For those who like to reminisce will be pleased with the re-issue from Italeri of the Bedford QL with 6pdr AT Gun which was originally released by Peerless-Max, then by Airfix in 1976 and the Bedford QL has also been subsequently issued by Italeri (kit #241) and the 6pdr gun (kit #323) with the QL also appearing under the Revell label and the 6pdr as a Zvezda kit over the years for a very well travelled set of moulds.
The Bedford QL became the standard three ton lorry for the British Army in the later war years and is regarded as one of the best of its type during that period and was well liked by its drivers for the excellent visibility, good ground clearance and four wheel drive ability. The Bedford QL was used for many purposes apart from the “standard” QLT Troop carrying version with many specialized versions being built on the QL chassis and as well as the Army use was widely used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy with many being used as fuel bowsers on RAF airfields throughout the country.
The subject of this kit, the Bedford QL 6pdr AT Gun Portee was not so much an official version but more a field modification for the times to provide some mobility for the 6pdr in the expanses of the Western Deserts with ramps used to wheel the gun on off the truck as required.
As mentioned this kit has been around for over 30 years in one form or another and as I still have the original Airfix boxing of the kit it’s interesting to see how well the moulds have stood the test of time with only a little extra flash here and there and some enlarged mould seam lines on the parts in this kit compared to the 30 year old parts.
There are still some quite large sink and pin marks about the place as there were on the original kit that wouldn’t be acceptable in a current generation kit but there is also some excellent detail included such as the full chassis/suspension and engine as well as the rear tray bed moulded perfectly flat without any warping at all.
The 6pdr hasn’t faired as well with quite a few parts showing signs of warpage such as the gun mounting and gun tube halves, with the main gun shield not only being overly think but warped out of shape as well. There is more flash on these parts than on the truck parts and the detail can best be described as chunky and some work will be needed to get result with the gun.
The kit itself has 273 parts in beige plastic and 1 in clear plastic for the Bedford QL, 128 in light grey plastic for the 6pdr plus a small decal sheet and the instruction sheet for a nicely detailed kit considering its age.
As mentioned the standard of moulding is quite good overall for the truck but there are some sink marks mostly on the lower engine/suspension parts and a little flash to be cleaned off as well as fairly pronounced mould seams to also deal with.
The main parts of the gun are nicely moulded but quite a few of the smaller parts have fine flash and mould seam lines to deal with as well as the chunky detail as mentioned above but there are not as many pin marks to contend with and those present easy to remove such as on the insides of the gun shields.
I don’t have any actual 1:35 plans for the Bedford but the stated wheel base for the QL is 11ft 11in (3.63m) which is 103.7mm in 1:35 scale with the kit wheel base being 104mm give or take a fraction making this spot on scale wise with the rest of the kit looking very much in proportion compared to photographs. The 6pdr also measures out to 1:35 scale against available data in wheel size, trail lengths and gun length.
The lower chassis is in one large moulding to which is added all the separate suspension springs, axles and drive shafts and thankfully the chassis is moulded perfectly square and flat with the main chassis cross members already in place and makes for a very good starting point.
The leaf springs are nicely done but there are a couple of shallow sink marks that would be difficult to remove but the fit to the chassis is very snug making for a good strong mounting for the axles. The original kit had metal axle rods that went between the axle/diff halves but these are not included in this kit and are probably not needed in any case as the assembled suspension is robust enough without them.
When assembling the front and rear differentials/axles the wheel hubs are different front and back so take note of the part numbers to get these in the right place but other than that assembly was very straight forward with just some of the mating surfaces needing a bit of cleanup before gluing.
The engine/radiator is made up of 11 parts with nicely detailed engine block but there are a few smaller accessories missing and the wiring needs to be added but the base for a nicely presented engine are included.
All the drive shafts and transfer casings are included that fit together without any problems as does the exhaust pipe but you may want to drill out the end of the pipe for a better appearance.
Other items added include the steering arms and linkages and while the wheels are not designed to be steerable it wouldn’t be too much trouble to articulate the wheels if required due to the rounded ends to the axles. Also added to the chassis are the fuel tanks and storage boxes with separate mounting brackets but the join seam for the fuel tank is right down the middle of the tank and will have to be cleaned up before fitting the tanks to the mounting brackets.
The wheels are in two halves each with nice chunky tread pattern and nice bolt head detail on the hubs but you need to take care when fitting the wheel halves together to line up the offset tread pattern correctly as there are no join pins to align the parts. The wheels also have sidewall embossing included for ‘Dunlop Trak Grip’ and the wheel size data and look quite good for plastic kit wheels.
