Manufacturer: Academy, distributed by Model Rectifier Corp., P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08818-6312, 732-225-6360.
Kit: No. 1310
Comments: Injection molded, 125 parts, decals.
Pros: Lots for the price, popular subjects.
Cons: Ejector-pin marks, tricky assembly, no figures.
This kit's official name is "WWII Ground Vehicle Set," but it just as easily could have been "Diorama Helper." Academy provides a 1/72 scale Kubelwagen, Kettenkrad, and Jeep, all with detailed engine compartments. In addition to the vehicles, six crates, 15 jerry cans, and five 55-gallon drums are included.
I started with the 14-piece Kettenkrad; it's the simplest of the three vehicles. Everything assembled easily, but the front tire wouldn't touch the ground until I sanded away a considerable amount of the steering pivot point at the front of the upper hull (part C22). A one-piece engine looks good after a little detail painting; it hides under a removable access panel just behind the driver's seat.
Next I built the 37-piece Jeep, which Academy calls an "Allied Light Utility Vehicle." Construction begins with the frame, which features separate front and rear axle assemblies. Double-check the axles' alignment carefully; I didn't, and one wheel doesn't touch the ground.
The body went together well, but many of the parts had prominent ejector-pin marks that required careful filling. The model has a good-looking three-piece engine under the separate hood, and an optional "Rat Patrol"-style pintle-mounted .50-caliber machine gun.
Two windshields are included: a clear paint-the-frame version, and a plastic frame. I used the latter and added a .005" clear plastic windshield using white glue.
The finished model looks good, but the windshield frame looks a little tall, and the framework for the folding top is clearly out of scale - no top is included.
The 33-piece Kubelwagen was the trickiest model to assemble. The body panels are thin and require careful alignment. I found it was easier to assemble the upper body before installing it on the floorpan (part 30). I glued open the engine-compartment cover (part B5) to show off the nicely detailed one-piece engine.
The clear windshield has windshield wipers molded in place. It's hinged and can be folded down onto the hood. Up and down tops are included. I added the folded-down one; the closed one looks a little too smooth and wrinkle free.
I painted all three models with Testor Model Master enamels and Tamiya acrylics. The decals went on easily over a Future gloss coat. Some of the stencil decals (particularly on the Jeep) looked a little big for this scale, so I left them off. An airbrushed coat of Testor Dullcote sealed everything up. I'll probably add a little weathering later.
Academy's ground vehicle set offers great value for the money, and I'm already plotting on how I can use them to liven up my aircraft displays. Modelers who are comfortable working with small parts should be able to expand their 1/72 scale motor pool without too much trouble.