by: Rick Cooper [ ]
Earlier this fall Plusmodel released a 1938 Plymouth P5 staff car in 1/35th scale. This continues the recent trend from various manufacturers and producers to kit out a variety of staff cars in 1/35th scale. Most, if not all, of these have been those long, black, stylized cars that are often associated with Gestapo actions or other activities of that ilk. Now we have a bit more benign option with the P5.
Plymouth introduced the P5/P6 series in 1937 in two styles, the Business (P5) and the Deluxe (P6). The car was never very popular, often criticized for its plump, bug eyed appearance. Apparently, this lack of sexiness made it a perfect candidate to serve as a military staff car in the American armed forces as well as some that were captured in Europe by Germany and placed into service.
The kit itself consists of 63 resin parts, a photo-etch fret that carries an additional 30 parts, an acetate sheet for the windows and the dashboard, two clear styrene headlight lens covers, and a set of decals that enables you to choose from three different marking options. Plusmodel uses a medium gray resin that is easy to work with and is virtually bubble and pit free throughout.
Rather than make a guess as to how this would all fit together I went ahead and built and painted the whole thing to provide a more thorough assessment. The instructions…well, most of us have dealt with issues like these before; a series of drawings with arrows pointing in the general direction of where the part actually attaches. Fortunately most everything is fairly intuitive, particularly if you have ever looked under an automobile before.
There are a couple areas to take some particular care with however in the construction phase. First, part 72, which I “think” is the wheel cylinder for the braking system, the instructions just give a fairly vague ‘stick here’ type of guidance. But, later on you will need to be able to connect a couple of PE actuator arms to the rear differential assembly. If they are placed a bit too far forward the arms (M6 and M7) will not be able to connect where they should. I needed to add two small shims to the rear springs in order to get the drive shaft to be able to mate up with the differential. Also, be careful with the attachment point for the exhaust pipe, I thought it was a piece of extra flash and cut it clean off.
The jewels of the kit are the one piece chassis/frame/floorboard and the one piece body. The fit between the two was exceptional, a virtual glove fit that required absolutely no adjustment whatsoever. Not being a car modeler it made things much easier to know that the ‘sit’ of the frame to the body was perfect from the beginning.
Once you have attached all the pieces for the undercarriage (take care, some are quite thin and thus easily broken) you can work on the interior. It is a bit on the Spartan side, but that is to be expected with a general staff car. Two bench style seats for the front and back complete with a rear deck, all of which fits perfectly, a set of PE foot pedals, and a single gear stick and you’re good to go. I didn’t trust the rear window deck to stay in place so I added a piece of scrap sprue to keep it horizontal. It also includes what I think are two ash tray covers for the rear seat passengers, if you are so inclined.
Inside the body things get a little tricky as it always seems to add a degree of difficulty when working from the inside out. Dashboard, and door handles are all easy enough but the film windows were a challenge. I replaced the window cranks with pieces of thin copper wire figuring that would be easier than the small resin window cranks the kit provided, in retrospect I wish I had just gone with the kit part as they give a better look. The steering wheel is well done but does require you to cut out the wheel shaft from a piece of copper wire, I used a piece of styrene rod so as not to have to worry about trying to straighten out a piece of heavy copper wire. I finished with all the painting before I attached the windows which are a bit flimsy as they are made from a sheet of acetate. I don’t believe you would be successful in installing and masking the windows as it felt like any masking material would pull the window out when removed. The two front doors are cast as separate pieces which help to provide easy access to the interior. One knock against the kit was the fit of the doors which left a small gap when closed; if you model it with the doors opened it wouldn’t be a problem as the gap is so small as to only be noticeable when the doors are closed.
The exterior is easy enough, a combination of resin and PE to add the front grill, bumpers, headlights, turn signals, side mirrors and such. The only real difficulty I ran into was mounting the Plymouth Mayflower hood ornament. Keeping it straight long enough for the glue to set was a bit tricky, I would advise cutting a very small notch to fit it into just to make life a bit easier.
The three marking options provided for are a US Army staff vehicle, a US Navy vehicle, and a Wehrmacht vehicle. I wanted something a little different for my shelf so I opted for the US Navy staff vehicle. I mixed up a US Grey flavored with a dash of dark grey blue (Vallejo Air 47 and Vallejo Air 54) to add a bit of extra color. The interior I painted using a mix of the same Vallejo US Grey and Vallejo Air 05 Intermediate Blue to provide a bit of contrast with the exterior. The decals are nice and thin and snuggled down nicely leaving no visible edges. The bumpers and hubcaps were painted with Alclad aluminum and polished with a chrome powder I have had sitting around for years. The front grill is shown as being in the body color, but I am not convinced that is correct, but without having any real evidence I just went with the instructions.
After everything was painted and decals added I tackled the acetate windows. You have to cut them out of a single sheet. There are nine windows in all, from the small pair of rear windows to the large single piece front windshield. They were easy enough to cut but take care not to trim too much or you will be left with unsightly gaps. I attached them with a combination of white glue and CA. The last thing I added was the two clear plastic lens covers for the headlights which cap off the build.
This little kit is a real gem. Near perfect fit between the chassis and the body gives everything a nice base to work from. PE that is intelligently engineered; just enough to make detail oriented modelers happy but not so much as to make anything overly difficult. Decals that are easy to work with and look great. Plusmodel has done it again with a unique vehicle that is molded to a very high standard.