The cab floor has the central transmission hump included to which is added the fenders and forward instrument panel with engraved dials as well as the two crew seats and four gear levers, steering column and sterling wheel although there are no foot pedals just fine raised lines on the floor.
Added to this assembly is the forward cab panel with nicely defined engine compartment and radiator cover plus the side panels with separate doors and it’s best to glue the side panels to the front panel before adding this to the top of the floor/fenders as this makes it easier to line everything up.
The separate doors have no inside detail at all other than 4 pin marks and the door handles are moulded in place but the design of the door hinges makes it very easy to drill small holes to add wire hinges allowing the doors to open and close for a bit of animation.
The rear cab wall fits neatly to the floor and there is the rear frame and canvas rood as well as the windscreen with clear plastic “glass” and the armour panel added over the engine plus the large frame fitted to the front of the cab, rear view mirrors and all these fit quite well but some cleaning up of the moulding seams will be needed for a cleaner appearance. Some of these smaller details are a bit on the thick side and could do with some thinning for a better appearance but nothing really out of the ordinary for a kit of this vintage.
Smaller items include the separate head and smaller lights, the marking placards on the fenders and racks for two basic Lee Enfields on the rear corners of the cab.
The lower floor of the tray is as mentioned one single moulding that is perfectly square and flat free from any warping or pin marks with finely engraved top surface details and only a few pin marks on the undersides to easily deal with.
The underside cross members are moulded with the floor which helps to keep everything nice and square and you add the long chassis mounting beams and the end plates with an 8 part winch assembly added at the front as well as underside storage boxes and racks for oil cans. Some of the cans have hefty sink marks but as these are glued together in groups of three most of these are hidden after assembly.
The fit of the assembled tray to the lower chassis is straightforward due to the lack of any warping anywhere making for easy assembly.
Added to the upper tray are the fittings for mounting the 6pdr at the four corners as well as the side frames with the two armoured panels added for some protection for the 6pdr as well as the three tilt frames over the forward half of the tray, these again will need the moulding seams carefully cleanup up.
The channels for loading the 6pdr are also provided as separate parts and there are additional Lee Enfields and a Bren MG stowed against the tray side panels although the detail on these weapons can best be described as basic.
As mentioned this gun has also been around the traps for quite a few years and the mouldings are far chunkier than many of those for the Bedford and there is also quite a bit of fine flash to be removed as well as some warping on the gun cradle, barrel parts and gun shields. This warping can be pulled back into line as you glue the parts together but care is needed to ensure the halves are aligned evenly and straight before the glue dries.
The shields are also moulded quite thick being just under 1mm thick which translates to about 30mm thick shields when scaled up, but they do have details on both sides of the shields and the pin marks present are away from the detail making them fairly easy to remove.
The detail on the wheels has good tread pattern and hub detail but there are six small fittings around the rim and these will need to be reduced in thickness by about a half for a better scale appearance. There is also some strange plastic “residue” on the outer wheel surfaces that looks like someone has splashed some molten plastic over the wheels and this will need some care to remove unless you leave it there and paint it to represent dirt?
The trails have nice weld seams along their length but these are marred by large pin marks right over the weld seam on both trails and this will make the job of removing the pin marks while retaining the weld seams quite tricky.
Assembly is fairly straightforward but some of the mating surfaces will need to be cleaned for a better fit and the trails can be assembled to allow the arms to open or close if you wish for mounting on the truck or showing deployed as a normal AT Gun.
Additional parts are provided for a metal ammo container with 8 rounds and 3 shell casings provided to use with the gun but a fair bit of TLC and BMS will be needed to get a reasonable result for the 6pdr.
Also included is the large scenic base from when the kit was released on its own and this has basic texturing and wheel tracks as well as section of fence to use as a diorama base for the gun. There are two holes in the base for the trail spades to fix the gun in position if you want to use this base with the kit.
The small decal sheet has unit markings and registration numbers for 2 QLs with the only identification being that they are from “British 8th Army, North Africa, late 1942
While the kit seems to have been around forever the Bedford will still build into a nice model without too much trouble and the level of detail included with the engine and chassis in particular made this a standout model when first released.
While clearly not up the current generation kits in terms of moulding quality for mine the kit belies its age in many respects and is good to have available again if not for the fact it is a Bedford QL in plastic.
The 6pdr while not completely ugly does show its age more so than the QL in terms of the chunky details and cleanup of the parts needed but with some care will build into a reasonable model as it stands.
I am happy to recommend this kit to Allied modellers as we can never have enough soft skins and as mentioned the kit has some nice details and will build into a respectable model even after all these years.
Thanks to Italeri for the review kit.