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Academy 1/35 scale M151A1 Light Utility Truck

Manufacturer: Academy, distributed by Model Rectifier Corp., 80 Newfield Ave., P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08818, 732-225-2100,
Kit: No. 1323 Scale: 1/35
Comments: Injection-molded, 145 parts (7 vinyl), decals
Pros: Easy to build, good detail, nice engine compartment

Cons:Fitting drive shaft connections to the transmission is difficult, rear wheels rub inside wells
Ford Motor Company designed the M151 as a replacement for the Army's World War II-vintage M38 Jeeps. The new vehicle featured a one-piece body/frame assembly, independent front and rear suspension, and an overhead-cam engine. It went into production in 1960. The M151A1 had a heavier rear suspension, but the MUTT (Military Utility Tactical Truck) developed a reputation for poor stability. A new revised trailing arm rear suspension was incorporated in the M151A2 variant.

The MUTT served the U.S. Army throughout the Vietnam War. Although production of the M151 ceased in 1982, the vehicle continued to be used as late as 1997.

The latest release from Academy in its military vehicle line is the M151A1 MUTT. Molded in dark olive plastic, the kit features finely molded detail. A complete engine is included and lacks only the wiring and hoses. Options include a field radio to be mounted in the rear of the vehicle, and a central pedestal-mounted M60 gun. Vinyl tires are provided with separate plastic wheels, making painting easy. Markings for two different vehicles are given, as well as decals for the dash instruments and the placards found around the vehicle. Several unused parts in the kit (two extra wheels, and the more modern rectangular reflectors) hint at future releases.

The well-illustrated eight-page instructions start with the engine. To facilitate painting the engine compartment, I hadn't installed the engine or radiator at step two, so I had to shorten the forward drive shaft to get the engine to fit later. If I were to build another, I would spray the engine compartment first, install the engine, then use the hood as a mask while painting the rest of the vehicle. When installing the rear axle in step three, it may be wise to build and fit a couple of wheel assemblies to the axle to make sure they clear the wheel wells.

Academy provides hard vinyl tires; they are well molded, but be sure to paint them with acrylics, as enamels may not dry on vinyl. Once again, the wheel assemblies were left off to ease painting. The placement of the tilt frame (B6, B7, B11) is not clear, and it took some fiddling to get the assembly in place. I added the radio and gun pedestal, but the wire cutter (B40) had several ejector pin marks and was too thick, so I left it off.

With the basic assembly finished, I sprayed my MUTT overall with Tamiya's olive drab. The decals were applied over a coat of Future floor polish brushed on only where they were to be placed. The decals responded well to applications of Micro Set and Sol. A coat of Polly Scale clear flat blended the decals into the paint.

I applied a wash of Tamiya dark earth to the underside to simulate road dust, with some coming up around the lower part of the vehicle. I used Bare-Metal Foil in the headlight sockets. With the clear lenses installed using Future as an adhesive, they looked great.

The rear wheels were a tight fit in the wheel wells, rubbing on the walls. The vehicle was given a wash of burnt umber and black oil paint diluted with mineral spirits. I dry-brushed the model with olive drab enamel lightened with white and yellow ochre oil paint. The windshield was reinstalled using Future as an adhesive. The box art shows a one-piece windshield (common to the M151A2 version) but the kit has the proper two- piece windshield.

The finished model matched the dimensions in The Encyclopedia of Military Vehicles by Hogg and Weeks. Additional reference photos can be found on the Internet by typing M151 in your favorite search engine. There are quite a few sites with information and photos on the MUTT.

The model took only 14 hours to build. Any modeler with some experience should find few problems building it. Academy has done another fine job, producing a kit that is well detailed at a reasonable cost.


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