Monday, November 10, 2014

King's Hobby Shop Hosts Tommy Holt's First Model Railroading Class for Kids.

Tommy Holt and the kids after first class.  Model railroading is really easy and super fun!

We've been having lots of fun over the last three weeks on Thursday afternoons hosting Tommy Holt's model railroading class for kids.  Tommy has eight very enthusiastic (as you can see!) rail fans who are learning the basics of the hobby.  Topics include modular layout construction,  basic train operation, model structure construction, creating scenery, backdrop painting and more.

Tommy has been assisted with the class by several notable local model railroaders.  Volunteer instructors include Bill Smotrilla, David Petersen, Steve Nelson, Jack Merkel, Mike Barrett, George Hollwedel, and Tom Pearson.  All have vast knowledge of all aspects of the hobby and their combined years of experience adds up to at least a century.  Tommy's students are getting a solid foundation in model railroading.

In the first class session, the kids built modular layout boxes and mounted dual track straight track sections on the boxes.  The module box kits were produced by master cabinet maker David Petersen and fit really nicely.  The kids then joined their boxes together using bolts, washers, and wing nuts.
Kids joining modules
After the modules were all together, the kids ran trains.  They did this from building boxes to running trains in about one hour.

The second week featured Mike Barrett teaching the kids how to build model railroad track side structures.  It was a new expeience for the kids but Mike did a great job, and the students achieved really nice results.
Kids, parents, and teachers working on structure kits.

Scenery was the topic for week three.  Steve Nelson was up to teach the kids how to apply ground cover including roadways, earth, grass, bushes and shrubbery.  Emphasis was placed on varying colors and textures.  In addition, Steve did a great primer on scratch building HO scale trees.  Next week the kids will learn how to do sky scape scenic backdrops.  The kids and teachers are having a great time.  The students are learning that creating interesting and realistic model railroads is easy and fun!

Thanks Tommy Holt and all for sharing your vast experience in model railroading with our younger modellers. 

Steve Nelson helps young railroaders.
Students operate trains!
Celebrating new experiences.
Model railroading is fun!
Little brother watches operations.


By: Brad Perry
Photos:  Bill Smotrilla

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Airfix 1/72 Scale C-47 Skytrain Quick Review

 Airfix 1/72 C-47 Skytrain
Stock number: 3030-8014
Price:  $39.99
Status:  Available now!

We've received the new Airfix 1/72 scale C-47 Skytrain.  The kit looks very good.  Parts are crisply molded and our example appears to be warp free.   I'm assuming that the dimensions are correct but haven't actually measured.  The fuselage and wing plan forms appear to be accurate.  In short the model looks convincingly like what it's supposed to.  It has been many years since we've seen an all new kit of this very significant aircraft in this scale, and I'm glad to see it.

The kit particulars are published on the box as follows:
Length - 273mm
Wingspan - 400mm
Part count -  142 pieces

Exterior skin paneling is represented primarily with recessed lines which are thin and not too deep.  Certain details such as control cable covers are raised.
Combination recessed and raised surface detail.  Panel lines are delicate
Actual C-47s have lapped and riveted skin panels.  When seen up close, the aircraft is festooned with rivet heads.  The kit does not include any rivet details.  These would not normally be obviously visible from the scale viewing distance, and while the scribed panel lines are not technically accurate,  they will adequately represent the lines produced and visible by the lapped skin panels.  I would probably spray the model with Tamiya primer before painting, then use a subtle oil wash in the lines after painting.  The end result of this should be quite convincing.  Airfix provides a separate port side forward crew access door.  It does not include interior detail and therefore does not appear to be capable of being shown optionally open.  At the back end of the kit, the tail surfaces include separate rudder and elevators for the vertical tail plane and separately attached horizontal tail planes respectively.  These surfaces are doped fabric on the real aircraft and Airfix has done a fine job representing this on the kit.
Stretched fabric over elevator structure is convincing!
This new release also includes various separately molded antenna masts and pitot tubes.  They are all reproduced very delicately and are commendably scale.

