U.S. Airborne Scooter with Reel

Published on
January 3, 2014
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Company: Plusmodel - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Plusmodel - Website: Visit Site
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This is a nice little (very little) kit that has great potential as a vignette or diorama accessory. This kit is not for the faint of eyesight or those with more than their share of thumbs, but can be a nice one or two day build. The kit is a challenging ‘craftsman’ type build, but that adds to the enjoyment for an experienced modeler.


U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet: Cushman Airborne Scooter-In the late stages of the war in Europe, Allied paratroopers used scooters like this one to maintain contact between units, increase their mobility and haul small loads. The Cushman Motor Works designed the Model 53 Airborne Scooter to be airdropped by parachute or carried by glider, and it had a hitch to pull a model M3A4 general-purpose utility cart. By adding certain equipment, the cart could be converted to carry a .30-cal. or .50-cal. machine gun or an 81mm mortar, though the scooter often could not pull a heavy load. Cushman made nearly 5,000 airborne scooters for the military beginning in 1944. The rugged, simple Model 53 could travel through a foot of water, climb a 25 percent grade and had a range of about 100 miles.


The Plus Model kit comes in two plastic bags, one containing the scooter and one containing the reel cart, both packed in bubble wrap inside the small box. There is one small sheet of hand drawn instructions with the scooter on one side and the reel cart on the other. The instructions are a little vague in placement of a few parts but generally clear enough. Model includes resin parts, photoetch, brass wire, and decal sheet. A bedroll & knapsack are also included.

The Scooter has 13 resin parts, 20 photoetch parts, copper wire, and decals. The photoetch parts are miniscule but add great detail to the scooter.


Assembly begins with the frame, engine, and rear tire. The parts clean up fairly easily although defining the bottom of the engine casting block is a little obscure. There aren't any locating pins for the engine. I drilled the rear tire and installed a brass rod for an axle and also located the sprocket on the engine with a brass rod to help determine the location of the engine. The engine is offset and not centered in the frame.

I bent the rear Fender part M2 around the tire to get the correct shape of the fender. In the third Step, the frame for the seat and gas tank is a very delicate casting. I cleaned it up before removing the part from the casting block. The location of the frame is not very clear but from online references the front left member should install just in front of the kickstand.

The front fork, part #2, was warped but straightened up nicely after a dip in hot water. The Reel Cart has 22 pieces and 10 photoetch pieces. Photoetch piece #4 is not labeled on the assembly sketch but is the angled piece between the two reel brackets. Note that the reel brackets are left and right handed to be oriented correctly. Not sure what's going on with resin parts 7 & 12 as they are shown at two different ends of the cart tongue in the two different assembly sketches. Parts 11 and 14 are shown in two different spots also depending upon whether the crank handle is to be stored for transit or in use. Note that in part M3 there is a small oval opening that appears to align in the instructions but its purpose is never revealed.

Photoetch parts #M7 should fit inside the cable drum to center the pivot rod. I glued them in place slightly inside the drum, which helped with assembly of the pivot rod.


I washed & primed the kit, painted it with Lifecolor Olive Drab Faded, and followed with a MIG Brown Wash & MIG Europe Dust pigment.

The kit goes together well despite its miniscule size and the lack of mounting pins for some of the pieces. The resin and photoetch pieces have nice detail in spite of their tiny size. I recommend drilling the front wheel and using brass rod for an axle, and using the chain to correctly locate the engine.

Nice kit! Thanks Plus Model for producing this unique scooter subject, and thanks IPMS for giving me the opportunity to build it.

Highly recommended for the experienced modeler willing to work with the small parts.


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