Formed in the summer of 1941 by David Stirling, the British Special Air Service was created as a commando force to operate behind enemy lines, often attacking Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground in North Africa. The SAS’ primary vehicle was the venerable ¼-ton jeep. specially adapted to operating in the harsh desert climate.
Dragon has released a “new” kit it calls “SAS ¼-ton 4 x 4 patrol commander’s car” (mustn’t say jeep without licensing). It’s based on the Dragon kit released several years ago; the main updates are the wheels, which were a major disappointment in the original kit, and a new main-body shell. Besides the standard combat tires, the kit also includes a set of road-tread tires.
There are enough jerry cans to fill the racks — both Allied and German types — as well as two figures that are the same bodies with alternate arms and heads.
Decals provide instruments and data placards for the dashboard, while a small photoetched-metal fret covers the fuel-can racks and straps, a nice pair of sand channels, and the hood tie-downs.
The kit’s box is large for such a small vehicle — and it is crammed with parts. Despite the ample packaging, I found both the exhaust/muffler and the rear axle were broken inside my box.
I started with the chassis. The road tires are made up of several slices to get a good representation of the tread. I mounted the standard combat tires on my kit, a more-appropriate choice considering the rest of the equipment. The motor is missing the generator on the right side — there is just a pulley, suspended in air by the fan belt — but you’ll only be able to see the bottom of the engine once the hood is in place. I wish the springs and axles had more positive locating pins. Despite the one-piece frame and every effort to get all four wheels on the ground, I wound up with one floater.
The body goes together quickly; just add the grille and tailgate to the body. Two grilles are included: one with most of the ribs removed, typical of North African jeeps, and one with all the ribs, an indication of future variants. I assembled the hood but left it loose so I could install the radiator after painting. Dragon includes clear parts for the headlights.
I found that assembling the rear photoetched-metal storage racks was the most difficult part of this kit. After assembling the various jerry cans and weapons, I was ready to paint.
Painting began with a base coat of Tamiya desert yellow. Then I lightened the base with British light stone (BS61) mixed with Tamiya paints using a formula I found in an article on the Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association’s website, www.mafva.net, in an article called “British Vehicle Camouflage, 1939-45,” by Mike Starmer and Mike Cooper. I added some blotches of BS3 green mixed from the same source.
After gluing the frame to the body, I added all of the jerry cans. The light stone was a bit bright, so I toned it down with a filter of burnt umber artist’s oils. After a coat of Vallejo clear gloss, I added the decals to the dashboard and gave the model a pinwash of Vandyke brown artist’s oils. I painted the figure with Vallejo acrylics. After applying pigments mixed with mineral spirits to the wheels, I mounted the wheels and guns.
I spent about 23 hours on my SAS car, mostly on painting.
The finished model matches almost exactly the dimensions listed in the Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles, by David Doyle (Krause, ISBN 978-0-87349-508-0).
Dragon has done a good job of updating its kit, correcting many of the earlier problems. There are already several versions of this kit available, along with a figure set that reproduces the famous photograph of David Stirling next to several SAS jeeps.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2014 FineScale Modeler.