Kit clear parts are nicely produced.  They are cast uniformly flat and have minimal distortion.  The fuselage side windows attach to the outside of the fuselage.
Instructions show windows mount from exteri
This is a great design feature of this model.  Most models with similar window configurations have you attach clear parts to the inside of the fuselage.  This presents the hazard of accidentally pushing the windows into the model after it's glued shut.  Airfix's solution will make the model easier to handle while building and then painting.

The model's interior is nice considering that most will not be visible after construction.  The cockpit has a decal instrument panel with separate throttle/trim wheel center console.
Cockpit and radio/navigation compartment instructions.
It also includes nicely cast pilot seats with two optional separate seated pilot figures.  In addition, very delicate control wheels and control columns round out the cockpit module.
Delicate antenna and control wheel parts.
  Airfix provides a basic radio operator's and navigator's compartment which does not include any radio or navigation equipment, or crew figures.  Not much of this assembly will be visible after installation so the abbreviated detail is adequate.  The aft cargo bay includes nicely detailed corrugated floor, and forward and aft compartment bulkheads.  Sidewall interior structural detail for ribs and stringers are cast inside kit fuselage halves.
Right fuselage interior.  Note molded structure and mold push marks above first, third and fifth windows.
Optional parts are provided for troop jump seats extended up or retracted (stowed).  As final notes to the cargo bay assembly, the rear fuselage cargo doors can be shown open or closed, and the jump door on the forward cargo door is a separate piece.

The main wings have interior spars which should provide a sturdy structure.  The main wheel wells have interior detail which I believe is unique for 1/72 scale C-47 kits.  It includes nacelle rib detail, rear engine firewall detail, and oil tanks.  Also, the landing gear can be built retracted if the modeler desires to show the aircraft in flight, or with snow skies for arctic operations.  The skies are very nice consisting of five parts which include the rear mounted lift supplementing winglets.  A separate one piece tail wheel ski is also included.   Main landing gear struts are multi piece and appear cleanly molded and appropriately thin.  Separate "H" main struts, actuator jacks, and "Y" support struts combine to create mechanically busy assemblies.  They are far from the clunky softly detailed gear struts in past kits.
Delicate landing gear strut components.
Main wheels are molded to appear as if they have weight on them.  Like many companies who attempt this, Airfix has also gotten its tires too flat in my opinion.  Hopefully we'll get a set of resin aftermarket wheels that aren't equally flat, but the kit parts will be useable if need be.  I consider this to be a minor issue.
Main wheel tires appear to need some air!
The kit provides two multi part twin row radial engines representing Pratt & Whitney R-1830s.  Each engine assembly consists of four parts:  two separate seven bank cylinder rows;  one gear reduction housing;  and one prop shaft.  The cylinders on all rows are notable for their lack of any cooling vain detail.  This will not detract greatly as the engines are tightly cowled and and will only be visible after looking past wide chord Hamilton Standard three bladed props.  Good painting technique and shadow will greatly alleviate this issue.  Two part (front and rear section) carburetor air intakes are added to the top of the engine nacelles.  Intake mouths are recessed but not very deep.  Some modelers may wish to open them further.

Kit decals provide markings for two aircraft.  The first option is for a World War 2 USAAF aircraft from the 92nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group, 9th Air Force.  The plane was based at Upottery, Devon, England on June 6, 1944.  It is painted in wartime standard olive drab and neutral gray camouflage colors with white and black invasion stripes.  It features nose art "Kilroy is Here".  The second decal option is for a post World War 2 ski equipped Skytrain from the Military Air Transport Service based at Isachsen Airstrip, Northwest Territory, Canada in October, 1949.  The aircraft is unpainted natural metal with arctic red wing tips and tail.  Common decals for either option are provided for all technical stencils found on C-47s.  The Airfix decal, in fact, includes the most complete set of technical stenciling I've seen for any C-47 kit.  The decals are printed in register and appear to have thin carrier film.  I'd be inclined to use them unhesitatingly.
Nice kit decal sheet with complete technical stencils.

