WWII British Army 30cwt 4x2 G.S. Truck

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Box front

The model represents an Austin 30cwt truck in common use with U.K. forces during WWII. I assume that Airfix couldn’t get a license to use the “Austin” name on the box-top. The kit comes in a big, sturdy, and colorful box. Included inside are two parts trees of tan plastic, a piece for the hood, a tree of clear parts, a small fret of photo-etch, decals, and instructions. The trees are bagged to prevent loss of parts. The clear parts and decals are separately bagged to prevent damage. The hood (maybe I should call it a ‘bonnet’ since it is a British truck?) does not come attached to a parts tree, so make sure that you find it before throwing the bags away.

The instructions are printed in a 15-page 8 1/2” by 11” booklet. Assembly illustrations are clear and easy to follow. Painting call-outs are keyed to Humbrol paints. There is a full-page, five-view color illustration for both of the marking options. The first option is for a 70th Infantry Division truck at Tobruk in August of 1941. The second option is for an evaluation unit in Russia in 1944.

The plastic parts are crisply molded with very small parting lines and no flash. Very small details such as door handles and tie-downs are molded in place. Ejector pin marks are mostly in inconspicuous places.The inner surfaces of the bed sides have faint rectangular marks in places. Some of these marks are raised and some are recessed. I wonder if they are caused by a new design of ejector pin that is meant to leave less obvious marks that the typical round pins?

Construction begins with the frame. The frame rails need to be spread apart to install the rear crossmember (C9), so make sure that you install it before crossmember D12.The orientation of D12 is not clear in step 1 but the illustrations in steps 2 and 3 show it more clearly. Only the bottom of the motor and transmission is depicted. The rear leaf springs (D7 and D8) will fit on either side, but if you pay attention to the part numbers the ejector pin marks will be on the inner faces. There are some deep ejector pin marks on the back of the axle that will be visible from the rear of the truck. The hitch operating levers (C23) are very fragile, I broke mine and had to replace them with wire.

The wheels and hubs have good detail. There are even valve stems molded into the wheels. There is a dimple in the center of each rear wheel hub that looks like a sink mark.The center of the hub is also concave on the real truck, so don’t try to ‘fix’ these dimples. The tread of the tires doesn’t exactly match the tread that I’ve seen in reference photos. In period photos, the lugs of the tires are curved on both sides near the center of the tire. On the kit tires, the lugs are curved on only one side. I assume that this was done so that the tires could release from the mold.It is not an obvious difference from most viewing angles.

A neat feature of the kit is that the centers of the fuel tanks (D54 and D56) are slide-molded so that there are no glue seams to clean up. The centers of the gas can racks (D23) are also slide molded but it isn’t a benefit here.The sides of the slide-molded parts are smooth but the racks on the real truck are made of thin steel straps and the gaps between the cans should be visible. I scribed lines into D23 to represent the gaps between the cans.

When adding the cab, there is a strange gap between the fenders (D9) and the cab floor (C13). This gap is directly behind the front tires and is difficult to see in the finished build. There are two pieces of photo-etch for making the signboard for the right front fender. There are no location aids for installing the signboard, I eyeballed the location on my build. There are ejector-pin marks at the top interior edge of the doors that interfere with the fit of the windows. Once cleaned up, the cab doors and windows fit well. There are small seams to fill where the roof meets the cab and below the doors where the rear of the cab attaches. When building the grill-protector, I needed to deepen the holes in D35 and D36 for the crosspiece D4 to fit well. The seats (C19) are molded with curved back rests. I’ve seen photos of a restored Austin 30-cwt that had square seat backs attached to the back wall of the cab. I don’t know what kinds of seats are accurate for a wartime Austin and I can’t say that the Airfix seats are not correct. The interior looks well-detailed but strangely there are only two foot pedals for the driver. The cab mirrors are very delicate, I broke mine several times. I replaced the mirror supports with fine steel wire.The instructions may have the part numbers of the headlight backs (D48 and D49) interchanged. They seem to fit better when installed on the side opposite of what the instructions show.

The decals are sharply-printed and in good register and went on without any problems. The white areas of the decals are slightly translucent and if applied over a color demarcation will show a slight variation of color. The designer of the decal placement instructions didn’t seem to be aware that the circles on the tailgate are actually large holes. On my build I placed the tailgate decals slightly higher than the instructions indicate so that they wouldn’t cover the holes.

There are no figures or cargo items provided, you’ll have to provide your own if you want to make a diorama. This kit has reasonably good detail where it shows but it seems that the designer of this kit placed an emphasis on simplicity and ease of construction. There are only 133 parts. If you are the sort of builder that likes to replicate every little detail you may find this kit too simplified. If you are the sort of builder that wants to get to the painting and weathering as quickly as possible, or if you are new to building, then you will enjoy this kit.

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