|This page is about the American SPAA M42. For other versions, see M42 (Family). For other uses, see M42 (Disambiguation).
The M42 "Duster" is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun mounted on the M41 light tank chassis used by the U.S. Army during World War II. It is an easily transported, lightly armoured vehicle that was constructed for the U.S. Army between 1952 and December 1960 and remained operational until 1988. General Motors Corporation's tank division was in charge of producing the M42 "Duster". The primary armament is comprised of two fully automatic 40 mm M2A1 Bofors autocannons. In the Vietnam War, it proved to be effective against unarmored ground forces despite its original design for anti-aircraft use.
Introduced in Update 1.47 "Big Guns", the M42 "Duster" is a highly mobile and lightly armoured vehicle. Avoid taking on opponents that have enough armour to withstand your shots. Utilize your exceptional mobility to execute flanking manoeuvres early in the fight to strike the flanks of the adversary. The primary armament works just as well against aircraft. Even the largest plane can be brought down with a single direct hit. Please note, nonetheless, that most crews are in complete exposure without any protection. Remain under cover at all times and be aware of plane strafing.
Survivability and armour
Armour may as well be non-existent on the M42. Built off the chassis of the M41 Walker Bulldog, the SPAA can be penetrated by anything in the game, except for those few tanks armed with only machine guns, of course. In this tank, speed is your armour. A stationary Duster is a scrapped Duster unless you're firing on an aircraft, in which you should stop behind some cover.
- Rolled homogeneous armour
|Front (Slope angle)
| 12.7 mm (33°) Front glacis
25.7 mm (39°) Bottom glacis
| 12.7 mm Top
19 mm Bottom
- Suspension wheels and tracks are 15 mm thick.
|Max Speed (km/h)
|Engine power (horsepower)
|Power-to-weight ratio (hp/ton)
This tank can go about 72 km/h forwards and -20 km/h backwards. Either way, it's fast. Being built with neutral steering and lighter than the M41A1. It should have no difficulty getting out of a situation in a pinch.
Modifications and economy
The M42 Duster is armed with two 40 mm Dual Automatic Gun M2 anti-aircraft guns. They have a decent rate of fire and you will seldom have to stop and wait for a reload - more likely, you'll have to wait for the gun barrel to cool down. Against aircraft, these guns are deadly. A shot or two will be more than enough to shoot down an enemy. They are also quite deadly against lightly armoured vehicles, such as enemy SPAAs or light tanks such as the Spähpanzer Ru 251 or M41 Walker Bulldog, and you can penetrate the side of Panthers, too. However, they require direct hits. Against the Soviet heavy or British medium tanks you are likely to encounter, however these guns will do nothing for you. You will rarely get an opportunity to use the Bofors on another tank, as they simply lack the penetration to do so - 72 mm doesn't get you very far at Rank IV. If you can get the guns to hit, you should have no trouble knocking aircraft out of the sky.
|40 mm Dual Automatic Gun M2 (x2)
|Turret rotation speed (°/s)
|Reloading rate (seconds)
- Default: · - These work fine, a hit on an aircraft means instant disassembly for it and still is able to hurt ground vehicles, especially if it is side into the side of a enemy tank.
- Mk.II: - These mean bad news for aircraft, what should be used for AA work.
- M81A1: - These are the worst belts against airplanes. However, they are able to hurt ground vehicles especially if shot into the side of an enemy tank. If you plan on penetrating tanks, load this and flank, since side shots are almost a necessity.
| Type of
|Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
| Type of
| Fuse delay
| Fuse sensitivity
| Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
- Ammunition is modeled as 60 clips of 8 rounds.
- The visual discrepancy concerns the total number of rounds: 232 rounds are modeled (58 clips of 4 rounds) but you can pack 480 rounds (60 clips of 8 rounds).
Usage in battles
This tank has no armour, but a lot of speed and guns that do nothing against anything with actual armour. Refrain from attacking enemies that can take a hit from you, though you can roam around the battlefield with your insane speed and act as a scout. You can still shoot enemies to mark them on the mini-map for all players to see, although it will also expose you. However, you could stay with your teammates and shoot down planes that will be harassing them. They know the danger of the Bofors guns, but for some pilots, that is a gamble they are willing to take. A good way to lure planes toward you is the act like you don't see them, shoot off at some distant (ground) target, at which the plane will notice you are "distracted" and as they begin to dive to attack you, quickly re-aim the cannons and fire.
