Tamiya 1/35 Willys Jeep

KIT #: 35219
PRICE: $16.95 MSRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Mike Moore


So there I am, wandering the model aisle of one of the local Hobby Lobby’s during one of their 50% off sales.  Call them what you will, but Hobby Lobby has contributed greatly to my stash during those sales.  But I diverge, I’ve been back at the plastic model thing for about 4 years now, having a blast building airplanes in ¼ scale.  And there was this jeep.  Hmmm, it would be a change from airplanes, and at $8 what’s to loose?  Ultimately, a bit (ok, a lot) more money, as it has spawned a whole new direction for model building…that dreaded armor.  Granted, airplanes still outnumber ground vehicles in the stash by at least 3 to 1, but the numbers are growing. (Having them in the stash is fine, but to paraphrase a law learned by all males, construction, however slight, is sufficient to complete the act....Ed)

In 1939 the U.S. Army invited 135 companies to submit proposals for a new military vehicle to replace its aging fleet of motorcycles and Ford Model T trucks. Only three companies complied: Ford Motor Company, Willys-Overland, and American Bantam Car Company. The initial contract went to Bantam, but their vehicle proved to be a failure under rigorous testing. New prototypes were then ordered from the other two companies. Willys ultimately won the contract in July 1941. Ford agreed to build from Willys' plans and Bantam built trailers for the Willys vehicle.

The Ford entrant in the design competition was called the "GP," which in Ford parlance stood for "Government 80 inch wheelbase Reconnaissance Car." (Willys called their design the "MB.") When slurred, "GP" led to the name "jeep," which stuck to the small four-wheel-drive vehicle even though the Willys design actually won the competition and Ford ended up building the Willys design.

The Willys Jeep was powered by a four-cylinder engine that could run at 4,000 RPM for 100 hours straight. The transmission was a three-speed manual, with a four-wheel-drive transfer case with high and low gears. The vehicle featured a fold-up cloth roof. The Jeep could run 60 miles per hour, climb a forty degree slope, turn around in a 30 foot circle, and tilt up to 50 degrees to either side without tipping over. It could even run under water, with special attachments for air intake and exhaust.

Over 350,000 Jeeps were built to fight in World War II. The Willys assembly line turned out one every 90 seconds. Following the war, public demand was so high that Willys continued producing the Jeep in tremendous numbers, re-designated as the "CJ-2A" ("CJ" for “civilian jeep”).


The kit is typical Tamiya, several sprues of well molded olive drab plastic.  A clear sprue for the windshield and headlight lenses, a small decal sheet and well done instructions. Please visit this preview for a look at what comes in the box.



There really isn’t much to tell here.  Everything fits very well, and the instructions are very clear.  One thing to remember is to fill in or sand the ejector marks and trade mark on the bottom of  the body.  They are not hidden by the chassis.  Ask me how I know!  Everything you see here came from the box.  The only added details are two very small strips of Tamiya tape painted brown and applied as straps to hold the shovel and axe.

 About the only parts I didn’t use were the bumper mounted wire cutter, a machine gun that can be carried on the right fender, and the driver.  I just haven’t gotten in the mood to try painting the driver figure.  He also goes together very well and only requires a bit of clean up to remove the mold lines; and also fits very well behind the steering wheel.


 This was also pretty easy.  Almost everything got painted Polly S US Olive Drab.  The tires were painted Interior Black and dry brushed with Grimy Black.  The wood parts (axe and shovel handle and M1 carbine stock) were painted with British Middle Stone and streaked a bit with a darker brown.  The upholstery got painted with several shades of tan and liberally dry brushed for highlights. 

 The paint chipping was done with a silver pencil and the worn through paint in the interior was done with Tamiya Metallic Grey.  I like the Metallic Grey rather than a brighter silver because it is more subdued.  And even being darker, it still came out as a very stark contrast.  Fortunately some reddish brown pastels rubbed in softened the contrast, really lending a worn and dirty look.  Pastels also served to fade the paint a bit.  Rubbing some yellow pastel into the olive drab paint lightens it up a bit for a faded appearance. 

All the lights are painted.  A coat of Tamiya Chrome Silver followed by Clear Red and you have instant red lenses.

 The final touch was a wash of  burnt umber oils to pop the details out. 


 You really can’t go wrong with this little kit.  It is a great introduction to armor (if you can really call a jeep “armor”), and makes for a great, quick diversion from aircraft.  The kit includes a pretty complete basic engine ripe for detailing, and the hood can be posed up.  You might consider an Eduard etched set for some of the more obvious missing details like hood latches, but out of the box it sure looks like a WW II Jeep.  Just be warned, it can lead to another whole direction to take modeling if you aren’t careful.  Especially if you grab it on your way out of the house as an after thought on your way to a contest.  Entered into OOB armor, it brought home a second place in the first contest I ever entered.

Editor's Note: Mike has done a super job on this jeep and shows that you can do well with a relatively small kit. I would, however, like to take this time to use Mike's photos as an example. I'm sure Mike won't mind as he knows that it is my prime purpose to inform and educate. This one has to do with the photographer's choice of backgrounds for his photos. Bright backgrounds (like red and yellow and orange) will always distract from the subject and produce a cast to the images (which accounts for the orangeish look to Mike's images. For that reason, I and others who have taken a lot of model pictures pick a neutral color like grey or blue grey on which to photograph our models. These colors will not add a tonal quality to the subject that is not there (which is why they are called neutral). Even white and black are not generally good choices. White causes images to have too much contrast unless properly lit, and black will cause dark parts of the model to disappear into the background. It is something we have to learn and I'll confess that when I was starting in all this, I used bright colors for a background. I've since learned, through feedback from readers and friends, and learning is what makes this hobby such a rewarding experience.

Mike Moore

February 2005

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