Resicast 35.1246 1/35 GS Wagon Mk.X with horses
Although the turn of the 20th Century came right in the middle of great technical advances -- the Maxim gun, breech-loading quick-firing artillery, artillery plotting and targeting systems, Dreadnoughts, the automobile, the airplane, the radio, the tank, and many, many others that changed not just the face of war but of the world -- World War One, the Great War, was largely a horse-drawn affair at division level and even above.
Resicast first captured this a couple years ago with their 18-pdr gun, less the horses, and now has taken a big step by offering this kit as part of their Great War Centenary line of kits
The General Service (GS) Wagon Mk.I was introduced in 1862 and successively improved to the last of the line, the Mk.X, introduced in 1905. Actually there was a Mk.X* and Mk.XI, but the only difference was the dust caps with drag rings on the wheels. From the beginning, successive versions were efforts to reduce cost, while improving turning radius and stability, two opposing needs, and rough-terrain capability. Although wagon boxes differed, they seemed to have about 59 cu ft and 2000 pounds capacity, although I assume the latter could be increased with larger teams. It is obvious that troops in the field managed to load 'er up as needed.
The standard configuration was a simple 2-horse team/set, which could be ridden but was usually driven, and with the possibility to use 2 or 3 teams. These are logistic vehicles, not horse artillery, so speed wasn't a huge factor. The British standard was to use pole, not shaft, draught with a breast, not neck, collar for a number of reasons. Harness is typically a wire-rope covered in leather.
Although horse-drawn transport and artillery survived the Great War into World War 2, they were eclipsed by the heavier demands on transportation services, the advantages of mechanization, and the decline of horse population, particularly due to the Great War.
In my opinion, Resicast leads the way celebrating the Great War Centenary with new unique products in 1/35 scale - several artillery pieces, diorama bases, the Holt Tractor, and now the G.S. Wagon and there are more in the pipeline.
I have mentioned, in other reviews on AMPS, that I consider Resicast resin products to be top-of-the-line and this is no different. The parts are highly detailed, complete, with little flash/membrane, and require little clean up. They have a wonderful molding process that uses minimal pour block attachment points, not only saving time but damage while removing parts, but which still results in completely poured parts. All parts are lettered/numbered on the pour block. The parts are bagged by location in the assembly process. And everything is wrapped in layers of bubble wrap in a strong cardboard box, so the likelihood of damage is very low.
Anyway, here are the wagon parts, laid out after washing.
Here are the horse and harness parts.
Resicast instructions are typically 2-4 black/white pix per page, usually showing several views of the same operation. The pictures are usually clear enough, but that wasn't always the case in this kit. There is a parts inventory page which is always handy. Reconcile the parts, the inventory, and the instruction steps as there are always a few glitches - for example, part A20 is the brake crank handle not the front wheels; the front wheels are included but have no part number. It also pays to go through the instructions beforehand; in many cases there may be a better view on a subsequent page. Some pictures may show assembly at an advanced stage (I might also).
There are rarely painting or marking instructions; in this case, none. There may be a picture of a finished kit, but in the main, I think Resicast expects you to have the wherewithal to figure it out yourself - IMO, it's half the fun.
I always number my pages for reference and did so starting at 1 from the first assembly page right after the parts list. Here are a few samples.
The horse instructions are just a double-sided sheet with no parts list and a few errors which I'll discuss later.
Another great Resicast kit, but I really wanted horses to be just quietly standing or even just plodding along as I had several scenes already in mind. These two horses are a bit too lively and I am not sure what they are really doing.
Surprisingly, the wagon box has a slight but noticeable warp on the left side, so I started by taking that out. I used soft balsa, notched to protect detail, sandwiched between steel rules, and clamped - my method is to immerse in hot (not boiling) for 60 seconds, quench in cold for 60 seconds, then let it all sit for a day.
Start by adding the frames (A12, A18) to the wagon box. The detail on each side of the wagon box, especially at the front, isn't exactly the same and some fitting and filing is required to get the frames in upright. I ended up making the front A12 match A18 to prevent conflicts with the seat and brake parts later.
I was unable to determine if the side posts of A12/A18 should fit flush against the box sides or there is an expansion gap on the real thing. I finally decided not to leave an unexplained gap and glued them tight.
From the bottom of page 1 through page 2 starts the assembly of the front yoke. Just make sure parts are square and true. The pin should be about 8mm long and can be trimmed later. Use a small drill to open the holes in A14, A13, A17, and the wagon box for then pin. Make sure the longitudinal bar (A17) is free to move. I added a big nut on the underside to "detail" the pin.
Page 3 and 4 complete the front assembly, adding the axle (A11) and some photoetch supports (P4). These do not fit between the yoke straps at the front and must be trimmed. When installed they do not sit flush with the bar and I filed them down flush. Note the hooks (A27) mount to the front side of the crossbar (A10) and then the support arms (A28) connect the axle and the hooks on the crossbar - look at the bottom picture. The pole bracket (A7) doesn't have an exact position, so I fit it to line up between the two straps on the other side.
