Vietnam War, nowhere as hard fought as in Hue City. One of the Marine officers leading the siege of the Citadel later identified the Ontos as “the most effective of all Marine supporting arms,” in the Battle. 

One of the few surviving vehicles on display nowadays
A year later, the Marines deactivated their Ontos units, and the vehicles were handed over to the Army’s light infantry brigade. The Army used them until their parts ran out and then employed them as bunkers. What happened to them after that is largely unknown. After Vietnam, some were handed over to civilian agencies and used as forestry vehicles. A tiny number made it into collectors’ hands. Some are in museums. According to Mike Scudder, a former Marine who owns several, there are more World War I tanks in circulation than there are Ontos. 

The kit from Takom:
This kit is part of Takom's ever-expanding 1/16th scale range. To us it is perfectly placed to fit on most people's display cabinets at only 24cm (9.5 inches) and tall to boot, it would be a great showpiece, especially with the included full interior if one could open it up!
A figure sculpted digitally by Jason Studios is included for the human touch. Shells for the six guns are included, plus all the controls the three-man crew would need, jerry cans and tools for the vehicle. 

We expect to see it hit shops next month (late).

That is all we know about this release for now. You can see more about Takom's kits on their website or on their  Facebook page.