Academy 1/72 WWII Ground Vehicle Set 4 Kit First Look
Images by Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||July 2005||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||WWII Ground Vehicle Set 4: U.S. Ambulance and Tow Truck||Scale||1/72|
|Media||90 parts (85 in dark green styrene, 5 in clear styrene)|
|Pros||Ambulance is a badly needed softskin in this scale; nice choice of vehicles permits use as both armor or aircraft oriented kit; tractor comes with several options, making it quite useful to aircraft modelers||Cons||Expensive for size of the kits|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$19.00|
Academy has found a niche and is doing a pretty good job of filling it with kits that play to both the armor and aircraft modeling fraternities, which is a good thing if you can make it work. So far this has been pretty useful, with a good model of a 4 x 2 Opel Blitz tanker and GMC CCKW truck on the market. This is the fourth set to come out, and provides a Dodge WC-54 ambulance and a fairly standard tow tractor.
The Dodge WC-54 was an updated and larger version of the earlier WC-8 ambulance based on the pre-war Dodge half-ton commercial chassis. It provided both built-in 4 x 4 traction with the ability to carry four litter patients or up to eight seated patients.
Previously only the WC-51/52 and M6 antitank gun versions of this series of vehicles were released as 1/72 scale kits (by ESCI , originally as their #8039 US Dodge 3/4 Ton 4 x 4 Truck and #8040 US Dodge M6 37mm Gun Motor Carriage) so the WC-54 is a new kit.
The Dodge here consists of 60 parts including the windows. The kit includes a complete engine and interior for the cab and body, but again Academy has left no provision to display the four-piece engine. It's a nice idea but sooner or later modelers are going to complain about an engine you can't see!
The body is pretty spartan inside, as only the benches are provided and no mounts are included for the litters (stretchers), nor are any stretchers included either. One thing I wish they had not done is use the old Peerless/Max kit of 30 years ago for their reference standard. That was a pretty good kit (it's still the only one of the WC-54 in 1/35 scale) but it had a bad split in the roof behind the driver's compartment for the rear roof and body assembly, and with that kit it made for a nasty seam to fill in. At least the rear doors and fold-down step are separate parts and can be placed as the modeler desires.
I have to admit I just found out that I have no references on the tow truck, and for that I apologize! But comparing it to photos of standard tow vehicles it looks to be pretty close. Note that these were used for many years, and depending upon time and place of operation they could be found painted olive drab, medium grey, Air Force Blue, yellow, white or orange. (Safety stripes in black or even red appear optional with the last three.)
The tow truck comes with several options, including both a closed (O16) or open (O17) tow bar; the latter is not shown in the directions but is pretty obviously a tow bar for aircraft. It also has a utility cart (sort of like an M1 bomb lift trolley but with no mounts or carriers). The boxtop shows it carrying what looks like a 500 lb GP bomb, but it has no mounts to do that.
The WC-54 comes with only one set of markings – an ambulance from the 92nd (Bomb Wing?) 456th (Bomb Squadron?). Alas, a check of USAAF units shows these are bogus, so I do not recommend using the bumper codes (the rest appear close to on the money, however.)
Overall, the kit is very nicely done and provides the basics for a great model. If the doors are left closed, it makes a perfect vehicle for either convoy duty or background use in an aircraft diorama.
Thanks to MRC/Academy for the review sample.