DOC Military vs ACE models TL37

DOC Military TL 37 Kit #72400 vs.
ACE Models TL 37 Trattore Leggero Kit #72282
Preview by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Looking At The Box Art (What’s supposed to be in the boxes.)

DOC’s version of this small artillery and towing tractor comes packaged in several compartmentalized plastic bags in a light cardboard box. I think this kit was released in the late 1990’s. The box art shows a profile of the towing tractor in gray-green camouflage color, and with the canvas cover stowed, or as DOC states it: “with sheet closed”. The vehicle was made for off-road use, hence the large tires and 4x4 (4-wheel) drive. We can make out the spotlights on the windshield sides, gear shift on the floor, steering wheel, and a rifle rack behind the front seats. On the rear deck is a small frame, or cage, for holding gear on the deck, this frame is not included in either the DOC or the ACE model. At the lower rear is the towing pintle.
My reference states the payload was 800 kg and this vehicle also came with a truck body: the AS37. I have read that the vehicle served in all Italian campaigns and was used by the Germans and the Allied forces when captured. My guess is that we can model the TL 37 towing weapons up to 75 mm field guns and 105 mm howitzers, and single axle fuel and ammunition trailers.

Here we have the wonderful box art for ACE’s version of the Italian TL-37 in 1/72 scale (I love ACE’s box art) released in 2010. On the nose under the radiator grill, is a simple license plate for the Italian Army. The vehicle has an olive or gray-green color; gray-green which is typical color for Italian military vehicles in Europe (Russia, Italy, the Balkans, etc.). An African theatre vehicle would be a desert tan color. Like in the DOC box art, the canvas cover is a light tan color. The seat cushions appear to be brown leather. The canvas tarp is deployed, opened up, which makes sense for a vehicle set in a winter scene. However the opened canvas cover is not included in the ACE kit. The two headlights also have canvas covers to restrict the light beam in combat areas. The good-luck horseshoe on the radiator grill is not included in the model.

Looking At The Parts

DOC’s kit consists of 10 light amber cast resin parts, 11 cast metal parts, a clear plastic sheet for the windshield, and five soft rubber tires, in three clear plastic bags. At top right we see the one-piece tractor body which is very well cast with few imperfections. Because it is cast in one piece, there is no recessed foot area for the driver’s feet and gas & break pedals; something that can be visible and annoying if you build it with the canvas stowed away. I don’t see much interior detail. A good thing to the truck body being cast as one piece is that we will not have to deal with fitting body parts together and filling seams.
At upper left is the frame and rudimentary axles with little ball mounts for the wheels. The ball feature fits into holes in the wheel rims which make it easy to have the front wheels turned left or right. In the center are the five wheel rims for the separate soft rubber tires. I initially did not believe this tractor had all-wheel steering like with the Italian OM 32 light truck but Ilian Filipov from Bulgaria sent me some photos correcting me that the vehicle did indeed have all-wheel steering. Lower right is the cast metal steering wheel; too thick and crude for a good display model. I don’t see an exhaust muffler or pipe, something we’ll have to scratchbuild.

Here are parts of two different, representative sprues from ACE’s TL 37 model kit. For a full view of ACE’s kit sprues, please see their website. The ACE TL 37 has 45 light gray, injection molded parts, and five soft rubber tires,
While most small scale truck kit makers make their tires also out of injection molded styrene like the rest of the kit. ACE in this case uses black soft rubber for their tires which are decently molded with little flash. The tire tread is very well done. At lower left is a section of the tractor body showing little interior detail, just as with the DOC kit. Upper right is the vehicle frame which appears more in-scale and accurate than the DOC kit. Overall molding is good but there are some flash and sink holes, which are common features of many short-run models.

This is all that DOC gives us for assembly instructions; on it I’ve taken notes with a green pen. The drawings are faint in areas, probably due to photocopying the instructions too often. At lower left is a list of the kit parts in both Italian and in English. It is odd that I do not see a towing pintle included. Though the list is numbered, the actual kit parts are not numbered. With these instructions we are going to have to study the parts very well and need good photo references and to build the DOC kit.
Lower right is a plastic bag holding the kit decal markings, rubber tires, and many of the cast metal kit parts. The metal parts are fairly crude and thick. The water-slide decal markings look good and there are markings for four or five Italian vehicles and one German; unfortunately there is no guide as to decal placement or unit identification.

Here is one section of ACE’s kit instructions which are the common exploded-view instructions in seven parts. On ACE’s first page is a parts diagram showing the part locations and numbers. It looks like there is no rifle rack for the back seat in this kit. In the first diagram we see the exhaust muffler and pipe. Despite the box art showing the canvas cover open we see here that the kit depicts it folded up. Here is a good point to notice that the Italian military vehicles had the driver on the vehicle’s right side, like with UK vehicles.
For both the DOC and ACE kit, the rear middle seat cushions are missing but we can replicate them with some thick plastic card.

The last page of ACE’s instructions shows the placement of the markings for three TL 37s. At center left are ACE’s water slide decals for this model kit, good for several Italian vehicles and an Allied captured version.

Both kits have their good points and weaknesses and both will build into a decent TL-37 tractor. Not having fully built either of them yet, the ACE injection-molded plastic kit appears to build into a better display model DOC’s major weaknesses are the cast metal parts and the so-called assembly instructions. With DOC’s sparse interior, I recommend you buy the version with the canvas cover up.


[1] The Observer’s Fighting Vehicle Directory of WW2, by Bart H. Vanderveen, (1969).



Here’s a good right side view of two TL 37 tractors I’ve found at several websites. The lower vehicle is the version DOC and ACE offers, with pneumatic tires, while the upper photo has solid rubber tires. Ropes go across the doors to keep the crew from falling out, On the side of the windshield, the spotlights are not present but there is what looks to be a long horn, the kind with the rubber bulb like I had on my first bicycle. On the rear deck is the railing for equipment storage.
Not visible here are doors on the rear which I presume are for ammunition and gear storage.

Editor's note: for a preview of the DOC AS37, click here.

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Article Last Updated:
27 April 2011
08 May 2011