Kit #: 7022 Preview by Will Alcott - will_alcott(at)yahoo(dot)com
Edited by Al Magnus

Unglamourous and ungainly, the DUKW was an unsung hero of WWII. Italeri first released this kit in 2004, a couple years after they released a 35th scale version. As far as I know, this one of the first of Italeri's home-grown braille scale armour releases, as opposed to rereleases of ESCI kits. Like the M8 Greyhound Italeri issued around the same time, the DUKW can be built either as a detailed display model, or by omitting details and using alternate parts, as a simplified but more robust wargaming model.

The box contains two olive sprues. Sprue A offers all the parts required for the fast assembly version. Sprue B offers additional details for the display version. The simplified version omits the axles, with the wheels attaching directly to the lower hull. As well, the stowage (jerry cans and a spare wheel), lights, mirrors, folding surfboard, rope fenders, propellor and tow hook are all to be left off. Strangely, the front bulkhead of the cargo compartment (part 9B) is also shown fitted only to the display version - I suspect wargamers might want to include some of these details on their builds. Also included is a small square of acetate, with templates given in the instructions to cut it to size for the windscreen and triangular side windows.

The decal sheet provides markings for 4 versions, as well as a selection of stars and tiny individual digits and USA markings should the builder want to depict a particular vehicle. The four options are:
  1. British Army, Normandy 1944 in overall olive drab
  2. U.S. Marines, Iwo Jima 1945 in a three colour scheme of sand, dark tan and dark green. Note that while this is identified as a USMC vehicle, it has a US Army serial number.
  3. U.S. Army, Germany 1945 in overall olive drab with the name Pistol Packin' Mama and artwork
  4. U.S. Army, Germany 1945 in overall olive drab with the name The Texan

Option 1 was included in the 35th scale kit (6392), and identified as a US Army vehicle. Italeri have added additional markings for the 72nd version, including RASC red/green diagonal AoS markings. Options 3 and 4 are both included in Italeri's 35th scale kit 6429, which also included the skirts over the wheel wells and a 105 mm howitzer. I'd suggest checking references to verify the kit configuration is correct for the chosen markings.

The parts are crisply moulded with no flash evident. The upper hull has several details moulded in place - the boat hook, spade and axe on the left front side, the hand bilge pump on the right front side, and the anchor and winch cable at the rear. All of these could benefit from being carved away and replaced with scratchbuilt or spares box parts. The grating behind the driver's cab is moulded with a very coarse mesh, though this area may not be evident with the seats and cargo compartment bulkheads in place. The boxart shows a number of inverted U-shaped tie down fittings around the edge of the hull which are not present in the kit. The hull sides feature numerous drain slots in the raised ribs - these were apparently a post-war feature, and should not be present on a WWII DUKW.

The biggest disappointment is probably the wheels. Despite what is shown in the instructions, the wheels for the display version have hollow backs. Also, the tires look a little 'balloonish' to my eyes. Replacement wheels are (or were) available from Pavla, Professional Model, MR Modellbau, Armory, BP Resin and probably others.

Another area for improvement is the rope fenders (or bumpers). These are moulded with some nice woven texture, but as injection moulded parts the detail is limited. Thatchweave offer a set of replacement bumpers woven from thread, though as these are handmade the set may cost more than the Italeri kit itself! The fenders weren't always carried, though note that the front towing shackle and mooring eye are moulded with the ropes for the front fenders (part 29B), and should be trimmed away and installed on the model in any case.

Another area for aftermarket additions is the cargo compartment - Italeri provide no stowage to fill this area, nor do they provide a canvas cover or roof bows to cover this. Calibre72, Black Dog, MR Modellbau and Goffy have all offered either cargo sets of canvas covers to address this lack.

The kit is also missing the external piping for the central tire inflation system (yes, all but very early DUKWs had this advanced technology). Wheel well skirts were often seen on DUKWs, and are not included. Interestingly, the 1966-vintage 1/76 Airfix kit did include the wheel well skirts, canvas top and a 50-cal machine gun mount, as well as a separately moulded anchor and bilge pump!

Preview sample purchased by the author.

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Article Last Updated: 20 March 2018