Mitsubishi CJ3B-J4C"High-Hood" Jeep
1/4-Ton 4x4 Utility Truck
507th Transportation Group, Traffic Management Agency, Vietnam 1966

Conversion / Kitbash Okuno #OM3501 Mitsubishi CJ3B-J4A Jeep and
Skybow #TP3505 M38A1C Willys MD Jeep Model Kits

Copyright 2004 & 2008, Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Page One

Awards & Honors

Building & Finishing

In 2004, Okuno released a 1:35th scale, comical-looking miniature of the Mitsubishi-built CJ3-J4A 4x4 Jeep. It came with a raised suspension and big off-road tires. This could be easily dismissed as a simple toy - if you weren't aware of the quality of Okuno's casting detail. I bought three as fast as they were offered - and I was not disappointed. The Okuno model is simple, but very nicely detailed.

It captures the lines and profile of the Mitsubishi Jeep very well. So, I set out to build a simple conversion that would match the basic details already present in the Okuno kit. To replace the Chassis/Frame, I'd turn to Skybow's M38A1 Jeep. Mating the two products was not difficult at all, and in a weekend, you can have this miniature together and ready for painting.

When you consult Derek Redmond's website, you'll notice that the CJ3 Universal Jeep was produced by more than one manufacturer - and license built overseas. Each truck has slightly different details, so you need to choose right off the bat when modeling one. What I wanted for my collection was a US Army variant serving during the Vietnam War. There were not a lot of these trucks in US Army service at that time, however. Most went to South Vietnamese forces. But, there were some US Army examples of the "high hood" Jeep to model. If you surf Derek Redmond's site a little deeper, you'll even come across the US Army technical instructions for adding armor plate to this Jeep for convoy escort duties. I've not come across of photo of a "High Hood Gun Truck" - but one should never say never...

This conversion / kitbash can be accomplished by AFV modelers on an intermediate level, without difficulty.

The modeling effort only calls for basic tools and a little patience.

The Okuno Parts

Okuno's CJ3 is cast free of flash and has few areas calling for cleanup. Details are sharp and crisp. Examining the parts leads me to suspect that the Okuno model could be based on the never-released Skybow M38 Jeep. The two kits blend together almost as if they were designed by the same team.

I wanted to use the Skybow Engine, so I trimmed away the Hood from the integrated Okuno Part #B5. I didn't hinge the part though, simply opting to remove it when I wanted to show the Engine Compartment. Other than that, I used the Okuno Body as presented in their kit.

Okuno provides accurate Control Levers and a Steering Column that I was able to both fit in place properly - and attach to the Skybow Steering Linkage on their Chassis/Frame subassembly. Missing are Brake and Clutch Pedals, which I obtained from the Skybow M38 kit.

Okuno's Seats are fine to use as well, cast with a subtle wrinkle texture in the right places. The Okuno kit does not provide you a rear Bench Seat, but Skybow does in their M38 kit - and it fits like a glove. Okuno gives you a separate Gas Cap and two Electrical Receptacles - one on the right side of the Hood and one on the right rear lower area of the Back Panel. The Okuno Windshield Frame can be positioned up or stowed, and has three Windshield Wiper Arms molded in place. Rearview Mirrors and Mounts came from the Skybow kit too - modified with brass wire to display the extended position. Later, these would accept punched disc mirrored plastic to represent the glass.

Okuno's model represents the Mitsubishi-built CJ3, so it does not have a separate Tailgate like found on the Willys-built M606 Jeeps. This likely would be the most involved modification you'd have to perform on the stock Okuno kit to render a Willys CJ3. The remaining details are smaller and more subtle - like the "WILLYS" stamping on the face of the Grill and Hood sides for example. On Okuno's kit, Mitsubishi's three diamonds are molded on the face of the Grill appropriately.

Lastly, I drilled out the Headlight Units. These are molded in place on the Okuno kit - with the Brush Guards in position. I'd later install new Units, MV Product Lenses and Brush Guards to make that area of the model more appealing. Okuno does not provide bottoms for the Fuel Tank and Equipment Box underneath the Body Pan. The omission isn't highly visible in the end model, but you might want to fill these voids to tighten-up the area.

The Skybow Parts

You can almost use the Skybow M38 Chassis/Frame as it comes in their kit. It comes tantalizingly close to a drop-fit onto the Okuno Body Pan - but not quite. I chopped the Skybow Frame just ahead of the rear wheel leaf spring mount. Fit the forward section of the Frame in place - locating the cutout on the Okuno Body meant for the front Shock Absorbers with the corresponding Skybow subassembly. I test-fit and trimmed up the fit between the Skybow Frame and the bottom of the Okuno Body Pan to improve the join.

With the rear part of the Skybow Frame, I cut away the Rear Bumper frame-member to adjust for the difference in frame length, and built a replacement out of styrene strip of the same thickness. Skybow's Hitch, Plate, Bumperettes, and Clevices round out the treatment at the rear.

I bridged the gap between the front and rear sections of the Skybow Frame with styrene strip and blended the joint. When all is dry, fit the drivetrain. Unsure about the Transfer Case, I decided not to use the assembly given in the Skybow kit. I has a spare KMC part intended for the M3 Willys Jeep that fit into this modification nicely. I can't tell you for sure that this is the right equipment for the CJ3 truck.

You can construct the Skybow Engine per their instructions. I left mine free to remove for painting and added simple wiring. A KMC Battery came into play for filling up the Engine Compartment, to which I made a simple Battery Tray out of foil strip and styrene sheet. You will have to modify the Air Cleaner attachment to the Engine - use the cutaway drawing displayed on Derek Redmond's website to help flesh out your Engine Compartment. I was able to fit the Skybow subassembly and components into the Okuno Engine Compartment without difficulty. You will have to model a new Muffler/Exhaust line for the CJ3. I did this with thick solder and styrene tubing.

An immense help to me in all the wheeled AFV's conversions I like to model, drawing out the wheelbase measurements in 1:35th scale on grid paper keeps things together during construction. In chopping the Skybow Frame to fit the Okuno Body Pan, this was necessary to keep the final miniature within the dimensions of the real truck. The most commanding presence a model truck creates is found in its stance - it will please both you and the observer in the end.

References & Acknowledgements

Jeeps have to be the single most popular military vehicle created. Just about everyone you'd encounter knows or has heard of the ubiquitous little 4x4 truck. There are many variants, and researching them all is a lifelong pursuit. As an avid wheeled AFV modeler, I never think one can have too many Jeep model kits. However, the quest for uniqueness in the sea of olive drab colored models pushes a modeler towards the unique and interesting. The little-known M606 / CJ3 variants offer opportunity to model something for your collection that has not been covered in depth before.

The best reference out there on this particular Jeep variant can be found at Derek Redmond's website. Instead of reprinting what he's worked so hard on gathering, please visit there for more information on the real truck.

All content Copyright 1998 - 2019 Jim Lewis,,,, and GunTruck Studios.
All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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