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AS 42

Italeri 1/35 Camionetta AS 42 Sahariana Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review October 2006 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject Camionetta AS 42 Sahariana Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6452 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Highly detailed and a very welcome addition to armor shelves Cons No clear lenses for the headlights
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $59.00

First Look

AS 42
AS 42
AS 42
AS 42
AS 42
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AS 42

Amongst the vehicles fielded by the Regio Esercito during WWII, the AS 42 Sahariana is certainly unique. Its origins trace back to requests stemming from units operating on the African Front for a long range, highly maneuverable vehicle, similar to those widely used by the British reconnaissance forces.

Even if it never reached widespread use, the Sahariana proved its worth in operations against its natural opponent, the British Long Range Desert Group (SAS). No complete example has survived to this day.

The AS 42 Sahariana was developed by SPA-Viberti using the same chassis as the AB 41 armored car (Italeri kit no. 6442), including its four-wheel steering. The 4,995cc six-cylinder 80hp engine gave it a maximum off-road speed of 80km/h, and a range of over 800km. Besides the driver, the Sahariana had enough space to accommodate up to four fully-equipped men, though the mission crew seldom exceeded three or four. Supplies for a typical desert patrol included 24 externally mounted jerrycans holding 80 liters of water and 400 liters of fuel, in addition to the front and rear internal tanks of 200 liters each.

Prototype testing showed promising results, and series production started immediately. The unit that gave the AS 42 its baptism of fire in November of 1942 was the “Raggruppamento Sahariano AS” (AS stands for Africa Settentrionale, North Africa):

Its complement included seven Saharianas (numbers 790B to 794B, 797B and 798B) with various armament combinations which included four weapons:

  • 8mm Breda model 37 machine-gun
  • 20mm Breda model 35 gun
  • 20mm Solothurn S18/1000 gun
  • 47mm Breda 47/32 gun

The good results achieved by the “Raggruppamento Sahariano AS” quickly led to the formation of at least four more “Compagnia Arditi Camionettisti” (loosely translated as Jeep Scouting Company): the 103rd, 112th, 113th, and 123rd. The 103rd was stationed in North Africa, seeing action in Tunisiaa; the 112th and  113th were based in Sicily during the Allied landings there, while the 123rd was employed in the defense of Rome against the Germans just after the Armistice in September 1943. The usual complement of each of these units was 24 x AS 42’s; it is very hard to determine a total production figure, but taking into account the average losses, a realistic number is probably between 120 and 150.

After September 8th, 1943 a few Saharianas stayed in Northern Italy with Mussolini’s Repubblica Sociale Italiana; it is known that seven fought on the Eastern Front in the ranks of the 2nd Fallschirmjager Division. The end of the war didn’t mean the end of the AS 42’s service; some cherry red painted Saharianas were employed by the Italian Police up to 1954.

The kit comes in what I call a “Dry-cleaner’s sweater box”. By this I mean that it is a tray and lid type box, however the lid is hinged and attached to the bottom tray along one of the long sides. This is much like the type of boxes that Monogram used to package some of their 1/48th scale aircraft kits.

The box art shows a Sahariana that is parked somewhere in a arid landscape with some scrubby looking trees in the background. Two figures are shown, having a conversation, beside the vehicle. A side panel gives a one paragraph history of the Sahariana in 6 languages, including English. Other side panels show 7 color photos of the model made up. The bottom of the box has a 3-view, full-color, illustration of one of the marking options provided in the kit, a photo of the brass PE fret and a photo of the 2 resin figures and resin engine parts also in the kit. Also shown, are color swatches of Model Master brand acrylic paints that are suggested for use for painting the model.

Inside the box are 5 sand colored trees of parts. Four of these trees are in one large cello bag. The 5th tree is in its own cello bag. The small decal sheet is in a zip-lock type cello bag and then put inside with the 4 trees in the large cello.

The chalk-white colored resin 2 figure’s parts and engine parts are inside 2 zip-lock cello bags and then further sealed into a blister pack.

The brass PE fret is also sealed into a blister pack.

A cream colored plastic tree of parts holds more engine and exhaust parts. It is blister packed too. I must say, that Italeri really went whole hog on individually packing stuff in this kit. This is a big change from other Italeri kits I have in my stash, in which the parts were never cello bagged inside the box. I hope this new way continues with them.

