M38A1 Willys Model MD Jeep
1/4-Ton 4x4 Utility Truck

Skybow #TP3503 M38A1 Model Kit
Copyright © 2001 & 2010, Jim Lewis/GunTruck Studios
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Page One

Awards & Honors

In progress photos of the exquisite Skybow M38A1 Willys MD Jeep, #TP3503. I'm outfitting this one for the early '60's as a Cold Warrior stationed near the Fulda Gap in Germany. The miniature has been painted, highlighted, and shaded just prior to application of markings.

Three-quarter beauty shots of the Skybow M38A1 Jeep posed for the camera. This is one really, really, nice miniature and gives the modeler quite a lot just right out of the box. The details I added are small, and only serve to add additional depth to the detail already present in the model kit. As a fan of 1950's American Armor - this model screams to be built!

Lots of parts. Actually, there aren't that many in the Skybow model kit. It is easier and cleaner to paint, finish, and weather them separately - and add them to the miniature in the end assembly. This helps to keep your detailing crisp and sharp - and Skybow's model kit is engineered to facilitate this building style.

Above and Below: The miniature engine is weathered by washes of dirty brown and dark rust colors. The basic engine wiring has been done here, but the rest will be added later. The engine compartment is rather barren (even in the real vehicle), so this little bit of detail goes a long way to adding some interest. Note in the above picture that the machine gun pintle is set off-center. Skybow got this detail feature of the real M38A1 Jeep correct - so don't go and try to "correct" yours.

Sitting aside my Tamiya Willys MB of WW II vintage, the larger size of the M38A1 is apparent. What is less apparent is the difference in quality between the Tamiya and Skybow model kits. Where the difference lies is in engineering the fit of the parts and subassemblies - here Tamiya wins hands down. Both are nice builds, but the Skybow M38A1 Jeep is like an AFV Club kit - fussy. However, if Tamiya were to produce a M38A1 Jeep - it would look like the Skybow offering, and be perhaps a bit easier to build. The above photo is taken during wiring the engine compartment. This isn't too difficult to accomplish at this stage of building the miniature. Wiring is braided embroidery thread painted Flat Black.

The next sequence of photos are of the markings going onto the Jeep miniature. Like in the comparison above with Tamiya's Jeep, Skybow's markings are similarly thick too. This is undesirable in finishing armor miniatures, and I had to sort around for replacements. First are the US National Symbols. I turned to Italeri waterslide decals, as they are always thin and easy to apply. The "cloud" around them is Micro Sol to get them to snuggle down and adhere to the paint finish better. After they dry overnight, I go back and remove the residue. When Gloss Coting and Dull Coting during the weathering process, this residue disappears.

As the basic miniature comes together, I also work on smaller equipment, to be added in the end assembly. Each item is a little model unto itself, and I treat them like I would any other miniature when it comes to finishing and weathering. Not all should be to the same degree - and not to the same degree as the miniature vehicle that carries them. I intended to model a M38A1 Jeep circa 1969, but started working on a M79 Grenade Launcher - a Blooper. I liked it, and might decide to add it to this miniature instead of a Gun Truck miniature. If so, I might have to bring my Jeep a little bit forward in time to accommodate the M79 Blooper. The Fire Extinguisher is a Verlinden item, with a scrap decal data plate. Simple detail and finishing that adds color and spice to the overall miniature. The Jerry Can is an outstanding resin item from AP Bayardi, with two rolls made from textured tissue paper. The Binocular is a DML item and the Field Radio is another Verlinden resin item. Not in the photo is a tissue paper rolled length for the top canvas.

The floorboards in the miniature are weathered with pastel chalks - black, orange, brown, and orange-brown. I wanted to model a well-maintained vehicle, as most American vehicles are, but a subtle hand is called for in weathering. Below is a good shot of the Micro Sol "cloud" around the decals at they setup. With the National Symbols on the model is beginning to look like a Cold Warrior now...

