DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6714, Armored ¼-Ton 4x4 Truck w/.50cal. Machine Gun Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 142 styrene parts (including four clear), three photo-etched brass frets, one water-slide decal/markings scheme and six pages of instructions in 10 steps, plus addendum leaflet.
The supremely-adaptable US-made ¼-ton, 4x4 Truck, commonly known as the Jeep, was produced in extremely large numbers during the Second World War. Typical of what has been termed as Yankee Ingenuity, US units created numerous specialized field modifications, to include various weapons fits and even improvised armor.
DML latest iteration of the Jeep provides etched brass parts for the expedient armor sometimes seen in the latter stages of the campaigns in NW Europe, as well as a .50 cal. M2 heavy machine gun on a pedestal mount. In this guise, the jeep conducted reconnaissance missions. Fast, nimble, reliable and rather well-armed and armored for its size, this version was fairly well-suited to the mission.
When Cyberhobby released their SAS Jeep, several problems were noted by reviewers. The detail on the wheels was suspect; the grill did not match the prototype; the hump in the cab over the transfer case was poorly-represented; the drivers seat frame was incorrectly-shaped; the reinforcing rib on the engine access hood was not present. Finally the firewall segment inside the cab also had minor shape problems
I am happy to report that, except for the last item, DML has taken the criticism to heart and has substantially improved the kit by addressing the above concerns.
Six complete wheels are provided, two of which represent the spares; one is mounted on the rear of the body. Each front wheel consists of three parts each, with separate tire backs and brake drums. Each rear wheel consists of four parts each, to include separate backs, brake drums and wheel hub centers. The two-part spare is mounted to a separate bracket, which is in turn fixed to the rear body panel.
These are all completely new parts and they now capture the appearance of the prototype in almost perfect fashion; they only lack tire side-wall data and air filler valve stems. The tire treads sport the usual non-directional lug pattern, which was the most-often seen type.
Four separate leaf-spring bundles are provided, with each being specifically tailored to its location. For instance, that on the drivers side has an extra bundle below the main one, which was fitted to counter steering problems. Up front, the shock absorbers are separate, while those at the rear are pre-attached to the axle.
Chassis, Engine and Drive Train.
The chassis frame is a one-piece molding that includes the frame, rear bumperettes and various cross-members, all as one single part. This is well done, but the modeler will probably wish to thin the rear bumperettes for a more in-scale look, especially on their bottom rims. The front plate of the front bumper is separate, which, when assembled to the frame, well-represents its C-shaped cross-section. Part of the rear trailer hitch is molded in place, with a separate part completing it.
The gear transfer box and the both axles are separate parts, with the latter having more parts added to complete them. The steering linkage for the front axle is a three-part assembly, while the plate protecting the belly has the exhaust muffler molded with it; the pipe end will need to be drilled-out for the proper effect. The engine is broken down into multiple parts for good detail rendition, and is more complete in that regard than most. Separate parts for the battery and other items finish the engine compartment, along with a three-part radiator.
The body is created using a slide-mold, but it has been modified compared to the initial Cyberhobby release. It includes both of the sides, the floor and the engine compartment firewall as a single part. The re-tooled grill is separate and it now represents the real Jeep in excellent fashion.
The molding of the front fenders does not altogether capture their proper look, being a bit thin in section. A styrene strip should be added along their outer rims, along the bottom edge for a more accurate appearance. Reference photos will be helpful in this regard. Under the front fenders, there are also braces molded in place. A two-part etched brass brush guard protects the separate black-out head-lamp; this assembly is new for this release. The T-shaped clasps that held the engine access hood in the locked and lowered position are provided as etched brass parts. I would have preferred styrene alternatives as the etched brass does not completely capture the bulk of the clasps, but at least they are included for the first time in any 1/35th-scale Jeep kit.
The engine access hood is new for this release. It also has separate etched brass locking clasps; the bump-stops for the folded-down windshield are molded in place and the longitudinal rib in the center is now included. The hood has a very thin forward edge; its hinge is also separate. Unlike the CH release, there are no ejector pin marks on the inner surface but there are still no other details under there either. So, if the hood is opened to reveal the engine, some detail can be added based on photographs.
The bodys side panels are completely detailed, with all rivets and fasteners molded in place; this is another first in this scale. The four separate grab-handles also have the tiny rivets that connected them to the body molded in place. On the lower rear corners of each side panel, are the molded-in-place reflectors; these also include minute fastener details. The small bracket, forward of the drivers position, which held the side-view mirror (itself not included, since it was removed from armored Jeeps) is a separate etched brass part.
The axe and shovel usually mounted on the drivers side are now included; they are complimented by etched brass mounting straps. Their mounts and the tie-down loops for the straps are properly molded in place.
The rear body panel is separate; it is new for this issue and is configured to mount one spare tire (described above) and the jerry can rack. The panel includes molded-on tail lamps and reflectors, as well as a cap for the electrical power and brake-line to the trailer. The jerry can consists of four styrene parts, while the rack is composed of two etched brass parts, with a third etched brass part for the retaining strap. The jerry cans filler port cap is provided in styrene with an etched brass part as an option, but I would not use the latter item.
A multi-part assembly is provided for the frames that held the erected foul weather canvas cover. It is not for use, since it was often removed but if the modeler wishes to install it, I do not see any reason not to do so.
Driver and Passenger Compartments.
