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Roden M37 truck

Ordered in 1949 to replace WC Dodge trucks used in World War II, the M37 Dodge ¾-ton truck was built in several variations, including ambulances, bomb trucks, and crash trucks, to mention a few.

Roden’s M37 answers the call by many modelers for a kit. It is molded in light gray plastic with clear-plastic lights and windows. Care is needed in handling the sprues; the brittle plastic is easily broken.

Tires are molded in vinyl, and string is included for the winch cable. Overall, the molding is good. But the sprue attachments are thick; take care, especially with the small parts. I found myself having to carve some of the detail back into the parts after taking them off the tree. Flash, sink marks, and mold shift add to the cleanup.

Markings are for two vehicles: a U.S. Army M37B1 in Vietnam, 1960; or a Royal Canadian Air Force M37 in Korea, 1953. The directions are black-and-white drawings with a parts list and four-view drawings of both marking options. Color callouts reference Vallejo paints. Many of the parts do not look like the drawings in the directions.

Since the markings are for two variants, you should choose before you start construction. However, the directions show both marking choices to be M37B1s and do not mention how to model the RCAF M37. Not until the model was almost finished did I find the parts to model the M37. Too bad —  I had already committed to the M37B1.

The assembly steps jump around, so study the instructions for the sequence that works best for you. I started with the engine by building the major components first, then adding the detail parts. Make sure to remove the small tabs on Part A13 as shown in Step 9, or A29 will not fit right. If you are building a vehicle without a winch, you can skip adding parts A20 and A35 to the transmission. I left the engine and muffler separate for easier painting.

A single-piece frame is provided — mine showed no twisting — but be careful when cleaning it up to avoid damaging the mounting tabs on the side of the frame.

You can pose the front wheels turned, but they’re not workable unless you add pins to the tie rod. The shock towers should be reversed from how they are shown in the directions; Part A55 is really Part A56. Sidewall detail on the vinyl tires is good, but the four tree attachments and center mold seam are hard to remove, even with new side cutters and a scalpel. My kit was missing the winch string; I replaced it with nylon suture. Connecting the front bumpers and winch to the frame left gaps that needed filling.

The cab is the most difficult part of the build. Placement is vague for the front cowling (Part B7) and the front cab sides (parts B38 and B39). To make sure they were in the proper place, I glued the rear cab (B3) to the cab floor first, then followed with the doors. When the glue had dried, I could attach the front cowling in the right place. I then glued the hood and hood sides (B43 and B44); the former part was broken in my sample. My gearshift (Part B22) was not fully formed, so I used brass rod instead. Gauges are supplied as decals. You can model the cab with the canvas roof in place or just show the frame. I painted the cab separately.

Building the truck bed is straightforward except for the previously mentioned lack of directions regarding vehicle variants. The M37 has a shortened seat on the passenger side to accommodate the spare tire. Part C23 is the shortened seat, and C25 is the spare-tire mount. Depending on which seat you use, the extra hinge molded on the bed’s side (C18), which is not marked in Step 29, needs to be removed. When building the bed, you have the options of raised or lowered seats, canvas frame or no frame, and, if you want, the canvas top. The bed cover provided is the full version, not the one shown on the box top.
The U.S. vehicles in Vietnam were painted a dark olive drab that looks almost black in pictures of the period. To simulate this color, I undercoated the model with Tamiya black green (XF-27) and followed with a primary coat of AK Interactive’s U.S. Army olive drab (AK4011). The highlights are Ammo of Mig Jimenez U.S. olive drab post-WWII (MIG-081).
The decals were the biggest problem in this kit. They are in register. But I had trouble getting them to adhere, especially over irregular surfaces. Neither Solvaset nor Micro Sol had any effect. The bridging symbol showed severe bleed-through of the underlying olive drab color, and the star on the hood was not solid white. Decal No. 7, which was supposed to be placed on the driver’s side rear bumper, was so large that there was no way to make it fit. Most of the decals needed excess film trimmed to get them into their allotted space; the dashboard gauges were the worst.

Even though I scrubbed them with soap and water, the vinyl tires seemed to repel any paint that I tried to apply.
Though I was frustrated during the build by such things as poor-fitting or malformed parts, once the weathering was finished the true potential of the model really showed through. Even with the low parts count, it took 33 hours to complete. Replacing the decals with aftermarket items (already available) and, hopefully, new tires, could make this model shine.

Maybe Roden or one of the aftermarket companies will bring out other variants, such as the M43 ambulance.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2016 issue.


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