Bob Letterman

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(03) “Logistics”, Trucks and Jeeps

Posted August 21st, 2012
Bob Letterman

All the models in this thread will be part of the diorama, “Logistics”. This diorama is very large and because of that, I am splitting the threads into five parts. This one will be strictly for vehicles other than armored.

Here are two of the 9 deuce and a halfs that will be in logistics. One a soft cab (Tamiya) the other a hard cab, (Italeri) both are built and pics of before and after painting.
Hard cab

Soft cab. Click on images to enlarge.

After base coat

After base coat. Click on images to enlarge.

I intend to put full, but varying loads in all of the Deuce and a halfs both ready made from various companies and from making others from scratch.

The Diamond T

One of the vehicles in the new diorama will be a Roy Brand Diamond T Wrecker. As the diorama will also have a deuce and a half column, normally there were always wreckers roving around. I have had this kit for about 6 years and never opened it. About 3 weeks ago I decided to get started and opened it up. OMG! the pattern work was fine, but the casting was absolutely the worst I have ever seen. Here are some pics in progress. It is up to the point of painting and weathering now.

There are a lot of parts for a resin kit, plus plastic and brass home made parts to replace the ones that were unusable and to add detail. Click on images to enlarge.

I modified the Tamiya machine gun ring mount to fit Note the new windshield I had to improve. Note the resin grill that was impossible to clean.

Some of the winch was unusable so I replaced them with plastic. The treadplate on the fendors needed replacing as well. Click on images to enlarge.

I used some Skybow tool holders to replace the kit ones.

I had to replace the entire windshield assembly and added a siren which many of the Diamond Ts were equipped with in the field. Click on images to enlarge.

In the lower right hand corner of this picture, you can see the kit grill. In my estimation, nobody could clean that up. OK, if you can, you have a hell of a lot more patience than I do! The new one is installed on the truck.

Ditto headlight guards. Still working on the one. Click on images to enlarge.

As the machine gun mount was added and the month of the setting is April, I decided roll up the top canvas and strap it to the support. I have several reference photos that show this was a common practice in the ETO.

The D-7 Caterpillar

The D-7 is built, (In subassemblies) and then base coated. The next step is assembly, weathering and final detailing, in that order. Click on images to enlarge.

Trailers and Jeeps

I needed 6 trailers for the dio, Logistics and 5 jeeps. I will also be adding an armored ammo trailer here as well. The pics are of the jeeps and trailers built before base coating, then all painted. Click on images to enlarge.

The Dodge Ambulance.

I’ll start the update with the Dodge ambulance. This is the old Italeri kit, updated with parts from the Skybow/AFV club Dodge WC parts and some PE. Click on images to enlarge.

Tamiya GMC Deuce and a half.

This is a pretty much OOB Tamiya GMC that I added the Tamiya .50 cal. MG and turret ring. It will be one of 8 deuces in the diorama. Click on images to enlarge.

This is a Tamiya kit using the Trakz Tipper dump conversion and the Trakz canvas top for the cabin.

This is another Tamiya GMC, this one with a Tamiya 50 cal. MG/Turret ring and a Trakz canvas cargo and cab cover. Click on images to enlarge.

This is an Italeri hard cab conversion with the newer Tamiya GMC.

This is the single Studebaker cargo truck that will be in the convoy. I was concerned about using this for awhile. Later, research proved they were absolutely used in all the express routes throughout the ETO, albeit in small numbers. (For any skeptics out there, I have proof, photographic and otherwise!) Click on images to enlarge.

This is the later limited issue hard cab Italeri GMC w/MG and turret ring. Mostly oob with a little PE here and there. Click on images to enlarge.

This is the most converted of the GMCs. A Tamiya GMC, w/Trakz cabin canvas top with a scratched rear end to convert it to the gasoline tanker version. I made the oval forms, connected them into two separate tanks and used very thin styrene to skin them. David Doyle, the author of dozens of research books on soft skins and armor and his friends helped me with photos and data on this one. I was looking through all my parts stashes to find the 43 jerry cans required to fill the racks on both sides. I used PE from the ABER kit here and there, Made inset door handles on the boxes containing the fuel hoses on both sides of the tanks. A piano hinge was used at the top of each and I used brass rod scored with a hobby knife to simulate those.

On this version, the underslung spare tire is replaced by a small storage box, and another box, directly behind the cab holds the spare. Click on images to enlarge.

Again, I used the Trakx canvas cab top. It is much better than the one supplied with the kit!

I see no reason to individually post all these vehilcles after a base coat of O.D. (In various slightly different shades, which do not show up well in these photos), so I thought I would throw in all of them so far. Only four soft skins remain to be built, three more jeeps and a 3/4 ton Dodge command car for General Patton. All the armor will be in the “Logistics” The Armor thread! Click on images to enlarge.

