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GMC DUKW
Amphibious Cargo Truck

 

S u m m a r y

Stock Number and Description Italeri 1/35 Scale Kit No. 6392; DUKW Amphibious Truck;
Media and Contents: 139 parts (133 in olive drab styrene, 6 in clear styrene)
Price: USD$25-US$35 (USD$29.96 from Squadron.com)
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: First styrene kit of this vehicle in this scale; answers many modelers' "Top Ten" requests; cleanly done and relatively accurate
Disadvantages: "Base Model" has no accessories or optional fittings; some simplification to achieve a kittable model
Recommendation: Recommended to all US and Allied softskin vehicle modelers, as well as automotive modelers wanting something completely different

 

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Italeri's 1/35 Scale DUKW is available online from Squadron.com

 

F i r s t L o o k

 

There is a basic disconnect between modelers and model companies; what the modelers may want does not necessarily seem to be saleable by the companies, and thus they will not spend the time and effort and especially money in bringing a long-desired subject into reality. In some cases, as with the clearly popular T-55 and Centurion, the reasons for this reluctance seem to be rather obscure, as these will be long time sellers and good for years to come. With other vehicles, such as strange German "paper" vehicles that never saw the light of day, they are seen as a good idea due to the popularity of German subjects. The reality of the middle position is often seen on websites and in magazines where modelers complain about the lack of the former, and model companies and hobby shops wind up dumping the latter at a loss.

One vehicle which has been on many of the "Top Ten Wants" lists for years is a 1/35 scale model of the GMC DUKW amphibious cargo truck from WWII. None of the major companies thought it would be a big seller, and thus for years it was ignored as a "loser" effort by their design and marketing departments. Now, after six years of rumors that Tamiya would do one to follow on the heels of their excellent CCKW truck kit, Italeri has released a kit of this "want" to see how the demand will really react.

First off, let me start by saying that Italeri takes a lot of abuse by the "knowing few" in that many of their kits are simplified and not as detailed as those from other companies. In some cases, such as the AM General M939 line of medium US cargo trucks, I have to agree, as they could easily have done a better job of it without glaring errors like a wooden cargo floor and "half" tanks on the underside details. On the other hand, Italeri also appears to be the only company right now reading the "Top Ten Wants" lists and trying to answer the mail. Hence, they have come out with kits like the M109A6 Paladin, sWS German halftracks, the LVT-4 and LVT(A)-1, and now the DUKW. Nobody else has bothered, so even if the kits are not up to the standards of the "knowing few," they got us as modelers someplace where we were not before.

But the kits themselves need to be evaluated on their own merits, not the standards of the "knowing few." The kit that Italeri has produced is a clean, neat model of the DUKW and captures the look of the prototypes very nicely. The moldings are clean, and in my example not marred by sinkholes, which was always a minor problem with many past Italeri kits. This is a relatively big model, but there was no warpage in any of the four main hull sections top, bottom and sides. Details such as rivets and weld beads are understated, which is better in a model than the usual ham-handed approach taken in years past by most companies.

The details match up with the later production versions of the DUKW with the "swept back" windshield and side windows, which appear to have been standardized in most vehicles built after 1943. The original vehicle used a standard CCKW type windshield which was bolt upright. The unidirectional "mud" pattern wheels and tires are not bad, but the wheels are standard two-piece affairs which leaves them with "squared" shoulders rather than the more common rounded profile as offered in the Tamiya CCKW kit. Curiously, the kit shows the wave breaker (part 52A) in the erected position, whereas most shots of this version of the DUKW show it with the wave breaker not used or folded down when in the water. Italeri also provides more controls and interior bits than they have with some past kits.

On the negative side, there are some things which appear to have been glossed over. The grating for engine ventilation behind the crew compartment (part 15A) is somewhat coarse, but then again, it is down on the floor of a bulkheaded compartment and not that visible. The cargo bed plates on the original appear to be (at least from the ones I have seen, so there may be other versions) made from plywood; while the kit does not attempt to show wood grain, all things considered this may not be a negative feature. I have found that for the most part it's better to replicated plywood in 1/35 scale with a flatter coat of paint than any of the surrounding "steel" elements and drybrushing with a tannish shade to make it look like wood with the paint wearing off.