The C-47 Skytrain kit from Airfix is the latest in the new generation of kits from the iconic kit maker.  It does not disappoint.  Airfix has really stepped up its game in the last several years.  It has produced a string of new 1/72 kits which are great quality and value.  This kit has many strong points as noted above and, as with all kits, several minor and easily correctable issues.  In addition to those knocks noted above, the kit does not include an emergency escape hatch above the cockpit.  This can be fixed with a rectangular piece of evergreen .005" styrene laminated in the correct location.  Also, there are several ejector pin marks inside the cargo bay which disrupt the stringer detail above the mid fuselage windows.  These will be slightly visible if the model is displayed with the cargo doors open.  Evergreen .010" x .020" strip grafted into the gaps in the stringer detail, and then a drop or two of Mr. Surfacer primer should solve this small problem.  One other issue is that the kit does not include a balance tab on the right aileron.  Mark, scribe, and cut in the proper location on the right inboard portion of the aileron to resolve the oversight.  In short, I have very little to call out on this kit.  I think it's great!  I look forward to seeing which other versions of this aircraft Airfix has in store for us.  Several unused parts in the box such as thin chord propellers suggest a DC-3.  I'll also be surprised if we don't get an AC-47 Puff since they had a boxing of this aircraft using their old kit.  Can't wait!

Brad Perry
Photos:  Jack Johnston
Check this link for details on the D Day C-47 on the kit decal.

Additional sprue view.  Add a balance tab to the inboard portion of the starboard aileron.

Port outer lower wing detail.  I'd cut the aileron end lines with a micro saw to show daylight in the gap.
Lots of detail in the box!

Optional up or down troop seats.
Clear parts show little distortion.





Thursday, June 5, 2014

Quest for the Perfect Kit

I believe that modelers shoot for 100% accuracy in their projects even though most (hopefully) realize that is impossible.  I would have to include myself in this category although I'm not always willing to do what it takes to fix problems.  Does this make me a neo-rivet counter?  Probably. When new kits are reviewed by "experts", I sit up and take notice, especially when something is deemed to be inaccurate.  These detected errors, sometimes correctly noted, and sometimes merely perceived, can give kits a "reputation" which limits the number you will ever see built or much less purchased.  My willingness to fix such errors is limited by my ability to be aware of them in the first place (even with good references), and then my skill set in retooling or scratch building corrections.  This is particularly true if I'm building for a deadline.  If I'm up to the edge of one, I'm more open to building the kit as is.  My truth is I want manufacturers to get it right and when they don't, I'm miffed.  The reality is that even the best producers of kits get stuff wrong, sometimes very wrong, for numerous reasons.  This is in spite of vast documentation in museums, in books, and on line, plus armies of experts.  Lack of thoroughness, simple inattention, limits of tooling and materials, as well as, economics often contribute to errors in the final product.  Where then do we draw the line for what is an acceptable level of accuracy?

A good place to begin is with the definition of the word model.  Webster's has two entries that apply,  each having multiple definitions.

 Model \ n\ 1:  structural design 2 : a miniature made; also : a pattern of something to be made 3 :  an example for imitation or emulation 4 :  one who poses for an artist; also :  MANNEQUIN 5 :  TYPE, DESIGN


Model \adj\ 1:  serving as or worthy of being a pattern (a ~ student) 2:  being a miniature representation of something (a ~ airplane)

Armed with these definitions, and accounting for human imperfection,  it is safe to assert that there is no such thing as the perfect model kit. I haven't seen one yet although some come close.  Examples which approach this in 1/48 scale aircraft are Tamiya's P-47 (any version), Hasegawa's Ki-84, and Accurate Miniatures' TBF/TBM and SBD kits.  I'm sure you can think others in this genre as well as many from others.  There are also numerous kits out there on the other end of the spectrum.  Eduard recently released a Bf 109G-6 that, from all the discussion on internet forums, is being relegated by many to the later category in spite of its overall great quality.  Regrettably for everyone involved, there is apparent validity to these criticisms of the new Messerschmitt kit especially in the area of physical dimensions.  It is slightly large (1/47.26 instead of 1/48)  For many, this is particularly disappointing as the Eduard offering would have potentially been the best kit so far of the oft kitted 109.  Alas, the door is still open.

