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 $23.00
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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