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US Army K-51 Radio Truck with K-52 Trailer (35418) 1:35


Mike

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US Army K-51 Radio Truck with K-52 Trailer (35418)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that could carry up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo, men or equipment.  They were initially made under the 4100 code, then were renamed as the 7100 series, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, and a four-speed “crash” (non-synchromesh) gearbox putting out a little over 80hp through all four wheels.  It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities on the Western Front, with the Soviets on the Eastern Front, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East.  There were many variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets in large numbers under the Lend/Lease program.

 

The G7105 variant was a fully-enclosed van-bodied truck that had a full metal bodyshell to protect the contents, and thanks to its twin wheeled rear axle, it was capable of carrying the same load as its open-topped siblings.  They were used extensively by the Signal Corps, but are relatively rare in the overall panoply of chassis types for this series.  Their low production quantities and participation in WWII trimmed their numbers further, so they are quite rare compared to others of the type, but some still survive of course, and can be seen occasionally at historic vehicle rallies and get-togethers of like-minded enthusiasts.  When it is full of radio equipment and personal gear, a trailer expands its carriage capacity to include a generator or similarly heavy piece of kit.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new boxing of a recent G506 tooling from MiniArt, and is one of a large and still expanding range that is to be found in your favourite model shop.  It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and both load areas included, along with some appealing moulding and detail, particularly in the cab, the equipment and those chunky tyres.  It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-six modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope along with a short length of metal chain in a heat-sealed bag, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages.  Detail is excellent, and well up to MiniArt’s usual standards, using PE parts to enhance the model, and finely moulded details of the chassis, running gear, trailer, cab and interior areas.

 

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Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank with PE retention bands, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed on leaf springs, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails.  The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the serpentine pulleys and fan at the front.  The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, assembling the exhaust and its muffler, which slip into the underside of the chassis from below, held in position on PE brackets at the exit.

 

The wheels are built with singles at the front, made from two parts each, and with twin wheels at the rear, again with separate outer sidewalls.  Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hole.  The three-part radiator housing is layered up, with the rear part having a hole that allows the air from the fan to cool the radiator when stationary, mounting on the front of the chassis and mating to the input and outlet pipes already in position.  The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls.  The firewall is detailed with dash pots fixed to the forward side, and is set aside until it is needed toward the end of building the bodyshell, which is next.  The sides of the van have a separate ribbing insert layered on the insides, to be joined to the floor after the raised platform for the crew seats is installed, fixing two four-part seats on top, and a small forest of levers in the centre of the floor. 

 

The floor is inverted to install the sidewalls, putting a short fuel filler tube on the outside that matches up with the extension within that leads to the tank.  This boxing has a wall of radio gear assembled on the left side from a host of parts, and a long bench seat along the other with four cushions as a single part, with some impressive fabric sag moulded-in.  Above the seats is a double cabinet with fake sliding doors, and PE chain straps at the sides, which is fitted near the rear along with a fire extinguisher on the right side.  The rear light clusters are mounted on PE brackets on the rear of the side panels, one per side, and as is often the case with instruction steps, they may be better left of until after main painting. The rear valance plugs into the floor on two pins, joining the two side panels together on the lower edge.

 

The dashboard inserts into the A-pillars that are moulded into the roof, with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box, plus two more on the headliner by the rear-view mirror, which installs into the front of the roof panel.  The steering column is joined to the underside of the dash, adding a courtesy light, vent and six curved ribs to the inside of the roof in grooves.  The rear doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles, locking mechanism in a fairing with a flat PE surround, plus handles on both sides of the right door, and clear window glass with rounded corners.  The crew doors and their interior cards are assembled with handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim.  The windscreen frame has the two clear panes fitted, and has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that can be posed open or closed as you prefer.  The steering wheel is fixed to the top of the column, the diagonal kick panel is joined with the firewall and fitted out with three foot pedals, and a button that I think is the parking brake.

 

The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the growing bodyshell assembly with a choice of aerial bases on the roof in front of the vent cowling that sits on a PE base, while the rear doors are installed within the frame in the open or closed position if you prefer, adding a short stay from wire of your own stock, and two PE eyes on the corners of the roof nearby.  Two rear arches are fitted under the floor into recesses, projecting past the line of the bodywork to encompass the twin rear wheels, then with the body righted, a pair of wing mirrors are glued onto the cab in front of the doors at handle-height on long struts with PE brackets at the bottom, posing the doors open or closed again as you wish.  The body and chassis are mated, and a choice of cowling panels that fit to the sides of the engine compartment after adding a V-brace under the bonnet, then fitting the front wings that incorporate the section of running boards under the doors that joins up with the rear boards.  The front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wiper blades are hung from the top of the frame on styrene arms, then the front grille is built.  You may have noticed that this appears on the sprues too for a simpler build process, but a more detailed and realistic grille can be fabricated from the PE parts on the fret.  It is constructed completely from PE, and two styrene jigs are included on the sprues to assist with accurately creating the correct shape.  The lower rail, light cages and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay.  There are two PE brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, but if you elected to use the styrene grille, this process is condensed down to nipping the part from the sprue, cleaning the sprue gates, and gluing it to the front of your truck, removing a small curved section from the left of the styrene grille as it is glued in place.  The bonnet can be fitted open or closed with a PE stay that is provided in the centre of the panel for the open option.  Two additional stowage boxes are built out on the sides of the truck, with separate doors, PE padlocks, and a plate on the top to protect it from damage, one of them having a pioneer tool rack applied to the rear side, which has PE clasps and styrene tools provided to complete the details.  It is attached to the right stowage box, and has a wire reel made up and fixed on a pin in a hole behind it, adding a choice of aerials and their tie-downs on the roof, varying depending on which aerial base you installed earlier.  A small PE strap stops the roll unreeling during transit, just like the real (reel?) one.

