This is the Japanese version of Ford's 1938 3-ton truck that was powered by a 3.6l V8 petrol engine. We have already reviewed (here)
on Armorama the German version of the truck, also labelled as the 917t, although the two kits share only one sprue of parts in common, covering the chassis and wheels. This Japanese-built variant has a different cab, cargo bed, rear mudguards and running boards.
The usual IBG big top opening box contains:
- Sprue B – the driver compartment (photo 1)
- Sprue H – the rest of the cab structure (3)
- Sprue F – cargo bed and superstructure (5)
- Sprue G – wheels and chassis (in common with the German version) (7)
- Sprue – Driver (9)
- Transparent sprue – front and rear window, glass bottles (also in the German version, though none of the same parts are used) (10)
- Etched metal sheet (11)
- Decal sheet (12)
The full colour A4 instruction sheet (shown at the foot of this review) is excellent as usual, with 3D images including as-built illustrations, a paints list, and a 5 view painting guide. Although the deployed locale of the finished model is vaguely said to be “China 1940-45”, five different markings are on the decal sheet (whether these are for a regiment or brigade, etc., I’m not sure), as well as two ready-made number plates and a blank number plate with very tiny separate digits.
Construction starts with the engine, so the first three steps are identical to the German truck: cylinder heads with manifolds attaching to the main lump, plus the fan belt / pulleys and the hoses (13) all of which fit well; make sure the correct head goes on each side of the block. The etched metal fan is a nice touch, although when building the German version, I found that once the engine and radiator are fitted, the fan is invisible even with the hood open, and since I was intending to build this version with the hood down, I didn’t fit it.
The front axle is three parts that requires some slightly fiddly clean up, and it’s best to allow one part to fully set before adding the next to keep everything straight. While that sets, the chassis is built up (14), though most of it is in one piece, including part of the drive shaft. The front fender is specific to this Japanese version, having no width indicators. The inner parts of the wheels needed to have their centre holes drilled through to allow them to locate on the chassis. With everything in place we get a decent looking chassis (15) to which the wheels attach in a definite way, providing a stable base that sits with all wheels on the ground.
The cab has to be made up in separate parts if you want to paint the interior in any detail, and it might be broken down in various ways. Instead of completing the driver compartment and then adding the engine compartment, I opted to build the front wings, bonnet and roof on to the front bulkhead, adding the dashboard, steering wheel and hand brake as one unit (16, 17). The cab floor, rear, seat and gear lever were built as a separate unit (18). The thin metal bars were added to the doors (19), though the door mirror and glazing were left off for now.
Turning to the cargo area, the supporting structure is a quite complex moulding with nine cross members (presumably wood on the original) to which attach the base and four sides, all of which are well rendered as planks with metal frames (20). The framing of the front wall extends up into a rail that protects the cab. This all fits together perfectly (21), just make sure you check for mould seams along the edges of the flat bed base, as they will be visible on the finished model and show up much more when painted (yes, I missed one).
The arms were attached to driver figure so that when seated his right elbow would seem to be leaning on the door, and his left hand on the steering wheel (the truck is right hand drive).
I started painting by priming everything with black Mr Surfacer. The driver’s uniform was base painted with Tamiya Khaki, the flesh with Vallejo Flesh Base, then all the details and shading were added with oils (23).
The chassis was also airbrushed in Tamiya Khaki, with some touches of Flat Earth (24). The outer rear wheels were painted separately then attached, and the exhaust was given a rust finish (25). The interior of the cab was painted, both front / roof (26), and rear / floor, noting the depression that I carved in to the driver’s side of the seat so that the figure would sit lower down and make more contact (27). The door interiors and the two rifles were also painted separately (28), and then fitted, with the driver, into the cab rear (29). The rifles must be painted on both sides as they are visible through the back window.
Joining the front and rear together is slightly complicated due to the number of different contact points, and I cemented the floor to the front bulkhead first, then allowed that to set overnight (30). The join between the back wall and the roof was then made the next day. You can see in photos (30, 31) that I added some filler to the roof joins, but didn’t go overboard on eliminating the joins completely on the supposition that, despite having no photographic evidence, there might be welds at these points. If following this same build sequence, it would pay to make sure that the rear cab wall is at an exact right angle to the floor. I’m not sure mine was, with the result that the doors didn’t quite fit exactly. Having said that, this may well have been the case on a truck built during wartime in Japan in the 1930s (British Leyland couldn’t even get car doors to fit properly in the 1970s).
Visible in photo (31) are the headlights, which have been drilled out, and ‘bulbs’ inserted from water filter granules, ready for epoxy lenses to be added. It is somewhat disappointing that IBG don’t provide the lights as shells and separate lenses on the transparent sprue. The alternative of just painting them is a bit poor, and I think clear lenses would look much better than my yellowy epoxy blobs.
Also in photos (31) and (32) note the windows have all been masked off ready for painting the exterior. Tamiya Khaki and a little Flat Earth were used again, and the basic pin washes and shading was done with the truck still broken down into sub-assemblies (33). The cargo bed and cab fit on to the chassis very easily, helped by having all the contact points masked prior to any painting. The only challenge at this stage is joining the rear wheel arch / running board sections to the front sections; the arch needs to cement under the cargo bed, while the front edge needs to make a straight section with the front running board.
For the front and rear number plates I went with one of the pre-made number decals, which fit the metal parts perfectly. I think it can be seen that the rear plate doesn’t fit exactly straight into the slot under the tailgate, and it would be worthwhile checking the fit more carefully first before applying the glue. The front plate is one of those that has no attachment points, it’s just a rectangle, and I glued it by its bottom front edge to the back of the fender, which is flat and seemed easier that attaching it to the very curvy wheel arch as suggested in the instructions.
With the main assemblies brought together, further weathering was applied including some rust spots (remembering 70s cars again) and some reddish dust as I believe is to be found in parts of South East Asia (34). The final piece of construction is to insert a couple of the glass bottles into the small etched metal caddy which fits almost invisibly under one side, between the running board and the chassis frame (35) next to the tool box. Finally, I remembered to pull the masking tape from the rear window (36).
This is another very decent truck kit from IBG. As usual with these small scale IBG kits, the moulding is of an excellent standard, if not totally top notch, so perhaps not looking quite as sharp as some of the state of the art kits from the likes of Takom. Small pieces of flash are minimal, otherwise it is just the usual mould seams to be removed, and shallow ejector marks are confined to the undersides of the roof (16) and running boards, and in the cab foot wells.
IBG often pack a lot of detail for the price into these kits, and this is no exception with the provision of the metal sheet with number plates and window bars, the full engine and transmission, internal cab details including the two rifles, finely detailed and complex supports for the cargo bed, the tool box and the caddy with the clear bottles being a really nice touch, as well as a fair range of decal options. As we saw with the German truck, with a little extra work, finishing this model with the bonnet up to display the engine would be quite feasible, and with the interior face of the doors also detailed (see photo 28), all is ready for modelling them open. I think the only real disappointment in terms of details is the solid lump headlights.
There is also the driver figure, who, again, while not a brilliant piece of moulding or sculpting, is really not bad, being naturally posed, quite well proportioned, authentically uniformed, and even looking Japanese.
Construction is pretty easy, the only possible issues, I think, being around the painting and joining together of the cab and doors, and the addition of the rear running boards, both of which require careful alignment.
This is another good 1/72 vehicle kit from IBG, easy to build, very nicely detailed, and excellent value for money. Even if you have already enjoyed building the German version of the 917t, this is still worth picking up as it is significantly different.