Something I've noticed is that certain subjects tend to receive more scrutiny than others.  Bf 109 kits are an example of what I'd call hyper scrutiny.  Let me say again, that the criticisms of the new Eduard kit are in large measure valid.  Having said this, there is not a single Bf 109 kit in any scale (even 1/47.26) or version that doesn't have problems.  If  I want a Bf 109 on my shelf,  I have to accept the shortcomings of the current crop of kits, and make a decision (or develop my own kit. Not likely).  With reasonable building and painting skills,  any of the them will result in a nice representation (see above definition).

Unfortunately and surprisingly to me, Eduard fell short of the goal of producing the ultimate Bf 109G-6. Henry Ford often talked about recovering from mistakes and noted that successful people and organizations capitalize them.  It looks like Eduard will follow this advise as they have acknowledged the problems with, and confirm that they are studying how to rework the kit at this time.  Basic dimensions should be correct in any scale, and the company has a reputation for doing very nice products.  I'll patiently look forward to the revised tooling from Eduard which will make their Bf 109G even nicer.  I've seen several already built on line and they look great as is.

When I build models, I rarely measure components to check accuracy of dimensions.   I don't find it enjoyable to do so.  Rather than check for myself, I leave it to the manufacturer to get it in the ball park.  If I do find a problem and it's feasible to fix myself or with aftermarket parts, I probably will.  If not, I'll probably live with it.  My goal is to produce a finished representation thru clean building and good painting.  Painting (including weathering) is the most important of these elements in finished models that fool the eye and create the illusion of realism.  In my opinion, this alone goes a long way in overcoming inaccuracies in a model kit.  How many Tamiya P-51Bs have you seen beautifully built and painted straight out of the box in spite of the numerous documented issues with the kit?  A quick perusal of posted reviews will usually note these issues and then still recommend the kit.  These issues don't keep folks, including myself, from building this overall wonderful kit.

Manufacturers who want to thrive in the world of scale modeling need to be very cognizant that their target audience demands high quality.  While no rational person can demand perfection, kit makers must recognize that their customers want models that are as close to perfect as possible.  Certain subjects tend to receive more scrutiny than others.  Local modeler and friend of King's Hobby Shop, Greg Springer tells a story about another local modeler who advises his fellows to "build the obscure and hard to document" in order to avoid often heated arguments concerning accuracy that can erupt amongst our kind.  Noting problems with kits is perfectly acceptable.  I would, however, encourage my fellows not to "dog pile" when they are discovered especially if its keeping them from building stuff.  I have to remind myself constantly that "it's only a model".  I've been guilty of putting kits back on the shelf when I've run into inaccuracies.  I need to trust that if I can press on in spite of problems, do a decent build and then a good paint job, I'll have a very nice model at the end of the process.

Brad Perry


Friday, December 20, 2013

Tamiya La Ferrari Build Review by Johnny Seaman

Tamiya’s most recent entry in its 1/24 scale car series is the Ferrari LaFerrari.  Ferrari unveiled the limited edition car at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.  The car is actually a hybrid, with batteries under the passenger cabin that are charged in several unique ways, such as excess torque from the 6,262cc 800 hp V12 engine and under-braking.  When combined with the power from the electric motor, the car has a whopping 963 hp.

Tamiya’s rendition of the car is impressive.  The kit comprises multiple sprues - two black, 1 grey, 1 clear, 1 translucent red, 1 red, and 1 front fascia in red.  The kit also contains a decal sheet, metal transfers, nylon mesh for various grills and vents, rubber tires, and masks for the front and rear glass.

 The instructions follow the typical pattern for any Tamiya car build.  The engine, transmission, headers, and exhaust are assembled and attached to the frame.  The red here goes well with the suggested color scheme of red and black.  As I painted the car yellow (more later), I probably should have hit this with yellow as well, but it does provide a nice contrast through the rear window.

Tamiya includes the batteries for the hybrid system that are placed in a recess on the underside of the vehicle.  I thought this odd at first, until I noticed that the panel that would cover this is actually molded in clear plastic.  This gives the modeler the option to put more detail down here and actually see it.

The next few steps see the addition of the suspension, brakes and rotors, and the full body monocoque.  Note that I painted the rotors yellow here, as I chose a yellow body color for my assembly.  The LaFerrari is available in red, yellow, or black.  I chose yellow as I recently built the Ferrari Enzo in red, so I wanted a contrast.

