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Army_Air_Force

"Dodging" the Active Runway - 1/35 Flying Control WC51

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Back in 2010, having built a 1/35th scale version of my 1/1 scale "Follow Me" Jeep, I decided to have a go at my friend's "Flying Control" converted Dodge WC51 Weapon Carrier. Little did I know that later in the year, the Dodge would change to my ownership, where I would continue the conversion work and fit aircraft radios!  This was the vehicle during my trip home with it in early September 2010.

 

recovery3.jpg

 

So when I set out to build the model, it would be based on how the 1944 Dodge looked prior to my ownership, seen below in 2008. The vehicle is a standard 1944 Dodge WC51 Weapon Carrier, but with a wooden body and observation dome built over the original canvas covered cargo area. The vehicle was rebuilt post war by the Norwegian Army. During the rebuild it was fitted with the late war shorter "Access Body" giving more room for the driver to get past the spare wheel, but with the early war shorter step which was for the longer body!

The Flying Control conversion was started by myself and my friend who owned the vehicle at the time. He really wanted a Flying Control Caravan, but as he lived in the Lake District, the roads made it less practical. I suggested converting the truck to an airfield radio vehicle instead which he agreed to. The rear body was made from recycled shuttering plywood, built onto the roof bows that originally supported the canvas roof. The dome was a wartime Avro Anson astrodome. The sides of the rear body were made to fold down to aid visibility when driving. There were no permanent fittings inside the truck at this point, so the inside of the model would be fairly easy.

 

It was a while back now, but I think it was the Italeri kit that was the starting point for the build.

 

neam3.jpg

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Not actually having access to the vehicle limited the research I could do. I had a few photos from when we built the rear body as reference, and a few pictures from shows where we'd had the vehicles together. 

 

The chassis was the first stage of the build, and the first parts to be added were the rear bumperettes. The mouldings were fairly thick compared to the real thing, so they were thinned to give a better appearance. The front bumper was attached to the short version of the chassis legs, to copy the WC51 version. The WC52 had lengthened chassis legs to accomodate the front mounted winch drum. Also attached in this picture is the springs, axles and transmission.

 

dodge01.jpg

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The lower part of the rear body was built as per kit to start with, although it was going to need modifying. On the real Dodge, the left and right sides are different lengths. The right side extends further forwards than the canvas roof, and a Jerrycan holder is located there.

right.jpg

The left side is shorter, the same length as the roof canvas, to give space for the spare wheel. Even with this shorter side, with the spare wheel in place, it is still virtually impossible to get out of the drivers seat and climb out past the wheel. Here's the Dodge before the rear body was modified, still with the canvas roof, and showing the small gap between the body and spare wheel.

This shorter body was actually a modification to allow better access, though still limited. The original left side of Dodges was the same as the right, and came all the way to the spare wheel. Drivers were being killed under fire simply because they couldn't get out quickly.

 

troutbeck5.jpg

 

In my ownership, I moved the spare wheel to under a false floor in the back of the truck. This floor would be the support for the observers chair. Moving the wheel allowed me to make some "field mod" doors to keep the freezing cold out.

 

Here's the unmodified, but complete lower body from the kit.

 

dodge02.jpg

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The front body was built straight from the kit. The only modifications that would be needed were trimming/extending the sides next to the seats to match the rear body mods.

 

dodge03.jpg

 

The kit's rear canvas roof was of little use, as the truck has a 'Field Mod' wooden body added over the original canvas supports. The beginnings of the front and rear upper body, plus rear doors are shown here made from 0.5mm styrene sheet and microstrip.

 

dodge04.jpg

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The front part of the canvas roof moulding will be used. On the real Dodge, the canvas over the cab is a separate piece to the rear canvas. The cab section was kept on the truck after the new wooden body was fitted. On the model, the forward section of this moulding, will be trimmed off and used.

This two piece canvas roof has caught out many drivers of 1/1 scale Dodges. When it rains, water pools in the sag between the roof bows. The curve of the fabric at the side forms a natural lip and it can hold around 5 gallons up there, usually freezing cold.

As you drive away, the water stays pooled up there, but as soon as you brake, the 5 gallons of water rushes forwards, under the edge of the cab canvas, and deposits itself on the unfortunate driver! I wonder how many GI's and current day Dodge owners have been caught out over the years! Fortunately for me, with the wooden body conversion, my Dodge doesn't have this problem.

 

Here's the kit roof moulding.

 

dodge03a.jpg.bb4684ab5d46c7cdf0d027d3b91

 

Here's the front bodywork attached to the chassis.

 

dodge05.jpg

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Here's the modifications made to the rear lower body. The right side had a 2mm styrene sheet added, onto which a small strip was added to simulate the slight lip. The upper edge of the body also needed a small piece of styrene adding to extend it. The left side had around 5mm cut off, before adding a styrene facing piece which was has two scored grooves to represent two swaged stiffeners. The upper edge of this was extended forwards and part way around the front.

 

dodge06.jpg

 

Front and rear body are trial fitted and trimmed to fit around each other. You can see that the body on the right side comes to about half way along the seat while the left side ends flush with the seat back.

 

dodge07.jpg

 

dodge08.jpg

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By the end of the evening, the front and rear body of the truck were attached to the chassis, and the steps were attached. They both needed the edges slightly rounding off. Stiffeners were also added to the bottom edges. The rear bench seat backrests were fitted next and then then support the rear panel of the upper part of the body.

 

dodge09.jpg

 

Last thing done that session was to add the 'ply' sides which are glued to the bench backrests. These were painted internally before gluing.

