AFV Club AF3507
During my trip to USA last May I didn't get to see many military vehicles, but the one I found was quite interesting and it is available in 1/35 plastic kit form! Of course I mean AFV Club's M49A2C Fuel Tanker truck. The truck I found on Hawaii was of this exact type and I took a series of walkaround style photos of it - you can see those photos here: M49A2C gallery). As soon as I could I bought the AFV Club kit and below you can find an in-box type review of it. But first a few words about a truck itself.
Here is a short description of M49A2C truck, taken from USMC "MOTOR TRANSPORT TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS MANUAL" dated August 1994: The M49A2C is a FUEL SERVICE, 1,200 GALLON, 2-1/2 TON, 6x6, M49A2C variant of the M44 Series of 2-1/2 ton trucks. It is a 6x6 drive truck with dual rear tires, steel chassis and body, and an open, canvas top cab. The M49A2C is used as an organic refueler by organizations which possess large numbers of motor transport, engineer, and/or ordnance vehicles. It features a tank body divided into two sections. Each section has a manhole and filler cover for filling and cleaning. Two delivery lines are used: one for gravity discharge and one with a delivery pump for pressure discharge of fuel. Safety devices include fire extinguishers, safety wiring, a discharge control valve, remote control discharge valve, control fusible link, filler cover vents, fusible plugs and a safety chain. A towing pintle is fitted at the rear of the chassis. The M49A2C has excellent cross-country mobility as long as the fuel cargo does not exceed off-road capacity of 780 gallons. Some M49A2C models are equipped with a 10,000 pound capacity winch behind the front bumper. The M49A2C is being replaced by TAMCN B2085, Storage Module, Fuel. The module is mounted on ISO cargo beds of standard M809/M939 series cargo trucks.
First trucks of M44A2 series were manufactured around 1962 and production stopped in 1989. They were manufactured by REO, White, Kaiser-Jeep and AM General. The most popular truck variant from this family was M35A2, also available in 1/35 kit form from AFV Club. The main difference between various A-types of M44 truck family was engine type. It was gasoline engine in early M44 trucks (manufactured from early 1950's), then replaced with diesel engine in M44A1 truck, which was finally replaced by multifuel unit in M44A2 variant. The most noticeable external difference between A1 and A2 type trucks is the exhaust system - in A1 type trucks (but also earliest A2 ones) the exhaust pipe was running under the truck along its frame and ended between the rear wheels. In A2 truck the exhaust pipe goes vertically through the front fender, on the right side of driver's cab. There are many more differences, like different turn signals etc. but there is no point to mention them here. M35A2 type trucks were used during Vietnam war (although A1 type was present there earlier and in larger numbers) and they were workhorse of US Army for many years later - they were used during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and some are even present today in Iraq in 2004! After 1993 some of M35A2 trucks were converted to M35A3 variant with turbocharged multifuel engine and several more modifications, but they are still less numerous than original M35A2 variant. M44 family trucks are now being phased out of US Army service, as they are being replaced by FMTV trucks. But M49A2C fuel tanker truck was probably already replaced by other systems, like TAMCN B2085 mentioned in USMC manual. Still the opportunity to build a model of it in markings from Vietnam to Desert Storm makes it extremely versatile kit!
The kit is actually hardly a new release - it is present on the market from 1994 or 1995, so it is almost ten years old now. It comes in a standard top opening box with a very nice picture of the truck on the lid. Inside are three big sprues molded in olive green plastic, each individually packed in plastic bag. Additional four plastic bags contain: 1. fuel tank support structure, 2. two star-shaped sprues with 12 wheel rims, 3. 11 vinyl tires, 4. decals sheet, vinyl tube, twine, tiny photoetched metal fret with just two parts and another plastic bag with small transparent parts sprue. First impression is very positive - you can see that someone actually cared to pack everything in such a way to protect it from damage. Of course you also get clearly printed A4 size 12 page instructions with 10 construction steps and painting / decaling diagram.
