M792 Gama Goat Ambulance

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/35
MSRP
$55.00
Product / Stock #
35342
Company: Tamiya - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Tamiya America - Website: Visit Site
Box Top

Thanks first to Tamiya USA for the review sample and to IPMS/USA for the chance to review this kit.

Background

The Gama Goat was produced by CONDEC for use by the US Army and Marines. It was based on a design by Roger Gamaunt who patented his Flex-Trac based on a 1957 Swiss design, the Meili Metrac. It was a 6X6 vehicle in two connected modules, the tractor unit and the cargo unit. Since the cargo unit’s wheels were powered by way of a complex universal joint, it does not really qualify as a trailer except when the vehicle was in two wheel drive. It was initially powered by an air cooled Corvair engine which would later be replaced with a 3 cylinder 2 stroke Detroit Diesel engine. It was tested though much of the 1960’s and was accepted in service in 1968. Production ceased in 1972. It was deployed in the US, Japan, Germany and South Korea but only saw action in Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada in 1983. It was decommissioned by the end of the 80’s, its role having been filled by the HMMWV.

The Gama Goat was tested with a 106mm recoilless rifle mounted at the driver’s rear corner of the cargo unit and could be equipped with an M60 machine gun for the passenger. The Squadron Detail In Action book shows one series of photos of this on what appears to be a test vehicle, identified as XM561. None of the Grenada pictures nor any other pictures of deployed Gama Goats show either the M60 or mount. Since there is no M-60 in the kit, I’d suggest leaving these parts off any version you build. The cargo unit could accommodate up to 8 troops, though they were protected by a canvas top or nothing at all. In the ambulance role, up to three stretchers and a medic could ride in back. The cockpit could be fitted with a canvas top as well and some hard top kits were used, too. The windshield could be removed and stored in a drawer above the engine when conditions were messy enough to limit vision. Very few Gama Goats remain. Upon decommission, most were destroyed due to safety concerns.

The vehicles seen in the Squadron book either in overall OD or Winter Verdant MERDC: Dark Green (FS34079) Field Drab (FS30118), Sand (FS30277) and Black (FS37038) all of which are readily available. One shot of multiple Gama Goats on a ship shows a consistency in the pattern but not a uniformity of application. Edges could be either soft or hard or a combination of both, typically the main colors having been sprayed and the sand and black having been brushed on. There is one image that appears to be of a vehicle in the three tone Euro pattern.

Initial Impression

This is a typical release from Tamiya, sturdy box, good cover art, easy to follow instructions with clear parts locations noted and a couple marking options. There are two figures, a driver sitting casually behind the wheel and a standing figure pointing and armed with an M16. Both are dressed in 80’s style BDU’s.

The kit consists of about 160 OD parts on 5 sprues, with Sprue A being duplicated. Each sprue and the decal sheet are individually bagged. Both Sprue A’s are in one bag. Additionally, there are ten poly caps for the wheels and universal joint. There are 9 clear parts, including headlight and front turn signal lenses. Initial examination shows virtually no flash. What appear to be very subtle pin release marks on the cargo unit sides can be cleared by a fine sand paper and would likely disappear without effort during painting.

This is the second release of a Gama Goat by Tamiya. The first was the basic vehicle. This ambulance has everything that was in the original kit plus Sprue F which includes the parts to make this an ambulance as well as a standing figure. It also includes parts clearly shown in the original kit’s box art but left out of the kit: the prominent lift rings for either front corner, the brace for the windshield and the and the towing lugs at the bottom of the front panel. It also includes the prominent dash mounted fire extinguisher, very often seen on the vehicle, a set of ammo cans for the passenger side rear fender and a rarely used pintle mount for an M60 machine gun (not included), clearly not for use on the ambulance version. Since you’d need to scratchbuild and/or scrounge these parts to get the first kit right, this is the clear choice if you want a Gama Goat on your shelf.

Assembly

I’m building both the original and ambulance releases side by side.

Steps 1 through 5

These steps build up the tractor unit’s running gear. Step One begins with the builder being given the option to open five countersunk locator holes: one for the M60 mount and two for its associated ammo rack on the passenger side and two for the Gerry can behind the driver. It’s interesting that these countersunk holes are not present on the initial M561 release, a vehicle more likely to have armaments than an ambulance. If you are building the kit as the ambulance depicted. Ignore the holes on the passenger side and only open the diagonally aligned ones behind the driver.

Everything moves along swiftly to Step Four. Here you will add a universal joint (Part 37) It’s small and fiddly and easily dropped. As I said above, I’m working on both Gama Goat kits and this was a good thing since I was able to use the part I didn’t drop to scratch a replacement with bits of sprue. It’s well hidden so absolute accuracy isn’t a big thing and once painted should be unnoticeable.

Also in Step Four, you will assemble the flexing mechanism to part B23 with 2 Parts 7. These are not to be glued and pass through the assembly to the tractor rear panel. They are hard to align because the shock absorbers are next to the holes. They are also likely to fall out so I put a tiny drop of Zap-A-Gap to lock the axel to the U joint assembly. Do this with a fine needle or you’ll lose the ability to pose the vehicle; on uneven terrain,

Step Five ties all this together onto the chassis with no drama.

Steps 6 through 9

These steps build up the cockpit of the Goat. Those choosing to not use the driver figure may opt to add brake and clutch pedals to part B26 An accelerator can be attached to part B24. Missing from the kit is a turn signal stalk and thjis can be added with a piece of stretched sprue, Evergreen rod or other appropriately sized piece of plastic.

The instructions call for the addition of the clear headlight lenses and the guards. I held off on this until after painting to avoid having to mask these parts. This presented no problem.

Part B24 has a couple large pin ejector holes that need to be filled, especially if the top and driver are not used.

