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Tamiya 1/35 US 2½ Ton 6 x 6 Cargo Truck Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review May 2008 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject US 2½ Ton 6 x 6 Cargo Truck Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35218 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Popular U.S. Army soft-skin subject Cons No cargo load provided
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.00

First Look


The American motor car industry produced outstanding numbers of military vehicles during the 5 years of WWII. These were widely used, not only by the U.S. troops, but also by other Allied troops. The U.S. was literally the arsenal of democracies. As WWII was the first modern mobile warfare, logistics was of greater importance than ever. Sometimes, it was even more important to ensured smooth supply lines than to develop further ordinance.

Many kinds of vehicles were used for supply operations, and among them the 2 ½ ton truck, known as the “Jimmy” or “Deuce and a half” was one of the most mass produced vehicles, reaching the total production of 810,000. The nickname “Jimmy” was derived because the majority of the total production was done by the GMC firm. The most widely used engine was the Type 270, with a displacement of 4,416cc, yielding 104 hp. The power was transmitted to the wheels via a five-speed transmission. Two types of driving axles were offered in the truck. One was the “Banjo type”, manufactured by Chevrolet and the other was the “Split type” made by Timkin.

Apart from the driving axles, many components, such as cabin, cargo body and chassis frame, varied according to the manufacturers and various uses. Variants included the normal steel-body cargo truck, water tanker, gasoline tanker, cargo-dump truck and multi-role type with a tipping cargo body. The chassis was even used for the amphibious DUKW-353. The most popular variant, GMC CCKW-353, with normal cabin and long wheelbase of 154 inches, weighing 4.8 tons, had a carrying capacity of 2.42 tons on rough roads and 4 tons on pavement. The maximum speed reached 72 km/h.

Having first-class performance like this, the 2 ½ ton trucks ran across all the battle fields as a means of transport for the Allied forces and played an important role to bringing victory of the Allies. After the retirement from the U.S. Army in the early 50’s, they were transferred to all over the world and had a great bit of influence on the progress of today’s military motorcars.

Tamiya is a very prolific model company that is based in Shizuoka City, Japan

This kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art is done in Tamiya’s signature style of a painting on a pure white background. The boxart shows a 2 ½ ton truck in overall olive drab in the markings for a vehicle with the 3rd Army, 8th Corps., 537th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, HQ Company No. 1, February 1945, Belgium, It has a white star in a circle on top of the hood, a white star on the cab sides, the serial no. USA 4325715-S in stenciled white letters on the sides of the hood. On the front bumper is the white lettering 537AAA, Then a small white star and HQ-1. This is also on the rear.

On the front of the hood is the nickname “Lucky” in cursic white letters, bracketed with shamrocks. (this marking is on the decal sheet).  It has the side louvered-panels of the engine compartment removed to give the engine more cooling and a couple of canvas bags hang from the headlights. There is a driver in the cab. The lid says that the kit is aimed at modelers 10 years and older. The kit is copyright 1997.

A side panel shows a color illustration of the truck from above. Next to this is a paragraph in Japanese and color illustrations of a M1-carbine rifle in a scabbard, a jerry can and a M1936 field radio in a canvas bag.

The other side panel has a 3-view color illustration of a 2 ½ ton truck of the 91st Infantry Div., 346th Field Artillery Battalion Service Company No. 33, Italy, November 1944. This truck is in overall olive drab too. It has the white star in a circle on top of the hood and also on the cab doors. It has the serial no., in white, of USA 4469804 on each side of the hood. The front bumper has the white lettering: 91-346-F on the left side and SV-33 on the right. This is repeated on the rear. There is a white plate on the front of the truck, just above the radiator. It has the words “AMMO TRAIN” bracketed by two up arrows in black on it. (this mark also on the decal sheet).

Inside the box is 5 olive drab trees of parts in 4 stapled cello bags, a tree of clear parts in it’s own stapled cello, a length of white nylon string, the decal sheet, clear parts, a tree of black vinyl poly-caps and a sheet of “important information concerning this kit” in 14 languages, including English and the instructions.

The instructions consists of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 10 pages in 6 ¾” x 10 3/8” format.

Page 1 begins with a black and white photo of the truck made up in the scheme shown on the boxart. This is followed by the history of the vehicle in Japanese. There are a couple of black and white illustrations of 2 variants of the 2 ½ ton truck: the CCKW-353 Mobile Workshop and the DUKW-353 amphibious truck.

Page 2 continues with the history of the vehicle in English, German and French. At the bottom of the page are two more black and white illustrations of the CCKW-353 with open cab (subject of this kit) and a CCKW-352 with open cabin. (this last variant was with a short wheelbase of 145 inches, and was developed for taking narrow roads in Europe and Asia into account.)

Page 3 shows 2 more black and white illustrations of the CCKW-353 gasoline tanker and the CCKW-353 with the closed cabin. (the closed cabin was more common at the start of WWII). This is followed by a map of the area of operation of the Red Ball Express, from 10 to 20 September 1944. It was a one-way, round route starting from St. Lo and branching to Soisson and to Sommesous in Versailles.

