Set #: Heller kit 79996 (and Airfix kit 01323) Review Carli Danilo 172normandyafv(at)gmail(dot)com
Edited by Marc Mercier

I wanted to have a couple of US Army truck, so I bought some Heller kits.
The moulds are the same used by Airfix box, so discussing one is like looking at the other one. Three olive green moulds, a transparent set, a decal set and the instructions make up the kit.

Everything looks well done, although a lot of ejector pin marks need to be removed by filling or by sanding. The parts are quite well depicted, but I’d have preferred to have some details as separate parts. The surfaces have the Airfix old kits fashion, which I sentimentally like. The plastic is quite soft to work with and reacts very well to liquid glue, requiring a bit more attention with the brush.

Dimensions are quite correct,
only the wheelbase is about 1.5 mm too long.

The variant proposed in this kit is the open cab truck with steel body. The supply catalogue number for the truck 2 ½-ton, 6x6, GMC CCKW was G508.

Two types of chassis were used for the CCKW, the type 353 (used in this kit), was the longer one. The shorter version, used for about the 10% of the CCKW production, was called type 352.
About the cab, the earlier production vehicles had the closed cabins (1st, 2nd and the 3rd series). Starting from the 4th series, March 1943, the open cabin was adopted (there were also a 5th and a 6th series).
The CCKW-353 proposed by the kit has the winch, used by both chassis type (short and long) and on almost half of the production total. The kit chassis has Timken split axle. It was also used the Chevrolet banjo type, but the different axle type meant also a slightly different layout of the drive shafts. You easily can get a range of different variants with a little conversion work; the easiest could be swapping the steel body to a wooden one taken from the Academy kit.

Good info sources of information on the net can be found on dedicated sites such as www.cckw.org or www.gmccckw.nl , here www.ww2cckw.org/jimmy_ancestry.htm, you can find a very interesting article in ten parts and last but not least, the technical manual TM 9-801 and TM 9-224 are full of useful info too.
A very important thing when using photos of restored vehicles is to remember that they could be subject to personal interpretation or have a post war up grade (such as the shortened rod of the radiator grill).

I made the variant proposed by the kit, adding some improvements, as one model and concerted a second one into a short wheelbase truck.

  • The tank # 9 belly is open. I closed it with thin plastic sheet. The metal belts of the tank were removed and replaced by thin metal stripes while the tank supports were made by plastic rod which endings were filed to depict its “U” section.
  • A metal wire was wrapped around the empty winch.
  • Also the battery box # 8 belly is open, after having closed in the same way. I added its housing by thin plastic sheet.
  • The towing hook is shown up side down in the instructions.
  • The winch power shaft is missing. I made it by stretched sprue and little plastic triangles for the gimbals.
  • A careful job was needed to obtain the proper placement of the drive shafts, correct for the split type axle.
  • To avoid open spaces between the chassis and the bonnet, I shimmed the engine top using plastic pieces.
  • The spare wheel has five holes. While this error on the front wheels were been corrected by the mould maker, the spare wheel was forgotten. Luckily, it's partially hidden and so I ignored it too.
  • The 7.50x 20 wheels in my kit are correct (all have six holes), the diameter is depicted correctly but they are slightly thin. I kept them as they are: the correction is almost impossible and I didn’t want to look for a replacement (Armory has a resin set).
  • The chassis frame height was the same along all its length; the higher section where the bed lies wasn’t solid, but formed by a second frame fixed to the chassis. To depict this difference I glued two very thin plastic stripes. Another stripe was used to close the frame front. I also made the thin rods which kept these frame in place using some stretched sprue and little plastic pieces.
  • I increased the rear bumpers lower edge by plastic shaped in place and I thinned its thickness from inside.


When assembling the cabin, I didn't follow the instructions, attaching it to the engine hood as a sub assembly. This made the painting job a lot easier, but that's personal.

  • The brush guards are very thick and hide the lights. I removed the inner rods (very thin on the vehicle) while the shaped edge, which forms the outer frame, was thinned carefully. The new rods were made with stretched sprue. There should be two horizontal rods, but I felt the lights obscuring effect was too much so I added only one.
  • The lights are moulded in transparent plastic. I glued them in place; they will be painted together with the cab.
  • The bonnet upper cover is a millimetre too short: it should cover the grille thickness. I added plastic shaped in place, paying attention to obtain the correct shape.
  • The mirror supports are much too thick and the mirrors small. I replaced both by metal wire and plastic sheet.
  • I reduced the oversized windshield hinges, while the dash board front recesses were filled and flattened.
  • The rectangular holder for the support # 39 on the cab right side was resized.
  • To give the steering wheel the correct alignment a little adjustment of its interlock was needed.
  • The edges of the fabric cabin hood where thinned. I added the frame which keeps the fabric in shape by metal wire. It was glued on using the dry fitted windshield for a correct placement.
  • The technical manual shows the correct way to store it, rolled under the windshield when that was folded down to prevent the glass breaking. The windshield could also be opened up. In this case the external frame remained vertical and only the interior frame folded up.
    • Under the fenders, behind the wheels, there was another louvre on each side; I made their vents with thin stretched sprue segments.
  • Since the seats were moulded solid to the cabin, the floor bottom has a large hole which is their inner side. I closed the floor with a plastic piece to restore the floor.
  • The grille has 9 thick rods (they should be 14) with the bridge class plate moulded on. I removed the bridge class plate, which was replaced by thin plastic sheet.
  • The kit also has a driver. The arms are separate, which is good, but the soldier is undersized. You wouldn't see him in a closed cab truck, but although this one is the open version, I'd choose to send him to the spare part box.

