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  They served with the U.S. Army and Marines from 1969 into the 1980’s.  As far as I can tell, they were largely withdrawn from service by the late 1980’s.  Several variants were fielded in addition to the standard cargo version, including a mortar carrier, a counter-mortar radar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!

No comments:

Post a Comment