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Academy 1/72 U.S. Tank Transporter Dragon Wagon

Kit: No. 13409
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Academy, from Model Rectifier Corporation, 732-225-2100,
Price: $27
Comments: Injection-molded, 218 parts, decals
Pros: Subject suits the scale; good detail
Cons: Ejector-pin marks; poor molding of some details
To be precise, Academy's new 1/72 scale Dragon Wagon is an M26 tractor and M15 trailer. The kit comprises 218 parts molded in dark olive plastic. All the armored window plates and doors are molded separately, so they may be posed open or closed. The rear ramps for the trailer may be posed for loading or transport.

Many of the parts have ejector-pin marks, several in visible areas of the finished model. The small decal sheet provides markings for three different vehicles. The instructions dates them 1994 - it should be 1944.

I built my Dragon Wagon in four main subassemblies: tractor chassis, interior, cab, and trailer. The interior is basic (typical of this scale) but little of it will be seen, even if you pose the window armor in the open position. The cab structure fits well and no filler was needed anywhere in the model (except to fill ejector-pin marks).

Unfortunately Academy molded the headlights and brush guards in one piece, making the light lenses difficult to paint. A real disappointment is the beam hoist (parts B1 and B3), as the chains are molded bowing out (rather than hanging straight), imparting a toylike appearance. If you didn't want to bother replacing the chains, you could easily leave the hoist off; it was usually stowed when not in use.

The trailer was quick and easy to assemble. Sub-step F in Step 18 has the part numbers reversed, but it is easy to see how it goes. I painted Tamiya olive drab and sprayed the centers of the panels with the same paint lightened about 20 percent with Tamiya desert yellow. The decals settled in with a touch of Micro Sol. I used Tamiya buff thinned with 80% alcohol for grime.

After my usual wash and dry-brushing with oil paints, I added the wheels and the detail parts. I had no problems with the tractor wheels. But getting all the trailer wheels lined up and touching the ground was more challenging. I wish that they had had a more positive location system.

It took about 12 hours to build my Dragon Wagon; construction was fairly easy considering the large number of parts and size of the model. The finished piece matches almost exactly the dimensions in the Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles, by David Doyle. The trailer wheel assemblies were a bit too wide, but not really noticeable. While the model looks good straight from the box, like most 1/72 scale kits there are many details that can be added and improved by the advanced modeler. Photos on Toadman's Tank Pictures Web site would be a big help in that process.
- John Plzak


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