Pros and cons
- 40 mm cannons are devastating to planes
- AP rounds able to penetrate roughly 60 mm can be used against most medium tank side armour it could face, like the T-34-85, Chi-Ri II, Panther A/D
- Unsynchronized firing helps improve overall fire rate
- Outside from default belts, the other belt options are made of a single type of shell that can be relied on
- Relatively fast vehicle with good mobility due to the M41A1 light tank basis
- Fast turret traverse rate helps track aircraft
- Improved mobility, protection and ammunition count compared to M19
- Despite 40 mm cannons and the unsynchronized firing, the overall fire rate is still lower than its contemporaries
- 40 mm AP rounds are not the best AP rounds to use overall due to relatively low penetration; cannot penetrate all-round protected heavy tanks like the IS-2 or Tiger H1/E
- Relatively bad depression angles, a little worse than on the M19, which means the M42 has to expose itself to shoot over hills
- Open turret allows aerial attacks and machine guns to decimate the exposed crew
- Very thin armour hull, can be penetrated by .50 cal found on the M4
- Careless driving can damage the vehicle
- Ammo can be used up rather quickly due to the dual-gun firing, prolonged combat can find the ammo stowage run empty
- Easily ammo-racked due to racks scattered all around the turret, aerial autocannons could set it off if hit
- Bad mobility when stock
During late World War II and the Korean War, the US Army were using the Twin Gun Motor Carriage M19 as their main armoured forces anti-aircraft gun. However, during the Korean War, the US Army decides to phase out their M24 Chaffees and its variants, M19 included, in order to implement newer designs made in the time period. One of these newer designs was the development of the M41 Walker Bulldog light tank. The 40 mm armament on the M19 was deemed effective enough to continue usage past the M19, so the turret of the M19 with the twin 40 mm cannons was taken off the chassis and modified to fit the chassis of the M41 light tank, which had a larger turret ring than the M24 Chaffee. This instalment of the anti-aircraft armament onto the M41 light tank was designated as the M42. The production of the vehicle began in early 1952 at the General Motors Cleveland Tank Plant and entered service in 1953, replacing the many other self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles the army was fielding. Production continued from 1952 to December 1959, ending with a total number of 3,700 units. During the production, the M42 was upgraded in 1956 with a new engine and other upgrades common with the M41 light tank, this upgraded variant was the M42A1.
The M42 was kept in US inventory past the Korean War, however, it was sometime between then and the 1960s that the US Army came to the conclusion that ordinary anti-aircraft guns are unable to engage the new aircraft age of jets. Thus, the M42 was to be retired in 1963 and replaced by the HAWK surface-to-air missile. Though, even after their retirement, the units stationed at the Panama Canal Zone kept their M42s until the 1970s.
Then in the 1960s, with the intensity of the Vietnam War brewing up, more American soldiers get stationed in the country. Experiences with the missile showed that the HAWK missile system suppose to engage the new jet planes performed badly in low-altitude defence. In order to ensure a tight grip on the airspace, the Army began to reissue the M42s to the Army in the air defence artillery battalions which contain four M42 batteries and one headquarters battery. These M42s start arriving in the fall of 1966 in three battalions, 1/44th, 5/2nd, and the 4/60th Battalions. Though, despite their role, no dire air threat was presented from the North Vietnamese to the South, so the M42s were relegated to ground support duties in a tradition shared by its past predecessors. The M42s in this role was deployed as on-point security, convoy escorts, or a perimeter defence; it was in these roles that the M42 earned its nickname "Duster" for its lethality and effectiveness in ground support roles against the infantry.
After Vietnam, the M42 Dusters-equipped battalions were deactivated in late December 1971. These Dusters still in Vietnam were given to the ARVN forces. Training dusters at Fort Bliss were given back to the National Guard it was originally issued to, and multiple National Guard units were stationed with the M42 until it was officially retired in 1988, with the last unit retiring it be 2nd Battalion, 263 Air Defense Artillery.
The M42 self-propelled 40 mm anti-air mount built by General Motors (GM). It was based on the M41 light tank and was intended to replace the M19 self-propelled anti-air mount. The unofficial name "Duster" was also used for this installation. A total of 3,700 M42's were produced between 1951 and 1959.
- Other vehicles of similar configuration and role
|USA anti-aircraft vehicles
|M3 Half-track derivatives
|M13 MGMC · M15 CGMC · M16 MGMC
|M163 · M247
|Imp.Chaparral · LAV-AD · XM975