The drivers compartment is quite complete. It includes a separate dash-board/instrument panel, which itself includes a separate handle for the parking brake. Decals are provided are for the instrument dial faces and data/warning placards. Separate brake, gas and clutch pedals are then added. Most of these features have never been seen before in a 1/35th-scale Jeep kit. The steering column along with the steering wheel is then put in place, as are the three gear shifting/transfer box levers.
The driver and passenger seats are then added. Each of these is a three-part assembly and they also differ slightly in configuration. The frame for the drivers seat has been re-tooled for a more correct appearance. Since the seat cushions are separate, the proper under-cut between them and the seat frames are well-represented, again another first in this scale. Below the driver is a separate part for the top of the fuel tank, with a separate part added beneath the body to finish it off. The tanks top should have some details added, such as the filler cap; no other 1/35th-scale Jeep kit has this detail either. New for this kit is a two-part rear compartment bench seat.
The main attraction of this kit is the expedient armor as fitted by the US 82nd Airborne Division to its reconnaissance Jeeps in NW Europe. It is provided in the form of two etched brass parts. The first covers the radiator, while the second, a much larger part, wraps around the front and sides of the crew compartment. These are well-done and quite easy to use, as they feature engraved lines where they should be bent.
Weapons and Accessories.
This particular kit features a .50 cal. M2 heavy machine-gun as its main armament; actually, the box contains two of them. One is not for use and has apparently been replaced by a new sprue, accompanied by the instruction addendum leaflet. The for-use M2 is a multi-part assembly based on a one-piece, slide-molded barrel and receiver group. This means that the bore is already opened up, the barrel cooling jacket has proper perforations and the innards of the receiver are also completely detailed. There is a separate receiver cover, separate cocking handle and separate hand-grips. The rear sight is also quite intricately rendered, the cradle is molded in place and the barrel features the changing/carrying handle in-situ.
The gun comes with the 50-round ammunition box, which is composed of three etched brass parts; two additional etched brass parts are provided for the ammo boxs cradle. The pintle is a two-part assembly and the pedestal also includes a separate travel lock. The pintle and the pedestal must be modified as per the instructions and permanently fixed in place. I would add a brass pin and drill a hole in the top of the pedestal and the bottom of the pintle, both for strength and also to allow for some rotation in azimuth. Other parts on the sprues provide for two 100-round and two 50-round ammo boxes, as well as two more (different) pintles. These are all marked as not for use, but I see no reason to be dogmatic in this regard.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding and fit appears to be fine.
Accuracy and Details.
Overall, it appears that the kit is basically quite accurate, especially since most, if not all, of the major gripes with the Cyberhobby SAS Jeep have been addressed. The kit has two unique features that identify it as a Willys MB Jeep: tubular forward-most cross-member on the chassis frame, and specifically-shaped engine hood-mounted windshield bump-stops.
These are concise and easily understood. They are presented as line drawings.
Decals and Markings Information.
The water-slide decals are as usual, printed by Cartograf of Italy. Everything is in one color (white) so registration is not an issue. The carrier film is thin, matte and cut close to the edge of each individual design.
As mentioned, dial faces and data placards are provided. There are enough of each to finish two Jeeps, with some extras left-over.
Only four Allied white stars are included, with the three smaller ones including a ring surround. One set of registration numbers are provided, which match some of the digits seen in the well-known photo of this vehicle. Four sets of separate numbers are given, which when assembled, will provide more variety. A pair of USA markings, five letter Ss and four hyphens are given. The latter two characters will allow the registration number to indicate that the vehicle has had its potential for radio interference Suppressed.
No bumper codes are given nor are there any extra letters to create them. This is especially disappointing, since the box art (the usual excellent product from Ron Volstad), shows the well-known armored Jeep of the US 82nd Airborne Division. This particular example had full bumper codes and it is certain that the armor layout is exclusive to this unit. On the other hand, any modeler of Allied vehicles worth his salt should have spares enough to create any bumper codes he might desire. Still, it would have been nice if the manufacturer had provided them. The color scheme is overall US Olive Drab.
This is a far better rendition than the previously-released Cyberhobby SAS Desert Raider kit. All the major shortcomings of that kit have been addressed and there are details provided not seen in any other 1/35th-scale Jeep kit. The inclusion of the armor and the well-done armament package make this a kit that should appeal to fans of the Jeep and US operations in NW Europe in the period 1944-45.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included:
1. Indestructible Jeep; Ballantine Weapons Book No.36, by D. Denfeld & M. Fry.
2. Jeep 1942-1954; Collection No.1, Brooklands Books, by R.M. Clark.
3. Jeep Genesis, The Rifkind Report; ISO-Galago, by H. Rifkind.
4. The US Army Jeep at War: Concord 7058, by S. Zaloga.
5. Jeeps 1941-45; Osprey New Vanguard 117, by S. Zaloga & H. Johnson.
6. The Long Range Desert Group; Osprey Vanguard 36, by R. Jenner, D. List, P. Sarson & K. Lyles.
7. Catalog of American Army Vehicles of World War II; US Government document re-print by Portrayal Press.
8. Jeep in Detail: Willys MA & MB in the First 50 Years of Service; Wings & Wheels Publications Special Museum Line No.5, by F. Koran & J. Mostek.
9. GPW Jeeps in Detail; R 046, Wings & Wheels Publications, by D. Doyle, F. Koran & J. Mostek.
10. Browning .50-Caliber Machine Guns; Osprey Weapon 4, by G. Rottman.
11. Military Small Arms of the 20th-Century, 7th Edition; Krauss, by I. Hogg & J. Weeks.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragon-models.com
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