AIR/ARM: Review - Hasegawa 1/48 Scale "FOLLOW ME" Jeep WIlys MB

Kit Review: Hasegawa 1/48 Scale Aircraft in Action Series Kit Number
X48-11 (36011); FOLLOW ME Jeep Willys MB; 71 parts (66 in olive drab
styrene, 4 clear styrene, 1 length of brass wire); retail price US
Advantages: provides a nice airfield diorama accessory for 1/48
aircraft or a suitable Jeep for use with 1/48 armored vehicles
Disadvantages: vastly overpriced for value received; decals not a
great idea for "Follow me" color option, as is having the vehicle
molded in olive drab
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: to 1/48 scale aircraft modelers and any armor modeler
who REALLY wants a Jeep in this scale now
The ubiquitous Willys MB was probably the most popular US-built
vehicle of WWII, nosing out the GMC CCKW series or the Studebaker US6
series trucks with just about everybody. Light, nimble, fast and
useful, it found all sorts of applications. The USAAF used them for
just about everything as well, from simple transports to air-ground
liaison with forward air controllers and even airfield management
vehicles, painted in bright colors for safety and generally fitted
with large signs saying "FOLLOW ME" to guide aircraft to and from
their parking areas.
There have been a few kitted over the years in both 1/72 and 1/48
scale, but this one from Hasegawa is a brand-new effort and is
designed to compliment their airfield accessory line of figures,
vehicles, and modern missiles and ordnance. As it comes, the kit
provides a Jeep with an optional canvas top, console with ground-to-
air radio set, three figures (two crew and one pilot), and decals and
markings for three different vehicles. The primary option is for a red
and white "FOLLOW ME" vehicle fitted with the radio set.
So far, so good. The Jeep itself is not bad, coming with even a three-
piece engine and hood which can be position either open or closed,
separate springs and shocks, a complete exhaust system, and all
interior controls less foot pedals. The figures have separate arms and
two have separate heads, giving some options on posing them. Both of
the ground figures have the baseball caps, and the pilot has a WWII
helmet and goggles vice soft cap or other headergear.
The design of the kit appears based on the old Tamiya jeep kit from
1973, which was not bad, but again, 1973. The current kit is much more
accurate and better, and as a point of fact will probably be the
pantograph stand-in for a promised Tamiya kit. The production values
for this kit are not high, with the belly riddled with ejector pin
marks (at least Hasegawa put them on the bottom of the body) and
"soft" details on the body to include the reflectors and hand holds.
No tools are provided, and while the brackets are also missing, at
least Hasegawa did not mold them to the body.
I checked my copy of TM 11-27, "Radio Communication Equipment" (April
1944) and the radio set seems to look like many of the home-grown
mountings placed in jeeps to carry out air-ground coordination or
airfield management, and while nothing specific can be identified it
looks to have one HF radio set on the left and one VHF set (like
either an SCR-522 or SCR-542 set) on the right. The radio antenna
looks about right if a bit short.
While two of the optional finishes are in olive drab, the primary one
of red and white check is a hard one to replicate and in this case the
modeler will first have to prime the model, paint it white, and then,
as the checks are provided as one bit (63 x 80 mm) sheet of decals,
cut them to fit and try to get them to set down over the body details.
This will be a very tough job and put any decal setting agent to the
test. (The decals are red and white, but most modelers know if you put
the average decal over a dark color the white is rarely thick enough
to be opaque.)
At least Hasegawa, like Tamiya, has first-rate directions. They show
the three options for the kit as being a "Follow Me" jeep from Iowa
during WWII; 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, 8th US Air Force,
England 1943; and a USAF radio jeep in Korea, 1950. (I personally like
the latter given the misery of the red-and-white paint job and will
probably do this one posed next to a T-6G "Mosquito" in Korea.)
Overall, this kit could have been much better and especially for its
very high price. Hasegawa can get away with that for its aircraft, but
if aircraft modelers held this kit to the same standard for the price
charged it comes up wanting. Had the body of the jeep been prepainted,
it could have been worth the price.
Cookie Sewell
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