The under-body is completed next.  As you see, I chose to paint the clear panel over the batteries.  The two silver sections are actually molded separately, so they can be painted and then glued onto the under-body.  This made painting much simpler.

More detail is then added to the engine compartment.  The air intake is prominent here.  This is also the first instance where the nylon mesh is utilized.  There are several grills or vents over the car that are covered with the nylon mesh.  The instructions have a template that is used to correctly shape the mesh pieces.  This is often where Tamiya will have photo etch options.  There are several locations throughout the build where the optional photo etch parts would replace the kit parts.  I found that pressing down with my modeling knife on the mesh worked better than trying to slice the mesh. Even with a new blade, slicing tended to pull the mesh apart.

The interior comes next.  I again replaced any red with yellow, and chose to get creative with the seats.  This is not how the instructions illustrate the seats, but I liked the look.

From there, the body panels, door panels, and other details come together.  For the rear body panel, there are several clear parts that are then covered with a mesh decal.  The instructions indicate that the parts are to be attached first, followed by the decal application.  However, I had difficulty getting the decals to sit appropriately in their places so I would recommend that the decals be applied prior to the attachment of the plastic parts to the rear panel.  The rear spoiler can be assembled in the retracted or extended positions.  I chose the retracted position.  The fit of the front body panels was typical Tamiya, with the multiple parts falling together. 

It was not until I got to the rear hatch that I started having fit issues.  The venting in the rear hatch did not fit flush, as can be seen in the gaps present.  With some sanding and filling, the parts would likely fit better. I doubt that this is an issue with the kit, and more with my color choice for the body.  Since the kit is molded in red plastic, I had to use multiple coats of primer to cover the red followed by several coats of yellow to get a solid color.  Though my coats where very thin, it was apparently enough to leave fit issues in the rear panels.  Not particularly visible in the picture are additional gaps between the glass and the surrounding plastic frame of the rear hatch.

The body panels go on the frame fairly easily, but I ran into more fit issues here.  A primary example would be between the hood and the door panels.  Again, I can’t say that it is the kit that has the issue, but it was a first for a Tamiya kit in my experience.  The wheels and exhaust are molded in red plastic, so again I painted them yellow.  I would not be surprised if they are chromed in the final release of the kit, as that is often the presentation I have seen in Tamiya’s car releases.

The rear hatch has two struts to keep the engine compartment open.  The doors can also be latched in the open position, though I was unable to get them to stay open long enough to take a picture.

Overall I enjoyed the kit.  I think if I were to build the kit again I would stick to the kit suggested red.  I might have fewer fit issues then, as the number of paint coats would be drastically reduced.  With the exception of the body panels, the kit went together fantastically for me.  And now for some fingerprint revealing photos.  It always amazes me how a camera really brings out the fingerprints you can’t see otherwise…


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Latest Member of the Academy F-4 Phantom "Phamily" is a Winner!

Academy 1/48 F-4C Phantom II

Price:  $74.99

Stock Number:  3008-12294

This is the second release in a series of new F-4 kits from Academy.  It comes less than a year after the release of the F-4B which is considered among the best Phantom kits in any scale.  The new offering is essentially the same kit except for different stock number, box art, decals, and thicker upper wing parts.

The kit comes in a sturdy box with attractive box art.  The box painting portrays Colonel Robin Olds shooting down one of four MiGs he destroyed during the Vietnam War.  The kit decal sheet includes markings only for this aircraft.  It is F-4C-24-MC serial number 64-829 and carries the name Scat XXVII.  Olds destroyed two MiGs in this aircraft on one mission on 20 May 1967.  All of Colonel Olds aircraft carried the name "Scat" going back to his first P-38 in World War II. Scat XXVII  was the last in the line to fly in combat.  Like the decals in the previous F-4B, Cartograf produced these decals for Academy.  The set also includes complete technical stencils for the F-4C.  It should only take about two weeks to apply them all!

