The resurrection of 1/48 as a popular scale for military vehicle kits has obvious potential tie-ins for aircraft modellers. Softskin vehicles are particularly useful for airfield scenes, as typified by that ubiquitous transport mainstay of the Soviet services in the 1930s and '40s - the GAZ-AAA truck. The importance of the vehicle is hard to overstate - more than 37,000 were built before production ceased in 1944. The vehicle served in vast numbers on every Soviet from and many were captured and impressed into service by the Germans. So, it's astonishing that such an obvious subject has been overlooked by the mainstream kit producers in this scale - instead, the honour goes to the Ukrainian manufacturer Unimodels, with their first release in a new range of quarterscale vehicles.
The kit arrives in a sturdy conventional box with the main sprues and details packed separately for protection. The kit comprises:
129 x dark green parts (3 unused)
10 x vinyl tyres
10 x etched copper parts (2 unused)
A sheet of film for windows and lenses
A sheet of decals
The parts are quite cleanly moulded with just a hint of flash here and there, plus one or two shallow sink marks, but the latter look like they'll be hidden on the finished model. The finish of the parts varies - the interior parts, wheels and other details are polished smooth, but the main body exterior has a "sand-blasted" texture. This might disappear when the model is painted (especially if you use a primer), but I think it will be wise to polish the parts smooth to be on the safe side. On the subject of surface finish, what I particularly like is that Unimodels haven't applied a "woodgrain" texture to the truck bed and sides, which always looks exaggerated to my eyes in this scale.
Now, it has to be said that the kit can't match the absolute precision of, say, a Tamiya model - and, to be fair, you'd hardly expect it to. But where it really scores over that company's 1/48 scale vehicle kits is that Unimodels have included a detailed chassis and suspension, along with a full engine that can be displayed thanks to separate bonnet (hood) panels and (joy of joys!) separate cab doors allowing the interior to be seen and instantly adding much more "life" to the finished model.
Unimodels have also gone their own route with the windows. Rather than traditional injected clear parts to install in the cab, each window must be cut out from a sheet of printed film. Although this means a little more work, it not only avoids potential clarity problems, but also has a truer to scale thickness and allows the side windows to be "wound down" realistically.
All this does mean a rather more complex build than you'd be likely to get from a more mainstream manufacturer, but it's balanced by the greater display possibilities.
Unimodel have opted for vinyl tyres, which isn't exactly my favourite medium. That said, the these are cleanly moulded with a crisp tread pattern and no sign of flash. If you don't like the idea of vinyl tyres, Hauler have already produced a set of replacement resin wheels
, plus etched details
for the vehicle as a whole.
A small fret of etched parts supplies an engine fan and chassis details.
The cargo bed can be fitted out with bench-seats and, rounding everything off is a canvas top. This is a bit plain, with no ties or flaps.
My only real regret is what the kit doesn't include; any figures or accessories. Unimodel could really have cleaned up if they'd provided a driver and a couple of crew, along with some crates and fuel drums.
Instructions and decals
The assembly diagrams are cearly drawn, breaking construction down into 33 stages. Humbrol paint matches are given.
The camouflage and decal guide is a little confusing, in as much as it shows two "options" - but they seem basically identical and only use 3 of the 16 decals provided. The decal sheet includes unused tactical marking and registration numbers, including what appear to be number plates for a captured truck in German service. The decals themselves are cleanly printed, with a very matt finish and quite extensive carrier film.
Unimodels GAZ is an exciting kit with masses of potential for Eastern Front vignettes and dioramas. It's competitively priced a little cheaper than its comparable mainstream rivals. It's not a kit for total beginners, but anyone with a little experience should have few problems and will relish its enormous scope for conversions. Recommended.
Unimodels' GAZ-AAA is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
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