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Italeri 1/35 scale DUKW

Kit: No. 6392

Scale: 1/35

Manufacturer: Italeri, distributed by Testor, 440 Blackhawk Park Ave., Rockford, IL 61104-4891, 815-962-6654, www.testors.com
Price: $35
Comments: Injection-molded, 143 parts, decals
Pros: Good detail and fit, popular subject
Cons: No cargo or figures, some sink holes, no canvas covers or bows
The U.S. Army's DUKW was developed early during World War II. It was unofficially dubbed "Duck," perhaps because of its designation (D for built in 1942, U for amphibious, K for front wheel drive, W for rear wheel drive), or because of its amphibious performance. Based on GMC's 21/2-ton truck, the vehicle was fitted with a flotation hull and a truncated screw so it could be driven off landing ships. Despite its reputation as being difficult to handle and maintain, the DUKW soon became the "go anywhere" vehicle. Unlike landing boats, the DUKW could continue on past the beach to supply depots for unloading. More than 21,000 DUKWs were built during the war, and many were kept in U.S. service into the 1960s. DUKWs can still be found today in several tourist operations. I've had several rides on DUKWs through the scenic Dells area of the Wisconsin River.

The DUKW has been on the top of many "most-wanted armor kit" lists for several years, so it's great to see Italeri finally coming out with one. Molded in olive plastic, the kit shows good detail. The upper hull is molded in one large piece, and although there are a few minor sink holes in the moldings, they are easy to fill.

The lower hull consists of three major pieces. The few ejector-pin marks that show on some of the pieces are easy to remove. The instructions have good diagrams, and the well-printed decal sheet provides markings for three different DUKWs. No figures or cargo items are provided.

I started by installing the parts for the driver's compartment to the upper hull. I left off the seats and the steering wheel so I could get paint in all of the tight corners of the cockpit. The instructions would have you detail the upper hull and lower hull separately and then join them. I decided it would be better to join the upper and lower hull right away, then add the details. The fit of the hull parts was very good.

The next step was to add the suspension parts. To make painting easier, I left the wheels off the axles, but this made it difficult to ensure that all six wheels touched the ground after the suspension was installed. My wheels came out close but are still a little off.

Next, I added the main details to the upper hull, but left off the small parts until I painted the main assembly. The rear winch assembly has a molded-on cable that doesn't look as good as string on an empty reel.

The DUKW's crew and cargo compartments could be covered by canvas stretched over metal bows. Almost every picture of wartime DUKWs shows a bow in place just behind the driver's compartment. Italeri didn't provide bows, but they could be added with some carefully bent wire.

With the basic hull assembled, I sprayed the model with Polly Scale olive drab. Large OD vehicles are boring, so I decided to try for a well-faded look. I highlighted each main panel with Tamiya's desert yellow, heavier in the center and fading out to the edges. Then I applied the decals over a brush coat of Future floor polish. They reacted well to Micro Set and Sol. A coat of Polly Scale flat over the entire model blended the decals into the paint.

Next, I added the smaller details. The headlights have clear lenses, and if you paint the backsides silver, they'll look just right. The breakwater plate on the nose of the vehicle can be positioned up or down. I applied a wash of burnt umber and black oils to the entire vehicle, then dry-brushed with olive drab lightened with yellow ochre and white.

The net and rope bumpers were important fixtures on the DUKW and it is rare to see a picture of one without them. Italeri did pretty well molding them in plastic. After removing the mold seams, I painted mine with Tamiya's buff. The forward bumpers fit well, but the rear ones barely reached the tie-downs. After they were installed I washed them with Mars brown oils, then dry-brushed with buff lightened with white. Finally the clear parts were installed in their frames using Future as an adhesive.

I was happy with the way the finished model turned out. It matches the dimensions in Squadron/Signal's DUKW in Action. An excellent source of detail photos can be found on the web at: www.kmk-scale world.be/walkAround/DUKW.

The model was an easy build, taking me only 14 hours. Any modeler with a little experience should be able to handle this kit. Built straight out of the box, the kit is accurate and well detailed, but there's room for advanced modelers to add detail and figures.

John Plzak

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