 

dodge10.jpg

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The next stage was to trim the height on the front part of the body to match the rear and then glue it in place. This was glued to the 'ply' sides for support.

 

dodge11.jpg

 

While that was drying, I started on the roof. This is the outside of the roof, with the hole and raised support for the astro-dome. The raised edge around the dome mount stops any rain running into the dome opening. The dome on the real truck actually comes from an Avro Anson.

 

dodge12.jpg

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The inside of the roof had the support structure added, and was then given a light coat of paint. The ply used on the truck was a fairly pale colour, shuttering type ply. It was actually rescued from a skip outside a church following building works. A donation to the church secured the seven sheets of 8x4 ply for the Dodge project.

 

dodge13.jpg

 

When the paint was dry, the roof panel was glued on. The curved roof sections will have to wait until the centre roof bow is made. The opening parts of the sides would be left until later in the project after the body was painted.

 

dodge14.jpg

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The centre roof support was shaped at its curved top end, and added to each side of the truck. They would have to dry for a while before I could start plankin the curve at the top of the roof.

 

dodge15.jpg

 

dodge16.jpg

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As previously shown, the forward part of the canvas was going to be used. The area was cut free with a hacksaw blade, and then slowly trimmed down to the moulded scalloped edge where the canvas is stretched by the straps that hold the roof on.

 

dodge17.jpg

 

Once shaped, the edges of the canvas piece were thinned down to create a more realistic edge thickness, as the original moulding was over 1mm thick.

 

dodge18.jpg

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The canvas trimming took quite a bit of time, but eventually I was able to move back to the truck roof, focussing on to the curved parts of the roof. Like the fullsize, these were made from slightly over thick strips of material, with chamfered edges. On the model, they are about 1.2mm wide, cut with a scalpel as I didn't have any suitable microstrip. The pieces were butt jointed around the curve and filler applied over to fill any remaining gaps. The whole lot was then left to harden over night so they can be sanded next session.

 

dodge19.jpg

 

dodge20.jpg

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A couple of days later, I was back onto the Dodge. The roof was sanded down which took quite a while. I didn't want to over do it and go through the 0.5mm roof planks.

 

dodge21.jpg

 

Inside of the rear body and cab were painted olive drab. It was a little difficult painting the olive roof supports with the brush poking through the various holes, but it had to wait for the roof to be on before they could be done. There were just a few touch ups to do, but overall, it went ok. The bottom of the rear body and radiator were painted, and the handles of the shovel, axe and pick were done too, ready for them to be glued into the tool rack. This wouldn't go on until the checkers were painted.

 

dodge22.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Almost 8 years ago to the day, I spent most of the evening of January 8th 2010 carving, sanding and filing some small pieces of styrene which form the aerial mounts on the back of the truck, plus making the aerial base. The tools for the back of the truck had their painting finished, a spotlight for the roof was started and the wheels glued together and hubs painted, and a plate made and fitted for the rear registration.

 

dodge23.jpg

 

 

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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The next day, after spending the morning at the local aircraft museum, where their Avro Vulcan XL319 had been tipped on its tail by the weight of snow on the wings, I did a little more on the Dodge.

The spotlight was finished and glued on, as was a tiny aerial base. I also started marking out the positions of the checkers on the roof. The real squares are I think 7.5 inches, making the model squares a little under 1/4 inch.

 

dodge24.jpg

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The cab roof canvas was trimmed to fit around the astrodome mount. The missing piece of canvas will have to be made up from filler where it fits over the mount.

 

dodge25.jpg

 

The roof canvas is actually a little bit long, so about 1/16 inch was trimmed off the front edge. The extra length can be seen in the following picture. Where the screen arms clipped into the body resulted in the screen tipped back slightly until the bottom edge touched the body. The screen should actually be vertical, not raked back, so the lugs that fit into the holes in the body were trimmed off to allow the screen to sit correctly.

 

dodge26.jpg

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As well as the screen rake being wrong, the screen pivot arms were also too wide, so some styrene was glued to the inside edge which will be trimmed later once dry.

 

dodge27.jpg

 

All the tyres were then painted, along with the seat cushions, and the tools glued into the tool rack. Next came the Astrodome moulding plug. I started out with a 3/4 inch square strip of dense polyeurethane ( I think ) resin board. This was rough sanded on the belt sander into an octagon shape to better fit in the lathe chuck. It was turned down and finished with wet and dry paper, used wet.

 

dodge28.jpg

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Great little conversion your doing stephen

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Thanks. I rarely build straight out of the box when the model is for myself. Models are expensive enough as it is, so by doing some conversions and scratch building, it takes a bit longer to build and I feel like I'm getting my monies worth out of the kit!!

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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Like your thinking, 

 

Glynn 

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A piece of 1/2 inch plywood was drilled with a hole a bit larger than the plug and a piece of clear plastic tacked with cyano to the ply. The plastic was then heated over the halogen element on the cooker to soften it. Once soft and flexible, the plug was plunged through the plastic into the hole, and then held there until the plastic cooled.

 

dodge29.jpg

 

The plug was removed from the moulding and the plastic cut free from the plywood. It wasn't perfectly clear, but it was good enough. It actually looks more frosted here, looking through several layers of plastic onto the wood background.

 

dodge30.jpg

 

The truck was then sprayed white and can be seen here after painting, with the dome held in place. The paint was then left to harden overnight.

 

dodge31.jpg

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Nice molding idea, I'll  use that one in future 

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I've also used a hot air paint stripper in the past to heat and soften the plastic. With either method, you just need to be careful not to overheat the plastic as it will either split or bubbles can form in it.

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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Great job. I like that a lot your conversion and the Astrodome that you did :clap2:

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