I now have several vehicles close to being finished. This gasoline trailer is the first totally completed. There will be seven trailers, this one being the most weathered, the rest from almost new and all stages in between.

Here are the built and base coated soft skins in a group. It may not look like it, but there are a total of 20 kits in the following three photos. 8 GMCs of various types, 1 Studebaker cargo, 1 Diamond T wrecker, 3 Cargo trailers, 3 Gasoline trailers, 1 Dodge ambulance, 1 D-7 Caterpillar dozer, and 2 jeeps. Click on images to enlarge.

OK, That is it so far. I preferred to put all these into a single post because, particularly in the initial phases, they are a little boring. Click on images to enlarge.


The Mercedes Cargo Wreck
By Bob Letterman

I used the Italeri Mercedes cargo truck. I used some ABER PE and a lot of white plastic, but intended from the beginning that this would be one of the three wrecks of German vehicles to go in my diorama, Logistics. First, the sub assemblies.

Then the completed wreck from various angles. Click on images to enlarge.

When attached to the diorama base, there will be rubble, parts blown off, blackened smoke stains on the pavement and ashes left by the burning tires. That will make it blend to the diorama.

Some more softskins for the diorama
Bob Letterman

I’ve finally finished building and base coating all the soft skins. 27 altogether, that doesn’t count the locomotive, tender, K5 Rail Gun and Trolley car. All the smaller vehicles, bicycles, carts, etc. will be covered in the Figure thread. Click on images to enlarge.

First, the last of the cargo trucks to be in the XYZ convoy. All the others are deuce and a halves. This is a 1 and a 1/2 ton Dodge cargo from Italeri. I used various Eduard and Aber PE and update parts from the SkyBow, (AFV), Dodge kits. This is before base coating.

After Base coating. Note: The cab, body and tarp are just sitting on the chassis. Final assembly after weathering. Click on images to enlarge.

Then, the first of three more Jeeps. I used the Trakz canvas top and Techstar rods for the frame. I made good use of the Trakz Jeep PE update set. The three standing figures are MPs and will be covered in the figure thread.

Number 2 of the Jeeps. Again with the PE update from Trakz and a radio set from Custom Dioramics. Click on images to enlarge.

And, No. 3 with another of the Radios and more Trakz PE. Again, the drivers will be covered in the figure thread.

All three after base coating. Click on images to enlarge.

Then, two Tamiya Harley Davidson motorcycles. Pretty much OOB, with added seat springs and other accessories.

After base coat. Click on images to enlarge.

Next comes the 3/4 ton Dodge specially built for Gen. George S. Patton. I used a lot of Eduard PE. I like Eduard, but for any kind if SBS it sucks. The color is stainless instead of brass and it gets lost in the photographs. Anyway, I used a lot of PE on it.

After base coating.

Now, I set all 27 kits that are base coated and one or two that are in the weathering process so you can see them altogether. They look like a motor pool! From the right end. Click on images to enlarge.

Next to the left.

Next to the left. Click on images to enlarge.

The far left.

And, finally, all 27 kits in one shot. (Way too big for my camera table. Click on images to enlarge.

Now, I can let the paint harden on those while I focus on armor. You probably don’t think I will ever finish this diorama, That is understandable. This has taken longer than any of the big ones I have done previously, but I believe it will be my last as I am running out of room. From now on I will be building them smaller. Since this will be the final superdiorama, I just want this one to be the best of the large ones. I feel pretty certain it will be, but, you never know!

The Harley Davidson Motorcycles.
Bob Letterman

I just finished up the two Military police Harley-Davidsons. Really old Tamiya kits, but with some wiring, headlight and a handbrake with cable, they are passable! These will be part of Georgie Patton’s entourage. I put the pencil in the photo so the viewer can get an idea of the size! Click on images to enlarge.

The added handbrakes on both Harleys can be seen in the following two shots! Click on images to enlarge.

And here shown closer to actual size.

I have to do a bit more wiring, make some springs for the seats and a little touch up here and there.

D-9 Bulldozer
Bob Letterman

OK, this isn’t a truck or jeep, but I don’t know where else to post it.

This is the Trakz D-9 Bulldozer. It will be pushing the rubble around in the diorama. Other than wiring and light lenses, it is pretty much out of the box. When I finally attach it to the base, I will blend the rubble colors onto the tracks and blade to blend it. Click on images to enlarge.

As I was photographing, I noticed I had lost a track link on the right side. Good luck finding it! Click on images to enlarge.

I have converted a deuce and a half to a dump tilt bed truck. It will be being loaded by this dozer and civilians that have been drafted to clean the streets. Click on images to enlarge.
Bob Letterman

Diamond T Wrecker
Bob Letterman

Here are the finished photographs of the Diamond T wrecker. I started this about a year ago. First, the build of a very bad resin kit. Roy Models was the kit brand. The master was great, but the castings were simply awful.

