|1/35 Soviet Command Car w/Crew|
|Kit Number: 35048|
|Reviewed by Perry Downen, IPMS# 44000|
In the late 1930s, the U.S. Army wanted to replace its obsolete light vehicles. Several automobile companies, including the American Bantam Car Company, submitted prototypes. It wasnít until 1940 that the US Army issued formalized requirements for "... a general purpose, personnel, or cargo carrier especially adaptable for reconnaissance or command, and designated as 1/4-ton 4x4 Truck."
American Bantam Car Company, Ford Motor Company and Willys-Overland Motors submitted proposals. Bantam won the initial bid primarily because it could meet the test vehicle delivery date and subsequent 75 unit production date.
Because Bantam did not have the production capacity or fiscal stability to deliver the anticipated quantities, the two losing bidders, Ford and Willys, were encouraged to continue testing and development of their vehicles. To facilitate their continued involvement, the War Department gave Ford and Willys Bantamís blueprints. Not surprising, Willys and Ford returned with vehicles very similar to the Bantam model, 40 BRC. All three cars were declared acceptable and 1500 vehicles from each company were ordered for field testing.
Eventually, Willys won the contract and with the help of Ford produced all the jeeps the War Department ordered. Bantam continued with itís production of 40 BRC jeeps and actually produce between 2,600 and 2,700 vehicles, the majority of which went to British and Russian armies under the terms of the Lend-Lease Act. That brings us to the model built in this review, the Soviet Command Car.
Upon opening the box, I found three gray sprues, two for the jeep parts and one for the figure parts. There is one clear plastic sprue for the windshield. In total, there are 171 parts. The moldings are sharp, however, some flashing and mold lines are present on nearly every part. Ejector pin marks are not a problem. There are no decals on the model since there are no markings on this jeep.
The instructions are printed, in color, on a single folded sheet of heavy stock. The construction sequence contains 21 steps along with painting instructions. The first page depicts the sprue layout with the part numbers indicated. The part numbers are not identified on the sprues. During construction one must refer to the sprue layout and match the sprue part to the picture. Part selection is not a problem when constructing the jeep. However, it is needed during figure construction. The assembly steps are depicted in the exploded view format and are very clear and well marked. The paint call-outs refer to Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, and Mr. Color brands of paint as well as the color.
Construction begins with the engine and proceeds to the chassis and suspension, steps 1 through 8. There is not much to the engine -- the block, head, exhaust, intake manifold/carburetor, and fan belt. Nevertheless, they have some nice details. The 4-wheel drive unit and suspension system are quite detailed. There are a number of parts making up these units. There appears to be some confusion with assembling the parts in Step 7. However, with a little study and dry fitting it is easy enough to figure out.
The remaining Steps concern the body assembly. There is nothing unusual or difficult here. The assembly is straightforward with no issues. However, there are a number of very small parts that must be handled delicately. These include the hood latches and the hardware on the windshield. The driverís position has several delicate parts and these must be placed with care. The clear windshield was surprisingly thin and fit the framework quite well.
I deviated a little from the instructions by joining the wheel/tire halves and placing them on the axles last. The detail on the wheels and tires is really nice.
Using the color drawing and callouts makes painting the vehicle a snap. However, it would have been nice to see a front and rear view. One must assume there is no other color to paint on these surfaces.
It took about the same amount of time to assemble the five figures as it did the jeep. The detail on these figures is excellent in spite of the fact that some cleanup was necessary for every part. One needs to pay attention to placing the correct arms and legs on the torsos. It is not clear which figure gets the canteen or pouch or exactly where they are attached. Painting is easy enough with the use of the color picture and paint callouts. There are no paint callouts for the uniform insignias, ranks or medals, so some research is necessary (or use your imagination for this step). It would be nice to have some decals for these items as well as the armband for the traffic control officer.
Fitting all four passengers into the small sitting area is tight. It can be done, but donít look too closely to see if they are all firmly sitting on their bottoms.
The figures that are a part of this kit are available as a separate kit, kit #35049. However, when included as part of the Soviet Command Car, they add some life and interest to an otherwise uninspiring subject. This same vehicle can be found with an American crew as kit # 34014.
This kit is easy to build and paint. I had no problems at any time during construction. It is easy for me to recommend this kit to anyone but the novice builder. However, it could easily be the next step up from that level. I enjoyed building this kit and I learned a little something about the history of the jeep in the process.
For another look at the MiniArt BRC 40 with American troops, see Scott Hollingsheadís review. I would like to thank Dragon Models USA and MiniArt for providing this kit and IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.