by: Jan Etal [ ]
Without question the ubiquitous Jeep was to be found in virtually all theaters during World War II. The ¼ ton 4 X 4 light truck was introduced to military use in 1941 and several sources estimate the final production numbers to exceed 600,000 vehicles.
Numerous kits of the Jeep have been produced in a large variety of scales. Unfortunately, 1/72 scale versions have been few and far between. Eight Braille scale kits have appeared but the bulk of them measured out to 1/76. The Jeep was produced in numerous configurations, including field expedited variants, as represented by this kit
From various references, including “The Jeep 1941-45” by Steven J. Zaloga, the vehicles represented in this kit were field modified kits for use by the 82nd Airborne Division reconnaissance units in 1945.
The subject of this review is the Dragon Models 1/72 Armor Pro 1 1 Armored 4 X 4 Truck, kit number 7423.
The box contains parts for two complete vehicles. A small bag contains the main body of two Jeeps. Two sprues of styrene plastic, molded in the standard Dragon light grey color, are present. Each of these sprues holds 34 parts that are used to make one vehicle. Two smaller sized sprues, molded in clear styrene, provide parts for a windshield and headlights. A Dragon accessory card carries a small sheet of Cartograph decals and two small PE frets, each containing an armored radiator cover and armored cab area.
Also present is a four sided instruction card with one page of sprue parts layout and two pages of build diagrams. These diagrams are in the form of exploded view line drawings. The last page provides painting and marking options for two U.S. Army olive drab colored vehicles on the Western Front in 1945.
Initial inspection of the sprues reveals that the parts are molded with extremely crisp and fine detail. There are no sink holes and ejector pin marks are only present on the underside of the main body piece and will be mostly hidden after assembly. Flash is virtually non existent and the majority of molding seam lines are light and should be easily removed with a scraping of a sharp hobby knife.
While an improvement in the size of sprue connection points (gates) is evident when compared to older kits, it’s still not universal with the parts in this kit. Many of the smaller parts have equally small gates to them. However, some parts such as the main vehicle frame ((A30) have awkwardly positioned gates that will require careful cleanup.
The minimal external stowage (spare tire, Jerry can, shovel) are separate parts but an axe is molded on the body side. Inexplicably, the Jerry can, while showing impressive detail, lacks any hint of carrying handles and has a rather prominent seam line on three sides. Also sadly missing are any representation of cushions on the front seats.
While the kit is meant to produce two armed and armored Jeeps, the parts to produce a stock or plain vehicle are present. Three weapons options are provided for each vehicle in the form of either a .50 Cal. or .30 Cal. machine gun or a pair of twin Bazooka rocket launchers. For the scale the molded details on these weapons are impressive.
The set of water-slide decals are provided for each of the Western Front vehicles. The sheet also provides individual numbers and letters to make up your own. These are absolutely tiny and will prove awkward to individually place and line up. I think that while one or two modellers will love this option, more would find it very tedious if not frustrating.
As always, it’s best for the builder to review the instructions to determine the most logical building sequence. The instructions are broken down into five individual steps with a varying part count in each.
Step One is the most busy as far as parts count is concerned. In it, numerous parts are attached to detail what might be considered the interior of the vehicle. Two external pieces representing the shovel and a fender mounted convoy driving light are also to be attached. It will be up to the builder to determine what parts should be attached at what stage so as not to interfere with future parts placement or painting. As an example, this step directs the builder to attach the clear headlight lenses that are probably best left off until painting has occurred.
Of particular note, the front seats are side specific and it is best to assemble the rear seat parts before gluing it to the interior. Parts fit was generally quite good but the small size of some of them will require care with handling.
Step Two is less busy and involves attaching the three part cargo area railing, the Jerry can and spare tire. The parts fit was good but due care should be taken with the positioning of the railing ends.
With Step Three the various pieces of the underbody are attached to the separate vehicle frame. It is here that the clarity of the instructions could have been better. What is not the most evident is that the front portion of part A16 (the drivetrain and steering linkage) needs to be positioned between the front leaf springs and vehicle frame. This will require a bit of gentle coaxing to get that portion to fit where it belongs.
Step Four is the attachment of the upper body to the completed frame. I chose to do some preliminary base coating of the entire vehicle at this point. I first washed the assembled pieces in mild dish washing detergent and let them dry thoroughly. Each piece was then prayed with Model Master Acryl #2748 Olive Drab and let dry before gluing together.
The final assembly step (Step Five) is the choosing and assembly of weapons and the formation and attachment of the armored shields. It should also be noted here that the builder will need to bore out a hole in the vehicles floor to accept the weapon pedestal’s mounting pin. Here we see the most glaring fault in the instructions. This opening of this hole should have been noted in a prior step before the body and frame are attached to each other. With these sub-assemblies glued together, there will be little room to insert the drill as a frame cross member partially obscure the hole’s location.
The two machine gun options both comprise two parts. The guns are molded already on their pedestals and only require the attachment of their respective ammunition boxes. The Bazooka mount is a somewhat more complex affair. It has a separate pedestal that the individual Bazookas attach to and then to each other. Each rocket launcher also requires the builder to attach a small tubular part to the rear of the launching tube. Due to their small size, the two launcher tube pieces may be quite difficult to join together. Also, the sprue gates for the two tiny rear tube pieces are extremely close to the part. There is barely enough room to insert a knife blade, so the builder should take their time when removing them.
There are only two photo etch pieces to be used to create the armor. The single piece that covers the front radiator (MA2) has a raised ledge near one end to accommodate a small styrene block (A36) that will rest on the top of the bumper.
The front cabin area armor (MA1) is a large piece that will need several folds or bends to fit properly. Unfortunately, the instructions are extremely vague as to how to bend the piece and how it is meant to sit. After creating some rough folds in the PE, it took a few tries to find the appropriate configuration to fit the area around the front seats. After studying the few pictures of a similar Jeep it appears that the side armor does not sit flush with the body sides. The back of the armor sides actually sit between the interior side wall of the vehicle and the front seats.
Depending on the builders skill level, the build up of these vehicles could be fast or problematic, due to the small part size. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Dragon provided the builder with the two clear windshields and even a side-view mirror. With these parts an average or plain Jeep can be built. It also leaves open the opportunity for the converting of the basic kit to any number of variants.
While I do not regularly dwell on scale accuracy in a review, the builder should note that there has been some discussion on various sites as to this kits’ true scale. After checking numerous sources, the one consistent dimension that I found was that the original vehicle has an 80” (203.2 cm) wheelbase. Taking calipers to the model I found the model wheelbase to be 1.091” (27.7 mm). For 1/72 scale, the numbers should calculate out to 1.11” or 28.2 mm. Obviously from these dimensions, the vehicle can be considered marginally undersized. This is also supported by the fact that the .50 Cal machine guns provided in previous Dragon kits are slightly larger than that in this kit.
Despite some sizing inaccuracy and a few other minor issues, this is still a beautifully detailed representation of this little workhorse.