I modified the Tamiya machine gun ring mount to fit. Click on images to enlarge.

Some of the winch was unusable so I replaced them with plastic. The treadplate on the fendors needed replacing as well.

I used some Skybow tool holders to replace the kit ones. Click on images to enlarge.

I had to replace the entire windshield assembly and added a siren which many of the Diamond Ts were equipped with in the field.

Then the finished model.

Bob Letterman

1941 Plymouth Staff Car.
Bob Letterman

While on a recent trip, I found a die cast store in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’m not into die cast but I’ve been looking for something I could use for an American staff car for Patton’s entourage. I wanted to include General Omar Bradley and Ike’s chief of staff, Lt. General Walter Bedell (Beetle) Smith. I found a 1941 Plymouth. It looks perfectly at home next to the Tamiya Jeep. Click on images to enlarge.

It was fairly decent quality for die cast, I only had to repaint everything, including the interior, and add the military insignia and paraphernalia. There will be two jeeps, Patton’s 3/4 ton Dodge, an M-16 half track, two Harley Davidson motorcycles as escorts and now the “Beetle” Smith staff car. In case someone doesn’t know, Walter Bedell Smith picked up the nickname “Beetle”, when in high school and carried it the rest of his life.

Here is the car as purchased and with packaging.

I did very little weathering. I figure that a Lt. General’s car would be kept clean and maintained, especially the Supreme Commander’s Chief of Staff. Click on images to enlarge.

This brings the number of vehicles in total to an even 48 for this diorama.


A Scratch built Caterpillar Motor Grader
Bob Letterman

I started this project on saturday, December 17th, 2011. I have gathered more research material than I ever dreamed, much of it thanks to the Caterpillar Company. I have all the manuals plus about 80 photographs. After contacting the Caterpillar archives manager, I learned that the motor graders did, in fact, share the diesel engines of the dozers. The engine blocks were uniform on both the 4 and 6 cylinder motors with various bores and cubic centimeters common to both vehicles.

I used the 135th Construction WWII dozer kit engine and radiator. I had to section the resin radiator by removing about a quarter inch vertical strip from the center, then gluing both sides together making a narrow radiator grille similar to the grader. The engine block was modified to fit it’s new frame and will be detailed later. Many components of the engine are different or located in different places between the grader and dozer.

I had the specs on the grader, length, width and height. I reduced them to 1/35th scale dimensions. From there, it is easy to calculate the dimensions of the various components using percentages on the line drawings and reducing them to 1/35th. I wanted to make sure the “Look” was right, so I doubled the scale dimensions and built a rough 1/17.5 prototype of the basic frame. Good thing I did because it showed me a few areas that I could tell weren’t correct. I went back and recomputed my calculations and corrected the mistakes. Here is the 1/17.5th prototype next to the 1/35th version. The prototype is too large in girth and the angles aren’t nearly as sharp as they should be.
Click on images to enlarge.

The next is a side shot photographed beside a 1/35th Dozer.

another angle. Click on images to enlarge.

All the frame, transmission, engine compartment and cab were fashioned from white plastic sheet in various thicknesses. The seat was modified from a deuce and a half seat from the scrap box.

The wheels I requisitioned from a Caterpillar toy tractor. They are perfect scale and, although the wheels are wrong, the tires are great and I will scratch them directly over the existing wheels. The front tires, (not shown) are from a 1/32 scale Rolls Royce car kit. Also perfect for this vehicle. I’ll have to scratch those wheels as well. Click on images to enlarge.

Here is another shot from a different angle.

I’ll have to leave this for a week or so over Christmas, then get back to it after the holiday!

OK, got some more bench time. This thing is driving me crazy. Not that it is all that hard, just so many tiny little pieces. It looked fairly simple before I started it! Click on images to enlarge.

Here are the latest pics. Got the steering mechanism installed. All the gear levers and dashboard in place. Working on the grader system, it is complicated as hell, you’ll see later. Yes, the shift knobs are scale. On the real thing, they are nearly the size of billiard balls.

I’ve pretty much got the rear end in place except for all the tiny detailing, Finished the radiator grill and the access hatch with piano hinge immediately below it. The engine cover has been fitted, can’t do much more till the engine is detailed.

Some of the detailing on the front of the cab. The device that lowers, rotates and angles the grader blade itself is started and the front suspension partially built. Click on images to enlarge.

A better shot of the engine cover and the cab interior.

Another shot of the front.


OK, got some more done today. I must have got my measuring and calculations correct, because it is all falling into place now!

I have the major parts of the blade assembly finished, more details to go though. Here is a left side shot showing the large gear, the articulating assembly and the blade. Click on images to enlarge.

Front shot.

Right side. Click on images to enlarge.

