Shifting gears to a ground-pounder…

While I put the small decals on my Mustang, I’m amusing myself by putting together a bit of support equipment, this time a Dodge WC-52. It’s being built from Italeri’s 1:72 WC-51 kit, which is a re-pop of the old Esci kit. The kit actually builds into a WC-52 out of the box; you’d have to remove the bumper-mounted winch and make a new bumper to make a WC-51 out of it.

The WC-51/52 series was a three-quarter ton four-wheel drive truck that replaced previous half-ton models. Those vehicles had been adapted from civilian pick-up trucks, and they proved to be too lightly built for wartime work. The WC-51/52 was redesigned from the ground up; it was made more rugged and at the same time simpler for ease of maintenance. The rear body was much wider than the half-ton bodies to accommodate more cargo, and there were fold-down troop seats along the back for passengers.

It was an open-cab vehicle, with no doors (two jerry cans sat on the right running board and the spare tire was on the left) and often had a canvas cover. The pioneer tools were carried on a rack on the tailgate. The WC-52 boasted a Braden 5,000-pound power take-off driven winch mounted behind the front bumper.

I’m not sure when I bought this kit, but I know I looked at it and put it away with some disdain. I even assembled one wheel and attempted to clean up the seam and ejection pin marks in it. I’m sure I then defaulted to an Academy vehicle (I’ve built the GMC CCKW-353 2 ½ ton truck, which was excellent, the Harley-Davidson WLA motorcycle from the M4 halftrack kit, which was nice, and one of their Ford GPW Jeeps, which was pretty rotten).

There are other vehicles I’ve seen in photos of airfields – notable the 2 ½ ton and 1 ½ ton bomb service trucks, which I plan on converting, and the Ford/GMC C15, which IBG makes in several flavors but not the long bed version, which is the one I really want. Academy also makes the ubiquitous WC-54 ambulance, from which I could have probably stolen the chassis and wheels for my WC-51, now that I think about it.

Anyway, the Esci/Italeri kit is a virtual celebration of all that can go wrong in molding. There are lots of knockout pin marks (three on each tire!), flash, mold shifts and other delights. The cab’s seats each have huge sink craters in them. The molded canvas covers are fairly useless, with ejection pin marks on the outside surfaces. All in all, it’s a fairly rough model.

But, so far, I have the chassis, suspension and power train together. The wheels are assembled and need some clean-up, but like I said earlier, I might just swap out some resin copies of Academy’s WC-54 wheels. Much of the rest of the model can benefit from Eduard’s photoetched details for the Academy six-by-six – things like clutch, brake and gas pedals, the radiator facing (the kit’s plastic one has a huge sink mark in it), and pioneer tools. If I’m lucky, the brushguards are also interchangeable.

Ultimately, though, these vehicles are intended as diorama accessories – even though I don’t yet have any diorama plans in mind. At some stage, it would be real fun to place all my 362nd Fighter Group Thunderbolts on display on a single base with ground support gear including figures, vehicles and maybe even buildings or tents – but that has as much to do with real estate as it does with anything else. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to develop my menagerie of 1:72 softskin vehicles – and my knowledge of these important but unsung machines.

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