A final cello bag contains 5 x black vinyl tires.

The last item is a rectangular piece of clear thin-plastic sheet for the windshield of the vehicle.

The kit has a really unique item included in it. This is a small, soft-cover, photographic reference manual in 5 ¾” x 8 ¼” format. It is staple-bound into 23 pages. The cover repeats the box art. It contains 3 pages of the vehicle’s history, 17 black and white war-time photos and 13 full color “Special assembly” photo steps. These are for some optional operations. Two steps show how to remove the plastic foot steps on the fenders to replace them with the optional PE ones. Two more steps show how to cut the hood open to show the fully detailed engine. Another two steps show how to bend and form the PE sand unditching channels. Two steps say that you should carefully weather the engine and shows a photo of this part having been done and how it’s placed inside the chassis. The next photograph shows how to drill the gun barrels out, using a pin vice. Another photo shows the body of the vehicle without the engine hood opened up. The final 3 photos show the value of careful weathering and how it enhances the look of the finished model.

The last 2 pages have full color 3-view paintings of the 2 marking options offered in the kit. Both vehicles are with the Raggruppamento Sahariano Tunisia, late 1943. One vehicle is number 792B and the other one is 797B. The later one has a what appears to be an Italian flag draped over the engine deck. However, the decal just has the 3 tri-colors on it. I always saw the WWII Italian flag with the House of Savoy shield in the center. This does not have that.

That circular emblem with fasces on the decal sheet for the Sahariana is described on page 17 of the Squadron book on Italian armor. it says:

"The circular device is the embossed metal Regio Esercito emblem that was common on Italian military vehicles. Cast in either bronze or aluminum, this badge featured the fasces, a five-pointed star, and RoEo (Regio Escercito). Italian troops often removed this military badge after Bonito Mussolini's fall from power on 25 July 1943."

It is shown, in the book as being mounted on the nose of an Italian tankette. However, the Sahariana kit does not indicate where it would go on that vehicle.

The instructions are a large booklet of 8 ¼ th” x 11 ¾”  format, also staple-bound into 16 pages.

Page 1 of the instructions offers the vehicle’s history in 6 languages, including English. This is followed by “Useful Advice” in 11 languages.

Pages 2 & 3 show parts tree drawings and a listing of Model Master colors, including their FS numbers.

Pages 4 thru 14 gives a total of 25 assembly steps. The bottom of page 14 gives decal application instructions in 10 languages.

Page 15 gives the two 3-view painting and marking illustrations in black and white.

Page 16 has “Warnings” about how sharp some parts are and that they are small enough to be swallowed by children, if your not careful (in no less than 20 languages). The bottom of this page has a mail-in coupon, to use to order any parts you may find missing from your kit.

Letter A tree holds frame parts, a pick and a pry bar (9 parts)

There are 2 identical letter B trees. These hold: wheel rims, jerry cans and suspension parts (31 parts per tree). 7 of the parts on each tree are indicated as being excess or not needed to complete the kit. These 2 trees are co-joined to 2 identical letter G parts trees.

Letter C parts tree is the largest one in the kit. It holds: body side and floor panels, the windshield frame, a machine-gun and it’s mount, the steering wheel, muffler, seats, hood, a rolled canvas roof tarp, head light housings etc. (50 parts).

Letter D parts tree holds all the parts for the Solothurn gun (34 parts)

Letter E is the 5 black vinyl tires.

There is no letter F parts tree.

As already mentioned above, there are two identical letter G parts trees. These are co-joined to the 2 letter B parts trees. They hold: jerry can parts, a shovel, grab handles etc. (47 parts per tree)

Letter H parts tree holds engine exhaust parts (10 parts)

Lettering now jumps to letter R. This is the white resin 2 crew figures and some engine parts (10 parts). The figures are divided into separate bodies, arms and heads.

The brass PE fret holds sand unditching channels, jerry can side rack bars, front fender jerry can racks and mounting foot steps (13 parts)

Next, is the small rectangle of clear plastic sheet for the windshield.

The final item is the postage stamp sized decal sheet, with white license plates, a dashboard decal, a fascist symbol in a circle and a tri-color Italian flag on it.

This kit is highly detailed and a very welcome addition to armor shelves I am sure. At least, it is to mine.