U.S. 2 1/2 Ton 6x6 Cargo Truck
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII


This kit is a joy to build straight out of the box or with the inclusion of the accessory parts (kit #35231) from Tamiya. I've built two of these trucks so far, and look forward to building more as part of a future Red Ball Express diorama.

The model represents the open-top cab version of this workhorse vehicle (Italeri offers the closed cab). You have the option to include a winch on the front bumper or an exposed brake drum for a maintenance scene. With a nice basic engine included, you can leave the vented side engine compartment walls off, as was often done to help keep the engine cool during the hot summer months. The tarp support frames can be put in place on the cargo body, stacked up in back, or not used at all if so desired. The accessory set offers additional detailing, such as an M2 .50 machinegun and ring mount, rolled canvas tarps and doors and jerry can rack and holders. Unfortunately, the vehicle kit does not have the towing hook for the winch cable nor the engine hood hold down hooks. Though they come in the accessory set, they are necessary details that really should have been included as part of the original model.

Construction is straightforward with Tamiya's typically easy-to-follow instructions. The pieces are crisply molded with no flash or visible ejection marks. The very fine mold lines make clean up a breeze.

A few tips:
If you're going to close up the cab with the top and accessory doors, you can save the dashboard decals, windshield wiper motors and windshield braces to detail other kits, such as the Italeri trucks. Part D12 is used as a holding bracket for one of the legs of the machine gun ring mount, and the top end should be hollowed out with an X-Acto knife. You may want to paint the grill separately and leave it off the model until the whole vehicle has been painted and the clear plastic lenses are glued on the headlights. And make sure you use some lead foil or paper strips to attach the musette bags to the grill or elsewhere on the truck. Also, the edges of the mud flaps could be thinned a bit. Finally, I've seen some photos where there are two wooden slats extending up the front wall of the cargo bed, to keep the tarp supports from sliding onto the cab. I assume these supports were at the very least strapped down when stacked horizontally as seen in the box art. Other photos show them resting vertically over the side walls of the cargo bed.

A few nits:
The kit's jerry cans come with an unconvincing molded on cap. It's also not stated in the instructions what to do with the bench seat braces if the seats are raised up to make room for more cargo. I've seen one picture where the braces were not present, and one blurry photo where they appeared to be hanging from the bench seats as if hinged to them. I suspect they were indeed hinged, and if the truck was primarily used for transporting cargo they were removed altogether, and kept attached if the trucks were mainly used to move troops. If you decide not to use them, fill in the little attachment dimples on the undersides of the seats.

The driver figure is nicely molded and has a decent face that will come to life with some good painting. After a long period when the GI's that came with Tamiya's M3A2 halftrack were the only sitting figures available, we now have other resin options from Warriors, Verlinden, PV Figures, and Nemrod.

A number of aftermarket sets have followed this release. The Tank Workshop offers chained wheels for winter driving; CMK has a resin conversion kit for the CCKW-353 Gasoline Tanker; Verlinden has a detailed engine and equipment set; VLS's private Trakz line has a pricey ($25) extended tarp for covering the cargo body; and of course there is the ubiquitous photo etch set from Eduard.

Tamiya re-released this kit in 2005 as U.S. 2 1/2 Ton 6x6 Cargo Truck "Red Ball Express" (#89648) which iIncludes fuel drums, jerry cans, welding equipment, packs and bags, one driver and two new standing figures.

But this kit is a great build just by itself, and a wonderful tonic if you've just come off a grueling superdetailing project. Over 810,000 2 ½ don't trucks were manufactured during the war, and while you might not want to build that many, you may find it hard to stop at one!



Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter