Dodge WC-57 3/4-ton Command Reconnaissance Car

2000, 2005 & 2012 Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Page One


Awards & Honors

I loved this model kit! Sure, I love virtually all wheeled military vehicle kits (except for perhaps the Italeri HEMTT) but, this model is really a joy to build, has wonderful and thoughtful detailing present (even a curious addition with the Battery being located in the engine compartment instead of the Battery Box on the right side running board) and engineered for easy painting and assembly. Anyone can find something to gripe about in a model kit, but I liked it the way it came just fine. Another excellent effort from Skybow fills an important gap in my miniature military vehicle collection.

As my work schedule really got hectic in September of 2000, I found this model kit also a good subject to visit in the small chunks of time I had between work hours. Thus, it took me far longer to complete it than any other recent model.

Aside from not adding the aforementioned Battery to the Engine Compartment, I didn't find the need to add much of any major parts to the Skybow Command Car. Most fun was adding seat back spring detail - seen in the photo of the rear, through the open trunk. I made the springs out of .020" solder weaved through my hair comb. There's high-tech for you!

There's virtually nothing in the way of pitfalls or gremlins to warn you about in building this model kit. I only can recommend taking your time and patience in executing both assembly and finishing.

I returned to this model in the Spring of 2004 to clean it up. I decided to disassemble it and repaint it for a fresher and different look. Now, Skybow's molds have been purchased by AFV Club and are often found at a cheaper retail price. This is even better because it is a fine kit for softskin fans in the armor modeling community. For this rebuild, I deleted the older images and replaced them with new ones.

I did add some additional small details to the refurbished model - listing them here on the new pages. I originally intended the model to represent a vehicle shortly after the Normandy Landings in 1944. I wanted a general service truck, and since relatively fresh from the landings - not too distressed and worn. I decided to keep to the general theme, but added more wear and gear to communicate this idea better for the observer. I don't think I accomplished this theme four years ago when I first completed the model.

Since the original model was built, I tried to confirm the vehicle's numbers as offered by Skybow. Strictly speaking, I couldn't find photos of #204377 as part of the 82nd and marked as HQ-61. I have seen the famous photos of HQ-61 - but this truck is not #204377. Perhaps this truck was marked as HQ-61 and lost, replaced by the vehicle in photos. I really don't know for sure. I decided to press on anyway - the model is fun to work on!

Disaster struck shortly after cleaning up and restoring my miniature - thinking I had placed it in a secure place while working in the garage, it got knocked off a high shelf and destroyed. The second time I lost a model like this, I set out to rebuild it. I really like the Skybow kits - you've gotta to go around the block with one like this. So, I reformatted the previous pages that covered the build, and tried not to repeat coverage of modeling portions of the kit that I had to do more than one.

What makes an effort like this easier is keeping detailed notes and photos on the original build. Today's digital cameras make this easy. I also keep the original paint batches (mixing more than what I need) marked and stored. The original colors I had used in 2000 were fresh and ready to use for both building sessions in 2004 - simply thinned and stored in Badger 3oz. paint bottles. Keeping them in darkened, cool conditions, helped extends the life of the paint. Photos shown here are of the original miniature,with the Gallery Page linked to show the restored miniature.

Fast forward to July 2012. Times change. Cameras get better, models and supplies get better, hopefully you get better at your craft too. But, you would think that I had learned to leave some things well enough alone...

I took this model out of the display case because I wanted to fashion a simple earthen base to help protect it. I had kept it loose in the case, and over the years it took more than it's fair share of knocks and nicks as I bumped it around whenever I went into the case to retrieve another miniature. This time, I took it out and set it on the workbench - intending to get to it later after I finished up other miniatures - when, I noticed something odd. The Radio Antenna was laying on the side of the model truck, snapped off I know not how nor when.

A bit miffed and puzzled, I proceeded to reattach the Antenna. In drilling out the Mount's hole - the Mount itself then broke off the rack of the sidewall of the model truck.

When I bent down to retrieve the Mount off the floor (thank God I no longer have carpeting and a hungry resident Carpet Monster to worry about) I set the Skybow model down too hard on the workbench - snapping part of the Rear Axle and jostling loose the Brake Pedal.

Setting out to fix these things wasn't too bad, and I didn't get upset since I inflicted them "Godzilla-style" in my clumsiness. As I set out to repair the damages, I decided to rework one thing, which led to another, and another, and so on until I found myself three days later having refinished and upgraded the whole miniature. I did finish a suitable display base along the way to mount the miniature and hopefully protect it from me for another five or six years...

Original Build circa 2000

Engine wiring was done with .010" solder and embroidery thread, suitably painted and weathered. I dusted and weathered the engine compartment to mimic a well-maintained vehicle, but one that has been driven regularly. The center hinge on the bonnet is a stainless steel item from Eduard. Not particularly visible are a couple of the little brass grommets I added to the Air Recognition Panel I mention below. I doubt anyone noticed them on the completed model.

Above and below are views of the first miniature. Instead of festooning it with a lot of excess equipment (junk) I displayed it like this to show the vehicle's lines. In keeping with the leather seats, I painted 3M Post It Notes paper Tamiya Red Brown and weathered them the same to use as straps to secure the canvas top. The arm rests (rear seat - on the wheelhouses) were commonly wooden items. I chose not to replicate this detail in the original miniature. I did add this detail in the rebuilt model, however.

For a change of pace I decided not to paint the ubiquitous windshield wiper arcs on my first go-around building this model kit. In retrospect, even this small detail feature perhaps meant more in conveying the final miniature's presence than I initially thought. Though I wanted to model a vehicle used more in the rear areas - and one regularly maintained and cleaned - more "use" would have been convincing to the observer.

Rebuild circa 2004 - 2005

This time, I opted to use the Trakz #TX0028 Windshield Wiper Masks for my rebuilt miniature. These are simple to use and a good alternative to cutting out your own - but not without a little extra work on your part.

For the WC-56, Jeep, CCKW, DUKW, WC-51, and WC-63 models - you get plenty of masks in the Trakz pack - but they're all for only one wiper swath - the right-side. Initially a bit miffed, I simply cut-out a section of the vinyl sheet, stuck it to the sticky side of a 3M Post-it Note, and cut out my own left-side wiper mask to match. Just flip the mask over and stick it to the windshield part and you have a matching wiper swath. One other note of caution, the Trakz masks are quite sticky-strong - make sure your windshield glass is securely in place, else you might remove more than you intend after spraying the "glass". On the flip-side, the Post-it Note mask solution calls for a little quicker work - photo below - because the edges might curl up a little bit. Just make sure the mask is down before you shoot with the airbrush...

Also seen in the in-progress photos, I added a US Flag decal taken from the original Skybow model kit. This represents the US Flag decal often placed on vehicles sent over in the invasion. The backside of the decal had instructions for removing the water sealing used to protect vital components during the amphibious landings. My backside instructions came from decal scraps scanned into the computer and then printed on clear decal sheet. I sprayed both decals with a light mist of Future Floor Finish to protect them and keep them from being removed by the wiper masks.

Rebuild 2012

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All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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