MiniArt 1/35 Harley Davidson WLA
MSRP $31.95 $23.00 from Great Models Web Store
Images and text Copyright © 2011 by Matt Swan
Harley Davidson, now there is a name that just screams classic American Iron. Prior to the U.S. entry into the European Conflict the U.S. Army had contracted Harley Davidson to manufacture motorcycles to be used as couriers, police escorts and scout machines. In 1940 Harley Davidson began production of the WLA which was an evolutionary development of the earlier R family of bike. The W designation simple was a family designation, L signified ‘high compression’ and A was for ‘Army’. The engine was the latest (at the time) incarnation of the 45 cubic inch flathead engine. This bike was also manufactured for the Canadian Army as the WLC.
Initially production of the WLA was somewhat limited but after the United States entered World War 2 production ramped up significantly and by wars end over 90,000 examples had been put into service. The bike quickly acquired the name "Liberator" because the men riding it were liberating Europe. Production of the WLA shut down at wars end however during the Korean Conflict is was started back up again. With so many of these bikes surviving the war years and heading for the surplus market they were instrumental in establishing the civilian motorcycle craze. Not only did the WLA heavily influence the American motorcycle culture, it also impacted the Russians. Russia was the number one largest recipient of WLAs under the lend-lease act during WW2 with about 90,000 units being shipped there. Today many examples of the Harley Davidson WLA exist in museums and on the road carefully maintained by motorcycle aficionados.
This is my first experience with a MiniArt kit and I have to say I am impressed. The kit arrived in a start tray type box with sharp artwork. Inside we have a single sprue of medium gray high pressure injection molded plastic parts, a small sprue of clear parts and a fret of photo etched brass parts. A small decal sheet covers the basic markings. Looking at the gray parts everything appears to be well formed with no flash, sink holes or noticeable injector pin markings. The parts have a very faint mold separation seam, less than I am used to seeing on the typical 1/48 aircraft kit from main-stream manufactures.
Amongst the plastic injection molded pieces we also have five pieces that are intended for use as formers for some of the photo etched parts. We get four wire spoke formers that will help shape these pieces and a large multi-function part for some longer bike frame parts. The photo etched fret includes some very fine detail pieces such as wing nuts and spring clips for various enclosures on the bike along with a wide variety of small mounting brackets. I don’t see any way the modeler could work with some of these without at least a five to ten power magnifying set but the end result will certainly be a well detailed piece of equipment. Three clear pieces flush out the parts count with two small lenses and the wind screen. Overall the kit contains at least one hundred eight pieces that are sure to keep the modeler entertained.