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