Overhead shot.

and another angle from the rear. Click on images to enlarge.

I’m guessing another 12 hours and it’ll be ready for some O.D.base coat!

I got another afternoon in. I am trying to keep track of the hours. With today, I have 39 hours on this project. I am guessing another 10 - 12 including paint and weathering. A total of about 51 hours. That isn’t bad for an elderly person I guess. :-)

A lot of details added, some of the exterior wiring, all the lights front and rear, the front axle and steering mechanism. I was able to use a lot of 3/4 and 2 & 1/2 ton truck drive shaft linkage in this that saved a lot of time. I got the engine painted and will detail that completely before I base coat the grader. After that, it will be a month or so before I start weathering and the final detailing. I like to weather with very hard basecoats.

Here is a front shot. Forgive the background. I didn’t feel like going to the museum where the photography setup is. Just a few good old kitchen island photos. Click on images to enlarge.

A shot of the right side.

Left from above. Click on images to enlarge.

Right overhead.

And a direct overhead. Click on images to enlarge.

A couple of rear shots. Yes, I just stuck the tires on for the photograph. The tread is backward on a couple but won’t be on completion.

And one more for good measure. Click on images to enlarge.

I still have a lot more details, mostly a bunch of rivets, nuts and bolts, and so on.

I put in 5 hours today, finished it and gave it a base coat of Olive Drab.

I had all six wheels to finish. Then lots of small details all over the frame. I used a lot of the PE brass weld beads, a lot of the Grandt Line nuts and bolts and rivets. Once finished with that, I started finishing the motor. A four cylinder Caterpillar diesel inline engine. you won’t really see a lot of it after it is installed and the cover in place. Click on images to enlarge.

The other side. Note where the diesel fuel gauge was located.

Then various shots taken just prior to painting it. From the front. Click on images to enlarge.

Rear shot

Now two final shots with higher definition. Click on images to enlarge.

It should be dry tomorrow. I’ll post the painted model over the weekend.

OK, all finished except weathering. I like to let paint harden for at least 30 days, so this is the last update for awhile. It is all base coated and the stars, data plates, gauges and registration numbers are on. Here is a shot from direct front.

A shot of the cab interior showing the gauges, etc. Click on images to enlarge.

From the left front.

From the rear. Click on images to enlarge.

Side view.

Close up of engine compartment. Click on images to enlarge.

Front from above.

Rear from above. Click on images to enlarge.

And two shots with the bulldozer which has been weathered just to show the comparison.

That’s it for awhile till I weather it.

OK, I have finished this. Click on images to enlarge.

It is finished and ready to go on the diorama. I tried to make it look as if it had been working with the Bull Dozer as I will the converted dump truck Deuce and a half. I used the same process I did on all the vehicles in “Logistics”.

Here are the finished pics.

Click on images to enlarge.

Click on images to enlarge.

Then I photographed it with the dozer for effect. I wanted both to have a similar weathering effect as they would be working together for some time on the same projects.


More Softskins
Bob Letterman

These 14 vehicles will end up as 15 of the total 48 vehicles on the diorama, “Logistics”.

Here are the latest four deuce and a half cargo trucks. There will be a total of seven in the diorama.

First, is the GMC 2 and 1/2 ton dump truck, which will be clearing rubble along with a bulldozer and the scratch motorgrader.

It was more heavily weathered to have a similar appearance as the dozer and the grader.

Click on images to enlarge.

Then the Studebaker 2 and 1/2 ton cargo, loaded with 55 gallon drums. It was weathered as all the XYZ Express trucks, the successor to the more famous but smaller Red Ball Express. And yes, a tiny few were used by the US Army in the ETO, although most went to the Pacific Marine units or the Russians. I have photographic evidence of two in an XYZ Express column in the final days of WW II.

Click on images to enlarge.

Next up, the canvased topped GMC Cargo. Used a lot of external stowage on this one.

Click on images to enlarge.

Next, the GMC Deuce and a half cargo, open back with lots of cargo. All these are weathered similarly as they will be in the same column. Click on images to enlarge.

The Dodge 3/4 ton ambulance. Click on images to enlarge.

The Deuce and a half semi-scratch fuel truck. Click on images to enlarge.

The Plymouth Staff Car. (Very lightly weathered). Click on images to enlarge.

The Diamond T Wrecker.

Four Jeeps, There will be two more, (Built and basecoated, but not weathered yet). Click on images to enlarge.

Then, the scratch built motorgrader photographed with the newly finished Dump truck.

And finally, all the vehicles above in one photo. Click on images to enlarge.

Altogether now, I have 29 of the 51 vehicles built, painted, weathered and detailed. Many even have the figures attached. Most of the remaining vehicles are built and base coated, waiting to be weathered and detailed. I still have five more Shermans to build that I will post on the Armor thread.


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