Tamiya CCKW-353 Deuce and a half (1944)

This 1/35 scale kit was chosen because I wanted to try some of the various weathering techniques that I've been reading about.  I like soft skin armor and wanted a kit that was not going to fight me during construction.  I felt that this kit was a good choice and, as it turned out, I was correct.

I did not do a lot of research and relied mostly on Tamiya's instructions and box art.  I did note that this truck was different in several ways from the one that's prominent in the series "Band of Brothers".  That truck had a metal roofed cab.  Its smooth tailgate and side panels seemed to be either metal or plywood while the kit portrays both with distinct boards.  Unlike the truck in the film, the model has no chains on the tailgate.  But with a total production of 810,000 built by more-than-one manufacturer, there were obviously going to be significant variations.

The subject I modeled was one in the "Red Ball Express" a convoy system which ran from August to November of 1944.  It's mission was to keep the army supplied after the breakout from Normandy.  It is notable that almost 75 % of all Red Ball drivers were African Americans, soldiers who were denied front-line service because of racial discrimination, but who had been attached to various units for other duties.

The kit is quite good but I'll complain about a few things.  I wish the windshield could be mounted in the "down" position.  There are two rifles left unattended in the cab, which seems unlikely in real life.  And I found their supports for the bench seats in the "down" position to be unlikely.  Finally, there are a number of precise "holes" in the underside of the cargo bed which turned out to have no purpose.  On the plus side, there are several options including a winch, a driver, and the ability to remove the side panels from the engine cover.  Tamiya also sells an accessory kit which features cargo and a 50 cal.

It was important to me to convey was that the real subject was constructed from components.  The wood in the stake/platform was probably painted in a different factory using a different paint lot than the metal body and frame.  Likewise for the metal turnbuckles and wooden stretchers of the bows.  Of course, the jerry cans came from yet another supplier.  These components would all have slightly different colors and all would weather differently.

Before initial painting, I built sub-assemblies as completely as possible while still allowing complete access for painting..  Next I sprayed most of the components Model Masters raw umber.  Then the upper surfaces were given a 'sunlight" spray of MM ANA OD, avoiding the recesses to leave them dark.  This was followed by a highlight spray of dilute MM Field Drab designed to "mellow" the green. 

At that point, looking at my mostly assembled truck, I expected an artistic vision to flow over me.  It didn't.  It turns out I'm not an artist.  So instead I tried to be logical and experimental at the same time.  I used, at various times, artists oils and acrylics, light and not-so-light dry-brushing, washes, filters, glosses and matts.  The final touches were applied with Tamiya Weathering Masters. 

In the magazines, you see a lot of different colors used on an armor model.  I didnít have the nerve for too much variation.  And, I'm not sure how appropriate it would be for the gradual surfaces of the truck's cab.  In the end, I invoked the weathering maxim: Better too little than too much.

The finished model is out-of-box except for small enhancements to the mirror, convoy sign, and jerry can caps.  I spent a lot of time trying to devise a way to positively secure the bows but could not.  So I simply used butt-joins with super glue.  Each went on in seconds.  But they are delicate, one having detached three times already (ironically recalling one of my experiences with a real deuce and a half).  Nonetheless, I think their visual delicacy really adds something to the finished model.

For the first time in a long while, I finished a model in the same year that I began it.  That neatly sums up the story about how much I enjoyed Tamiya's truck.