Mike Posted August 14, 2022 Share Posted August 14, 2022 Austin K2/Y Ambulance (A1375) 1:35 Airfix A militarised version of the Austin K30 30-cwt truck chassis was the basis for this ambulance, known as the K2 chassis to which they fixed a boxy body made by coach-builders Mann Egerton. The load area had been developed by the Royal Army Medical Corps and was capable of carrying up to ten seated casualties or four stretcher-cases, loaded from the double doors at the rear, but with access from the crew cab, which had simplified canvas flaps instead of doors that must have made from a draughty ride during the winter. It was powered by a 6-cylinder 3.5L Austin engine with a non-synchromesh ‘crash’ four-speed gearbox that had to be practiced and fully understood in order to be mastered. Lots of crunching gears were the symptoms of someone unfamiliar with the box, which complained loudly if you didn’t get the revs and clutch timing just right. Double-declutching was a common technique to smooth out gear changes, and with a trailing wind it could reach a maximum speed of around 50mph. The type was very well-liked by its operators, and was a literal life-saver to its passengers. During HM Queen Elizabeth’s Auxiliary Territorial Service training, she learned to drive a K2 ambulance and probably still has memories of that gearbox. Many hundreds were made during WWII, and a few even found their way into American service, with the type seeing the end of WWII and some of the Korean War before it was phased out. My father was an RAF Ambulance driver in the 50s serving in Germany, and remembers the type, but he drove a German made Ford during his period driving his “blood wagon” as he calls it. The Kit This is a new tooling from Airfix’s recent 1:35 scale AFV line, many of which have been reboxings from Korean company Academy. There has been talk of this kit being tooled for them by Academy, and the style of the sprues plus the Korean language on the back of the decal sheet backs that up. The kit arrives in a sturdy top-opening red-themed box, and inside are three sand-coloured sprues plus a separate single bonnet/hood that has been slide-moulded for detail. A clear sprue and a small Photo-Etch (PE) sheet completes the build fodder, and the instruction booklet rounds out the package, with colour profiles on the rear pages. Detail is good throughout, although there is no engine within the bay, and the square vents on the roof means that the kit depicts the later variant, the earlier roof having circular rotary vents. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, making it up from two rails with four cross-braces and a H-shaped front section that is moulded as one piece. The middle brace, part D13 has a square raised section on the top surface that should be used as an alignment cue, as identified in the diagram. A depiction of the underside of the Austin motor and gearbox drops in from above, and the rear leaf-springs are added to mounts on the sides at the back of the chassis. This supports the bulbous two-part back axle, which fits onto two rectangular plates, and is joined to the back of the gearbox by a long drive-shaft. The front leaf-springs attach to the sides at the front that supports the axle beam, and has a two-part exhaust slipped under that exits near the back axle on the left. A steering arm links the two front wheels together, which are different from the rear wheels, although they both have three parts each, just different hubcap details. The front wheels are covered over by a single-piece wrap-around wheel arch, and the twin fuel tanks are made up from four-parts each before they are attached to slots in the sides of the chassis rail, taking care to use the correct one for each side, as they are handed. The floor of the load area is moulded as a complex single part that incorporates the cab as well as the load area. It has the driver’s foot pedals fixed in the planked front, and two stretchers are laid on the raised seating area, which has an outrigger glued to the edge to take the wider stretcher’s feet in grooves. The bulkhead between the two areas is installed with the separate door able to be posed open or closed, and an upstand for the spare wheel is laid on the floor in front of it, with an extra angled section to support the tyre. The door also has a clear pane in the top, and what appears to be a fold-down jump seat glued to the centre section in the load area side. The interior side walls of the body are separate from the exterior, and have another bench about half way up with cushions on the base, and another stretcher that fits into slots like the lower one. The end-caps glue into slots in the wall, and the walls are then fitted to grooves in the floor. The crew cab receives the two-part spare tyre that is fixed in place by a bracket so it doesn’t roll away during cornering or braking, with a shallow hump in the outer wall to accommodate its bulk. The driver’s seat drops into place on two L-shaped lugs, and here there’s a shallow sink-mark in the centre of the seat part, which should be filled if you think it will be seen. The dashboard is a wide, straight part that lives up to its name, and has decals for the instruments, plus a steering wheel on long column that fits under the dash, then is mounted on the raised centre console, which has two levers located in front of it. A simple padded box seat is added for the co-driver, who also has a small rectangular pad fitted to the wall behind him, the lucky thing. At this point the outer walls are glued into position on the body, taking care to paint the sections that will be visible through the larger internal windows, as well as an empty rack for a pair of rifles next to the driver’s seat, and another pad that is located on the co-driver’s side. The rear frame starts closing in the back of the body with added hinges at the top and bottom of each side, then the windscreen with two clear panels is attached to the cab, covered over with a two-layer sloped roof to keep the drivers dry. At the rear the main roof is also two layers, adding extra detail to the interior, and helped by adding rectangular PE flanges to the edges of the two roof vents, after which you can put in the two back doors in either the open or closed position. The body is then flipped over onto its back to fit a pair of boxes just behind the cab, and another two at the very rear, the latter made from five parts each. The body and chassis are joined together, and while the model is still inverted, the rear wheels are bracketed by a large pair of angled mudguards, the forward two having brackets holding them in position. Flipping her back over onto her wheels again, you can choose whether to have the back steps deployed or folded in, and build up the engine cowling. Oddly, there’s a radiator core inside the cowling that won’t really be seen, as the radiator cowling is a plastic part with a mesh texture moulded into the panels, albeit very nice texture. The top cowling is on its own sprue fragment, as it has been slide-moulded to achieve crisp detail on all three sides, including a nicely done set of louvers on the sides. This drops over the engine bay, sealing it off from view. The canvas side-doors are depicted rolled up at the front of the openings, and a wing-mirror is mounted above it on each side of the windscreen frame, then the side-lights and headlights with a choice of clear lens or hooded shroud are fixed on the wings and bonnet sides, with the front bumper bar mounted in front of the radiator on two brackets. A circular PE placard is mounted to the right wing on a PE bracket, finishing the build. Markings There are four decal options on the sheet, and you’d think they’d all be boring green, but they’re not. The different schemes are not only disparate, but one of them is also quite fun, with plenty of masking required in order to do it justice. From the box you can build one of the following: 30 Corps, Motor Ambulance Convoy, Royal Army Service Corps, North West Europe, 1944 British Army, North Africa, 1940 British Army, Alexandria, Egypt, 1942 (Not the one from Ice Cold in Alex) Auxiliary Territorial Service, England, 1944 Driven by Princess Elizabeth Decals appear to be printed by a Korean company in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin high gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s a really nice modern tooling of the almost ubiquitous British WWII ambulance, and may well feature in a few Ice Cold in Alex dioramas soon. It’s a shame there’s no engine, but how many would have been exposed anyway? There is resin for that if you’re so minded. At time of writing, it’s available at a discount with a FREE Airfix branded pint glass. What are you waiting for? Highly recommended. 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