 

 

K-52 Trailer

During WWII, the US used two small two-wheeled trailers for transporting additional equipment and other essential stores around the battlefield, towed by trucks and other vehicles that had at least a ¾ ton payload carried internally.  There were two major variants, one for carrying many types of equipment and designated as G-518, the other a specialist water carrier that was given the catalogue designation G-527.  The main contractor was Ben-Hur Manufacturing Co., which garnered it the nickname ‘Ben-Hur Trailer’, and its 1-ton load capacity in 3.2m3 volume meant that it saw a lot of action, mostly ignored by war historians and modellers alike, as it was a transport and not as interesting as the things that went bang.  Nevertheless, there were over a quarter of a million built, and many of them spent their days dutifully following a Chevrolet truck around the roads and tracks of Europe and the Far East.

 

This is a derivative of a new tooling from MiniArt, launched just after the G-527 Water Buffalo we reviewed recently, this kit has excellent detail as usual with MiniArt, including a full chassis, well-rendered chunky treaded tyres, and even a set of slat extensions to the sides of the structure with moulded-in wooden texture.

 

Construction begins with the bodywork, starting with the two sides that have leaf springs moulded-in, which have the axle retention bolts added to both sides, PE tie-down loops down the sides, and the light cluster that is fitted on a PE bracket next to the rear suspension mount.  A choice of external framework to the sides with or without the extension slats is glued to the sides, including small PE brackets at both ends of the slatted sections.  The wheels are built from two parts, the larger having the outer hub, tyre carcass and the tread moulded as one, the smaller having the opposite sidewall details moulded-in.  They are then put to one side while you build up the rest of the load area.  The two sides are mated with the floor part, adding brake actuators underneath and on the side, and bringing in the ends to create the load box, with more PE brackets and foot stirrups to aid entry.

 

While the chassis is upside down, the two-part inner hubs are fitted to the ends of the axles, adding a short length of 0.5mm wire to each one, and another length to a bracket under the floor.  The towing frame is made from two converging lengths, which are fixed under the front of the floor on a pair of U-bolts, while a pair of mudguards are mounted on the chassis sides on pegs, inserting the wheels into their wells.  The load bed is populated by a large generator that fills most of the area with a storage box at the front, which is first to be mad, including a PE padlock for security.  Four jerry cans with PE straps are made with spare fuel to power the generator, starting work on the rear face where the control panel is located, which can be posed open or closed.  The open option involves two PE door sections, the largest of which is the door that pivots up and slides into the housing with a styrene handle that is also found on the styrene closed door.  Seven PE wingnuts are inserted between dividers for power connectors, which will still be visible when the main door is closed, exposing the wingnuts.  This is fitted as one end of the generator’s cowling, adding another to the other end, and gluing PE handles between the columns of louvres on the sides, plus a pair of styrene tie-down loops.  The opposite end has a radiator core mounted in the centre, and the top cowling has curved edges, and four more PE grab handles, a lifting eye, and a filler cap on the rolled edge.

 

The tailgate is completed by adding the PE retaining pins on chains at floor level, then the two-part towing eye is mounted atop the front of the A-frame, and a jockey-wheel is built from two halves plus a yoke and pivot, with an alternate all-steel wheel if you prefer.  This can be fitted under the hitch in either horizontal position for travel, or vertically for a parked trailer, locking it in place between two halves of the pivot.  Another longer length of wire is fitted under the left chassis rail and hitch frame, dangling the end down over the hitch, adding a plug for the electronics, which has a hole moulded-in for the wire.  The safety chains are cut to length, and are each trapped between two halves of their bracket, adding the hook on the loose end after drilling a hole in the part first.  For protection of the equipment in bad weather, a tarpaulin cover can be made from five sides, adding PE clasps to the opening end, straps to the front, and short lengths of wire to represent the bungees that hold the tarp down around the lower edges.  If you elect not to cover the generator with a tilt, the stowage box, generator and four jerry cans are installed on the floor, strapping a spare tyre under the chassis on a PE frame, which is held in place by a small hook at the rear.  A third choice involves a slatted extension to the trailer’s sides, adding PE brackets to the sides earlier in the build, and fitting front and rear slatted sections to the front and rear, topping off the vertical sections with curved supports for the tilt when fitted.

 

 

Markings

There are five decal options on the sheet wearing green, including 1one in British service that has black camouflage over the top.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • British Forces Radio Station, 8th Army Sector, Italy, October 1944
  • 1st Armoured Division, 829th Signal Battalion, North Africa, Spring 1943
  • 102nd Infantry Division, ETO, Autumn 1944
  • US Marine Corps, 4th Marine Division, Pacific 1944-5
  • Corps Signals Unit, 2nd Polish Corps, Italy 1944-5

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

This is an interesting variant of the G506 chassis doing the job that many of this type were built for, and with the addition of the trailer it looks substantially different from its siblings, which with the detail that MiniArt pack into all their kits, it’s a very tempting offering.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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