Model: M109A3/M185A3 2.5 Ton 6x6 Shop Van
Reviewed by: David Dodge, IPMS # 49795
Product/Stock #: 35304
Product Web Page: View
Product provided by: AFV
AFV Club released this kit in the fall of last year. This is a variant of their M35x series of 2.5 ton trucks of which the M49A2c 1200 Gallon Fuel truck and the venerable M35A2/3 “Deuce and a half” truck was released.
The M35 series of vehicles were derived from the classic CCKW truck from WWII. These vehicles were ubiquitous and were given great credit for winning the war on the logistics front. The M35 was a dual rear wheeled variant of the single wheel 6x6 M34 (which had better off road mobility) and was principally designed for on road use. It was produced initially in the early 1950’s by Rio Motors and was first deployed with a gasoline engine, and in the late 50’s, with a 427 cubic inch straight 6 multifuel engine. This could burn gasoline, diesel, kerosene and jet fuel or any combination. The engine was upgraded on the M35A2 series of vehicles by a 478 cu. in. multifuel engine. This engine was upgraded to the turbo-supercharged engine. This was the most numerous version of this series. The 1949 Rio Motors Design has been produced by over 10 companies including Rio Motors, Studebaker, Studebaker-Packard, Curtis-Wright, Kaiser-Jeep and AM General. The M35 Series of chassis was the baseline for subsequent variants of which the M109A3 was one of those. The M109 has a 12 foot van body that was mounted on subsills to raise it up off of the frame to clear the wheels without housings. The rear of the body has two hinged doors. The left was locked and could only be opened from the inside and the right door had a padlockable latch. There were ladders to gain access to the inside of the van and the roof top. The body has side windows with screens and blackout curtains. Power was provided by the vehicle 24 volt system and external 115 volt AC to run lighting, accessories and tools. The van body was waterproofed to the 8 foot depth line for fording. The van could be equipped with various shop sets to support its use for automotive, electric/electronic or small arms repair.
There are 11 separately bagged OD green sprues a clear sprue three PE frets in two bags, a decal sheet and string and chain for the winch. There are two OD sprues of 12 wheels. 11 polymer tires are on their own sprues. There are some extra parts since this kit seems to be based on the M49A2c Fuel truck. Most of the parts are crisp and detailed with some flash and many of the van body parts have raised or sunken ejector marks that have to either be filled or sanded.
There are 20 pages of instructions. The first and last 8 pages are printed on glossy surface paper, the middle 4 are on standard paper. The color plates are on pages 16 thru 20. There is a sprue map on page 15 that has photos and line drawings of the sprue layout and the decal sheet is a photo. The line drawings have the part numbers, but the three sprues that are photographs, do not.
Despite powertrain and driveline issues, I was able to get everything into a resemblance of a truck undersides. Not sure what the issues really were, but I do have a M35A2 kit from AFV Club that will get more scrutiny when I build that kit. The cab and cab interior fit well but the side windows were a bit wonky. No real good way to attach them. The van body was detailed and extensive but everything fit well together. The hand and power tools certainly fill the benches and could offer opportunities for a diorama. The kit builds up into a nice slightly unusual subject since the stuff that lives way back behind the front lines hardly gets any attention from manufacturers. Most maintenance 2 ½ trucks want to be an M109 van when they grow up.
I would like to thank AFV Club for providing this kit for review, and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to review it.