1⁄35The Beer's Here!
The "mule" was designed to replace the jeep, mostly as a medical evacuation platform for the severely-wounded on litters in rough terrain where jeeps couldn't go. But the damned thing could carry gear or be mounted with a variety of weapons, including the M40 106mm recoil-less rifle.
The recoil-less rifle version was used a lot in the Battle of Hue City, but the only kit in 1/35th scale is an old Dragon one that's hard to find (I had to order mine on eBay from a seller in China). I decided to pair it with the AFV Club LVTP5-A1 "amtrac" amphibious vehicle. Again, these turn up a lot in footage about the Marines in Vietnam. The vehicle was sturdy, could go almost anywhere, and offered protection from small arms fire. And while they weren't air-conditioned and could get pretty roasty-toasty, the Marines preferred to ride on top, often with sandbags piled up for protection, because it was better to be "blown clear" in case of a mine or other explosive device than blown up. Fortunately, Hobby Fan makes a set of five Marines in FlaK vests, resin-cast sandbags tailored to the AFV Club kit, and even a set of two crew.
I added the Eduard PE sets for both kits, along with some Value Gear stowage and four Orange Hobby aerials to replace the kit plastic nubs. But the diorama came alive once I added the one thing Marines- indeed, men everywhere consider essential: cases of beer.
My dad taught me the "Marine" way to chill brewskies in a hot climate: place the warm beers in a "GI can" (what we call a trash can), fill it with water, then blast the outside with a fire extinguisher. Too much compressed CO2 and the water would freeze solid, but it was worth the risk for what you got: Carling Black Label, San Miguel or Tiger beer were the popular beer brands in 'Nam according to my dad. A set of paper beer cases purchased on eBay gave me more than enough to model the arrival of the beer ration.
After that, it was a liberal layer of MIG Vietnam dust, some elephant grass, track marks and done.