Now is a great time to clean up the front and rear wheels - to include making them fit smoothly on the axles. See short discussion in the "Half-point" below about wheels to understand the axles are angled slightly down to make the wheels track properly. Resicast has done a marvelous job trying to replicate this. Also make sure the wheels slide on/off freely; do not push, pull, or twist, or you run the risk of breaking the axle. I had to open all the hubs, gently, using a succession of small number, metric, and fractional drills while also gently sanding the axles smooth. Do not glue the wheels on now, they just need to be available when fitting other parts.
Now for the rear axle, pages 5 and 6. Start by gluing the rear axle (A16), being careful the little bracket/pocket where the longitudinal bar (A17) will fit is facing forward. Then mount the rear y-frame (A15) -- I only glued it at the slot in the rear axle, not at the front and not at the rear.
Next, look at the side-view drawing in the "Half-point" and note how the front yoke, rear yoke, and longitudinal bar should align. The kit does not do so naturally and it is somewhat important both for alignment and for the attitude of the draught pole later. I played with this and finally decided I could get everything straighter if I allowed the longitudinal bar to sit higher (closer to the wagon box floor) on the rear axle - this meant cutting the bottom edge out of the pocket. I don't think I'm being too AMS-y here but maybe so.
And finally, I didn't actually glue the front assembly in until the very end of the build; it's just too vulnerable while working with the rest of it and would be harder to paint properly.
OK, back on page 5, add the 3 brackets starting with P9 which mounts against the rear axle (A16), then P19 which does also, and then fit P12 so it lines up about the mid-point of P9. I jumped ahead and attached the brake operating bar (A22) at this time, running a brass pin through it and P12 to allow it to move while the other parts were being assembled.
On page 6, the main goal is to get the brake bar (A19) and the two brass brackets (P8) mounted. You first have to fit the rear wheels on the axle so you can properly position the brake bar - and decide first if your wagon is moving, brake off, or stopped, brake on. The brake bar is too thick for the brackets to fit, so a fair amount of sanding is needed. Next look at the pictures and test fit the operating spring (A24) - you may find that the hole in the brake bar is too far inboard and will foul the reinforcements (P10) -- fix that.
With the wheels on, I taped the brake bar onto the wagon and partly folded the brackets (P8) - it doesn't take much to figure out that the brake bar will not slide through the brackets if they are completely glued onto the rear yoke. Then fit the brackets such that the brake bar will be far enough back to clear the wheels and glue one end of the bracket to the yoke.
Now all the other parts can be added. I put on the two reinforcements (P10), slid the brake bar into the brackets and finished gluing them down. Then I added the brake spring (A24), the brake shaft (A23) and the brake handle (A20) - although it retrospect, it is entirely too vulnerable there and should be left to the end. While doing all this, plan ahead for running the brake rod later.
The last 3 pages, 7-9, are a number of detail parts that can be done in almost any order. You will note by the pix below that I did not always follow the instructions.
The most difficult part is getting the wheels glued on correctly. Again, see the "Half-point" for a discussion of wagon wheels. Resicast has angled the axles but it is still difficult to get the wheels rotated correctly such that they appear straight from the top and bottom and the dish/angle equal front and rear - unlike "normal" wheels, these always look out of alignment even if they aren't. I have a 1/2" thick soft balsa block, 1-9/16" wide (that is scale, BTW) that serves as a template to align the bottom of the wheels.
Fair warning -- once on the wheels, or rather the axles, are vulnerable. If you are handling the wagon, there aren't many spots to grab and fingers seem to favor the wheels. They are big and can place a lot of leverage on the resin axles. I broke a rear wheel off and a front wheel twice -- which may account for some less than aligned wheels and what I prefer to think of as large globs of axle grease in these pictures.
The most critical part is the getting the draught pole (A2) level. As presented the pole wants to stick up in the air, placing it up on the horses' shoulders and not down near or below the breast harness. I fit and filed and thought I had it done, but when I got to final assembly, it was still too high. I recommend not being concerned that it align with the yoke (A9), which it should, but fit it such that it points downward a bit. All of the pieces of the front assembly seem to contribute a bit to the problem, so I'm not sure of a more elegant fix.
You will also find that a number of parts require fitting so that later parts align correctly. As an example, I mounted the seat earlier to protect the brake lever (P14). I had to do some test fitting of the brake parts (P1, P15, P16, rod) to be sure there were no conflicts with the wagon box and rear axle. For protection, I didn't mount the cargo hooks (P16) until after I had mounted the cargo racks (A25, strip) and I replaced the kit strips with some Evergreen that seemed a tad thinner and wider.
I added limit chains under the wagon box (see drawing in the "Half-point") as they are rather obvious (and look cool). I also chose to not use P5 for chains but rather Model Shipways 42LPI (MS0516B) and 27LPI (MS0435B) brass chain for all this and later with the horses. On the tail gate, I followed the chain pattern shown in Ref#2 rather than what the kit provided.
Lee Marvin (sorry, I just had to say it). Taylor (Ref#4) suggests the Hu102 is good for transport and that is what I used, straight from the tin, with very little highlighting, detailing, or anything else.