As noted earlier, this is pretty much the same kit as the earlier F-4B.  The major difference is the upper wing surfaces which include inboard bulges to accommodate larger landing gear components.  Air Force and later Navy F-4s had this feature.  Academy also includes extra parts in the box and not referred to in the instructions from which a knowledgeable modeler could build an F-4D.  One would need to scare up F-4D decals for appropriate markings, but the parts are there.  Parts M4, M5, N3, and G37 are respectively F-4D front instrument panel, rear instrument panel, front panel combing/gun-sight mount, and tail fin.  The kit also features Martin Baker Mk.VII ejection seats appropriate to most F-4Ds (more on this shortly), and a LORAN "towel rack" antenna commonly seen on F-4Ds.

The kit also offers multiple under wing stores options.  Air to air weapons include AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, and five different versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder.  Two under wing drop tanks, and one center-line drop tank are also included.  Twelve Mk.82 low drag bombs, two triple ejector racks (TER) and two multiple ejector racks (MER) are provided if you want to depict a ground attack load configuration.  Other options include one ALQ-119 ECM jamming pod, one SUU-23 gun pod, and four Chaff dispensers for the back ends of the inboard weapon pylons.  If you are using kit decals and want to be historically accurate, you can use AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9B Sidewinder, Mk.82 bombs, and drop tanks.  The other Sidewinder options are Navy versions or later Air Force versions, and are not appropriate for this particular aircraft.  The ALQ-119, the SUU-23, and the chaff dispensers were not used in 1967 when this aircraft was in service.  The extra items will be useful, however for the spares box or an alternate build.  Also note that the instructions have you mounting the chaff dispensers (parts F13,15,16,17,18,33,34) in step 13.  Again, they were not found on Scat XXVII in 1967.  Kit instructions additionally have you use AIM-9E Sidewinders.  AIM-9Bs are accurate for the kit markings.  Use parts P2, 8, 12 instead of those called out.

There are a couple of other small issues with this kit.  The instrument panel parts are nicely produced but they do not include any instrument face detail either cast in the part or on the decal sheet.  They are visible in scale and I would like to see them included.  An addition to the decal sheet with instrument faces would be more than adequate to solve this.  I will solve this as I did on the previous F-4B kit by purchasing an Eduard color photo-etch interior detail set when it becomes available for the F-4C.  The Eduard F-4B set also included cockpit sill and canopy interior detail which really improves the look of this area.  The other small problem with the kit is that Academy provides the wrong ejection seats for Scat XXVII.  The kit comes with Martin Baker Mk.7 seats.  Photos of the aircraft indicate that Scat XXVII needs Martin Baker Mk.5 seats.  F-4s built before mid 1967 were equipped with Mk.5s.  F-4s built after that came equipped with Mk.7s and earlier airframes were refitted with them.  Quickboost makes Mk.5 seats in 1/48 scale for the F-8 Crusader (Stock number QB48501).  I will purchase two to solve this issue.  Please feel free to invite me to get a life!

Having noted the above minor and addressable issues, I have to acknowledge again that this new 1/48 F-4 series from Academy is producing some of the best Phantom kits in any scale.  Overall accuracy and multiple stores options make these kits very appealing.  The new F-4C Air Force version is particularly so to me.  I really like the markings option as I've read a lot about Robin Olds over many years.  This kit is definitely on my Christmas list.  I'll also look forward to seeing what's next for this "Phabulous" Phantom series. 

Brad Perry 



Thursday, October 31, 2013

John Seaman Reviews Tamiya's New M561 Gama Goat.

Photo courtesy Tamiya
Tamiya’s 1/35 scale M561 Gama Goat came as a surprise to most modelers. It certainly was not what I expected next from Mr. Tamiya.  But it does fill a gap in modern armor modeling and, I think, will be well received.  King’s was kind enough to offer me a test shot of the new kit a few weeks back. The production kit has just been released as I write this.

