MRC/Academy 1/72 Scale Kit No.
13403; WW II Ground Vehicle Set - 4, U.S. Ambulance and Tow Truck
by Cookie Sewell
90 parts (85 in dark green styrene, 5 in clear styrene); price US $19.00
Advantages: Ambulance is a badly needed softskin in this scale; nice
choice of vehicles permits use as both armor or aircraft oriented kit;
tractor comes with several options, making it quite useful to aircraft
Disadvantages: expensive for size of the kits
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all 1/72 scale Allied armor and aircraft modelers
Academy has found a niche and is doing a pretty good job of filling
it with kits that play to both the armor and aircraft modeling fraternities,
which is a good thing if you can make it work. So far this has been pretty
useful, with a good model of a 4 x 2 Opel Blitz tanker and GMC CCKW truck
on the market. This is the fourth set to come out, and provides a Dodge
WC-54 ambulance and a fairly standard tow tractor.
The Dodge WC-54 was an updated and larger version of the earlier WC-8
ambulance based on the pre-war Dodge half-ton commercial chassis. It provided
both built-in 4 x 4 traction with the ability to carry four litter patients
or up to eight seated patients.
Previously only the WC-51/52 and M6 antitank gun versions of this series
of vehicles were released as 1/72 scale kits (by ESCI, originally as their
#8039 US Dodge 3/4 Ton 4 x 4 Truck and #8040 US Dodge M6 37mm Gun Motor
Carriage) so the WC-54 is a new kit.
The Dodge here consists of 60 parts including the windows. The kit includes
a complete engine and interior for the cab and body, but again Academy
has left no provision to display the four-piece engine. It's a nice idea
but sooner or later modelers are going to complain about an engine you
The body is pretty spartan inside, as only the benches are provided and
no mounts are included for the litters (stretchers), nor are any stretchers
included either. One thing I wish they had not done is use the old Peerless/Max
kit of 30 years ago for their reference standard. That was a pretty good
kit (it's still the only one of the WC-54 in 1/35 scale) but it had a
bad split in the roof behind the driver's compartment for the rear roof
and body assembly, and with that kit it made for a nasty seam to fill
in. At least the rear doors and fold-down step are separate parts and
can be placed as the modeler desires.
I have to admit I just found out that I have no references on the tow
truck, and for that I apologize! But comparing it to photos of standard
tow vehicles it looks to be pretty close. Note that these were used for
many years, and depending upon time and place of operation they could
be found painted olive drab, medium grey, Air Force Blue, yellow, white
or orange. (Safety stripes in black or even red appear optional with the
The tow truck comes with several options, including both a closed (O16)
or open (O17) tow bar; the latter is not shown in the directions but is
pretty obviously a tow bar for aircraft. It also has a utility cart (sort
of like an M1 bomb lift trolley but with no mounts or carriers). The boxtop
shows it carrying what looks like a 500 lb GP bomb, but it has no mounts
to do that.
The WC-54 comes with only one set of markings – an ambulance from
the 92nd (Bomb Wing?) 456th (Bomb Squadron?). Alas, a check of USAAF units
shows these are bogus, so I do not recommend using the bumper codes (the
rest appear close to on the money, however.)
Overall, the kit is very nicely done and provides the basics for a great
model. If the doors are left closed, it makes a perfect vehicle for either
convoy duty or background use in an aircraft diorama.
Thanks to Bob Lewen of MRC for the review sample.