Airfix’s 1/48 military vehicles, compatible with their same scale aircraft, started with the Op Herrick range of modern British Army equipment. They have now taken a step back in time and released the first of two trucks, the Bedford MWD, which while at home in a WW2 airfield diorama, may equally appeal to those interested purely in military vehicle modelling. Trucks of this type were rolled out in the tens of thousands, being used in a multitude of roles by various forces, so this is a versatile subject, something that Airfix have made some provision for, as we shall see.
This was a 15cwt (3/4 ton, 762kg payload) 4x2 military service truck powered by a 72bhp 3519cc 6 cylinder engine. First produced in May 1937, by 1945, over 66,000 variants of the basic model had been supplied. Early models had canvas doors and aero style glass plate windscreens, with later versions being fitted with steel doors and full windscreens, though retaining an open / canvas tilt cab top.
So, no “Late Production” / “Early Production” marketing shenanigans from Airfix – this kit provides all the parts necessary to build either early or late types. Let’s see how they packed it all in.
The usual top opening all colour box (with modelling tips on the lower half) features artwork of the late version being driven at dusk with some taxiing Lancasters in the background. The A4 colour instruction booklet covers 12 pages with a total of 63 steps… it’s comprehensive to say the least, as we shall see below. The 95 plastic parts are in the virtually matt pale grey that is characteristic of modern Airfix kits, with a reasonable number of attachment points that are noticeably reduced in size on some of the more delicate components (see a few ringed examples on one of the close up photos). Parts that protrude from the sprues have thoughtfully been provided with protective bumpers to prevent them from being twisted off.
- Sprue A: tyres, suspension and body details, some of the smaller body panels
- Sprue B: wheels, larger body panels
- Sprue C: main chassis components
- Sprue D: clear glazing parts
- Decal sheet by Cartograph: British Army 1940; Royal Air Force 1943; also includes dashboard dials.
As mentioned, with two distinct versions possible from the kit, and so many steps in the instructions, Airfix start things off with an illustration of four possible outcomes for the model. It shows: early version with open cab and truck bed; or with canvas top on cab, open truck bed; or with canvas top on cab and canvas over truck bed; or late version with canvas top on cab and canvas over truck bed… but in fact further options are provided, as described in the instructions:
- Step 10: front wheel mount is designed to allow for them to be posed as if steering.
- Step 24: two separate bonnets (engine hoods) are provided, one closed, the other with one side propped open to show the engine.
- Steps 27 / 58: separate tailgates provide for open or closed.
- Steps 35 / 36: two pairs of canvas doors provided for open (rolled) or closed.
- Step 59: two canvas rear flaps for opened (rolled) up or closed down.
As for the differences between early and late, separate parts are provided for the cab bulkhead/windscreen, separate parts for both canvas tops and sides, early / late front wings (different vent patterns), steel or canvas doors, solid / slatted side steps, with wing mirrors for the steel door version.
If other recently tooled Airfix kits are anything to go by, the fit of parts is likely to be precise, and the build trouble-free. There is no flash, though a few mould lines are noticeable particularly on some of the rounded parts. Several components are detailed on both sides yet are unmarred by any ejector pin blemishes, for example, the truck bed side walls with plank, canvas and bolt details inside and out, and the radiator grill with moulded fan and headlamp wiring on the interior, and the doors with handles moulded on both sides. The tyres are slightly flattened where in contact with the road, and the cab interior, the engine, and the underside of the chassis are all reasonably comprehensively detailed.
To give a few examples, details include the fan belt, handbrake with canvas shroud, bolt detail around the separate differential drive cover, bolts on underside of fuel tanks, and wiring on the engine side of the cab firewall. Perhaps a few details are a touch heavy, for example, the plank and bolt moulding on the cargo sides, leaf springs, and possibly the tyre treads, might be regarded as over-rendered. The overall impression however is one of attention having been paid to providing good amounts of detailing without resorting to either etched metal or too many very tiny components.
More nice touches are in the instructions, where, as each part is shown ready to be positioned in its exploded view, the subsequent step then has that part coloured red to indicate its final location. There’s also the well explained differences between the early and late build steps that should avoid any mix ups over which of the optional parts are consistent with others.
So with all the build options, there’s also much potential here for conversion, with this basic MWD (cargo) truck having also been designated as MWT (gun tractor), MWC (bowser), MWR-FFW (“Fitted for Wireless” radio truck) as well as Office types, compressors, anti-tank gun portees, machine gun trucks and so on. Bear in mind, too, that as well as being used by all British armed services and supplied to other friendly governments, literally thousands were abandoned by the BEF at the fall of France and subsequently employed by the German forces. Furthermore, having been produced and distributed in such numbers, lots were converted to post war civilian use and there are many working examples attending rallies today. This means there’s probably no limit on the variations of configuration and finish that this kit could be subjected to. Airfix have some 1/48 RAF ground crew in the offing which could provide some figures, but of course there are already figures from other manufacturers that might be used to accompany this truck in more various ways.
A well thought-out kit from Airfix, nicely designed and executed with satisfactory levels of detail for this scale. Plentiful optional parts will allow distinctively different models to be completed from the one kit. Will be easy enough to build, yet should look good finished from the box, while still having vast potential for conversion and alternative colour schemes to be applied. At a touch over ten quid, building into an 89x41mm model, this kit seems like very decent value for money.