By Rob Morgan
I took this snapshot at Pegasus Bridge in Normandy. The original bridge has been replaced with a wider replica, and the original sits in the middle of one of the glider landing fields close to the River Orne. There are a number of relics of the battle, as well as a sizeable museum complete with a Horsa Glider, and this weapon.
It’s a US-manufactured Maxson Mount, 4x.50 heavy Browning machine guns on a remarkable powered mounting. I first encountered this weapon when Matchbox issued their M16 Half-Track with Maxson in 1/72nd scale, what 40 years ago? It complemented the Airfix M3 well, and I bought three. One ended up ‘Lend-Lease’ to my wargame Red Army, one was captured, and mounted on a GMC truck, and the third’s still in the box.
What a superb weapon this was. Not a huge calibre 12.7mm, but a very powerful A/A and ground fire combination. Fully electrically powered, the gunner sat inside the guns, and each ammunition box held 200 rounds, with a very high rate of fire, and a ceiling of about 3,000 feet. It was truly capable of all-round fire. I believe many of them served well after World War II ended (even in Vietnam possibly) , while examples were provided to countries like Brazil and Israel. The mounting shown here has a compact and business-like look to it. I’ve often wondered why the Maxson didn’t find its way onto MTB’s or light warships. Perhaps it did.
A pity about all those marvellous and unusual Matchbox kits. The designers and manufacturers avoided the trap of duplicating what Airfix, then first in the field, had already made, and somehow ‘topped-up’ the 1/72nd military model market. Mind you, Matchbox did produce a splendid MkV Panther that was straightforward to build and wicked looking, easily displacing the frail, complex Airfix model of a decade before.