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1941 Chevrolet Indian Bodied Ambulance (Aust) - Scale Model World
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1941 Chevrolet Indian Bodied Ambulance (Aust) PDF Print E-mail
Mar 15, 2010 at 08:25 PM
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1941 Chevrolet Indian Bodied Ambulance (Aust)
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Cliff Hutchings aka Mr Roo brings us a seriously interesting build article on converting the Tamiya LDRG Chevrolet into an Indian bodied Ambulance serving with the Australian Army.

000 small 

Many thanks to Cliff and my apologies for the delay in getting the article 'live'.


Copyright retained on text 2007@Cliff Hutchings

Copyright retained on colour photos2005,2006 &2007@Cliff Hutchings





In the early days of WW2 the need for vehicles of all types by the Australian Armed Forces lead to the adaptionof many conventional civilian vehicles into vehicles suitable for all aspects of military use. These became known as Modified Conventional Pattern (MCP) vehicles. All but a few were normal 2 wheel (rear) drive vehicles and these had a lot of different bodies built onto them, from ambulances to cargo trucks and station wagon type bodies. Most of these bodies were built using a wooden frame with either sheet metal panels or, in the case of the Indian bodied ambulances, a board sheet (like hardboard sheets) with doped canvas over them as per WW1 aero planes to waterproof them. In Australia Chevrolets were imported by General Motors Holden who had their own body building plant so most vehicles were bought in as cowl and windscreen units with the rest of the body been built here in Australia from local materials. A lot of these Holden bodies of the time were wooden frames with sheet metal panels added to the exterior of the frame.    

 00- 1940 Chev indian ambulance

(Photo 00) Credit - This photo used with permission of Keith Webb http://www.oldcmp.net/ 

While this original photo shows a 1940 Chevrolet, the 1941 Chevrolet with the same front as the Tamiya LRDG Chev kit was also used in large numbers along with 1941 Fords and Civilian style Dodge vehicles. The use of the 1941 Chevrolet in so many roles made the Tamiya LRDG Chev lit a natural kit to convert to a multitude of different vehicles in service with the Commonwealth Armed Forces during WW2. 


The main reason most of these vehicles were at El Alamein was that the top Brass were expecting a lot of casualties from the fighting and Medical Units were pushed up close behind the lines to cater for the expected wounded. Ambulances included this type of Indian Bodied vehicle as well as Austin K2 (Katy’s) and also a fair number of ordinary 30cwt and 3 ton General Service Trucks. One of these medical units was the 2/11 Australian Field Ambulance and I decided to mark my model appropriately by making decals to suit. I searched the Australian War Memorial Museum (AWM) for photos of ambulances at El Alamein and came up with several showing these Chevrolet Ambulances in place waiting for any casualties. One really interested me (neg. # 013270) because even though it was in black and white it showed 3 of these ambulances, of which the centre one was not painted in the normal desert colour of light stone. Instead it was painted in the darker green but the rear body and roof was all white with interlinking red crosses and not separate as normal. As I had built this model two years ago and painted it in pre 1942 Australian Service Green (with no weathering or decals) it meant that I only had to repaint the rear body and weather it to suit.  

The Parts 

The only parts of the Tamiya LRDG Chev kit that are used are the chassis, springs and axles, along with the front body panels and seat. The chassis has to be lengthened to give the ambulance the correct wheelbase and the missing bars in the grill have to be added along with the side lights on top of the headlights. The bonnet also has to be modified with the removal of the kit cowl.


As I make a lot of these conversions, some time ago I made up a cowl and windscreen unit in resin to fit the LRDG kit so I would not have to make the same part again and again.





