The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during WW II. Between December 1940 and April 1943, the vehicles of the LRDG operated constantly behind German lines. The requirement for covert transport, the distances involved and the environment meant the vehicles used were usually stripped of all non-essentials and specially adapted for the task. Specifically, they were fitted with large desert tires, a larger radiator, a water condenser for the radiator, sand mats, sand channels, a sun compass, and numerous other modifications that made it possible for a small band of soldiers to operate in the desert conditions.
The first vehicles used by LRDG were Chevrolet WB 30cwt and were actually bought from a local Chevrolet dealer (and the subject of this review). Further vehicles were borrowed from the Egyptian Army and relatively few were procured through regular army channels. Only 35 of these particular trucks were initially acquired.
All of the modified vehicles were each fitted with a variety of armament. In the case of this particular truck, a Breda Model 35 20 mm cannon was mounted in the rear cargo bed. Large numbers of these guns had been captured from the Italians and put into service with the Allied desert forces. The guns were appreciated by the LRDG as they could be used against air targets as well as against light armoured vehicles.
The subject of this review is the Dragon Models
1/72 Armor Pro Long Range Desert Patrol Car w/2cm Cannon, kit #7504.
In the box will be found three medium sized sprues in typical Dragon Models
light gray styrene. The sprue breakdown is as follows:
Sprue ‘A’ = 18 parts - Truck cargo bed and associated details.
Sprue ‘B’ = 31 parts - Front cab and engine area with associated details.
Sprue ‘C’ = 14 parts - Vehicle frame and chassis components.
Sprue ‘D’ = 9 parts - 2cm Model 35 Breda Cannon
Also present is a small plastic bag containing a sheet of Cartograph water slide decals and a four sided instruction card. The card contains one page of sprue parts layout and two pages of build diagrams in the form of exploded view line drawings. The last page provides painting and marking options for one of two vehicles.
Looking over the sprues one will see that while there is some great detail molded in, there are a few areas that are sadly lacking. Immediately noticeable were the wheels, which the box side CAD image takes pride in showing as separate wheel rim being inserted into the tire. The truth inside the box raises its ugly head. The wheels are one-piece and they do give a decent interpretation of the tread pattern, although quite shallow, but there is also a nice moulding seam along the outside that will need to be removed and oddly, they are also moulded with a hollow back side, even the spare.
As with the earlier release (#7439) there are sink holes on a number of ends of the two sand mats and numerous ejector pin marks are present (both depression and projection type) in a number of areas most would be hidden after assembly. One example of this was the racks of flimsy cans (B21) that reside on the front running boards. These were of the projecting type on the part’s base that will require careful sanding. Flash was found on a number of parts on Sprue ‘A’ including the front bench seat and in the open radiator grill area. Sprue ‘D’ (the 2cm cannon and a newer sprue) also had areas of flash, although light for the most part. Surprisingly the barrel of the Breda is not hollowed out. The majority of moulding seam lines in some other areas are light and should be easily removed with a scraping of a sharp hobby knife.
Sprue connection points (gates) were all over the place (size wise) when compared to previous kits and this will be a disappointment to many. Several of the smaller or more delicate parts did have equally small gates to them. However, some parts, such as those on larger pieces have larger connectors at awkward locations, that will require careful clean-up.
The options for painting and markings are as follows:
An overall Sand, Blue and Olive Drab camouflaged vehicle of ‘T’ Patrol “TE AROHA,” Libya 1943
An overall Desert Pink, Olive Drab and Blue coloured vehicle of an unidentified vehicle, Libya 1943
A full set of water-slide decals is provided for the “TE AROHA” vehicle. Unfortunately, while a good selection of decals is provided, markings for a second vehicle will prove frustrating for the majority of modellers. The unidentified vehicle numbers are provided for in the form of individual numbers and letters to make up your own. These are absolutely tiny and will prove awkward to individually place and line up in this scale. I think that while one or two modellers will love this, more will find it very frustrating and look for an alternative option.
The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Model Master enamels.
As with any kit, it will serve the builder well to review the instructions prior to letting glue meet plastic. While this kit breaks construction up into eight steps, it is the modellers responsibility to determine the logical order in which parts should be applied to ensure a trouble free (or as close as possible) build. This is because the Dragon Models
instructions do not specify in what order parts should be attached.
Step 1 and 2 involve the construction of the entire frame and chassis. After reviewing the instructions it seemed obvious that the entire exhaust system (C54) should be attached first. Failure to do so would result in numerous impediments interfering with its placement at a later stage. Next up is the attaching of the four leaf-spring parts (C49 to C51) onto the truck frame. In this case the placement should follow the instructions as each piece has its own location.
Following the installation of the springs will be gluing the driveshaft (C52) with its attached axles into position. The fit is rather poor as the mating features result in a very loose and sloppy fit. Part C53 (the steering linkage) was next and also possessed poor mating features that required careful filing and trimming to achieve an acceptable fit. The last piece to be fitted in Step 1 is a cross beam (C55) between the frame sides near the rear.
Step 2 has the wheels attached as well as the front bumper (B5). This reviewer decided against placing these parts on at this stage. However, appropriately sized Evergreen plastic tubing and/or putty will be required to fill the voids at the back of the wheels. The bumper was left to be attached after the front hood was at least dry fit to best determine at which stage it should be placed.
