Two variants of the Ram Kangaroo were produced, one with a rotating machine gun turret on the right mounting a 30 calibre machine gun and were used by 49th Carrier Regiment which was a British unit. The Canadian vehicles that served with Canadian armoured personnel carrier unit were a later variant with a hull machine gun rather than a turret, and so if you look at a photograph and there is a machine gun turret it’s British and without is Canadian.
This introduction is as provided by Gecko Models:
In late July 1944, in preparation for a major assault, Canadian Lt General GG Simmonds proposed that a number of Priest self propelled guns have their Howitzer’s removed and be turned into protective carriers for the infantry participating in the assault as a way to protect those troops, reduce casualties and get troops on to the objectives in better physical condition than if they would have had to advance in the open over contested ground. A total of 72 de frocked priests were turned out in time for Operation Totalize in early August under a project codenamed “Kangaroo”. The vehicles quickly assumed the name of the project and the Kangaroo armoured personnel carrier was born. The use of the Kangaroo was a total success, and soon the 72 vehicles were in high demand during various assaults during the late Summer of 1944. However, the priests were only on loan and would have to be returned, so the army looked around for a longer term solution. Sherman tanks would do, of course, but these were needed as actual gun tanks, so another vehicle was sought. It was soon realised that a large number of Ram tanks were sitting in depots in the UK having recently being taken out of service as Canadian units transitioned to Sherman's prior to the Normandy invasions. Over 1500 tanks were stored in Britain, each very similar, mechanically to the Sherman, which would greatly ease maintenance, and each similarly armoured to the Sherman, and thus much better armoured than the priest currently serving, providing much greater protection to the infantry being carried…
This offering from Gecko Models arrives in a robust flip top cardboard tray with an additional card lid showing the artwork. The contents are packaged in a large number of Ziploc and sealed plastic bags and an examination of these parts reveals no areas of concern. There are no moulding issues that jump out at me and clean up of parts should not be overly taxing.
Due to the nature of this model, a decent interior is included just requiring that suitable figures can be found to use with it. The crew positions with the driver and machine gunner, the driver’s position is well detailed as regards the transmission, the controls that should be present. It is my understanding that the Ram Kangaroo lower hull was from the Grant tanks, with a new upper hull added and then minus the turret originally fitted. Interior detail wise, everything is provided and that includes what is behind the firewall in the form of a radial engine which is well detailed and includes details such as fuel tanks, air cleaner and exhausts leaving the modeller just to add the cables and wires that are not pre-moulded on to the plastic. Due to the engine being at the rear and the transmission being at the front, a spinning shaft runs from one to the other, and in this case that shaft has been shielded. I am lead to believe that this was originally exposed and so was a risk to the troops being carried. The firewall is also very well detailed and I will put up a walk around of a British Ram Kangaroo for you to access.
The lower hull is a multi part assembly and so take care during assembly to make sure you get everything assembled as it should be in terms of alignment and with the interior visible on the finished model - I suspect this kit will have a lot admirers. The bogeys for this model are provided with the spring return guard with the wheel trailing edge. However, the museum example I have seen at Bovington Tank Museum just has the top return wheel and no spring, and so depending on where Gecko got their information this maybe wrong or just an alternative set of bogeys that were used. For those modellers intending to display this model on an uneven surface the design of the bogeys lend themselves to this. The tracks provided are individual workable link and also include grouzers which you are free to use or not. But they do add something different.
A radio unit is provided in the release and is mounted at the rear near the firewall. It is my understanding that this was for tank to tank communication only. Moving to the upper hull, which was a cast design, there are some holes you will need to drill. The drill size is indicated in the instructions, and the drilling points are indicated, but make sure you drill the correct holes as others are marked. The upper hull has a nice cast texture to it that is not excessive and looks right for the scale. The periscopes used for the hull down position have been provided in clear plastic and the large drivers viewing port can be shown open or closed. External detail is fairly minimal being restricted to storage boxes and tools, but these details have been well replicated along with the lights and their guards, with the guards themselves being provided in photo etch. Additional fire power has been provided in the form of a 50 cal machine gun mounted on the front of the turret ring and an additional 30 cal machine gun mounted on the right side of the turret ring. The detail provided by Gecko Models here is very good and includes all of the needed detail without having to resort to after market. The aerials have the correct mounts and the aerial itself is made by stretching sprue or in my case using a wire.
Gecko Models have gone that little bit extra and provided a number of canvas storage items and two full stretcher, which could possibly provide you with a story. Collapsed stretchers are also provided in the kit.
Four finishing options are covered in this release:
“Butch”, B Squadron 1 CAC
“Mammy Yokum”, Headquarters Troop. 1 CACR
Kangaroo belonging to Major W A Copley, Officer Commanding B Squadron, First CACR, Late March 1945
Kangaroo belonging to Captain Harry Kaiser, B Squadron, First CACR, Late March 1945
This release covering the Allies investigations in Armoured Personnel Carriers is an exceptional offering from Gecko Models. I can’t say that I really expected to see a Ram Kangaroo release, but I commend Gecko for it. The details provided make for an accurate Canadian version, with my only concern being the bogeys which may or may not be accurate; After a great deal of searching I did find a destroyed Ram with this bogey set up and it may be case of another way to identify British and Canadian vehicle. The only other thing I can say is please release a British version Gecko Models and consider some of your excellent figures for it.