Designed by Roger Gamaunt, the Goat’s development history stretches back to the late 1950’s, with conceptual drawings going back as far as 1947.  The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), forerunner of the Defence Advanced Resarch Projects Agency (DARPA), funded project “Agile” in 1959 to develop a new tactical vehicle with superior off-road agility.  Chance Vought contracted with Gamaunt in 1959 to begin work on the project, a new venture for the venerable aerospace company. Ultimately, Chance Vought’s investment in Gamaunt’s design paid off, as Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) won the design competition that grew from project Agile.  In 1968, Consolidated Diesel Electric was awarded the contract to actually produce the Goat.  The vehicle was expensive ($55K each in 2010 dollars) and complicated. It had six-wheel drive, an articulated frame, and simultaneous front and rear steering. It was also amphibious—though purportedly barely so.  Over 15,000 Goats were eventually built, with deliveries ending in 1973.  They served with the U.S. Army and Marines from 1969 into the 1980’s.  As far as I can tell, they were largely withdrawn from service by the late 1980’s.  Several variants were fielded in addition to the standard cargo version, including a mortar carrier, a counter-mortar radar system, an ambulance, and a communications vehicle.

It is not hard to find reference photos of Gama Goats online.  One set of useful walk around shots can be found on the Prime Portal site:

Squadron Signal has just released a new “Detail and Action”  on the Goat, by David Doyle.  There is a nice developmental history on the Vought Heritage Website:

The Tamiya kit comprises three major parts sprues, a clear sprue, a decal sheet and polycaps.  It does not include covers for the tractor cab or carrier bed.  The production kit is in Tamiya’s familiar dark green plastic.  My test shot used the gray styrene seen in the photos below.

Step 1
Assembly begins with the forward
chassis, adding fender wells and
suspension springs.  As expected,
there are some mold seams to be
cleaned up on the springs, and the
locator tabs for the fenders need to
be filled.  I plan to have a bit of
accumulated dirt and grime, so I
merely scraped the latter smooth.

 Step 2
The front and rear suspension
assemblies are the focus of Step 2.
Minimal clean-up here—just the odd
mold seam to scrape.  Everything
“clicks” together very precisely, as
expected from a Tamiya kit.

Step 3
The front and rear suspension are
attached to the tractor chassis in this

 Step 4
The tractor rear panel, along with its
complex articulation frame and universal
joint are up next.  Although the instructions show the universal joint (part B37—circled on the instruction sheet) it was not to be found on any sprue in my test shot.  I’ve since seen it on photos of the production sprues.  It will be difficult to see on the finished vehicle, so I did not bother to fabricate a substitute.

Step 5
The rear panel is attached to the forward chassis in this step.  The instructions call for
the exhaust pipe to be added, but I’ll wait to do that so as to make weathering it easier.

Step 6
The crew cab receives our attention next.  There are a few ejection pin marks to be filled on the floorboard.  I did so with my punch and die set. Curiously, Tamiya chose not to include clutch, brake, or accelerator pedals.  These are not hard to add but, for an open-cab vehicle, they are quite visible and should have been included with the kit.

A decal is provided for the instrument panel, but there are no raised bezels or other details within the rectangular frame housing the instrument faces.  More on this later.  Another omission is a prominent heating duct that is visible on the
passenger-side floorboard.  I added this by heating a piece of plastic rod, bending it to shape, then wrapping it with stretched sprue to achieve an “accordion” effect.  The passenger seat will cover the butt-end.  I postponed adding the various gear shift levers and knobs.

Step 6, continued...
Very nice decals are provided for data placards.  Their position is indicated in this step, but I will add them after painting.  Two options are given for the windshield, attached or removed. I chose the former as I think it makes for a more interesting vehicle. However, the three support struts, shown clearly in the box art, are not included in the kit.  They will not be hard to add with plastic rod.


Steps 7 and 8
We construct the two side-mounted fuel tanks in Step 7, and attach the steering wheel column. The front of the crew cab, the dashboard, fuel tanks, and a few small details are added in Step 8.

At this point I decided to add the missing support struts. I’ve seen them attached with
bolts in photos, but decided to use wing nuts for a little more interesting visual effect. I
installed the gears and leavers called for earlier in the instructions as well.

Step 9
Here you can add the driver and the steering wheel. The former is not well detailed, so I omitted him. The latter I will save for later.

Step 10
Wheels and the front bumper
are added in this step. Tamiya
provides the wheels in plastic,
to be attached using polycaps.
The wheels are two-part affairs
requiring a little cleanup. I’m
sure someone will offer resin
replacements, but the kit
wheels are really just fine. The
bumper has three ejector pin
marks but they are easily
removed. I attached it later.


