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Cargo Truck

Academy 1/72 WWII Ground Vehicle Set No. 2 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2005 Manufacturer Academy
Subject WWII Ground Vehicle Set No. 2 U.S. 2.5 Ton 6x6 Cargo Truck and Accessories Scale 1/72
Kit Number 13402 Primary Media 129 parts (125 in olive drab styrene, 4 in clear styrene)
Pros Nice, crisp new kit of useful subject for both armor and aircraft modelers; nicely handled parts breakdown makes assembly relatively easy; inclusion of details and cargo a winner Cons Price somewhat high compared to similar kits; some problems with ejection pin marks; does not come with any USAAF markings!
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.00

I have always been a fan of 2 ½ ton cargo trucks, probably because I drove one in Vietnam. We had three M35A1 cargo trucks in my unit which we used as "trick trucks" to carry shifts out to the site where we worked signals intelligence operations. Even though none of them was over four years old, they were all in sad shape after four years in Vietnam. We dubbed them "This Piece of #$%&" "That Piece of #$%&", and "The Other Piece of #$%&" but even so we did like the fact they were fairly faithful.

When I got back from Vietnam I compared notes with my father, who agreed they were good trucks even in WWII with the GMC CCKW series. But we did have a bit of a difference, as most of us of the Vietnam era knew them as the "Deuce and a Half" from its cross-country weight classification (5000 lbs cargo) whereas my father swore up and down all they ever called them was the "Six By" (from the 6 x 6 powertrain layout). I hear that mostly from WWII vets, so it would appear that this was the more popular nickname (other than "Jimmy" the common nickname for any GMC product.)

One of the major problems faced by small scale modelers has been the general lack of good models of these trucks in either 1/76 or 1/72. Hasegawa put out several GMC CCKW truck kits 32 years ago, and while these are still re-released every now and again they were awful and toylike when they came out, and they remain so today. Last year Airfix/Heller released one that was nominally in 1/72 (most reviews I have seen said it was more like 1/76, the old Airfix scale) of the soft-cab version of the cargo truck.

Academy has now released the second in its series of "WWII Ground Vehicles" (the first one being a Kuebelwagen, a Jeep and other small details that could be used with either 1/72 armor or aircraft dioramas). This is a straight-up version of the GMC CCKW long-bodied cargo truck, with or without winch, and hardtop cab with or without the M32 ring mount. It also comes with a sprue of detail parts for use with the truck, as cargo, or in dioramas. The price does seem high, however, when most other new-mold 1/72 armor kits are going for around $9-13.

The kit is a new mold and apparently other than its subject shares nothing with the ancient Hasegawa kits, starting with a lack of steel axles. The kit is neatly molded and provides a number of options for the modeler; a working tail gate, a basic engine of three parts and a fixed oil pan in the chassis, and a sealed cab with scored cutout for the M49 mount operator. Based on parts breakdown, a "softcab" version may follow later on. Note that while the engine is provided, there are no scoring marks on either the hood or its side panels, nor are the doors designed to be optionally positioned.

The chassis is quite impressive, and many of the bugaboos of larger scale kits have been removed in this scale. The ENTIRE drive line comes as one part – J36 – and includes all drive shafts, universal joints, differentials, axles, and transfer case in one shot. This should work well with assembly, as all the modeler has to do is trap this assembly between the four spring assemblies and the chassis. The handbrake lever (J20) and the forward differential (J14) are separate parts. The only parts that seemingly are missing from the chassis are the steering linkage and the shock absorbers, but in Academy's defense they are very hard to see once the tires are in place.

The cab is fairly complete as it comes with a shifter (J18) and range/transfer case levers (J19) but no winch controls. The seat is one piece, however. This kit does provide windows for the front, side and rear openings, all of which are nicely done clear parts if a bit thick. One oddity is that the two "jerry cans" for the truck proper (parts K9) are single-handle types, generally only seen in modern plastic cans; yet the ones on the detail sprue have a separate top section with the more common triple handles. (The directions recommend you ignore them, so somebody seems to have been thinking!)

The cargo body is very nicely done, but the folding seat braces have been simplified into two brackets (parts K2). In this scale I doubt most modelers will worry, as they make assembly far easier that way, and if made as a "cargo carrier" it is totally irrelevant. The OVM or "pioneer" tools are molded in one piece, and the shovel appears to be missing as well. Five top bows are provided in the "stowed" position.

The kit comes with the correct M32 ring mount, a fairly good looking .50 cal M2HB, and two heavy brackets for mounting directly to the cargo body. Unlike the later models, this one nearly touches the roof so take care when installing it.

The accessory sprue provides a number of nice little details for this kit: two M1919A4 machine guns, one open and one closed tripod for them, two M2HB machine guns, also with one open and one closed tripod; six small and six large crates; three 55 gallon drums with horizontal ground mounts for them; and three US and three German "jerry" cans.

Markings are provided for a generic "Six By" from the 369th Field Artillery (Service Battery) 98th Infantry Division and for one of the "Red Ball Express" cargo trucks. Both are apparently correct, but the former is an odd choice. The 98th Infantry was a "garritrooper" division in Hawaii that only moved to Japan during the occupation. (At least they are not made up like the infamous Peerless Max markings of 30 years ago!)

Overall, this is a nice kit and will set off either US armored vehicles or aircraft in any WWII or Korean war setting. Hats off to Academy!