Wespe Models 1/48 Diamond T 969 A Wrecker

Kit #48015                            MSRP $50.95                  $50.95 from Great Models Web Store
Images and text Copyright © 2009 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
       In 1940 Diamond T started delivering their four ton rating 6 X 6 intermediate vehicle recovery truck, the 969, to ordinance departments of the British and American Armies. The four ton rating was somewhat deceptive as Diamond T would purposely under rate their truck to ensure it would be able to carry its designed load on rough terrain. On good roads this vehicle was capable of transporting twice its rated load.
       Powered by Hercules RXC, 106hp, straight 6-cylinder petrol SV liquid cooled, 529 cid engine this wrecker had sufficient power to handle about any civilian recovery job and many military recoveries. The combined lifting capability of the Holmes twin boom wrecking gear was 10 US tons and the front Garwood winch could handle 7.5 US tons. The wrecker featured stabilizing legs but the twin booms could also be separated and used to assist with stabilization during side lifts. The operator would swing one boom off to the side and secure it to an anchor point and use the second boom to recover the load.
       Although originally designed in 1939 as a civilian wrecker the 969 was used almost exclusively by the military and saw heavy use in the Mid East, Far East and Mediterranean by Allied forces commonly in conjunction with heavier recovery equipment such as the British Scammels, the US Mack or Ward LaFrance vehicles. Production ran from roughly 1940 until 1945 with the early models having a full metal cab and later models featuring a canvas cab. After the war many surplus soft cab units were retrofitted with metal cabs. Today there are several of these intermediate lifters populating military museums or are waiting for restoration.

The Kit
       This is a full resin kit from Wespe Models operating out of Ploiesti, Romania. When this kit first arrived at my studio I was very excited and ready to dig right in. Shortly after opening the box I realized I might be in over my head. The kit needs some serious work; many parts are roughly cast with plenty of flash and incomplete pours. As I started sorting things out it quickly became apparent that many pieces were missing from the kit. The main chassis had an extreme amount of heavy flash and multiple casting boogers that needed cleaned up. I easily spent a day of modeling time just clearing debris from the chassis before I could start to deal with warpage issues. I had to soak the chassis three times in nearly boiling water to pull the worse of the warpage out.
       The instructions are somewhat generic being for both the 969 wrecker and 969 dump truck. Basically we get a single poorly copied hand drawn A3 sheet with four exploded views, two on each side. One of these is for the dump truck so must be immediately discounted. The remaining three panels are not clear, offer no construction tips or painting guides. Parts are not numbered nor really identified in any way. Before any part is glued to another careful study of the instructions and box art are required then a trip to the internet to help clarify things is helpful. The kit does not include any decals, no photo etched parts and no clear acetate for windows. While an exciting subject the kit itself is very disappointing. The following images were taken after two plus days of clean-up work and as you can see; there is still plenty to be done.

       Construction actually began over two years ago. After cleaning up most of the large parts I became disgusted with the kit, threw everything back in the box and stuck it in a dark corner deep within my stash closet. In late 2008 while doing some basic stash maintenance and reorganization I found this. Life had been good recently so I felt I could maybe handle the pain of working on this again plus I really wanted a 1/48 Diamond T Wrecker to put with my Scamell Pioneer. So with a deep sigh this was dusted off and took a place on the work table. To begin I had to really nail down what was missing and get some idea of how much scratch building was going to be needed. Here is what I found:

Missing Pieces
       Rear bed panel
       Both rear spot lights
       Both welding tank upper brackets
       All four rear axel stabilizer bars
       Front steering cylinder
       Cab steering column
       Winch boom linkage bar
       Stabilizer boom support brackets.
       Winch boom lock release levers
       Air compressor oil reservoir
       Both side mirror mounting brackets
       All grab handles (12)
       Cable guides (6)
       Various hand tools

