ARM/AIR: Peolini Designs 1/48 scale DOdge WC-54 Ambulance Type 2

Kit Review: Peolini Designs 1/48 scale Kit (no number); Dodge WC54
Ambulance Type 2; 88 parts (31 etched brass, 30 creme colored resin,
19 white metal, 6 acetate, 2 straight pins); price E54.50 (about US
$80.66 at current exchange rates) including shipping and handling;
available from Peolini Designs, Vierkerweg 42, 7532 RX Enschede, The
Netherlands (website
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Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in this scale; nicely thought
out and laid out kit uses all of the materials to their best
advantage; outstanding directions (!); very useful for both ground and
air displays or dioramas
Disadvantages: pour plugs will have to be trimmed off; few transport
compartment fittings
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for both 1/48 Armor and Aircraft modelers for use as a
stand-alone model or in a diorama setting
One of the most enduring vehicles from the Second World War was the
basic and modified versions of the Dodge WC series 4 x 4 trucks that
followed on the success of the VC series pre-war vehicles. Increasing
their payload from 1/2 ton to 3/4 ton, the trucks were sturdy, handy,
very useful, and in their postwar updated versions - the base version
being the M37 truck - they served with the US Army into the 1980s and
with foreign armies right up to the present day.
The WC series chassis came in three basic sizes: a short (98 inch)
wheelbase version which was used for the WC-51/WC-52 weapons carrier,
the WC-56/WC-57 command car, the M6 37mm gun motor carriage; a longer
(114 inch) body used for the WC-53 carryall and WC-60 field repair
truck; a long version (121 inch) for the WC-54 ambulance and WC-64
"knock-down" ambulance, and a 6x6 version for the 1 1/2 ton WC-62/WC-63
trucks. (In the case of two numbers the second one came with a winch.)
Postwar the basic models were combined and given a hardtop cab to
become the very popular Dodge "Power Wagon" pickup trucks.
The ambulance was a universal vehicle, serving with all elements of
the United States armed forces and in all theaters. Between 1942 and
1945 29,502 WC-54 ambulances were built by Dodge and its subsidiary
Fargo Motor Corporation. There were two basic versions that were
built: one, which Peolini designs designates as "Type 1" used parts
list D-10534; the other, of which this model is representative, is
dubbed "Type 2" and used parts list D-10583. The differences have to
do with product improvements, such as protruding fuel filler nozzles
and indented ones and radiator shells with and without "DODGE" stamped
in them.
Peolini Designs is a new company from the Netherlands and announces
that this is their first kit. With the resurgent popularity of 1/48th
scale military vehicles and the enduring attraction of 1/48th scale
aircraft, the choice of this kit is a great one and the model is a
very well done representation of the vehicle. The kit's part layout
does not show a great similarity to the only major kit previously
issued, the much-traveled 1/35 scale WC-54 from Peerless Models (later
Peerless/Max, Italeri, Testors, Bilak, and now Italeri again) which
had the most annoying selection of part separation in any kit, a
massive crosswise joint in the front of the roof.) It comes with most
major parts in one piece, and here that thankfully includes the entire
roof assembly.
The kit uses four materials - a creme-colored light resin, white
metal castings, etched brass (provided by Aber) and pre-printed
acetate windows. The latter are - aircraft kit style - provided with
masks for painting, which is a nice touch. All of the resin parts use
pour plugs, but the attachment points are well thought out and
demarcation lines obvious so cleanup, while tedious, is not difficult.
The use of white metal parts is something I normally dislike in a
resin kit, but due to the smaller size of this model and the choice of
items for casting in white metal they make sense and are less prone to
breakage or damage (or lost for the clumsy of fingers among us, like
me) during shipping and installation. Note that this kit comes packed
in a sturdy cardboard box with internal plastic wrapping, which proved
impervious to the USPS attempts to crush it!
One of the most outstanding things about this kit is its directions:
other manufacturers, even mainstream injection molded kit
manufacturers, should pay attention to this! The directions are a very
nice 8-page booklet in black and white with clearly laid out parts
identification, assembly order and location of parts, use of specific
drill bits for cleanup callouts, and finishing directions. Two pages
can even be dedicated to identifying the model and advertising of
forthcoming products, and the directions STILL beat those of others
for detail and aid. There are a couple of minor errors in them. One is
the fact that apparently the original bumper was to be from white
metal (part 12) but the production version came in resin (part 22);
there is a big X through the white metal part as indicated but the
directions still give it as an option in Step .
Assembly follows a set format: floor plate to chassis, interior and
cab elements, body, fenders, suspension, chassis details, front end,
wheels, and external details. The doors are all separate parts;
however, the transport compartment doors are one piece. They are
seemingly thick, but then again these had partially insulated doors
which were thicker than sheet metal ones so this is not a problem.
There is a well-aligned seam in the center so they may be opened up
with a few strokes of a razor saw or resin cutting tool (I have one
from Show Modeling; it looks like a sickle with the sharp face of the
blade pointing inward.) However, the kit provides only a minimal
interior in the transport compartment (e.g. the seats are folded up
and only the side stretcher hooks are present; none of the hangers or
lower racks are provided.) Creating one in 1/48th scale should not be
too hard for the average modeler, as the stretchers are simple and the
parts can be simulated with brass or styrene strip and rod.
There are few decisions made in producing this kit I could quibble
with: the only major one, which appears to be done for the sake of
sturdiness, is the solid white metal headlights. Since like many
modelers I prefer to use MV Lenses or similar products, drilling these
out to take a lens will be a bit tricky due to the small size.
One option is given in the finishing directions, and waterslide
decals are included to match. The vehicle's finish is based on a
preserved and restored vehicle which appears to represent a vehicle
from headquarters, C company, 1st Battalion 33rd Armored Regiment, 2nd
US Armored Division. It is missing the second "Delta" behind the 33 on
the bumper codes, but the serial number is correct from the third
batch of WC-54 ambulances ordered in 1942 in which more than 11,000
were built.
Overall this is a very nice little vehicle and the kit does it up
right. I expect somebody will do some additional decal or markings
sheets for it, especially for the USAAF and USAF units as well as Army
units. For those modelers with a B-17 or B-24 kit who wanted to do up
a diorama, this model should prove the catalyst to get them started!
(Note: while this kit may seem expensive at first, the prices are
proportional to the same factors in 1/35 scale for armor kits with a
factor of about 2.5-3:1 for resin to plastic.)
Thanks to Dennis from Peolini Designs for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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