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Zvezda 1/35 scale WC-51 ‘Beep’ plastic model kit review

Lots of options for this important World War II truck
Kit:3656 // Scale:1/35 // Price:
Zvezda (Sample courtesy of mfr.)
Several options for building
Fragile frame
Injection-molded plastic (gray); 271 parts; decals
The WC-51 “Beep” ¾-ton multipurpose vehicle was developed by order of the U.S. Army and produced from 1942 until 1945, and the Soviet Union received 24,902 units via Lend-Lease. The WC-51 was used for just about everything, including a weapons carrier, command car, artillery tractor for antitank guns, reconnaissance, and troop transport.

The new Zvezda 1/35 scale WC-51 plastic model kit’s parts are finely molded with hardly any flash. The box art is helpful for parts placement and painting, and the full-color painting diagram shows markings for versions in U.S., Soviet, and Free French army service. The 8-page instruction booklet illustrates 37 assembly steps, but decal placement is entirely on the painting diagram.

Like most car or truck models, I started with the engine, which is not complicated. The small parts should be painted before assembly, but the instructions call for the engine block (Parts E48 and E50) to be painted Tamiya Aluminum (No. XF-16). It looked too bright to me, so I dulled it with a black wash.

The frame (Part E52) had one side broken, but it was easily glued together. Make sure to attach it straight to the tops of the frame rails in Step 7. If it’s even a little skewed, it will be hard to fit other parts correctly into the subassembly.

The interior parts fit well. There is also a mini step between steps 13 and 14 that shows all the optional tools that can be added to your Beep. The cargo bed fits together without any difficulty.

In Step 19, the instructions give you optional cushions for use in the driver’s seat: with or without a depression for the figure, depending on the version you’re modeling. The instrument panel has molded gauges, but no decals are provided. The instructions suggest white and black paint. Study steps 23-25 before gluing the front and rear axles and driveshafts.

The wheels and tires assemble in a way that eliminates masking. Note that the wheel and tire assemblies for the front, rear, and spare are different so as not to confuse them.

Be sure to align the three canopy frames (parts A8, A12, and A23) so that the canvas top fits properly. The windshield pieces fit well, as do the wooden bench seats and backrests. The canvas top fit perfectly and could be assembled up or down; I chose the open back to display the two fuel cans provided in the kit.

The instructions show a Soviet soldier figure supplied in the kit. Be careful fitting it in the seat with the steering wheel — it is very tight and more than a bit fiddly.

I painted according to the color guide, using Testors Olive Drab (No. 1711) and Tamiya Khaki (No. XF-51). After a coat of Pledge Floor Gloss, the decals went down with no silvering, but the lettering looked a little large. (Only one Soviet decal!)

All in all, I had very few problems with this kit. The fit was excellent, and I really like the variety of options you have when building it, including tailgate and windshield positions, canvas top, engine-bay covers open or closed, and a figure. I took 30 hours to build this kit, but I’m a slow builder, so your mileage may vary. I recommend this neat kit for someone who’s already made several models.
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