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First Look Review
M4 Tractor
M-4 High Speed Tractor, 18-Ton
  • Minitank 18-Ton Tractor M-4

by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

the M4 18-Ton High Speed Tractor

In mid-1942 the U.S. Army debuted the M4 18-Ton High Speed Tractor to pull the M1, M2, M59 155mm Towed Field Gun, M-115 8" Towed Howitzer, or 240mm artillery pieces, and the M1, M1A1, M2 90mm Antiaircraft gun or the M5 3" antitank gun. Two versions were built, the difference being the ammunition locker in the rear. For the heavier rounds the Type B had a small crane and hoist to handle them. Roco's is the Type A version for carrying either 3 in. or 90 mm anti-aircraft ammo. The M-4 served until 1960.

The vehicle could carry 10 men and crewed by a driver. It weighed 31,500 lbs, and was 7 ft, 10 in. high, 8 ft, 1 in. wide and 17 ft, 2 in. long. The 210hp Waukesha 145GZ 6-cylinder gasoline engine allowed up to 35 mph on roads and a 180 mi. range.

The model

The model is packaged in Roco's traditional orange and blue bubble pack, with text in English and German. A brief history is on the back. The model is built and has an optional canvas cover for the .50 caliber AA gun ring.

The molding is sharp and without sinkholes, with minor flash amongst the running gear. The models are snap-tight, and the front of the lower hull has the tab and slots holding the two pieces together. These will be easy to fill and sand. Roco never put much emphasis on track detail. Nor is there even a hint of interior detail aside from the seat benches.


Minitanks may not universally be considered models, but are widely used amongst model railroaders, war gamers, and even the military for sand table planning. The track detail is the greatest drawback of these models. For decades Minitanks have become more sophisticated with many add-on parts, and series of super-detail sets. The fidelity of parts on some of the vehicles is incredible.

minitanks--roco or herpa?

Austrian model railroad giant Roco released this M-4 as part of their huge HO (1/87) Minitanks series. Minitanks is known for detailing, scale and precision in the model building world ever since. Roco was forced into reorganization recently and the Minitanks series is now distributed by Herpa. For this reason, I refer to the series simply as Minitanks. Herpa's website states, ”On October 1, 2007, Herpa has taken on the worldwide distribution of the military series Minitanks. In cooperation with the Modelleisenbahn GmbH (Roco), the line will be continuously advanced and extended.”

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Good detail. Optional AA machinegun ring cover.
Lows: Tab and slots mar the front of the hull.
Verdict: Nice representation of this common tractor.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: Z-178 (Roco), 743051 (Herpa)
  Suggested Retail: $6.99
  Related Link: Herpa Rigid tractor M4
  PUBLISHED: Feb 10, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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  • Minitank 18-Ton Tractor M-4
  • Minitank 18-Ton Tractor M-4
  • Minitank 18-Ton Tractor M-4
  • Minitank 18-Ton Tractor M-4