Steps 10 through 14

Here you will add detail to the tractor unit and assemble the driver.

Step 10 adds several parts not included in the original kit, including a spare mounted Gerry can (F9 & 10) and the windshield brace (F7). In building the ambulance, you will leave off the parts F2, 3, 4, 5, 12, and 29 which are the ammo boxes and mount for an M60.

The driver wears 1980’s style woodland camo BDU’s with a PASGT vest over it.

Step 12 is the assembly of the tires. No problems but a bit of sanding around the circumference to remove mold seam lines. You will also add the front tow hooks, two parts F13 (you will add two more to the rear in Step 17). Be aware, these are very delicate…two broke as I was trying remove them from the sprue. Fortunately, I was able to add one side at a time and hide the break. Note that the locator holes on the bumper face downward.

In step 13, you will assemble the engine cover. The instructions tell you to cut off the sprue attachment points at the bottom of part B30. Be sure to do this to get a good fit. Attaching the assembly in the next step required me to hold the assembly down very firmly while the glue set. Even so, there was a slight gap at the front. This was corrected with a length of Evergreen strip. The light would probably not show though in normal situations, but it is probably better to do an easy fix here than regret it later.

In Step 15, you are told to install the mirrors, blackout light and directional signals. I installed the blackout light and its guard here but held off on the other parts until painting was complete due the fragile nature of the mirror arms and again to avoid having to mask the clear lenses.

Steps 16 through 21

These steps assemble the cargo unit starting with the undercarriage which is similar to the tractor unit. I

In Step 18, you will add 4 parts A5 to the rear of the cargo unit. These are bumperettes and you should remove the interior plastic so they look like a squared off letter C. To do this, use a pin vice and drill bits to create 3 holes. Then, using a sharp blade and good sprue nippers, such as Xuron’s Micro-Shear, cut away the larger remnants. Finally, use a fine file to smooth out the interior surface and attach as directed. Note, the smaller end is at the top.

Step 19, you will open 6 locator holes on the forward wall (part C19) of the cargo unit for the ambulance heater and jump seat. At first, I thought this would cause holes which would have to be filled, but in step 21, part C12 covers this area.

Step 21 is the assembly of the cargo unit walls. These were clamped while the glue set, but the fit was nice and tight. I added a ¾ inch piece if shielded wire to each side of the tail gate to represent the covered support chains.

Steps 22 through 25

Step 22 has you assemble the canvas covers and their windows. A couple of the windows have folds to simulate plastic glazing, a nice touch. They fit perfectly into the appropriate openings. The cargo unit cover is in left and right halves. The fit is good, but there is a seam down the middle, front to back.. Some filling and sanding is required to correct this but it cleans up very well. The “ragtop” and the rear cover can be used with either the basic M561 or the M792 ambulance. Use of the cargo unit top will basically hide all detail in the rear unless you leave the back canvas off. The heater exhaust is such that the canvas cannot be made to be removable, so if you are doing the ambulance you must make the decision use it or leave it off. This is not an issue if you choose to portray a basic Goat, since you would not be using the heater assembly.

Lights and mirrors

I painted the interior of the head and turn signal lights Vallejo silver, as well as the surfaces of the reflectors. The headlights remained clear and Tamiya has keyed these to make alignment of the lens pattern easier. The inside of the turn signals was painted Tamiya clear orange and the reflectors and tail lights were painted Gunze clear red. The turn signals are rounded on the outer surface and concave on the inside. They fit perfectly, being attached with Testors clear part glue. I used bare Metal Foil for the mirrors.

Step 25

This final step is the assembly and painting of the standing figure. He is again in BDU’s but does not have the vest and is carrying an M16. You should add a strap to the M16 since it just sits on his back and his left hand is posed to hold it. I used wine bottle foil. Fit of the parts is, as with the driver, quite good.Tamiya provides a plain oval base on which to pose him if you are not putting the whole kit in a diorama.

Painting

Colors are called out during assembly for details. The overall pattern for both marking options, one from the Grenada invasion and the other unspecified time, both show Winter Verdant MERDC patterns. Colors are identified using only Tamiya numbers. I listed the FS numbers for the colors at the beginning of this review. In the Squadron book, some examples had the pattern carried over to the cargo unit canvas as well. While what appear to be some restorations sport other versions of MERDC colors, most photos of operational Gama Goats show either overall OD or the winter verdant scheme in the Tamiya instructions.

Decals

Tamiya provides decals for two versions of he ambulance with slight differences. There are dash and console placards and an instrument cluster as well. In one version, there are red crosses for the nose and for both, the rear cover has 4 large red crosses on white fields. Decals responded very well to MicroSol and MicroSet, showing the nice folds of the tarp.

Assessment

This is an easy kit to assemble with the details missing from the first kit now included. Fit was generally very good, clean up was minimal. It is designed so the vehicle can be posed with pitch and yaw but not in a turning pose. Doing all three might have required just too much engineering. Instructions are very clear with color call outs as needed, though only Tamiya codes are used. There are views showing decal placement and MERDC patterns from the front, back, top and both sides.

I’d recommend this to anyone with even a minimum of modeling experience, as well as to more advanced builders who might want to kick it up a notch with some aftermarket parts or super detailing.

Aftermarket Items

Squadron/Signal publishes Gama Goat Detail in Action (39003) which used for reference. For those so inclined, DEF Models has a set of sagged resin wheels (DW35061); Legend has a resin stowage set with a rag top and stowage including ALICE packs, C Ration boxes and other packs (LF1276), and Voyager has an extensive PE detailing set (PE 35627.)

Thanks to Tamiya USA for the review sample and to IPMS/USA for the chance to review this kit.

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