01 Drawing

 (Photo 02 & 03 & drawing 01) – I used an Italeri GMC kit closed cab part to make the cowl/windscreen unit. I added the reinforcing panel about the windscreen and then cut the remaining molded on roof/back wall section off with a razor saw. After removing the molded on bonnet from the Italeri cowl by scoring along the molded on joint with a sharp knife I cut the cowl in half (widthwise) and added in a 2mm wide spacer to widen the cowl so it fitted the Tamiya kit which was 2mm wider. The Italeri kit dashboard was widen the same amount and a new Instrument panel was added to the glove box position to make it a right hand drive. This was added to the cowl/windscreen unit and filler was used to fill any gaps. Then the part was cast in resin as I intend doing a lot more of these types of conversion and don't want to have to make this part again. (Italeri GMC kits are too expensive to use every time one wants to make a model)  

The Build



(photo 04 & 05) The chassis was cut and lengthen to a scale 134inch wheelbase just behind where the cab sits. The chassis was notched using a razor saw and a sharp knife blade and the new plastic insert cut with notches the same way. Joining the chassis this way results in a stronger joint once the glue has dried. The kit floor pan was altered by cutting the round corners at the back of the floor pan off with the razor saw and adding two small triangles of plastic the same thickness as the kit floor.) 




(photo 06, 07 & 08) I have always found that the LRDG kit bonnet does not fit right even when built as the LRDG version and the fit gets worse when you attempt to modify the cowl so once the kit cowl has been cut from the bonnet by using a sharp knife to score along the original mold line I shave off the molded on central hinge and using the razor saw I cut the bonnet into two down the centre. The front needs to stay the correct width but the rear needs to be narrowed a little. I allow for a 10thou piece of card to be inserted between the pieces as well so that I can reform the raised piece at the front above the grill as this is fixed and the bonnet fits either side. A piece of 1/2mm wire is CA glued on to represent the bonnet hinge. Once finished the bonnet is placed in position on the cowl and a line drawn so that the cowl can be modified with filler to fill the gap.) 





(Photos 09, 10, 11 & 12) - modifications to the kit front included vents made from spare PE sprue and glued in place to represent the top cowl vent and the local Australian side vents. The missing grill bars were also added by cutting new bars from plastic strip and sheet (for the top curved ones) along with the 1941 commercial pattern side lights on top of the headlights which was made from plastic rod flattened on one side to suit the shape of the headlights. Once the glue was set this was then shaped with a sharp knife


photo 13) the dash board was made by cutting an Italeri GMC dashboard in half and adding 2mm to the centre so the width equals the width of the new cowl unit. A glove box lid was placed over the existing LHD instrument panel and a new instrument panel was inserted into the old glove box area. This modified part I then cast in resin to use on future conversions. The rough instrument panel on the resin part was scraped off using a sharp blade and a new instrument panel was cut from 10 thou sheet and fixed in place. As most of this area will not be seen I just painted the instruments a different colour during finishing and did not add markings etc.)




(14,15 & 16) -  A start was now made on the rear body by adding packers to the top of the rear chassis rails to bring the new floor up to the same level as the cab. A New floor was now constructed from 1mm plastic sheet 2mm wider then the chassis rails. To the edges of this two uprights were added to form the wheel-wells on the outside and the up-stand to the first stretcher position on the inside. A further piece of sheet was added on top to form the lower stretcher position and top of the wheel-well. 2mm X 2mm strip was used to form traverses under this shelf.) 


(photo 17) -  the finished body viewed from the rear showing the small squares added to close off the rear wheel-well areas. The sides, front, back & roof were all cut from 1mm sheet with the rounded top corners being cut from 25mm household PVC plumbing pipe cut into quarters. This requires CA glue to fix and is hard to sand and work in general so in future I will buy plastic tube to do the job as it is easier to glue and work. In the sides the location of a small window was measured and scaled from the photo I was using and cut out by drilling a small hole in each corner and then scribing the lines between until it was cut through. The edges were then tidied up with a file. A small canvas cover was used as a window cover as I decided to have the rear canvas flap down because I had recently built a CMP ambulance with a full interior and felt I did not really need to do another. As the interior will not be seen I did not tidy up anything inside except to fill any gaps that went through to the exterior.) 

Last Updated ( May 27, 2010 at 06:40 PM )
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