When I first got back into modelling about 4 years ago, one of the kits I bought was the Resicast Airborne RA Jeep conversion set. I opened the box, looked at all the resin parts inside, a fret of PE and thought, I’ll never build that, so I closed the box and put the kit away, thinking that one day I might advance enough to give it a go.
Well 3 years later and with the announcement of the MB 1/35 glider and C47 my interest perked up again, a recent reorganisation of the stash brought the kit to my notice.
Elite forces have always been popular subjects. The history, achievements and failures of the Parachute Regiment are well documented, earning them a well deserved and respected reputation throughout the world as a serious professional fighting force. Tough men often sent to do the impossible with minimal back up in terms of support weapons.
To help overcome this deficiency, standard infantry equipment was adapted to fit the parachute roll and provide at least basic support and recce ability for troops landed behind enemy lines. These heavier items could be glidered in to provide limited anti tank support, recce and supply ability. The Willys jeep was one of the few vehicles that could be transported by air, and so became a very useful vehicle for the Paratroopers and was converted into several role specific versions.
This set is designed to convert the Tamiya Willys Jeep, item 53219, to the British Airborne Jeep RA type as transported on Horsa Gliders and used to tow the 6pdr anti tank gun.
The set comes in the standard sturdy Resicast box with a good coloured picture of the completed model on the front along with the maker’s name. This conversion, along with at least 3 other Para jeep conversions, have been available for many years so the instructions are in the older style when the quality of today’s technology wasn’t available and things got photographed and photocopied. The instructions are contained in a 12 page A5 photocopied booklet. The front page outlines a brief history of the kit and a list of the most notable modifications made to the jeeps, along with a B&W picture of the front of an actual jeep. Page 2 lists the resin and PE parts, the PE fret contains bits that were also used on the Recce and Signals, and RASC jeeps so not all of the PE will be required. Pages 3 and 4 contain the build steps linked to the Tamiya jeep kit. Pages 5 to 9 contain build guide pictures, and although the quality is not great, they should prove sufficient to allow a successful build. Pages 10 to 12 contain B&W pictures of the actual vehicle again to aid in building.
Also contained within the box are the 5 zip plastic bags containing the conversion parts and the replacement bonnet, plus a fret of PE, all of which are wrapped in bubble wrap for extra protection.
The parts are well cast in a light cream resin, and despite being quite an old kit, the detail is excellent. All were free from any damage or cause for concern and come well wrapped and protected in the box. I have had this kit for about 3 years, and seem to be missing the Rifles parts C and D plus the Bren gun part B. Whether these were not in the kit or I have lost them I am not sure. I don’t recall using them elsewhere, but I do have the mounting brackets for the rifles so replacing those should not be a problem and I may have some spare rifles from the T16 I can use also. An additional set of parts not listed are parts V and W, which are the front axel replacement parts to allow the wheels to be position-able, which is a useful item and as these are not listed must be an addition to the original kit issue.
Resin parts include replacement rear plate, steering plate quick release, front bumper, front towing yoke, dashboard, spare wheel, jerry cans and fixations, bonnet, side lights, pick and spade, 3 steel 6pdr closed ammo boxes and one open, Bren Gun and Rifles, 5 x Bren magazine boxes, 4 x 303 ammo in chargers, 4 x ammo in cartons, 4 x boxes of detonators and explosives, also the position-able steering mentioned above and replacement gear levers.
There are quite a few PE parts, not all of which will be required as the fret is generic for the Recce, Signals and RASC jeep conversions too. You get interior right and left reinforcements, foot pedals left and right and an accelerator, side morrow fixations, dashboard eye, tie down fixations, rear bumper plate, tandem towing bracket, frame and eye. Front bumper reinforcement and strengthening stays, bridging plate, jerry can fixations, spare wheel support and fixation, and various fittings for the rear plate and ammo boxes.
Overall, this looks to be a fairly comprehensive set to allow the modeller to make a good representation of the Airborne RA Jeep. You need to bear in mind that there were modifications carried out locally by REME units and therefore were not always in line with the official specifications, a great deal of latitude being taken as to actual fitting up of the vehicles. As with any modelling project, a good set of references will help, as would a visit to the Airborne Museum at Aldershot. Referenced in the instructions is a pamphlet on the Modification and Specifications on British Airborne Jeeps by Monica Bann & Rob van Meel, that may also be worth investigating which should be available form Croucho Publications in the Netherlands. I couldn’t find Croucho Publications on the ‘net, but did find Groucho Publications
, who would appear to be a good source for technical manuals.
The detail and the casting looks excellent, a good read of the instructions before you begin is recommended, The kit contains many small parts so be careful of the carpet monster, but if you have a few years experience, and have worked with resin and PE before, then this set should give you a very cool vehicle indeed. No decals are provided with the kit which is a minus, and I have emailed Resicast to see if the Airborne decals he used to do are still available, if not your alternative will most probably be Archer.
A good variety of ‘boxes’ come with the kit so stocking this one up should be fun.
The Tamiya jeep also provides a relatively inexpensive donor kit for the conversion.
I spoke with Graham at Resicast, and he has only a few sets of the Airborne Decals remaining. It may be some time before these are available again. He will also be including in the kit a further set of instructions regarding the positionable steering, which was added to the kit as an update set. If you have the kit but not the steering instruction sheet just email Resicast and they will send you a copy of the Pdf file instructions.