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GAZ-AAA with Quad Maxim AA Gun (84571) 1:35


Mike

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GAZ-AAA with Quad Maxim AA Gun (84571)

1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd

 

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Based on the license-built Ford AA Truck, the predecessor to the Triple-A was named the AA, and was the GAZ factory’s first truck, built at their Gorky plant, which was renamed in the 90s to Nizhny Novgorod.  The AA was however, an upgraded version of the original Ford truck, built from more robust steel and with similarly improved suspension to cope with the rigors of Soviet era Russia’s “roads”, which were sometimes little more than muddy tracks in the winter, and dusty, rutted trails during the summer once the mud had solidified.  By 1938 almost a million had been produced, and the AAA is a three-axle variant, with just under 37,000 built between 1936 and 43, many of which were pressed into military service, with a substantial number of those fitted with a pedestal that mounted a four-gun arrangement of Maxim 7.62mm machine guns, arranged four-abreast, with a single ring and bead sight that would be used by the gunner to aim his weapon.  Its load capacity of 1.5 tonnes allowed it to carry plenty of ammunition to feed the hungry Maxims, which could fire up to 600 round per minute, per gun, a rate that would rapidly deplete any stores during an extended air raid.

 

The truck’s design was supremely oblivious to aerodynamics, mounting a vertical windscreen and grille, only the tapering engine compartment giving any concession to the concept of wind resistance.  Fitted with a pair of frog-eye headlights in front of the GAZ 3.3 litre engine that put down its 50hp of power through a four-speed gearbox reaching a maximum speed of just under 50mph, although how often the roads were suitable for such speed is unknown.  As well as being used to carry four Maxims, two other single-barrelled weapons could be fitted instead, using the 12.7mm DShK “Dooshka” or a 25mm 72-K autocannon that must have really shaken the truck’s chassis and crew.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of Hobby Boss’s 2016 release of the basic AAA truck, but with the quad Maxim installation on the truck bed, and ammo storage added behind the headboard.  It arrives in a standard top-opening box with the corrugations showing slightly through the box art, which is well painted.  Inside are thirteen sprues in sand-coloured styrene, two sprues of clear parts, ten flexible black tyres, a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret, a sheet of pre-cut masks (not pictured), decal sheet, the black & white instruction booklet, and a separate painting and decaling guide that is printed in colour on both sides of a sheet of glossy A4 paper.  Detail is good, with a full chassis, engine and bay, plus the cab interior and load area with gun mount.  The inclusion of masks for both sides of the cab is useful, although the cut edges are very hard to see on the sheet, which is one of the reasons we didn’t photograph it.  flexing the sheet between your fingers should reveal them though, and referring to the sprue map should help further.

 

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Construction begins with the chassis, installing the cross-braces between the individual rails, the rearmost rails made from three parts each.  The rear axle is a model in its own right, including leaf-springs, differential housings, cleats and the drive-shafts that link the two axles together.  The finished assembly is fixed to the tubular cross-brace at the rear, adding another brace in the mid-chassis, and a stowage box, possibly for the battery on one rail forward of the centre.  The engine is then built from a prodigious part-count, including block, transmission, ancillaries, serpentine belt that runs the fan and dynamo, adding hosing, other ancillaries and two of the driver’s foot-pedals on the left of the gearbox, after which is it mounted on the chassis, along with a pair of long control rods that lead to the rear axles.  The front axle is built on an A-frame, with a single leaf-spring across the top, adding the drum brakes and steering linkages that forces the wheels to move in unison in the same direction.  A clutch plate and short exhaust pipe with muffler are fitted at the same time as the front axle is installed, fixing another thick tubular linking rod between the pivot-point of the rear axle assembly.  Drop-links are added to the front axle, and the power is brought to the rear axles by way of another drive-shaft, completing the assembly by fitting dampers and another pair of leaf-springs to the rear axles.  The front wheels are made from single-part hubs and have their tyres stretched over them, while the rear wheels are assembled in the same manner using different hubs that are then joined together to create the paired wheels, four of which are mounted to the ends of the rear axles.  The tread detail moulded into the tyres should react well to flooding with pigment, and the raised manufacturer’s details and specification is nice to see.  Between the front and rear wheels, two dropped brackets are installed on the rails to support the running boards that are moulded into the front wings, adding a pair of outward-curving brackets for the bumper at the front, fixing the engine firewall and some dash-pots, as well as the two chunky chassis rails to the top of the basic chassis, with notches to accept the load bed later.

