Jeep (Willys MD) Truck, ¼ ton, M38 A1

ROCO 1:87 Scale Vehicle Review

Willys Jeep M38 A1 converted to a British Commando Jeep with twin Bren machine guns, 1:87 H0 Model Kit ROCO 142

ROCO Jeeps aren't strictly compatible with 1:72 miniatures and vehicles reviewed in this magazine, but they are a cheap and readily available source for wargamers who always seem to be short of light transport and recon vehicles. ROCO offers the later version of the Willys MD jeep which needs to have the round front fenders and the raised central portion of the hood removed to resemble the Willys MB model which was produced in 1941–1945.

Contents

Willys Jeep, M38 A1, with canvas top

  • Type: Truck, ¼ ton, 4×4 Utility
  • Wheelbase: 2.03 m
  • Length: 3.36 m
  • Width: 1.58 m
  • Height: 1.32 m, 1.83 m with top
  • Weight: 1.1 t
  • Note: Nato Vehicle; may be converted to resemble earlier models.
Willys Jeep, M38 A1, converted to British Commando Jeep with 0.50 cal. machine gun

British Commando Jeeps had single .50 caliber or twin Bren machine guns mounted in front of the passenger seat. Without the windshield and canvas top, the relatively small size of the ROCO model is much less apparent and these Jeeps fit in quite well with other 1:72 scale vehicles. Stowage consists of spare tires scrounged from a wrecked Jeep and HO scale wooden crates available at model railroad shops. Bren guns are spares from the L.R.D.G. kit produced by Matchbox. Vehicles like these were smuggled into France prior to the Normandy landings, they infiltrated and harrassed enemy truck convoys, particularly at night.

Evaluation

Scale model with some detail and snap-on accessories.

Cheap source of an important vehicle for wargamers.

Assembled model. Wheels need to be immobilized to prevent the vehicle from rolling around on wargame terrain pieces. Spare tires and jerrycans should be glued in place. The Jeep can be converted easily.

Less expensive than a model kit.

High quality vehicle. Accessories fit well, but there is some flash on tires.

Not compatible with 1:72 scale. Without the canvas top and windshield, the vehicle does appear large enough to be used alongside 1:72 models, particularly when a 1:72 scale driver figure placed inside it.

Historical Employment

  • Nato Jeep Willys MD
  • Israeli Jeep Willys MD

Possible Conversions

  • Jeep Willys MB 1941-1945
  • 37 mm Gun Motor Carriage (Bantam 40BRC)
  • British SAS, LRDG or Commando Jeep with .50 cal. MG, twin Bren, captured Italian Breda MG or German MG 42. Jerrycans on hood and stowage inside.

A total of 639,245 Jeeps were produced during World War 2, they served in many different roles on the battlefield and in all major theaters of operation. Wargamers require large numbers of Jeeps and the ROCO model provides a cheap source of supply, particularly because so little assembly is required. Jeeps and similar 4×4 utility vehicles were produced by many manufacturers throughout the war, and the resulting mix of types is justification enough to throw a few ROCO Jeeps into the mix. Some conversion is required to turn the MD model into an acceptable representation of the Willys MB or Bantam Jeep, but the effort is well worth it.

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