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ICM 1/35 Studebaker US6 WWII Army Truck Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review April 2008 Manufacturer ICM
Subject Studebaker US6 WWII Army Truck Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35511 Primary Media 206 parts (200 in grey styrene, 6 clear styrene)
Pros First kit of this well-known truck in styrene in this scale; quality much better than some previous ICM offerings Cons Tire tread pattern based on postwar and not wartime US tire patterns; some parts broken in transit (but saved by cellophane bag)
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $34.00

First Look

As the US began to ramp up for WWII, the major automotive manufactures in the US ceased production of passenger cars early in 1942 and turned their efforts into producing military vehicles. These included GMC, Ford, Dodge/Fargo, White, Diamond T, Mack, International Harvester (IHC), and Studebaker. Of these companies, GMC, IHC and Studebaker concentrated their efforts on all wheel drive (6 x 6) trucks in the 2 ½ ton capacity range. (Note that the rating is based on off-road, not highway, cargo capability.) The most famous of these, the GMC CCKW design and its related vehicles, was the most widely produced and best known.

The IHC effort, the M-5-6, was primarily used by the US Marine Corps. The Studebaker truck, the US6, was only used by stateside US units. However, the Studebaker was produced by both Studebaker and Reo for provision to other nations via Lend-Lease, and as such became one of the most popular and widespread of all of the American trucks. There were more than 193,000 US6 models built by Studebaker as well as 22,000 more by Reo.

(Note that after the war Reo got the main contract for the “new” standard 2 ½ ton truck, the M35, and positions reversed with Studebaker building those trucks up into the early 1960s.)

All three cargo truck versions used nearly identical cab and body designs on their own proprietary chassis and engine combinations. Externally the easiest way to tell them apart was by their front fenders: IHC used a gracefully curved fender, GMC one with a shallow curve and a sharp bend downward, and Studebaker a flat fender with a near 90 degree bend in it.

Most of the trucks provided to the Soviets were the Studebaker US6 design. As such, they were somewhat humbling to the Soviets, whose own trucks of the period were about 10-15 years behind the US ones. The Studebaker came with all wheel brakes, three driven axles, a 320 cid Hercules JXD engine producing 87 HP, and a five-speed transmission with dual range. (The Soviets adopted this design in their postwar ZIS-151 and ZIL-157 series trucks.)

While kits of the more famous GMC CCKW have been around for over 30 years (coming from Peerless, Italeri, Heller and Tamiya) until now nobody has done the Studebaker. ICM has now produced a kit of this truck, and it is an excellent effort which is much better from a technical point of view than previous ICM kits.

The breakdown of the kit is very similar to the Italeri GMC CCKW and ZIS-151 (BM-13 “Katyusha”) kits with a few twists. While the chassis comes in multiple parts (rails and braces are all separate parts) the complete driveline with axles comes as a single unit; this obviates having to assemble and align the various drive shafts and universal joints, which does make assembly a lot easier. Ejection pin marks are still with us, but are either small or easily removed so quality is far better.

The kit comes with a complete engine as well as a cab interior. The tailgate may be left operating, and the troop seats may be placed either folded or in use. Also, five top bows are provided and may be rigged or stowed as the modeler sees fit.

The one bugaboo with this model is that for some reason ICM did not realize that US “snow and mud” tires used on tactical vehicles used an odd-even staggered rib pattern on the sides and not a symmetrical pattern. The ribs are only slightly staggered, and as a result look too symmetrical. While this is not correct, and some reviewers have fallen all over ICM for this mistake, when you look at trucks with these tires unless you are sitting at an angle or head-on for the most part you can’t see it. There are after-market correction sets for the purist, but if you don’t replace them it won’t be the end of the world.

Finishing instructions and decals are provided for six different vehicles: 3rd Belorussian Front, Lyublin, summer 1944 (Zh-4-32-15); 2nd Ukrainian Front, Prague, May 1945 (K-23-026, “Forward for Our Victory!”); 2nd Ukrainian Front, Prague, May 1945 (N-95-824); 1st Polish Army, Germany, May 1945 (G0-05-21); 1st Czech Army Corps. Czechoslovakia, May 1945 (CS-01-597, “Pravda Vitezi!”); and 8th Air Force, USAAF, England 1944 (USA 4215859). Of these the latter is missing its bumper codes.

Overall this is one of the best efforts so far from ICM and a handy kit. It is also currently popular for conversions, as a number of modelers have pulled that old Italeri BM-13 kit out of the closet and swapped the cargo body and the rocket launcher assemblies around to get a true wartime “Katyusha.”

Sprue Layout:

  • A 104 Chassis and details
  • B 33 Cab and detail components
  • C 28 Wheels, tires and springs
  • D 27 Cargo bed and troop seats
  • E 7 “Headache” rack and cargo bed components
  • F 6 Clear styrene
  • G 1 Cab roof