       Now with a list like that I don’t think anyone could blame me if I just said the heck with it and didn’t even try but you see, I have a Modeling Elf. I think he lives in the floor joists and comes out to whisper evil things when I’m not paying attention like ‘go ahead and build it – you can do it’ – damn Modeling Elf, always getting me into trouble.
       I’m going to take a ‘three subassembly’ approach to this build. I’ll focus on cab, chassis and bed then combine them. Beginning with the chassis after all the pieces that were actually in the kit were assembled I then used stock plastic rod to make my stabilizer bars for the rear end then painted the whole assembly dark drab green. Once this had set up I then highlighted areas with thinned olive drab – all this with the airbrush. Next steel details were painted as well as some steel dry brushing. After this had dried I shifted over to a product called Rust All which is really just an alcohol based rust red wash. I worked over areas with this wash putting repeat coats in certain spots then applied a black sludge wash for the final effect. The wheels were airbrushed olive drab then the tires were brush painted tire black. Once dry, ground chalk was applied with a wet wide paint brush. After the chalk had dried I used my finger tips to wipe the excess off the high spots then the wheels were superglued to the axels. By the way, I had to drill out all the axel mounting holes and pay careful attention to positioning since none of the wheels were truly round and I did want all of them to set on the ground.
       The basic cab was not too difficult once the flash was cleared up. As with the chassis I first painted with whole thing dark drab green then used olive drab to highlight panels and create some fade in the finish. I punched some instrument decals from a Mike grant sheet for the dash board. The windows will be the very last thing installed so nothing to worry about there – yet. The back panel for the bed presented a bit of a challenge. I used a very thin piece of stock plastic sheet as a base then laid out structural members with thin strips of styrene. I used fine magnet wire to create all my grab handles that were superglued to the new panel. In these pictures the white panel on the back of the bed is the part I’m talking about. The cab and the bed are simply resting on the chassis at this point.
       At this point the chassis is pretty much complete, the cab needs detail work done and the bed needs lots of work in support equipment and winch structure. I think I’ll start with the cab.
       Beginning with the headlight guards we have some solid chunks of resin with some vague cross hatch detail. I spent an evening with a 15 power glass drilling the crap out of these pieces making them into something that actually looked like a headlight guard. The mating surface was dressed with a file to achieve the proper alignment and they were superglued in place. The headlights needed only some minor touch-up with some sand paper and were ready to install. The instrument panel needed only a little trimming on the ends and it fit right into place to be secured with a spot of superglue. The steering wheel needed more work and was very much out of round. I attached it to a piece of wire to act as the steering column, painted it up and installed it in the cab. The side mirrors were attached using pieces of fine magnet wire.
       The air compressor was painted in the same two step manner as the rest of the model then was given some heavy steel dry brushing around the compressor head. The oil reservoir was made from a couple different pieces of round styrene rod then the whole thing was attached to the truck bed. About this time I diverted from actual assembly to weathering playing around with the Rust All product and seeing what could be done on the cab and air compressor. I think I’ll need a little black wash over some spots to help blend it in but the general appearance of a well used older truck is taking shape.
       I think I have stalled about as long as I can with weathering, it is time to tackle the winch frame and Holmes twin booms. After studying the instructions and the parts that seem to belong to the winch frame I’m still shaking my head and going ‘what the heck’, this is real difficult to follow so off to the internet for some support. After studying images of actual trucks I start working the pieces together. The upper cutting gas tank supports were fashioned from thin sheets of styrene. Stabilizer boom supports were made from medium magnet wire. A full evening of modeling results in a winch frame ready for paint.
       So now I have painted the main winch frame, dry brushed it and added some weathering then glued it to the chassis. I have also glued the bed to the chassis – the cab is still a separate subassembly. The inverted A frame support was painted and installed which allowed for the two spare tires to be place. Once they were in place I added weathering from ground chalks and washes – I did this with the parts at an angle to let gravity pull things much as it would in the real world giving it a pretty cool appearance. Unfortunately the directions on the winch assembly were so bad and even with the little I gleaned from the internet it did not take me down the correct path. After getting this all together I came across some operations manuals for this wrecker and things started making a lot more sense with the winches. I’m going to have to reach into this stuff with my razor saw and tweezers to add the second winch motor along with a drive belt and some air lines – still lots of work to do.
       I have successfully installed the second winch motor only to find you really can’t see the thing even up close peering down into the winch frame – oh well, I know it’s there. Moving right along, the twin booms are assembled, painted and installed. For the winch cables I used black rigging thread from a ship model dry brushed with steel. In retrospect I probably should have treated it with wax to hold down the random stray threads but too late now. It was secured with spots of superglue. Each cable end point at the lift hook was built up with superglue then painted red. Various lock handles on the booms were made from magnet wire. I had a partial set of photo etched tools from Hauler in the spares box so that was used to help dress up the bed area. Decals were all acquired from the spares box and applied with a little Future as a setting agent. Once they had dried down I sealed the model with Polly Scale clear flat cut 50% with Windex. Now the clear windows could be made. These were all cut from some scrap clear sheet and installed with clear parts cement. I cut masks for the front panels then airbrushed them lightly with clear flat to create the wiper tracks. Wind shield wipers are left over PE parts from a 1/72 scale Shelby Cobra – they were a perfect fit for this build. The three figures all came from a Preiser figure set.

And here she is next to my Scammell Pioneer heavy hauler.

       This is not my first Wespe kit and probably will not be my last but it was most definitely the toughest. I don’t know if I got the results of a packer having a bad day or what but with so many parts missing I should have just sent it back which just goes to show I may not be the brightest bulb in the package. It’s a very interesting subject, at least for me it is, but the kit was a major disappointment in quality. Flash was the predominant feature, fit was mediocre at best, directions basically sucked and the lack of any decals was disappointing. It took a lot of work and a lot of study and at least one episode of backtracking on construction to get this one complete but it sure looks great on my shelf with the other heavy haulers. Overall recommendation on this kit is poor.

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