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AFV Club 1/35 scale M548 Gun Cargo Truck

Kit: No. AF 35S32
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: AFV Club, from Merit International, 626-912-2212,
Price: $39.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 288 parts (5 resin, 8 photoetched, 2 vinyl), decals
Pros: Optional parts, good detail, excellent instructions
Cons: Sink marks, fit problems
AFV Club has reissued its kit of the M548, this time including the quad .50-caliber gun mount from its M35A1 gun truck. This allows you to build the kit in three different versions: a straight M548 cargo truck, the M548A1, or the M548 gun truck.

The olive-green-plastic main components show their age a bit. My sample had sink marks that needed to be filled in the tailgate and front nosepiece. In addition to the gun turret, AFV Club has included a five-piece resin trailer for the gun. Parts are included to make a fully enclosed cab as well as a ring mount for the M548A1 version. If you build the enclosed-cab version, injection-molded clear parts are included for the windows.

The one-piece vinyl tracks are well molded. The instructions use photos of the actual model for the assembly diagrams, leaving little doubt of parts' locations. Decals are included for four different vehicles, one gun truck and three cargo trucks; IFOR markings are provided for a machine used in Bosnia. The box art shows an M548A1 in the NATO tricolor scheme, but it is not shown in the instructions. No figures are included in the kit.

I assembled the running gear, but I did not install it right away (to make painting easier). The small filler blocks (A31) in the rear of the cargo area needed to be faired in with a little putty. The main rear cargo hatch is not hinged, but the small door that allows access to the area under the cargo bed can be positioned either open or closed. I left most of the small parts off the nose until painting was finished.

The gun assembly was next. Take the guns off the sprue when you install their mounts. This allows you to test fit the guns and adjust the mounts so the guns align properly. Although they all have the same part numbers, the guns are handed, two with the charging handles on the right and two on the left. I had problems adding the detail strips (V31, V34) to the base. If I did it over, I would sand these thinner to make them more flexible and easier to bend around the circular base. I also had problems fitting the photoetched metal braces (M2-5, M2-6) to the outboard gun shields. No matter how I positioned them, they just did not want to fit. The instruction diagram was little help. I finally gave up and cut some plastic angle to replace them.

The trailer base (R2) was slightly warped in my kit but not as bad as the towing arm (R1). The latter took careful twisting to straighten.

I painted with Tamiya olive drab lightened with a little desert yellow. The decals were added over a coat of Future floor polish and snuggled down with a little Micro Sol. Finally, I added the running gear and small details.

After installing the gun trailer, I discovered a reference that indicated the trailer should be flat on the bed of the truck. This would require modifying the jack supports to lower the trailer.

The finished model was about a tenth of an inch short compared to the dimensions in The Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles by David Doyle. It took me about 16 hours to build my gun truck. Even though it is based on one of AFV Club's earlier kits, the model builds up into a good representation of a fairly rare and interesting vehicle. I highly recommend the kit to anyone interested in modern military vehicles.

- John Plzak


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