Step 3 begins the construction of the cab area. The main part is B1 and represents the entire base of the forward portion of the truck, including the fenders. To this are added several detail pieces that start with the engine radiator (B27). This part fit well after some light sanding to the vertical sides. Parts C32 and C33 are the lower sides of the engine compartment and had a somewhat loose fit. Part B2 (the engine compartment hood) is a separate part that also has the dash panel (B24) attached to it. The final three parts to attach in this step are the gear shift (B30), hand brake (B31) and steering wheel (B23). It was at this point that I added some pedals to the driver’s side floor made from shaped Evergreen plastic strip. While the instructions call for the steering wheel to be attached at this point, I decided to wait until the area under the dash had been detail painted, as the wheel would interfere with the painting process.
In Step 4 further detailing of the forward area of the truck continues. The cab back, seat, rifles and side fabric door panels are to be attached. These rolled up door panels fit well but are side specific. The other parts were dry fit but left off and their fit seemed fine.
Step 5 sees even more detail pieces fitted to the truck front. As mentioned above, the smaller flimsy container racks (B21) need some filing or sanding to get them to sit properly on the running board. Other parts in this step fit reasonably well but care will need to be taken with removing the condenser (B20) from the sprue as it has a rather thick and awkwardly placed attachment point to the sprue. The rest of the parts in this step are the racks for the sand mats, the fuel filler cap and the headlights. The headlights are side specific and in the review sample had a rather loose fit.
During Step 6 three parts are added to the truck cargo bed. These are the spare tire, a wooden box and what appears to be the radio compartment.
The underside is the main focus in Step 7 with two storage boxes (A14, A10) and the two part mud flaps being added. The mud flaps consist of the actual flap part (A11) and the support for it (A12). They are meant to interlock with each other and then fit into a depression in the bottom of the truck cargo bed. Sadly, to fit properly the builder will need to do some serious trimming of raised circular moulding projections. It should be noted at this point that the built-in steps on the tailgate should be open but are covered by a thin layer of styrene. It will be up to the modeller to decide if they wish to open them up as was done in this build.
Step 8 is the final construction step and involves finishing up the actual truck and building the Breda gun. For the truck a few parts are added to the cargo bed as well as the forward cab. Parts fit is acceptable but the two small covered front windscreens (B17) did require some filing to fit well. This step ends with the attachment of the cab and cargo area to the frame. Care will be required for this step as with the exception of a single pin under the engine compartment hood, there are no positive locating features. It will be up to the builder to align these subassemblies so that everything looks correct.
The gun itself is made up of nine finely detailed parts. Many of the pieces are extremely fine and delicate so appropriate care when handling will be necessary. Assembling this collection of diminutive parts may prove quite a challenge to many modellers. Fine jawed tweezers and patience will be necessities.
The first subassembly suggested by the instructions is the left side of the gun mount. This consists of three parts, the left frame (D4), the elevation wheel mount (D2) and the elevation wheel itself (D8). What is not shown in the instructions is the proper angles to position part D2 (please refer to the reference images for proper orientation). The elevation wheel was left for attachment later in the build to avoid it being damaged.
The next subassembly is the completion of the rest of the gun. The builder will need to assemble the pieces as they see fit as no assembly order is suggested by the instructions. In my case I chose to mount the left side assembly onto the gun’s base (D7) before continuing further assembly. After looking at numerous pictures of the gun, it became clear that the traverse wheel (D1) is not oriented parallel to the base but canted slightly downward to the right. Indeed it will serve the builder well to have multi angled reference images of the gun to use as a guide for proper parts placement and positioning.
During final assembly of the gun I noticed that the gunner’s seats on these guns had lightening holes in the backrest. These were represented on the model as two rows of circular depressions. To add some detail I used a #64 (.0360”/.92 mm) drill to bore through the depressions. With that done and the seat attached the final step in the build is to mount the gun in the cargo bed. Unfortunately the hole in the cargo bed for mounting the gun is the same size and shape as that used for mounting the Lewis gun in kit #7439; a link to that review can be found at the end of this review. The mounting pin on the bottom of the Breda is an elongated, rounded edge rectangle and substantially larger than the hole. It will therefore be necessary for the modeller to make modifications to either the size of the hole or the peg to allow the gun to be mounted.
While definitely an interesting subject, this kit is, as far as the truck goes, a step backwards for Dragon Models
. It is neither a “quick-build” wargaming kit nor, in this reviewers opinion, worthy to be considered a member of the “Armor Pro” branding family. While moulding in some areas is superb, in others it is sorrowfully lacking. With slide-moulding we have come to expect exceptional three dimensional details throughout the kit parts but this is not the case with this kit. With the exception of a handful of parts (in particular the gun), there appears little improvement of the subject when compared to the ancient Matchbox incarnation. Further, with the old kit you get not only a lot more stowage but also figures.
For those that would still like to have one of these trucks in their collection, there are a number of aftermarket resin and photo-etch brass add-ons available. These additions address many of the deficiencies in this kit but will definitely have an impact on your modelling budget.
Engines of the Wehrmacht
LRDG Truck Review