MiniArt 1/35 US Military Policeman w/Motorcycle
Scott Van Aken
Includes photo etch parts
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
the years 1949–1952.
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.
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. There is a second forming tool to assist with the fender braces.
Unlike the base kit, this one comes
with an MP
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.
Nice to see this kit being offered with a figure. In
the five years since the motorcycle was originally issued, it has seen a number
of additional boxings. For those who like to customize things, this bike was the
bases for a raft of choppers. While probably not a good kit for a beginner,
anyone with the skills needed to work with photo etch will have no trouble with
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 quickly, please
me or see other details in the
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