by: Andy Renshaw [ ]
IntroductionAcademy continues to release several versions of the M151 ¼ ton utility truck. These releases are a welcome addition, for our only offering before was the 20 year-old Tamiya M151A2. This new tooled release by Academy covers the basic M151A2 with a hardtop and the M416 trailer.
Opening the box you will find a nicely packed box with 5 dark green sprues and a one-piece body, as well as one clear sprue. There is also a bag of vinyl tires, separately packed decals, and clear instructions. Sprue A and the vehicle body are bagged together, sprues B and C are also in the same bag, with the other sprues and clear parts separately bagged.
ReviewAcademy’s current standards continue with this release with flash free and crisp parts. As with the other Academy M151 releases, you receive other features such as a complete engine and parts for the engine compartment, separate clear headlights and marker lights, molded in battery compartment detail, and many detail improvements over the old Tamiya kit. This particular kit also comes with the parts to make a hardtop variant and a complete trailer with hard cover.
As we look further at the parts, the body is very nicely molded, and they have provided a correct M151A2 body with the modified fenders, deleted signal lights on the front grill, and modified rear with areas for the tow shackles and larger tail lights. The engine is very nice and test-fitting of the parts shows this to be a well-fitting kit. However just like their other M151 releases, they did not improve the under-body details and it's almost exactly what you get in the 20 year old Taymia kit. There is still a very simplified drive train with no universal joints and a simplified suspension. Unlike Academy’s M151A1 releases, the rear suspension is correct for this variant. We still have the gaping holes under the fuel tank and battery compartment and the front skid plate that goes from the bumper to the front differential is missing. Also the rear suspension seem to sit a tad low, so those will have to be shimmed up if you are modeling an unloaded vehicle.
On a positive note, Academy has provided us with a full engine and engine compartment detail. All the main components are there and are nicely detailed. The engine itself is 15 parts with another 7 parts to fill in the compartment. A few cables and wires will dress this area up nicely and as a bonus they also included the markings under the hood.
Moving to the top, there are many nice details. The hood hooks are provided separate as is the external power receptacle (part B36) used to “slave” or jump start the vehicle from another and are nicely molded. The seats are nicely molded and, as a surprise, Academy provided the pouches that hang on the rear of the driver and passenger seat. It will still be up to the modeler to add springs but at least Academy attempted to add more detail to this release. There is still the incomplete framing on the front seats, there should be small “legs” on the front of each seat frame that go to the floor. On the rear seat however you do see seat springs on the backside but the frame is very thick. Another detail lacking is the gas pedal, which makes one wonder with an open top wheeled vehicle how do you forget that? There is also a revised dash board with a few parts representing windshield wiper controls and other bits.
Speaking of wipers, Academy molded the wiper blades with the windshield framing, making them lie flat against the bottom of the windshield opening. This is incorrect, as the wiper blades should continue across the glass at the same angle as the wiper arms. I suggest removing the molded blades and adding new ones at the correct angle with scrap plastic. You may also wish to add the heater which is missing in the kit, located under the dash on the passenger side. However not every M151 had these but one purpose of the hardtop was protection from the elements, including the cold weather, so any M151 stationed in a northern latitude probably had one installed. One last item missing is the directional turn signal control, which should be on the left side of the steering column.
The hard top itself is molded in 16 parts, which includes separate doors and all the glass in the form of clear plastic. The parts are good looking and the doors include some molded in interior detail. There are sink marks prevalent on all the parts, so some filling and sanding will be necessary. Handles for the doors are provided as separate parts, but are on the thick side and could be thinned down a bit. Another simple detail to add is the rubber or canvas seal around the door and fuel filler port. Some white glue soaked tissue or fine cloth would be perfect.
The clear parts are crystal clear, and are excellent. The door windows are molded in one piece, but on the real thing have a portion that slides. The front windscreen has the correct reinforcing bar down the center. While on the clear parts, Academy has included clear headlights, tail lights, front turn signals, reflectors, and smaller side turn signals. The reflectors have been improved from the M151A1 kits and have the correct diameter.
