MiniArt 1/35 WWII Motorcycle WLA

KIT #: 35080
PRICE: $29.00 MSRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  Includes photo etch parts

HISTORY

Harley-Davidson began producing the WLA in small numbers in 1940, as part of a general military expansion. The later entry of the United States into World War II saw significantly increased production, with over 90,000 being produced during the war (along with spare parts the equivalent of many more). Harley Davidson would also produce a close WLA variant for the Canadian Army called the WLC and would also supply smaller numbers to the UK, South Africa, and other allies, as well as filling orders for different models from the Navy and Marine Corps.

Unusually, all the WLAs produced after
 Pearl Harbor, regardless of the actual year, would be given serial numbers indicating 1942 production. Thus, war-time machines would come to be known as42WLAs. This may have been in recognition of the use of the continued use of the same specification. Most WLCs were produced in 1943, and are marked 43WLC. The precise serial number, as well as casting marks, can be used to date a specific motor accurately, and some other parts bear year and month stamps. Frames and many other parts were not tagged with the serial number, and cannot generally be dated. (This is common prior to adoption of the VIN.)

Many WLAs would be shipped to allies under the
 Lend-Lease program. The largest recipient was the Soviet Union, which was sold over 30,000 WLAs.

Production of the WLA would cease after the war, but would be revived for the
 Korean War during the years 19491952.
Most WLAs in western hands after the war would be sold as surplus and "civilianized"; the many motorcycles available at very low cost would lead to the rise of the
 chopper and other modified motorcycle styles, as well as the surrounding biker culture. Many a young soldier would come home hoping to get a Harley-Davidson like he saw or rode in the service, leading to the post-war popularity of both the motorcycle and the company in general.

However, this also ensured that few nearly-original WLAs would survive in the US or even Western Europe. A significant number of WLAs were left in the Soviet Union, and either stored or put in private hands. With little access to parts and no chopper culture, and no export path to the West, many of those WLAs were preserved during the Cold War. Russia and other former Soviet countries are now a major source of WLAs and parts.
THE KIT

Molded on one large grey sprue with a smaller one for the clear bits, the actual molding of the kit is very good. The detail work is right up to industry standards, with some of the small parts requiring some care to remove from the sprue. The photo etch fret is for the wire wheels, fender braces, rifle holder, and a few other small detail items. The kit cannot be completed without using the photo etch.

A neat addition to the sprue is a set of forming tools for the front and rear wire spokes. One simply puts the p.e. in between the two sections and presses them together to form the wheels. Another thing I like is that the tires are in three sections to properly form the circumferal portion of the tread.

Instructions are well drawn and easy to follow. Once again, no painting information is provided during the construction phase. Am I the only one that doesn't like this? The painting guide provides all the color information for one motorcycle using a variety of paint lines so no one should have trouble finding colors. The small decal sheet is well printed and should provide no problems.

CONCLUSIONS

Nice to see an American motorcycle done in kit form after a raft of German versions. While probably not a good kit for a beginner, anyone with the skills needed to work with photo etch will have no trouble with this one.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harley-Davidson_WLA

March 2010

My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can get one at your local hobby shop or on-line retailer.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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