Below this map it says:

“Following the D-Day invasion in June 1944, the Allied troops advanced on the continent towards the German territories with remarkable speed. However, the further they proceeded away from the Normandy depot, the more difficult the logistical support of fuel, ammunition, rations etc. became. Rail links in France had been completely disorganized and no adequate port facility was available in the vicinity of the front until Antwerp was taken. In this context, vast road transportation supply operations were organized by the Allied forces during the summer and autumn of 1944.

The most important one was named “The Red Ball Express”. From August 25th to November 16th, 1944, an enormous “conveyor” was formed between the Normandy depots and the front, mainly by GMC trucks. During 81 days of the Red Ball Express, nearly 420,000 tons of supplies were transported. The largest daily tonnage was achieved on 29 August, with about 13,000 tons. The smooth advance of the Allied troops on the continent was ensured with these operations, which were achieved by numerous drivers, special engineer corps, military policemen and heavy-duty trucks.”

The 4th page of the instructions begins with “read carefully” general instructions, pictures of hobby tools, a listing of Tamiya brand paints and “cautions”. The bottom of the page has the first assembly step. You have to decide here as to whether or not you want to assembly and mount the winch on the front bumper.

Page 5 through the top of page 10 gives a total of 18 assembly step drawings.

In step 14 you decide if you want to install the canvas cab roof or leave it off. In step 18 you opt for folding or erecting the bows that support the canvas top over the cargo deck. There is no canvas part, but one can be scratchbuilt with tissue soaked in a solution of Elmer’s white glue easily enough.

There is a full engine provided in the kit, that would only need some wires and plumbing added to make it complete. This can be displayed with the hood side panels removed for better cooling in hot weather as shown on the boxart painting.

There are no parts tree illustrations in the instructions.

The bottom of page 10 has an after-market service card, to use to send to Tamiya for any service needed with the kit.

The single sheet in the kit has the painting and decaling illustrations and instructions printed on both sides of it. There are four 4-view illustration for different schemes.

  1. The boxart scheme (already described above
  2. A 2 ½ ton truck of the 1st Army, 354th Transport Corps Truck Company No. 27, July 1944, Normandy. It is in the overall olive drab. It has the white star in a circle on top of the hood. The white serial no. USA 4262921-S in stenciled letters on the sides of the hood. White lettering: IA-3549TC then a small star and TRK 37 are on the front and rear bumpers. On the left side of the tailgate in white is: MAX SPEED 30 MPH, a star in the center and then CAUTION THIS VEHICLE IN LEFT HAND DRIVE
  3. A 2 ½ ton truck of the ASCZ 3886H  Transportation Corps. Truck Company No. 49 The Red Ball Express. It is in overall olive drab. With a white star in a circle on the hood roof and a plain white star on the cab doors. It has the white serial no. USA 4149196-S in stenciled letters on the sides of the hood. On the front and rear bumpers is ASCZ 3886TC, then a small white star and TRK 49. There is a white plate mounted above the grill that says CONVOY LEAD VEHICLE in black letters on it
  4. A 2 ½ ton truck of the 10th Armored Division, 55th Armored Engineer Battalion HQ Company No. 40. It too is in overall olive drab. It bears the white star in a circle on top of the hood and plain stars on the cab doors and the center of the tailgate. It has the serial no. USA 4341309-S stenciled in white letters on the sides of the hood. On the front and rear bumper is: 10 (triangle)-55E, then a small white and HQ 40

The fifth scheme on the decal sheet, shown on the box lid side panel, with AMMO TRAIN sign on the front, is not illustrated on this sheet.

There are 2 identical olive drab letter A parts trees. These hold: wheels, seats, grill, jerry cans, leaf springs, cargo bed canvas roof support bows, an M1 carbine in scabbard, 2 canvas pouches etc. (49 parts per tree).

Olive drab letter B parts tree holds: the frame, exhaust pipe with muffler, drive shafts with axles, suspension parts, radiator, engine parts, winch parts etc. (42 parts) The white nylon string is in the cello bag with this tree. It is to be used on the winch if you choose to install the winch on the front.

Olive drab letter C parts tree holds: the bed and sides of the cargo area, some tools, the steering wheel and shift levers etc. (19 parts) The tree of black poly caps is in the cello bag with this tree. There are 8 poly-caps.

Olive drab letter D parts tree holds: the cab walls and floor, it’s canvas roof, windshield frame, rearview mirror, dashboard, hood parts and the driver figure. The driver is divided into separate body, head and arms. His steel helmet is on the letter A parts tree. (19 parts). The clear parts tree is letter E and is in the cello bag with this letter D tree. It holds the windshield glass and headlight lenses. (4 parts)

The decal sheet (already described above) completes the kit’s contents.

This is one neat U.S. Army WWII soft-skinned vehicle. It does not come with a cargo load, but Tamiya sells a separate set of a cargo load that is available.