The FIAT 18 BL was produced during WWI for the Italian Army. Approximately 20,000 vehicles were produced between 1914 and 1918. Although designed as a “truck,” many were used as tractors to haul heavy trailers or artillery. With their solid rubber tires, they were predominantly limited to hard, flat roads. If hauling an artillery piece, there would generally be another vehicle in the area to transfer the piece from the roadway to the firing position. The FIAT 18 BL also saw use in other foreign armies, including Russia and France.
The kit consists of 37 parts molded in a light grey resin. There are no photo-etch parts or decals provided. Included is one two-sided A4 sheet of paper; one side being the instructions and the other side with information about the Autocarro FIAT 18 BL (a one paragraph history, vehicle characteristics, and the business contact information). There are no “steps” depicted for build-progression other than two assembly “stages.”
All text on both sides of the sheet are in Italian. For a rough translation, see below. There are two blow-up drawings showing two stages of the assembly process.
The first stage covers the majority of the undercarriage assembly and the second stage involves the cabin and cargo areas along with the fenders, drive train and other smaller parts. Based on the drawings, part placement should be easily determined and the reasonably low parts count will aid in this. I would highly recommend a good bit of dry-fitting and careful examination of the parts (orientation, location, et cetera) before glue is applied.
Each “stage” of the build also includes a detailed (Fig. 1, Fig. 2) step showing specific placement and orientation of a part. Figure 1 shows the orientation of two parts of the rear frame/suspension supports. There does appear to be one issue with “stage” drawing and the “Fig.” drawing; the “squared-A” shaped support is shown with the closed portion to the rear on the “stage” drawing whereas it’s orientation appears to be reversed on the “Fig.” drawing. Based on a dry fit of the part, and the rough translation, it is to be placed to the rear as shown in the “stage” drawing. The second “stage” drawing along with “Fig. 2” shows a “(2a).” This is a linkage for the steering which is not included in the kit and will need to be scratch-built from plastic rod or wire.
(I have not been able to get a definitive translation of a “CUNEO”):
Per il corretto Posizionamento del FRENO A CUNEO Vedere Fig. 1
For the correct positioning of the BRAKE TO SKID, see Fig. 1
Nella Fig. 2 viene mostrato come montare le LEVE DEL CAMBIO e il TIRANTE LONGITUD. Per lo sterzo.
In Fig. 2 is shown how to mount the LEVERS OF THE EXCHANGE and the TIE ROD for the steering.
RETRO DEL CAMION
REAR OF TRUCK
FRENO A CUNEO
BRAKE TO SKID
Il pezzo segnato come (2a) deve essere autocostruito in tondino di plasticard
The piece marked as (2a) must be scratch-built from plastic rod.
The parts are, as mentioned before, molded in a light gray resin. The overall quality of the molding is excellent with fine detail. There is a fair amount of flash present, but it should be easy to remove without damage to the parts. My sample arrived with a few parts broken, but I imagine that is due to the fragile nature of the parts and packing that could have used some additional “softening” materials. Those parts that are broken should be easy to repair or replace prior to the build.
The main undercarriage assembly appears to have a thick flash between the frames. However, all the “detail” on the upper surface is flat, so this may not technically be flash. I would not advise attempting to remove this as the drive shaft is there and it would be very fragile without the additional support. There is a basic transmission and bottom engine case; at this scale, the profile of both will be somewhat visible after assembly, so this should not be an issue. There is flash between the suspension springs and frame which will need to be removed as this will be clearly seen after the wheels are attached. The frame includes clear marks for the placement of the muffler/exhaust, handbrake and steering exchange.
The two covered drive chain guards have nice bolt detail and a rudimentary inner side. The two pieces that attach to these guards are quite small and could be mistaken for “resin sprue.” The front axle and tie rod in this sample was broken. I expect it to be very easy to repair the axle, but the tie rod will need to be replaced by wire.
The cab’s floor is rather simplified with molded-on pedals and the base for the steering wheel. The steering wheel shaft in this sample had broken off the pour-plug but will not be an issue to use. The firewall is basic and the engine compartment (molded as one piece) has nice exterior detail which includes the access panels and radiator screen. The cab’s canvas cover is not overly thick and has subtle fold details. Based on the photos of two restored 18 BL’s, the builder could add the two straps that go from the canvas roof front edge to the fenders. I believe that these were to keep the roof front from lifting, but at a whopping 26 KPH (16 MPH), I’m not so sure.
The lights and front “light bar” have good detail for this scale, but some clean up will be needed for a couple of seems. The instructions show that the smaller lights are to be placed on TOP of the firewall; this is incorrect as they should be placed on the SIDE. One thing missing from the front is the ubiquitous engine “hand crank.” This is an item easily made from wire and will add a great deal to the looks and feel of the vehicle.
The front fenders are well molded but each has two pour-plugs to contend with; the main one that runs along the edge of the fender and one that supports the two fender supports. The main plug will be easy to remove however the support plug is connected to both fender supports. These are rather thin and care will need to be exercised when cutting the plug from them. The fenders are thick in the kit (the real ones are simply sheet metal with thin metal supports), but the only solution would be to replace them with thin metal sheet-stock. I don’t believe that this would be necessary as they look fine in resin.
The hand brake and the steering connector are both fragile. Oddly enough, both were broken from the pour-plug but suffered no damage. The hand brake is quite thin, but adequately rendered. Again, each has its place marked on the side of the frame. Once the steering connector and front axle are mounted to the frame, this would be the time to make the linkage out of plastic rod as indicated in (2a).
I’ve found two good reference pictures of the rear wheels and tires; one shows what appears to be “duals” (two tires per side) on a single rim and another showing a single wide tire on the same sized rim. Both rims appear to be nearly identical – only the tires are different. This kit represents a vehicle with the “dual” set up.
Each wheel is on its own pour-plug which should be easy to remove. For the rear wheels, the pour-plug is attached between the tires; it may be a bit difficult to clean this out, but a small triangle-file should help. There is flash in the spokes that a sharp #11 blade will eliminate. Detail on the hubs is basic, the spokes look well defined, and the protrusions on the outsides of the tires are present on both the inner and outer sides.
The cargo bed consists of two bed support rails, the bed itself (with cross members molded on), two sides, two ends, and two “tool boxes.” All of the areas representing wood are well molded and the metal supports have very fine rivet detail. The sides and ends should be very easy to remove from their respective pour-plugs. The cargo bed on the other hand will need care as the thinner part of the pour-plug encompasses the ends of the cross members. You’ll need to remove the thinner part from the thicker portion of the plug first, then clean out the thinner part from the bed’s cross members.
The two tool boxes have a very basic latch molded in and a notch on one side for alignment.
The obvious “word of caution” regarding this kit is care; because of the size and intricate nature of some parts, care will be needed when removing them from their pour-plugs. One other note: as this kit is all resin, CA or cyanoacrylate glue will be needed; regular styrene glue will not work with this material.
The Build Log of this kit can be seen here:
Considering the scale and parts count, this kit should build up into a very nice depiction of a Autocarro Fiat 18 BL. Overall, the quality of the molding is excellent, the subject matter is rare, and cleanup is as would be expected. The few broken parts should not cause the builder too much grief. In the end, this should be a very enjoyable full-resin build. I will highly recommend this kit for the builder looking for a cargo truck from this nationality and era. With that, Mr. Panzer gives the Braille-scale modeler a very nice version of the 18 BL in 1/72nd scale.
I would like to thank Gary Hirel for providing this kit for both the “In Box” and “Build” reviews. Thank you Gary.