Further along in detailing, the beginning of the windshield glass rubber seal is being painted by hand. I made a canvas top for my miniature, rolled it up, and stowed it at the back on the top bows. The canvas top is simulated with tissue set into place with a water / white glue mixture. I painted and weathered it to a more faded state than the seats for interest.

The other portion of the rubber seal around the windshield glass is molded on the clear plastic inserts themselves, requiring them to be painted separately. I also attached a length of .010" solder to simulate the radiator overflow drain tube. The paint from touch up is still drying around the Radiator Cap. I scratchbuilt the missing Spring Drum on the 50cal Machine Gun Mount. It's a small detail, but with all the other details already given in the Skybow kit, I was compelled to add it. The Jerry Can is a resin item from AP Bayardi, complete with paper straps, brass buckle, and a scratchbuild Holder made from Foil Sheet.

A simple jig for gloss coating the miniature is had here in a little length of cardboard, with two strips of double-sided tape to lightly hold the model in place. It's not meant for you to handle roughly, or invert the model, but does hold it in place firmly enough to allow airbrushing the GlossCote from all angles and prevents you from touching the model - which would be horrible at this stage!

Continuation of the decaling step in completing my miniature. Here, the model had been lightly GlossCoted to take dry-transfers. This is a deviation from my usual method - that would have me GlossCote the model prior to any application of decals. This is the recommended sequence, but I deviated from it here because I had pre-trimmed Italeri waterslide National Insignias already prepped to go. I applied them with a water solution that had a little white glue in it which cuts out the shine of the decal if applied to a flat surface.

The GlossCote Lacquer is applied with an airbrush in a single coat. I spray all areas of the model - instead of just little spots where decals go. This prevents patchy spots in the end assembly. A single gloss coat is needed to eliminate the shine underneath sections of clear decal film. The Hood was glossed separately.

Not happy with the thickness of Skybow's decals, I replaced them with Pre-Size and Railroad Scenics #DT575 Gothic style dry-transfers. These are nice renditions of the vinyl stick-on lettering actually used on the real vehicles at that time. Both the Pre-Size and Railroad Scenics dry-transfers are easy to apply - and don't dry out like Verlinden items. The gloss coat here makes the application process even easier, as they readily stick to it. The real vinyl lettering was rarely, if ever, applied with rock-solid precision - so don't worry about it on your model. Apply them carefully and you'll mimic the actual vehicle nicely while adding a little character and uniqueness to the finished product.

Once the dry-transfers are applied and burnished down, another light gloss coat is applied over them to seal them in place and protect them from weathering later on. These thin gloss coats are enough to buildup the thickness over the decals and dry-transfers themselves, blending them into the whole. Note the photo of the Hood below: the shinier the gloss coat finish - the smoother the final result will be when you dull it all back down again. Light coats of gloss lacquer over Tamiya acrylics smooths out the final finish. This is a second reason for applying the gloss coat.

The Bumper Codes were done with the Railroad Scenics #DT575 dry-transfer set too. This small size fits the M38A1 Jeep pretty well. This is a straight letter / number jungle sheet, so everything has to be applied separately, and burnished down. It took me about two hours to apply all the lettering to my miniature here. Symbols are not included in this set. I made the delta by applying a letter "A" first. I trimmed away the cross-leg of the "A" with a brand-new X-Acto blade carefully. I burnished it down, and then applied an inverted "T" to form the base of the triangle. I trimmed away the leg of the inverted "T" with my X-Acto knife - carefully, and burnished the whole. Just a steady hand is called for here to make the Symbol.

All I envisioned for this miniature was to place it on an little patch of terrain, barren, early winter with a light snowfall and mud/dirt acculumation. Light amounts of acrylic gel medium and pastels can render these effects on a miniature, without going over-thep-top like what appears to be the norm in modeling magazines. I prefer a subtle approach, with effects that are both in scale and appropriate for the subject and setting modeled.

Once the pastel weathering work begins, it is "hands-off" for handling the model. At this stage, it is mounted to the acrylic display base with tiny drops of white glue at the points where the tires contact the terrain.

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All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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