American Bantam pioneered the design for the first jeep, called the BRC (Bantam Reconnaissance Car) 40, and built 1,500 of these after discontinuing the manufacture of passenger vehicles. Some of the motors and chasses were imported from the UK Austin; the bodies were made at the American Austin factories in Detroit, Michigan and Butler, Pennsylvania. However, because the company did not have the production capacity to produce the vehicle on the scale needed by the United States Department of War, the contract was to be determined by a test trial. Eventually the U.S. Army chose a design by Willys-Overland and awarded orders to Willys and Ford, while Bantam went on to produce jeep trailers (T-3).
This is the first injection molded kit of the original 'jeep' that I'm aware of in this or any other scale. The kit is very nicely molded in grey plastic and does have a small amount of flash around some of the parts. I was quite impressed to see that the kit has been engineered so that there are no mold release pin marks visible when the kit is complete. This is especially true of the leaf springs, a part on model vehicles that often suffers from these marks.
The kit is not a curbside, having a nicely detailed engine and suspension. There is detail enough to please all with most of the small parts, like hand holds, mirrors and lights, being separate pieces. The wheels have separate backing pieces that will help to make tire painting a bit easier. Clear inserts are provided for the windscreen and it can be moved down on the hood should one desire. There is even a hood prop to go on the inside of the hood. Included in the kit is a set of figures. Two MPs and three men in the jeep. This sprue is marked 35047, which leads me to believe it either is or will be offered separately.
Instructions are in full color on one side of the sheet and provide very nicely illustrated construction steps on the other. Color information is provided for a number of paint companies so you can be sure to find what you need. The color markings and painting guide also gives you the assembly of the figures. A small, but useful decal sheet by Begemot is included that offers not only the proper blue serials for the Bantam, but also patches and insignia for the soldiers.
Probably not the first vehicle that comes to mind when one hears of 'Jeep', but the granddaddy of them all and most welcome in a kit. I'm sure that this one will sell quite well as it is very detailed and offers a crew as well, something one does not always find with vehicle kits.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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