US Army Tractor

Published: January 21st, 2017     
Product Image
Reviewed by: 
William O'Malley, IPMS# 46473
Scale: 1:35
Company: Thunder Model
Price: $39.95
Product / Stock #: 35001

This is a wonderful kit that I enjoyed building. The model has nice detail, great fit of the parts, and makes a fantastic little model of a unique military vehicle. It's very small, with some finely cast prices, so experience with small parts will be helpful. Thunder Model is a new Chinese model maker and this is their first release. The kit was released in September 2016, and will be followed by a loader version of the same tractor.

During World War II the Case tractor company produced more than 1.3 million howitzer shells, 200 sets of bomber aircraft wings, and 20,000 specialized war tractors and engines. From 1941 to 1945 the factory built over 15,000 special military tractors in roughly 40 variants, and over 4,000 tractor engines for the U.S. Army and the Allies were produced. The VA series of tractors was introduced in 1942 and continued in civilian production through 1956.

The kit includes 70 gray slide-molded plastic parts on 2 sprues individually bagged, silicone tires, photoetch sheet, small decal sheet and 6.5" x 10.5" four-page stapled instruction pamphlet with 11 assembly steps. The illustration diagrams are exploded CAD drawings and are quite clear. Detailed painting is not called out in the instruction steps. A separate painting and marking guide is provided with two options for a US Army vehicle or a Case civilian vehicle.

The detail on the parts is excellent. The plastic is fairly soft but I did not have any breakage problems with the finely molded pieces. There is no flash and only a few minor seams to clean up. Thunder Model has done a good job locating the sprue connections and ejection pins where they will not be visible.

The engine and transmission are installed in steps 1 through 4 and make a very nice detailed assembly. Fit of the parts is very good. The generator, part A45, is installed on the left side of the engine block in step 1 but is not numbered. String is required for the fan belt but not provided with the kit.

The rear wheels and axles are assembled and installed in step 5. The wheels have nice detail and can be slipped off the wheels after assembly for painting.

Steps 7, 8, and 9 assemble and install the side platforms and hood for the tractor. The footrests are photoetch metal which is quite thin. I soldered the pieces together for strength. In step number 9, don't install the lower spring bracket until after the seat is installed on the tractor. This will help to align the spring with the hole in the transmission.

Steps 10 & 11 assemble and install the front suspension and tires. There are some finely molded pieces in the suspension and they all fit very well. Make sure the pin on the front axle, part A31, faces the front.

The kit has decals for a tractor in Army Engineering Unit Service or USAF service. The decals are very thin. The decals for the dash instruments are almost invisible on the backing sheet. I overlooked them until I went looking for them. Use care to make sure the details don't fold over on themselves when they are being placed. The decals settle down very nicely with decal solvent and the thin decal film becomes invisible.

I added some ignition wiring and painted and weathered the tractor with Vallejo acrylics.

This was a fun build and I look forward to building more of Thunder Model's kits. The kit goes together well with great fit of the parts. There are some small parts that add nicely scaled detail, but require experience working with small parts. Thanks to Thunder Model for a wonderful kit!

  • Kit instructions and illustrations showing appropriate locations for markings
    Kit instructions and illustrations showing appropriate locations for markings
  • Kit contents; two styrene sprues, one photoetch fret, and tires
    Kit contents; two styrene sprues, one photoetch fret, and tires
  • Decal sheet with hobby knife in foreground to illustrate scale
    Decal sheet with hobby knife in foreground to illustrate scale
  • Close-up image showing the kit's high part detail
    Close-up image showing the kit's high part detail
  • Engine under assembly with hobby knife to illustrate the size of the engine block
    Engine under assembly with hobby knife to illustrate the size of the engine block
  • Front suspension with wishbone and steering rods
    Front suspension with wishbone and steering rods
  • Chassis under assembly, showing nice engine detail and exhaust stack
    Chassis under assembly, showing nice engine detail and exhaust stack
  • Wheels and tires - the tires showing authentic tread pattern
    Wheels and tires - the tires showing authentic tread pattern
  • Chassis nearly complete, with wheels and tires showing authentic tread pattern
    Chassis nearly complete, with wheels and tires showing authentic tread pattern
  • Completed kit on a nice simple base
    Completed kit on a nice simple base
  • Left-rear above photo of completed kit, showing instrument panel, pedals, stickshift, and seat.
    Left-rear above photo of completed kit, showing instrument panel, pedals, stickshift, and seat.

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