Flat bed

  • The toolbox floor was added by plastic sheet.
  • I added the inclined benches position supports, made in stretched sprue.
  • The opening on the right side, above the fuel tank cap, was missing. Using a file, I made a small notch.

M36 mount

The standard AA MG mount for the open cab was the M36 type (however exceptional use of the M37 is photographically documented), but it wasn’t always present. Although shown as optional in the tarpaulin instructions, it could be used with or without the fabric hood depending on the effect wished by the modeller.

There were two M36 mount variants, which differed in the horizontal arms. The kit depicts the type with the “U” section straight arms. The other type had “C” section triangular arms.

  • Compared with the usual WW2 photos, the vertical supports look short: the ring height can be adapted using a row of holes placed at regular distances along the vertical rods. Since these rods also look much too thick, I replaced them by stretched sprue.
  • The position suggested for the right supports are much too far from the cab so I modified their position to get them closer. After having repositioned the vertical supports, the interlocks references in the horizontal arms were changed. I carefully cut off the rear arms and, after having cleaned these and the ring, glued everything in the correct place using the vertical supports as dry fitting references.
  • The 48 inches ring section is much too thick. I kept the exterior diameter and I thinned it from inside.
  • The MG fork is turned to point inside the ring. If you wish to point the MG outwards, the fork must be cut from the sliding base and glued inside out. I kept mine as it is to get the travelling position (gluing the .50 in the correct position) adding its thin travel locks made by thin metal wire.

CCKW-352 Conversions

The easiest way to convert a 353 variant is getting rid of the winch. The front bumper can be scratchbuilt or taken from the Academy kit. Another possible conversion way is swapping the steel body with an Academy wooden body because this type was used as well. The use of the Hasegawa tanker truck body or dump truck body is possible but more complicated.

I preferred the less complex conversion ("really simple" would be more correct) to a short wheelbase CCKW-352, by modifying the chassis and the flatbed body. I didn’t correct the 1.5 mm difference in the wheelbase because the kit is shaped around this difference and I though correcting it could give major problems.


The chassis

  • I shortened the chassis cutting it twice. The first cut just in front of the raised section, filing backward to have a larger gluing surface, shortening the overall length of 6.7 mm which is the wheelbase difference.
    The chassis length difference is 8.8 mm and I made the second cut forward of the rear bumper.
  • The shelf for the spare wheel was removed; on the opposite side I filed the tank interlock.
  • Above the tank, I made the spare wheel housings by shaping four sprue segments. The two external ones had also a squared hole in which the travel locks went, made by stretched sprue and plastic sheet chips. Having only one spare wheel I left the second housing empty.

  • The fuel tank was inside the transversal housing placed between the cab and the body. This adaptation and the one below are the "hardest" part of the conversion. Using a drawing to scale down the dimensions, I started filing a thick sprue section to obtain a squared section. Around this I glued plastic stripes to make the housing, leaving a 0.5 mm space between the top of the tank and the top of the housing. To this I added the curved filling pipe and its cap made by stretched sprue.
  • The drive shafts and the exhaust piping were shortened accordingly.

The body

  • The CCKW 352 body was 39” shorter. I shortened the bed cutting 10.5 mm from the front and 2.5 mm from the rear.
  • The sides were shortened to 38 mm cutting them in five pieces, which are the four panels with a rib (9.3 mm long) and a single rib. I glued everything together on a glass plate to get a perfect flat construction.
  • Next the benches were consequently shortened. The ribs placed on the bottom were cut off and placed using the side ribs as references.


I didn’t find a single photo of the only truck offered in the decal set:

  • W-4491967-S, a truck of the 1st Army 3549th Transportation Corps. Basing on the photos I’ve seen, I think the War Department letter “W” was already discontinued at the time the number 4491976 was allocated. Currently this registration number is written on the bonnet of a restored CCKW 353 without winch, but I don’t know if it is its original number or it is applied fictionally.


There is little choice for an open cab, but luckily nowadays this is a quite good kit (earlier production kits had the wrong forward wheels shown in the Stephen Brezinski review). In this kit I think nothing is really wrong or irreparable despite some details seriously need a bit of TLC, which could came from an aftermarket set. A better brush guards is strongly wished. With some work this kit can give us a good replica and with a bit more work it can be converted in different variants.
I think some items for the load or a crew to fill the body would be a welcome improvement as well as a couple of options in a new decal set.

Preview sample purchased by the author.

This model can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated: 21 April 2018