In this review I would like to take a closer look at Company B's 28mm GAZ-AA truck kit.
The History Bit
The GAZ-AA truck was manufactured in the Soviet Union from 1928 to 1942 (and with a stronger engine and some wartime simplifications, most notably angular rather than rounded fenders, under the name GAZ-MM until the late 1940s) at Gorky Automobile Plant.
In fact the GAZ-AA it is a Ford AA truck for which the Soviet Union, eager to build up a modern automobile industry during the first 5 years plan, bought a production license along with machinery to produce the vehicle. From 1933 the GAZ-AAs were produced from components manufactured in the Soviet Union exclusively, in 1934 wooden parts of the driver's cabin were replaced with metal parts.
|Yup, John Walton's truck - a Ford AA model 1928|
During World War 2, the GAZ-AA (along with the ZiS-5 truck produced in Moskow) was the workhorse truck of the Red Army with several different civilian and military versions. A large quantity was captured by the Germans over the course of the war (so you can use this kit in your WW2 German army just as well). Including the simplified wartime version GAZ-MM over a million vehicles of this model were produced.
Company B models, just like the model kits of Die Waffenkammer are produced by JTFM Enterprises. You get the parts in a small but very sturdy cardboard box. This is a rather simple kit, so the parts are listed on the sticker which keeps the box shut.
On the inside we got the pieces safely stored in bubblewrap. Smaller parts are in a plastic baggy.
This is a full resin model, with the chassis of the vehicle cast in one piece. Excellent, crisp detail, some fuzzy flash to remove, but overall very clean cast. The cab's doors and roof are single parts, as well as the wheels and the metal driver miniature.
The detail on the underside of the model is excellent as well, but displayed a few large air bubbles. No biggie, I'll take this over hundreds of tiny bubbles and day. Easy to fill using green stuff and plastic putty.
Remember to give the parts a good scrub with soapy water, rinse properly and leave it to dry, as with all resin models!
Building the Model
Putting this fella together was quite unproblematic. I kept the doors and cab roof off so I'd get to the inside to paint it properly. I left the driver figure out of the model. It looks like a civilian which is okay in itself, but he also is very, very tiny. Goes to show that, despite my insistance, 28mm aren't quite 1/56th scale. They are in theory, but due to sculpting and all they just are not. And this driver wasn't especially. But the main reason why I didn't add him was that I want to use this model on the table as terrain as well. Because let's be honest, how often will you need a truck with a driver on a 28mm wargaming table of let's say 6' by 4'? This way I can just put the truck on the table as terrain or objective if required.
|The built model. Keep in mind I didn't glue the doors and roof|
of the driver's cab in place at this point.
Let's get some Paint on it then!
There is something very, very important I would like to point out. JTFM Enterprises, on all of their resin kits, make it very clear for everyone to use proper automotive primer, Tamiya primer or similar stuff. GW, Army Painter or Vallejo primer spray won't do it. Of course I was the jackrabbit who thought that they would. Let me just say that I primed this model three times total until it worked. And only rebasing is more annoying than having to scrub flakey primer off a model. So use the best primer you can get your hands on with these.
This is the fella all finished and painted now! In the end I added some random items covered up by a blanket (tissue paper). Two oildrums (bits of a tube I cut up), some boxes of varying sizes (balsawood and stowage items I had lying around) as well as two wooden boards (coffee stirring sticks).
I also added glass windows to the cab including a little thingy slightly off centre of the windshield. The glass got dusted up properly which also shows traces of the wiper on the windshield. Well, and that's it!
Final thoughts (in the shape of words)
This 1/56th kit is excellent quality, goes together without any problems and despite a possible airbubble or two is just comfortable to work with (as long as you use the right primer!). I bought it for GBP 20.00 from Great Escape Games (great service by Stuart, much recommended). Company B/Die Waffenkammer models aren't as widely available as say Warlord models and I am aware that Warlord charge just GBP 19.00 for their GAZ-AA truck model, but I prefer this one by far. The detail is crisper, it has a full interior driver's cab and a driver figure to boot. (the Warlord version has the cab as one solid cast block)
Also available from Company B is the GAZ-AAA, the three-axle version of the GAZ-AA truck which often was used as a weapons carrier. So as an additional option you can order it along with a quad-Maxim Anti-Aircraft gun with crew.
One last little work on the size of the model: Granted, it could be bigger. It's a true 1/56th scale model, but even for that it should be 2mm or 3mm longer, 1mm wider (okay, I know this sounds a bit silly, but let's do this right ;-) ). If you're using 28mm figures at the larger end of the spectrum you may want to consider putting the truck on a base.
Either way, trucks are always woefully overlooked. I'd be willing to bet that there are more bloody Tigers around than trucks on gaming tables worldwise. But such is the way of wargaming I guess. This GAZ-AA is a great little addition for anything Eastern Front related in the slightest and due to the identical Ford-AA having been produced pretty much world-wide it's even usable beyond the Soviet or German army, civilian use or partisans. It might pop up in a 1950s Alien invasion in the US scenario, inter-war things, early cold war gone hot scenarios and so on.
Good stuff, very good kit. If you want a Soviet truck model you'll be hard pressed to find any better.