Step 11
The engine cover
comes next.  It
consists of three
pieces: two sides and
a one-piece top, front,
and back.  Delicate
handholds are added.
Fit is excellent.  It’s beginning
to look like a Goat!

Steps 12 and 13
One option calls for a
front-mounted winch,
to be constructed in
Step 12, along with
rear-view mirror and
headlight details.
These are attached in
Step 13. I decided to
attach the vulnerable
mirrors later. I also
left the lenses off until
after painting.

Step 14
We next turn to the carrier unit. The tie-rods and other suspension elements molded into the lower part of the carrier tub are quite delicate. Although well protected on the sprue, you will need to be careful removing them and in subsequent handling. By the way, those are not ejector pin marks—I have seen those circular depressions in photos of the real vehicle.  Rear suspension elements are added in this step.

Step 15
The carrier’s rear panel and tailgate are constructed in this step. The tailgate has some
easily-removed ejector pin marks on its inside face. The pioneer tools are reasonably
well detailed and attach to the tailgate.

Step 16
The carrier’s lower pan and upper tub are
mated in this step, along with the rear panel.
The instructions call for attaching the tailgate
at this point, but I left it for latter to facilitate

Step 17
The carrier’s side and front panels are added next. Fit is reasonable, with but a few slight gaps to fill underneath. The railings on the front panel are very delicate and will require careful handling. Some builders may want to refine the fender well detail, adding wiring and eliminating the odd ejector pin mark. The large wheels and tires will hide most of this so I opted for the stock results.
Step 18
This last step brings everything together. The carrier attaches to the tractor using
a polycap and the joint is flexible, so diorama builders should be able to articulate
the vehicle as desired.

 Painting and Weathering

There are three painting and marking options
available with the kit. Option A, shown on the box-art, is a Goat in the 82nd Airborne, Grenada, 1983. It is in the four-color camouflage scheme from that era. This requires color mixing if you are using Tamiya acrylics, and the instructions provide mixing ratios. Option B is a 3rd Marine Division Goat, stationed at Camp Fuji (no date given). It is in overall olive drab and the instructions suggest using Tamiya’s TS-28, “olive drab II”. Option C is for a U.S. Army Goat from an unknown unit, circa 1978. It too is in overall olive drab. I chose Option B.

 I began with an overall primer coat using
Tamiya fine gray primer. Next came several
misted applications of TS-28. This served as
a foundation for my final olive drab coat using
the slightly lighter Gunze Aqueous Color H 78. This yields a nice, semi-gloss finish, over which the decals were applied without problems. By the way, use warm water to soak the decals, per Tamiya’s
instructions. It will make a difference!  Next came the placards mentioned earlier, along with the instrument panel. As previously noted, Tamiya provides the instrument decal only, with no molded
bezels are other detail. I used thin plastic card and my punch-and-die set to make the basic panel, then wrapped thin wire around one of the punches to form bezels.

Weathering came next. I literally chipped the paint in some places, using a
toothpick. This is the advantage of Gunze acrylic over TS-28—the undercoat is
tough and the overcoat is not! The chipped places reveal the slightly darker
undercoat. I added a thin black wash in some areas, along with some fuel stains
on the tanks. After airbrushing an acrylic flat coat, I panel-faded with Mig
pigments, lightly sealing with more flat as I progressed.  The underside received clumps
of pigment using Mig’s Fixer, resulting in fairly durable “dirt” buildup. I blended the underside weathering with an extremely thin airbrushed coat of Tamiya buff (XF-57). I continued this light dusting up onto the lower sides of the vehicle. With my fingers, I rubbed graphite onto various edges
of the vehicle to simulate worn areas. This darkens the olive drab and gives it a slight sheen.

The tires, which had been painted Tamiya rubber black (TS-82), received the
Tamiya buff treatment as well. I followed this by a rub-down (with my fingers!)
using Mig’s black soot pigment, leaving the buff color in the tires’ recesses.
After adding the clear parts and a few other odd details, I had my Goat!