As of late 2016, Milan Krnáč in the Czech Republic has released a new version of his 1/35-scale M606 kit, this time representing an Australian-built, right-hand-drive CJ-3B, used as an "Air Traffic Control" Jeep by the Royal Australian Air Force. Unfortunately he still calls it an M606 on the box, but it's a very nice model to have available. The list price on the MMK website is 39 Euros -- quite reasonable, especially for U.S. modellers with the current exchange rate.
The inspiration for this model was a remarkable set of photos scanned by Vaughn Becker for CJ3B.info. We think they were taken at RAAF Amberley circa 1960. The pictures have been reproduced by MMK on their website and in the instructions for the kit.
The hood number in the photos is 218398, but the decals in the kit provide only the number 218396, which is unfortunate because RAAF records show the lowest hood number among its ten such Jeeps to be 218397!
Added to this version of the kit is the radio set and antenna. Milan's assembled example has the steering wheel correctly moved to the right, but the builder did not use the correct late CJ-3B dashboard (which is included as an option among the photoetched brass parts.) And a feature missing from the kit is the canvas top to protect the radio (which can be seen in use in the airfield photos, even in warm, sunny weather.)
The RAAF modified ten of these Jeeps with the "follow me" paint scheme. I think it's more likely that they were originally painted in RAAF blue, rather than the olive drab seen here; the Australian Army did not buy any Willys CJ-3Bs.
The incorrect tool indents on the passenger side of the body are apparently still there, but are masked by the Follow Me paint job. MMK's website shows this photo of a painted body, but apparently provides only a template (100K JPEG) to aid in the painting. One of a number of challenges in building this highly detailed kit.
The instruction sheet (3.1 MB PDF) includes basically the same step-by-step photos as the M606 version of the kit (below), but with reminders to move the steering wheel to the right side, and not to install the blackout lamp, jerry can bracket or rear antenna bracket.
I was very impressed to see that MMK also included revised steering linkage for the RHD, no doubt based on Details of a Right-Hand-Drive Universal Jeep on CJ3B.info. The F134 engine and exhaust system are assembled from a set of individual components (100K JPEG).
See also a nice front view (140K JPEG) of the completed and weathered model.
The 2014 release of a 1:35 Willys M606 from MMK Models is aimed at the market of military modellers interested in the Vietnam era, but could also be used to build a very accurate model of a civilian CJ-3B.
The kit is cast in polyurethane resin, a process which does not require expensive molds for the injection-molding of polystyrene plastic, and thus makes models with smaller production runs economical. The model also includes detail parts photoetched in brass, and a good selection of decals.
The Jeep is seen assembled and painted here as an Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Military Police Jeep. First impressions are that the radiator appears realistically recessed behind the front grille, but that the tool indents on the right side of the body do not belong on the Willys M606. A shovel and axe are included in the kit, but were wisely not used for this build.
A nice, accurate detail clearly visible here is the sticker on the side indicating a vehicle provided by the US under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. (See a full-size reproduction of the clasped hands sticker on CJ3B.info, 130K PNG).
Other small details include the Willys "factory to farm" dash plate (80K JPEG), diamond-pattern step, tailgate chains and rear bumperettes.
But a common mistake with CJ-3B models is the incorrect earlier style of rear seat, which should have a solid back panel.
The machine gun seen above is not included with the kit, which makes sense since machine guns were in fact rarely seen mounted on CJ-3Bs in Vietnam. But this photo of South Vietnamese Marines from LIFE Photographs CJ-3Bs in Vietnam is included in the instruction sheet for the MMK kit.
Other photos from CJ3B.info included in the detailed instructions are taken from articles such as High Hoods in Vietnam: A Soldier's View. There's even an irrelevant photo of an Israeli CJ-3B from Yael Dayan in the LIFE Archive.
Fine details such as the ventilating windshield hardware and the rear-view mirrors are seen here.
Like the machine gun, the carbine and helmets added to the model seem to be accessories separate from the kit. The helmets here are painted for U.S. Army MP (Military Police) and the ARVN equivalent, QC (Quan Canh).
This 1967 photo by Darrell Lang of the 543rd Transportation Corps shows a QC in Saigon directing traffic including an ARVN Jeep with the MDAP sticker. It also shows the semi-gloss paint normally found on the Willys M606 in Vietnam. Something approaching the weathered olive drab finish seen above would only result from the Jeep being very heavily used without washing (see a U.S. Marines M606 (130K JPEG) at the Battle of Hué.
In the background ia an American MUTT, which was also a vehicle often used by the Quan Canh police.
Among the body pieces cast in resin for the MMK model is a block cast in the shape of the Willys hood, which is not intended to be used on the model. It's meant rather as a form to bend a piece of thin brass sheet which has been cut by photoetching to the correct shape, including the stamped lines along each side.
Photoetching is a process used to make very thin or tiny metal parts, too delicate to be made with either injection molding or cast resin processes. They have to be handled very carefully, but create details very close to prototype thickness. In the larger copy of this photo you can see spring hangers, windshield latches, rear-view mirror and antenna base. Also front lifting rings, which were not normally found on the M606.
This is part of a "fret," or sheet of etched brass parts, including a choice of early- or late-style CJ-3B dashboard, choice of 1-pane or 2-pane windshield, a hood ready for bending, and diamond-pattern steps in lower left (which seem to have been installed only on the right side of the finished model above.)
Decals included with the kit offer the possibility of modelling an ARVN Jeep, or U.S. Navy Shore Patrol, or even U.S. Air Force.
A couple of decal sheets are perhaps missing from a larger illustration of the photoetched parts and decals (180K JPEG) that come with the kit. U.S. Army and Marines decals would also be appropriate for this model, but could easily be sourced from elsewhere.
Another decal that could have been included is a "Quan Canh" windshield sign, as seen in this photo by Jim Stewart from ARVN Military Police
Heavy Arty at Armorama built the MMK kit as a US Army CJ-3B (right) and also kitbashed it with a Tamiya MB kit (left) to produce an M38 (center).
Thanks to Roberto Flores and to the photographers for the photos here. -- Derek Redmond
Also on CJ3B.info, see a CJ3B-J4A Model Kit.
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