Though the kit is boxed as a hardtop, you get all the parts to do a soft-top (tilt folded down). The instructions cover these parts as well, so no need to guess. All of the soft-top parts are molded clean and using this option would allow you to use the gun pedestal. The MG mount is simplified however and does not appear accurate. Looking at the TM for the M151, it calls for a M4 gun mount which was mounted about midway between the seats and had long braces toward the rear. The kit instructions illustrate the mount a little too far back and no braces are included. The M60 is nicely detailed and could easily be dressed up.
The radios are nicely molded, with the 2 RT units separate and only need some cables to make them look good. (For added info, the whip antennas to scale should be 109” and 118” long.) The antenna mount itself is very thick, but could be thinned by filling away plastic on the rear side of the part. The wire cutter is thick, and best replaced with some bent evergreen L shape or PE part from the scrap bin.
The basic trailer consists of 40 parts and is contained on sprue J. There are additional parts for 2 jerry cans, which in my opinion are best in the trash can or buried under a tarp as they do not represent any water or fuel can accurately. Also on that note, the instructions say to place the mounts at the rear of the trailer on the cover. From photos, the mounts, if used at all, are mounted on the trailer body itself and not the cover. The rest of the trailer is nicely done with the option of both early or late style lights and the corresponding curved or angular mudguards. The instructions do not state this, but the early (smaller) lights go with the rounded mudguards and visa-versa. Parts are provided for the brake and 3rd leg, but it will be up to the modeler to add safety chains, linkage, and the power cable. If modeling it attached to the M151, the chains hook to the small wings on either side of the tow pintle and the power cable is on the left side of the rear panel.
The wheels are very nicely molded, and the vinyl tires fit very well. Academy tweaked the mold for the tires adding some markings on the sidewalls. A small mold seam is present, but is removed with ease using a fine file and sanding sticks, basically the same process you would use for injection molded ones. They make painting and weathering easy, as you can leave them off until the last steps. The hubs have open holes, and the tie-down eyes are molded separate, and look excellent. The only hit here is the rear wheel parts (C31) are a bit large and end up covering over the holes in the hub so you loose some of the “see through” look seen on the real M151. However, the wheels are overall outstanding and a huge improvement over previous efforts.
Markings OptionsFor colors and markings your choice is two vehicles stationed in Germany from the 3rd ID and 1st AD, both in 3 tone MERDC camo schemes, and the 3rd ID having some neat tiger markings. The decals are thin and include bumper codes, stars, and various placards for the dashboard as well as under the hood. However there are no tire pressure markings or other stencil data that might be found depending on the vehicle. From previous experience the decals go on very nicely and respond to setting solution.
Verlinden’s M151 “War machines” book as a excellent picture of the 3rd ID vehicle. Using this as a reference, there are several details to note if you are building this particular M151A2. First, the pattern in the instructions is wrong; however it is correct on the box art! Unfortunately, the box art and the photos in the Verlinden book show the same side, so it’s a guess to what the other looks like. Having noted that, I wonder if the tiger markings on the passenger side are a mirror image, for the kit provides two identical images. Maybe there is somebody who has photos of the other side? Also there is some black text near the bottom of the windshield itself. The lettering looks like 2” high black text that reads “1SG WALKER” on the passenger side and “SGT ALVAREZ” on the driver side. Centered on the top is “C A T” with a “8 7” directly below. The vehicle also has a heavy layer of light tan dust and dried mud on the lower ½, completely covering the wheels and obscuring the camouflage.
Other details that should be added are 2 orange rotary beacons on the top, a tie down for the antenna on the front hood, and a rear-view mirror on the passenger side (the driver side mirror was missing). There also appears to be a light tan cover on the spare wheel.
ConclusionOverall this is a good kit of a M151A2, and the addition of the hardtop and trailer make it even more appealing. Of all of Academy’s M151 offerings, this is the most accurate because most of the “generic” sprues they used to model the basic M151 has parts specific to the A2. The new tooling makes this an easy and fairly accurate build out of the box, however it would have been nice if Academy could have addressed some of the issues found in the older kits. With some minor tweaks this can be a great kit for any M151 fan.