Academy 1/72 WWII US Ground Vehicle Set 4

KIT #: 13403
PRICE: ~$15.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  Kit includes ambulance, tow tractor, and bomb cart.


The Dodge 3/4 ton WC trucks:                                 

In 1940 the Army revised its range of standard, payload-based, general-purpose truck classes: a ​1⁄4-ton chassis requirement was added; the ​1⁄2-ton was to be replaced by a ​3⁄4-ton, and additional heavy categories were specified. The Quartermaster General wanted to start direct negotiations with Dodge, GM and Mack for certain models immediately, but not until after February 1941 could the Quartermaster Corps choose manufacturers directly, based on their engineering and production capabilities. One deciding factor had to do with availability of certain critical components, like transfer cases and especially constant-velocity joints, not used much on commercial trucks, but all-wheel drive vehicles all needed these; plus additionally, they would use two or three times the amount of driven axles, meaning more gears to cut for all the differentials. Produced up to the war by a few specialized firms with limited capacity, from spring 1942 Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet joined in fabricating these in mass quantity, with Dodge's experience in making quality, precision parts dating back from the earliest beginnings of the company.

While very successful, the ​1⁄2-ton WC trucks had to be supplanted by ​3⁄4-ton trucks. In late 1941, Dodge introduced a redesigned WC-series 4x4 trucks uprated to ​3⁄4-ton and their SNL code changed to G-502. The ​3⁄4-ton featured a lower profile truck bed that could seat eight troops, plus under seat stowage compartments; while service-parts remained 80 percent interchangeable with the existing ​1⁄2-ton series. Maintaining 80% service parts interchangeability with the ​1⁄2-ton models was of great value. The ​3⁄4-ton models could swiftly be deployed, and the ​1⁄2-ton, G-505 WC-trucks remained in use to the end of World War II.

Throughout the war, Dodge was the U.S. Army's sole producer of ​3⁄4-ton trucks, and built a total of 255,193 of these across all variants from April 1942 to August 1945. Standard vehicles in the ​3⁄4-ton 4x4 class were the WC-51 / WC-52 Weapons Carrier, WC-56 /-57 /-58 (Radio) Command Reconnaissance, WC-53 Carry-all, and the WC-54 Ambulance. In the cargo/troop and command trucks, the WC-52 and WC-57 are identical to the WC-51 and WC-56, but with a longer frame, extending to carry the protruding front bumper with front-mounted winch.


 The main subject of this kit is the WC 54 Ambulance. Surprisingly, Academy has provided a full engine for this kit. It fits atop a completed ladder chassis to which the leaf springs and a single, complete 4x4 drive train is attached. At this stage, one attaches the wheels.

There is a full driver's and cabin floor, but you only are provided seats and controls for the front area at this juncture. The forward body is assembled in six sections to which the grille, windows and lights are attached. The back section first has jump seats installed on the side panels, with a roof and rear doors added to complete the assembly. I guess you could pose the doors open, but there really is not much to see. Adding the front then rear section to the chassis then adding the spare completes the ambulance.

Another main vehicle is a tow tractor. This is a somewhat complex kit for its size and also includes an engine block of sorts as you can see it through the open sides. Finally, a small bomb cart, large enough for a single 500 lb bomb is provided.

Instructions are nicely done  and provide generic paint references. As you can imagine, OD is recommended for pretty much everything though you could paint the tow tractor and bomb cart in yellow if you wish. Decals are nicely printed and provide a single set of markings for all the items in the set. 


This is something that will make for a nice addition to a diorama of some sort. As you can see from the box art, it is recommended for a US bomber base, but I see no reason why you couldn't use it for something like P-47s for instance. Since the ambulance wasn't built until 1943, you can't really use it for anything much earlier.

January 2020

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