 

The cab floor is fitted directly to the chassis with the gear stick, mode-change lever, handbrake lever, and third pedal, then the bench seat part is mounted at the rear of the floor.  At the same time, a set of U-bolts are used to join the two chassis rails together, and a towing hitch is fixed to the rearmost cross-brace.  The dash board with instrument panel and decals is glued against the firewall, adding a three-part steering column and wheel underneath, then creating the back wall of the cab by inserting the rear window and masking it, and adding a lip around the sides and roof, the reason for which will become apparent later.  A three-part cow-catcher is made and inserted under the front of the vehicle, then the windscreen and tapering forward cab section is made from several parts including a clear windscreen, covering the dash and stopping just over the firewall.  A pair of support rods are fitted between the bulkhead and front of the engine, and another pot is fixed to the bulkhead, a little out of sequence, so it’s worth noting and gluing on earlier before you paint the firewall.  Incidentally, the windscreen has masks for both sides, which is great news for the modern modeller.  A pair of busy diagrams see the doors being fitted with windows that also have double-sided masks, the cowling panels and radiator grille, then the two top cowlings, which offer the possibility of posing one or both open, and finally the roof, closing the cab if you have chosen to leave the doors closed.  A cross-bar that links the wings has a horn fixed on the left side, and a headlight with clear lens at either end, radiator cap, PE badge, twin-rail bumper with number plate, and a single wing mirror finish off the plastic parts of the cab, leaving PE drip-rails above the door cut-outs, and handles to the lower panels of the bonnet.  A scrap diagram from overhead shows where the radiator cap and another filler cap should be on the cowling for some reason.

 

The planked truck bed is made in short order, adding four shallow sides to the bed, then flipping it over to install two substantial cross-beams, and a stowage area between two more beams, plus six hooks under the lips of the sides for securing tilt tie-downs.  Turning the bed over again, a winding wheel is mounted to a panel on the inside of the bed, and a PE latch is added to the tailgate.  A full width storage box contains eighteen individual ammo cans, with a slightly smaller flat box sat on top, and a door folded down to access the boxes within, which is fixed on a pair of pegs to the front of the load bed.  The bed is then mounted on the rear of the chassis, the cross-beams lining up with the recesses in the top chassis rail, and two PE strips are folded into two sides of a triangle, and fixed to the tailgate, probably a job for after main painting.  There are three holes left in the load floor, which will locate the gun mount.

 

The mounting frame for the Maxim has them laid four abreast, fitting the firing lever across the back of the frame, then mounting each of the four guns and their redundant twin-handles across the frame, and securing them at the front with a swooping hose that leads nowhere, possibly the feed for the cooling jacket around the barrel, although there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reservoir anywhere nearby.  A pair of curved tubular frames are fitted beneath the main frame, and the rack for three ammo cans is made up from several parts, adding feeds to the underside of the guns, which initially seems odd, as there are four guns in total.  The last ammo supply is fixed directly to the gun from the side of the frame, and it’s that way because all the guns have their ammo feeds from the right side of the breech.  A pair of receiver hooks on the top of the ammo supply assembly supports the underside of the gun frame, then a traversing mechanism is placed on the conical mount, which has a three-pointed base and is further supported by three rods.  The gun frame slots into a hole in the top, and the last ammo feed is glued to the right-most gun so that the completed assembly can be fitted into the load bed floor on three pins.

 

 

Markings

There are two decal options portrayed on the sheet, and as is usual with Hobby Boss, there is no information given about where and when they served, but you do get drawings from all sides in full colour.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

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Hobby Boss’s decals are usually functional, although they’re not their strongest suit.  This small sheet includes number plates that are repeated as stencils on the tailgate and doors of the vehicle in black and white, plus the dials in the cab, a couple of red and white stars, and an all-white roundel for the tailgate.  They’re all printed well enough to be used, have good register, and although you can see some stepping on the stars at magnification, they should be sufficient for the task at hand.

 

 

Conclusion

The GAZ-AAA is an unusual-looking vehicle with a gaping space under the load bed, but even though it is based upon a Ford design, it is quintessentially Russian in looks, accentuated by the quad Maxim mount in the back.  A couple of crew figures would have been nice, especially a gunner with hands aligned to the gun mechanism.  I’m sure someone will oblige in due course though.  I’ll wait.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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