The one truly disappointing thing with the kit is that what you get is similar to the Tamiya CCKW kit the "FOB Detroit" version without a single optional part to use on it. In the case of the DUKW, this is not a good idea. Most prominent of the missing parts are the four wheel well skirts which were common on the later production models. Even the early models soon show the use of at least the front skirts on the vehicle. While they can be made up from sheet and strip styrene, it would have been better if at a minimum Italeri had included them with the kit.

Also missing is any option to install a ring mount for a .50 caliber AA machine gun. While photographs show that not many DUKWs actually carried them, the kit gives the modeler no choice in the matter. The mount bases are provided in the kit, so that if the modeler purchases the Tamiya CCKW add-on kit with the ring mount and gun he can install them on this kit with little trouble.

Lastly items missing include top bows (seen far more often than the canvas top, as the DUKW was used most extensively as a ship-to-shore delivery service with cargo being craned or netted into its cargo bay) and a canvas top. Considering the relatively unsuccessful ability of most manufacturers to produce a realistic canvas tarp in styrene, this is not in and of itself an error. No figures are included, nor is any cargo provided to fill the cargo bay. This almost immediately calls for the recommendation to modelers to pick up the Tamiya CCKW accessory kits #35229, U.S. Vehicle Accessories, a set of various jerry cans, boxes, tarps, crates and barrels plus folding buckets to fill up the cargo bay, and #35231, US Cargo and Accessories for 2 Ton Trucks, with the M49 series hip ring and .50 caliber M2HB. That adds $17 to the price of the kit, however. Used with the DUKW, both will go a long way at making a much better ETO DUKW. (German jerry cans obviously don't work for the Pacific!)

Decals are provided for three rather generic vehicles, which is a shame as there are a good number of clear photos of some much better schemes and more colorful markings. (My personal favorite is one named "Beaufighter" from the Operation DRAGOON landings in August 1944.) Also, so many of these vehicles remain in use today on the part of tourism in many cities and attractions, and a post-war one in use by a city fire department or tourism bureau would make for some amazing finishes.

This kit has been much wanted and I personally give Italeri my compliments for having the courage to produce it. Many wholesalers have stated that they doubt the kit will sell (so far comments from Europe tend to disagree, as it tends to sell out quickly in shops) so we can hope that they are wrong. But while most reviews on this kit are similar to this one, only surprised about the lack of optional parts, I have seen one review which boggles the mind.

I spent six years as a "first line supervisor" of US Army tactical vehicles. That means you are the guy responsible for making sure that the vehicles are complete and stay running. To that end, there are a number of forms that must be filled out most common are the DA2404, or "gig sheet" which lists what is wrong or missing with the specific vehicle by serial number, the DA2406 or "deadline report" that covers which ones are not mission capable, and the DA2407, or parts order for missing components. The review, posted on the internet, goes on for about four pages of missing/poorly done elements on this kit, and is more mincing and picayune than any DA2404 I ever saw turned in during 21 years in the US Army.

I don't know what the reviewer was trying to accomplish a listing of the "massive" flaws in the kit, a helpful guide to adding details, or merely trying to inflate his own ego at being "smarter" than poor Italeri. While he cited a number of references most of which I also have and consulted this sort of review is curious, as it does not help anyone. Most modelers, encountering a review of this nature, would tend to think the model is a piece of junk; far from it, what is provided is neatly done and relatively accurate. A company, seeing this sort of neo-screed, would probably be insulted (especially if sales go south) and not be inclined to produce any more kits just because modelers "want" them.

I am still convinced that a good review tells modelers (and companies) what is right with their product, what is wrong with it, who would enjoy it, and how much work it will take to make it into a good replica. Diatribes like that help no one.

Cookie Sewell
AMPS


Review Copyright 2002 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 29 September, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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