Build & Review: Academy #13409 : 1/72 U.S. Tank Transporter Dragon Wagon

The Kit

My first introduction to the US. Dragon Wagon was a photograph of a restored one at some army rally. I thought it was a modern vehicle. Turns out it’s WW2 era! The shape of the cab reminds me of Thunderbirds which is no bad thing.

If you’re going to build a tank transporter you have the have something on the back. In my case it was a German Jadgtiger, an odd choice for an American vehicles, but this scenario played out in real life with the US capturing a German Jagtiger in WW2.

I’ve documented my build of the Jagdtiger elsewhere, this is all about the Dragon Wagon…

There’s pretty much only one choice for a 1/72 Dragon Wagon, and it’s this excellent offering from Academy. Crisply moulded with some nice detail, and a basic but functional cab interior. You can’t see much even with the windows and doors open, but it can be built with the cab removable for display. It’s simple to paint (being mostly US army green) and offers lots of opportunities for dioramas.

The Build

I’d recommend building the kit in sub assemblies if you’re planning on having the interior visible. You can close all the windows, but where’s the fun in that? There’s a bit of detail missing on the open window which is easy to add with a bit of styrene.

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This next photo is taken from an earlier build of another Dragon Wagon I built showing the extra detail. I forgot to do it for this build >.<

The frame has a few delicate parts, so take your time…

The trailer can be assembled all in one piece. I’ve left the cab removable so I can paint the interior.

As I was trying to recreate the vehicle in the photograph, a small amount of scratchbuilding was necessary. I chopped up some styrene sheet and scored and marked it to look like wood. I could have used balsa, but at 1/72, styrene woodgrain show up a little better.

A quick test fit. The real Dragon Wagon must have really been straining under the weight.

The Paint

Once all the components where assembled, I undercoated with Poundland grey primer and gave everything a black preshade – focussing on areas of shadow and the joins between panel lines.

Next, I used Tamiya flat green as a base coat. I didn’t plan to weather this one too much so I gave it a pretty flat coat. Notice the preshading just showing through in the corners. This is a bit like the new fangled ‘Back and White’ technique that I’ve been doing for the last couple of years.

I next applied German black brown chipping along most of the edges of the model with a piece of torn up sponge. I applied it more heavily around areas of high use.

I let that dry and applied a clear varnish coat follows by a thick burnt umber oil wash. Most if this was then cleaned off once it had dried with odourless thinners.

I let the oils thoroughly dry and gave the whole model a flat coat to seal it.

I gave the edges a faint drybrush with a slightly lighter green and to add a few signs of wear.

There aren’t too many details that need picking out…

A close-up of the finish. Hmm – I should have filled that gap…

Next, I used DAS modelling clay to make a rough tarp to throw over the front of the trailer like the one in the photo.

… gave it a flat german grey base coat, a black wash to highlight the creases and a quick drybrush of lighter grey:

Put along side the other components of the scene, the Dragon Wagon was looking decidedly clean.

Time to dirty it up. Here’s my weapons of choice:

Before:

And after:

I focused mainly on the underside and around the wheels. It’s mainly a light mud with a few patches of concrete grey. I then did the same to the trailer…

I bilt up the dust a bit heavier inside where it wouldn’t wear away so much.

And I’m done for now. I didn’t have a dio in mind for this, but I’m sure one will come along sooner or later.

And finally along side a few other big un’s for comparison:

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