On close examination of parts two things become obvious - the level of detail is very good - actually it is exceptional for 10 years old kit - and mold quality is commendable, although not perfect. There are quite numerous, but luckily shallow sink holes present - most of them in places where they won't be visible (e.g. suspension parts), but some will require modeler's attention. Those most noticeable are on the pump compartment doors, driver's mirrors, turn signals and on dashboard (this last one is very shallow in my kit and not really worth attention, but I've heard of another M49A2C kit where sink hole on dashboard made this part almost unusable). There is also a lot of ejector pin marks on parts, but again most are in places invisible after assembly. Some however need to be addressed, like those on the inside of cab and pump compartment doors (of course only if you plan to leave these doors open). No flash is present on parts, what should make cleanup and preparation for assembly easy and quick.
Addition of vinyl parts, twine and PE fret makes it a "multimedia" kit. Inclusion of a small PE fret is particularly welcome - it contains just two parts (radiator grille mesh and exhaust pipe shield), but they really make a difference once installed on a model.
Two of main large sprues are the same as included in earlier AFV Club M35A2 kit, so they include some parts not used in tanker truck. The third sprue, with tank and pump parts, is specific to the M49A2C model. This sprue also contains new truck frame parts, as those in M35A2 kit were molded integrally with parts for cargo bed support.
Sprue A contains mainly suspension parts and
it came from AFV Club M35A2 kit.
Long frame parts are not used in this model.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
contains mainly cab parts
and was also used in M35A2 kit.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
Sprue C is specific to the fuel tanker kit.
As you can see, besides from tank and pump parts, it
contains new truck frame parts and new style side mirrors
to replace those used in M35A2 kit.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
supporting structure, which replaces cargo
bed present in M35A2 kit, is not attached to any sprue.
Here you can see it in three views: top, side and bottom.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
tires and two small sprues H with wheel rims.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
Small sprue F with clear parts contains windows glass,
side mirrors and headlights lenses. Tiny photoetched fret contains just two parts: radiator grille mesh and exhaust pipe shield.
On the photo you can also see decal sheet and lengths
of vinyl tube and twine.
Click on picture to enlarge it.
You have the option to build the truck with or without the winch. There are also two types of side mirrors for the cab included.
Probably the weakest part of the kit are decals. They include some data placards and warning/instructions labels what is a big plus, but print quality is not very good, with noticeable color register problems. Options for four vehicles are included on decal sheet - two overall green Republic of China (Taiwan) trucks: one ROC Army and one ROC Marines and two US vehicles, both USMC. One USMC vehicle is from Desert Storm and is overall desert sand color, the other is in four color MERDC scheme. Color references are given for Tamiya and Gunze Sangyo paints. For the MERDC scheme you only get patterns for front, rear, top and right side of the truck. There is no pattern for the left side given, so you need to use box art picture or some photo references to find out what it was. One thing worth mentioning is that the camouflaged truck is referenced to as USMC vehicle and there is "USMC" stencil to be applied on the back of it in this color scheme, but bumper markings look more like US Army ones, although somehow incomplete. They read "3-I / HHC71", what indicates a truck from some unidentified unit within US Army 3rd Infantry Division. So those markings are either wrong, or they represent a vehicle borrowed by USMC from US Army stocks.
DETAILS & ACCURACY
Important thing one needs to remember when verifying the accuracy of this kit is that those trucks were manufactured by several companies over a period of more then 25 years. This means that while the designation remained the same, the actual construction details varied. This means that while some details found in AFV Club kit are accurate for the particular truck which kit designers used as their reference model, they may not look the same on other trucks of the same type. Also note that some details visible on the real truck in my walkaround gallery are modifications made after the truck ended its military service (one example being marker light instead of reflectors on truck sides).
If you are familiar with Italeri modern truck kits, like M939 series trucks or HEMTT, you would be happy to hear that AFV Club model is nothing like them! The level of detail is just great. While Italeri chose to omit most suspension details in their M939 trucks, you get almost all of them in M49A2C model. All the shock absorbers, shafts, springs, steering system parts and air reservoirs are present and really well detailed. Front wheels in this kit are positionable and will remain moveable if you assemble everything right. Some modelers may not like vinyl tires, but I have them installed on my AFV Club M35A2 kit for some seven years now without any problems. You even get ten small transport tie-downs/handles (parts A44) to attach to the truck frame. Here is however first accuracy problem I want to mention: there should actually be 14 transport tie-downs, seven on each side of the truck. AFV Club missed two of them - one should be right behind the front bumper and the other is missing from above the first rear axle. Also the shape of those tie-downs is not typical. While it is not inaccurate, as some trucks indeed had this kind of tie-downs, large majority of them had simple U-shaped "grab-handle type" tie-downs.
