Vietnam Armored Convoy Escort

Copyright 1998 & 2000, Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Page One
Awards & Honors

"Babs" is the most sentimental and favorite of all the miniatures I've built. It carries my wife's nickname, and this was the very first model I completed after getting married in 1995. Goes to show that marriage does wonders for a man. As the oldest and first model I uploaded to my website - it will always have a quiet place of honor and be a measurement of where I was in 1995 and how far I've gone to improve what I do in miniature armored fighting vehicle modeling.

A complex and detailed project, the base model used here is the old Monogram M34 2 1/2-ton Cargo Truck. I scavenged it from the Revell M*A*S*H Medical Scene. I wound up converting and updating the M34 to M35 configuration - before I further converted the basic truck into an early Vietnam-era gun truck.

In the Squadron Signal publication Gun Truck, Timothy Kutta paints a pretty good picture of early deployment of these vehicles in Vietnam. It's well worth obtaining for your reference library and I doubt I could add little here more than inspiration to render some of these vehicles in miniature. Though he would not complete a sequel to this book covering the last years of the Vietnam War, I know of another in the works. Hopefully that effort will bear fruit and we all can have a detailed history of these marvelous road warriors from the late 60's and early 70's.

"Babs" represents a typical second-generation gun truck, complete with inner walls to increase the armor protection for the crew - which also served to hold stowage. Original slots and pintle locations for M60 machine guns have now been plated over when she was up-gunned with .50cals all around. I actually upgraded my miniature in fashion with the practice on some early gun trucks - and my miniature underwent a genesis as time went on and better information became available. I included the photos of my early gun truck here too, to show the evolution of this miniature. Below are two pictures of my original miniature in 1995 - prior to up-armor and up-gunning. I also like the take the photos in black & white - to view the pastel weathering effects better.

Modeling gun trucks in miniature has come a very long way since I modeled and displayed this one over 10 years ago. For its time it won a lot of awards, but that didn't matter as much to me as it became a model for constant improvement and efforts. If you decide to seriously approach scale modeling, it is great to keep your earliest efforts as a tool to keep improving your skills. I still have "Babs" in my collection here at home. She has been cased and protected all these years, and is still in very good condition - save a periodic repair or adjustment to her flank Cal.50 Machine Guns. During judging at the Southern California Area Historical Miniature Society (SCAHMS California Show 1997), I was told that the great Shepard Paine remarked that he thought "Babs" was one of the best miniatures he had seen. This is perhaps the greatest compliment I've ever received from a highly respected miniaturist. This is the single reason why I keep the miniature as close to it's original finish and condition as possible.

I still display the old photos of "Babs" here on this page, until I take her back out to reshoot new ones. I like the nostalgia of these little old shots. It is good for a modeler to keep an old subject and old photos when they can. I've lost many over the years before getting into digital cameras and their ability to easily create and store electronic media.

I also built this truck during a time where I wasn't overly concerned with documenting the build-up. Again, not having the capable digital cameras of today, monkeying around with a Pentax 35mm SLR wasn't an appealing prospect when you're excited about moving through a conversion like this.

"Babs" was the first miniature I used the casting plastic product Alumilite extensively. I cast the Cal.50 Ammo Can floor for the Fighting Compartment and various equipment and small parts with the product. However, things didn't go well over time. Apparently, I did not mix the product properly, and the Cal.50 Ammo Cans began to "sweat" a short time afterwards - perhaps two months after I completed the second rebuild of the model. Hoping this malady would go away, I left "Babs" to sit and wait out the problem. It only got worse...

The sweating ate away the surrounding plastic - eating through the floor of the Cargo Bed and Weapons Mounts. Imagine my horror to look in the display cabinet and spying "Babs" backside sagging down past the wheels. After a moment or two of colorful metaphores, a beer or two, I setted down to stripping the miniature one more time to remove all the destroyed parts, rebuild, refinish and restore the miniature to the original finish. Just working with "Babs" over the years has taught me a lot of techniques to restore old miniatures. She's worth her weight in gold just for that alone.

All content Copyright © 1998 - 2020 Jim Lewis,,, and GunTruck Studios.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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