Another small accuracy error is in the shape of two supporting bars under air reservoirs (part A60). They are too short in the kit, as in reality they should be attached to both sides of the truck frame, not just to one side as in the model.
The shape of the transfer case is slightly incorrect, as it lacks the PTO assembly (power take-off) for tanker fuel pump drive shaft. The shaft is connected directly to the case instead. But this is really minor problem, and you only need to address it if you want to super-detail the truck bottom.
The underside of engine compartment is simplified, as there is a flat horizontal plate molded around the engine, which is not there on reality. But there are some essential, most visible details molded on and around the oil pan, so it is rather satisfactory.
The exhaust system represented in AFV Club M49A2C kit is the same as in their M35A2 kit. It is generally correct, as many of M49A2C trucks indeed used the same exhaust as cargo trucks, but most of late production tankers used slightly different exhaust system, with additional spark-arrestor-type muffler installed under the cab. If you take a look at photos of real truck in my workaround gallery (especially this photo), you will notice that this particular track used newer system. In the model the exhaust pipe from the engine compartment goes directly up through the hole in fender, while in the "Hawaiian" truck, the pipe goes under the cab, and another pipe (with damaged flex tube connector) goes from under the cab to the hole in the fender. It is not visible on photos, but those pipes are connected to the muffler attached underneath the cab. The way the exhaust pipe shield is attached to the cab and the pipe itself is also different in those two mentioned types of exhaust systems, so kit parts differ from those visible on the real truck in walkaround gallery. The shield included in the kit is accurate for the system present in the model.
Instructions do not show the installation of the pioneer tools tray (B46 plus tool parts) and actually the part is listed among "not used". Some real trucks, like the one I saw, indeed may lack this part, but generally all trucks of this type were originally equipped with the tool tray installed above the spare wheel carrier. But as almost all parts needed to add this detail are included on kit sprues (as they were used in M35A2 kit) there is really no problem to add it to your model. You only need to add two L-profile vertical bars (from Plastruct or Evergreen stock) to which the tray should be attached - in M35A2 kit they were molded as one part with the cargo bed wall.
One small omission in the kit is the lack of the service and emergency air couplings for the trailer at the back of the truck, which should be present under the taillight support brackets.
Inside the cab there are some small details missing, like wipers motors, windscreen support arms, PTO control lever, turn signal lever on the steering wheel column or winch control lever (needed only if you build a version with winch), but what you get in this kit is generally accurate. By the way, on the winch itself the control lever is also missing. The cushions of driver's and passenger's seats are too smooth - they lack any texture.
The roof of the cab is of a soft-top kind in AFV Club model (unlike the truck I saw on Hawaii, which was hard-top kind). The texture of the canvas is quite good, but the shape of the part is not. On the back of the cab the canvas should overlap quite significantly the edge of the rear cab wall, but in the kit the canvas ends exactly where the wall begins. The hard-top roof would indeed be connected to the cab wall this way, so one possible option to fix the problem is to use the putty to convert soft-top roof to hard-top, also very common on M49A2C trucks.
The truck as shown in the AFV Club kit is not equipped with personnel heater, as there is no heater air intake on the left side of the engine compartment wall - just a round blanked hole, molded as a round depression. It is not an error of course, but if you plan to build USAREUR truck or one from some other unit operating in colder environment, then you may wish to add heater parts. To do that: drill a hole instead of mentioned depression and put a piece of PE mesh in it, and then add a simple cover (see this photo) - all this to represent the heater intake. Once you do that you may also wish to add heater controls and other components under the dashboard.
The pump compartment at the rear of the truck is very well done and doors can be assembled open or closed. Interior of this compartment is rather busy with equipment and generally very accurate, with one noticeable exception - fuel pump in the model is connected directly to the tank with part C48, what is not correct. In reality it should be connected to the top of part C25, so part C48 requires some modification.
Of course for the total accuracy you need to add countless wires, pipes and tubes to the bottom of the truck and also some inside the cab and pump compartment, but the lack of them in the kit is fully understandable - after all injection molding technology has its limitations (and it had even more 10 years ago when the kit was first released). For the main fuel tanker pipes you get a length of vinyl tube, but it is a bit too thick, so some slightly thinner replacement should be found. I'll probably use a piece of solder wire in my model, as it is easy to bend to desired shape and it actually stays where you leave it, unlike flexible vinyl tube. For the winch cable you get a length of twine, but it is much too thick - I suggest replacing it with 0.4mm brass cable from Karaya. Also remember that between a hook and a cable there is usually a short length of chain attached (see box art of AFV Club kit), so you will need to add it as well if you decide to build winch equipped truck.
Final verdict is that it is a truly great kit. It may not be suitable for absolute beginners, as the construction of truck frame and suspension will require some patience and precission to put everything together and there are also some very small parts included. But everyone who already has a few models in his collection should build it with ease. The model is very accurate, as all those things mentioned above are really minor issues, and built out of the box will give you a great miniature of this interesting truck. It however still leaves some space for a superdetailer to show his talents. I have not built my model yet, so I can't say anything about fit of parts, but I don't remember any problems with construction of AFV Club's M35A2 kit and this model uses most of the same parts.
Many thanks to Piotr Spalinski for additional reference photos and invaluable information, which helped me write this review!
A few days after publication of my review I received an e-mail from David Doyle in which he pointed out some mistakes in the "historical" part of my review. I decided not to re-write my review, but with Dave's permission, publish his e-mail here as an Addendum. A lot of useful information is included, so please read it. Just one thing I want to add to it - Dave is right that the family of vehicles is also known as G-742, but in all military Technical Manuals I've seen the designation M44, M44A1 and M44A2 is used for those trucks, so both terms are correct.
I have read your interesting review of the AFV Club kit. I cannot comment on the quality of the kit, but I would mention a couple of minor errors with regard to your comments on the prototype, which may have effected your review.
This truck, as well as the M35A2, are all part of a family of vehicles known as G-742.
As you state, the original production was powered by a Reo OA-331 "Gold Comet" gasoline engine. This was replaced by the Continental LDS-427 Multifuel engine in the early 60s. This was not a diesel (pure diesels were not installed in these trucks until the M35A3 series MUCH later), but a turbosupercharged Multifuel engine. The exhaust for this engine, like the gasoline, was routed through a muffler and exited above the tandems on the passenger's side.
The next engine installed was the naturally aspirated LD-465 Multifuel engine. It too had the horizontal exhaust.
This was followed by the LD-465 with a vertical exhaust, with muffler mounted beneath the passenger's side of the cab.
Finally, a turbosupercharger was added to the engine, in order to reduce the exhaust smoke (almost no gain in horsepower). This engine was the LDT-465. Its exhaust was very similar to the vertical system of the late LD, but used a larger diameter pipe and has no muffler.
The final engine installed in this series was in the course of a rebuild program which replaced the Multifuel engines and manual transmissions with Caterpillar diesels and automatic transmissions. In the common cargo form this is the M35A3. So many other changes were made to the trucks at this time they are readily identifiable. Perhaps the most obvious change is the backward sloping hood.
The A1, A2, A3 suffix is not universal, but varies with the prefix. A M109A1 shop van is powered by a gasoline engine, while an M35A1 has a Multifuel engine.
The M35A2 cargo truck could have any Multifuel engine and exhaust system EXCEPT the LDS-427, for example.
Three different styles of air reservoir mounting brackets have been used through the years, over the tanks, under the tanks, and one that did not span the frame rails. So perhaps the kit is correct?
Not really nit-picking, just wanting to set the record straight. Was unable to comment on the other forum.
(I don't have the talent to build models, but do restore full-size G-742 trucks, and support myself writing on the subject).
July 13th, 2004
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