The Horses and Harness
The horses are easy -- head/neck attach to the body, ears to the head, tail to the body. There are pin-pricks to mark where the ears go, but the pictures do not help much with orientation. The neck of one fit very clean, the other not so well, but the filling and filing was minimal.
I painted the horses and their harness, and all the separate harness pieces using Vallejo Model Colors - I tried for a brown dark bay look. Then I began placing the harness pieces. The instructions show where but don't give much guidance on sequence or alignment.
First, I made all the F+C pairs and cleaned them up; note that end-ring on F and the end tab on C should be about 90-degrees to each other. Note that F is really a short piece of chain replicated in resin - a real chain might look better but I stuck with the resin piece. While that was drying, I attached strap B as shown, lined up so it pointed at the molded harness on the back of the horse, but not tight against the body.
Then I test-fit F+C on B so I could see about where G&H would go -- note that F+C angles down to the rear -- then I attached F+C to B, then G to the molded harness and F+C, then finally H to fit. That the horses are not just standing straight and still means that each harness run is a bit different.
The final pieces are at the bottom of the next page, but P3 and P4 labels are reversed. I put P4 further down on the harness to allow the reins to run more like I've seen in pictures. It's best to save P3 to last as shown and just get it folded and glued as a loop - a couple might need to be shortened.
Turning the page, you'll note you are working the traces and other details, but there are a few instruction errors to get around and a general vagueness. First, in the upper left, the unlabeled arrows are for the s(w)ingletree (A31) and two straps (E) - note the latter has two rings. The difficulty is that you have a unbroken resin ring on the swingletree and another on the strap that are supposed to interlock. I very carefully sliced through the swingletree ring at the base then gently worked the strap ring through that -- all the time cognizant of the orientation so the straps would come out as shown in the picture, it's too fragile to attempt more than once. At this stage, I should have just glued the strap ring to the swingletree ring so they would sit straight and square as shown, but I got hung up on what it all might look like in the end (and as you will see later, one came out good, the other not so).
Now make the traces, D+J (or P5), and clean them up. I elected to use 27LPI brass chain instead of J/P5.
Connecting the traces to the horse and the swingletrees and that to the wagon and having it all level and natural is an interesting exercise. I do think D is too long but I used it, then ended up with the chain also a couple links too long, making the horse a bit more forward on the pole than I wanted.
The instructions make no mention of reins. I made them from Lin-o-Tape 1/32" pinstripe masking tape, painted leather on both sides. They glue onto P2, run through P4, and then back to the driver's box.
Lastly, the breast pole chains are not included or mentioned in the kit. I made a simple representation of them again using Model Shipways 27LPI brass chain. The molded harness is really more appropriate for a pole support bar (also not provided) not chains, and I don't think the draught pole end is correct either, but I faked it.
So, the base is too short, the traces are too long, and I have no driver-- that's mostly my problem. It's a pretty nifty model with lots of diorama/vignette possibilities.
Pros: It may appear simple, but it is a tremendously complex kit that Resicast executed almost perfectly. It's a valuable and representative addition to the Great War Centenary line of kits.
Cons: The breast harness chains and reins were overlooked, but are easily added. Detailed, but delicate resin parts make the model but sometimes vague instructions and part interactions make the difficulty. The horse poses limit diorama/vignette possibilities.
for WW1 modelers with resin and photo-etch experience who want something different.
I would like to thank
for providing AMPS the review copy.
Reviewed by John Ratzenberger, AMPS/Eastern Carolina Plastic Modelers and AMPS/Central-Virginia.
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The Half Point
Side, front, and rear views of the wagon - despite being in the same publication (Ref#2) and labeled as scale, I had to perform a little copier magic to get an approximation. I mostly used these to understand the vehicle and to interpret the chains as mentioned in the build.
A wheel in detail. The wheel was dished to strengthen it for side-load, however all wheels needed to track the same so the axle was tilted down to make the "bottom half" be vertical. All other pieces were squared/adjusted to make that all work such that the tyre rolled flat, etc.. The picture of the wheel on the right is rotated to show the bottom half vertical and the hub/axle tilted down. This is the look you are trying for.
A period image of a team hitched to a GS Wagon showing the pole chains, harness, and reins. I think the team is too close to the wagon, but then both the kit and I got it too far away. The image on the right is one version of a draught pole that would seem more appropriate; I chose not to modify the kit one.
1. Smith, D.J.; Discovering Horse-drawn Transport of the British Army; Shire Publications, Ltd, Oxford, UK, 2008 reprint; ISBN: 978-0-85263-403-5.
This little book is probably extracted from reference #2, or a later version; it provides very useful information and photographs on the GS Wagon, and other types, as well as harness and wagon construction.
2. ----; Army Service Corps Training 1911, Part III, Transport; Published under the authority of HMSO, London. Original, with amendments to 1915.
Almost everything one needs to know about period transport organization; forms of transport; transport animals; saddlery, pack saddlery and harness; military vehicles; and conveyance of War Department stores - text, tables, and drawings galore.
3. Trawin, Len; Early British Quick Firing Artillery (Field and Horse);, Nexus Special Interests, Hertfordshire, England, 1997, ISBN 1-85486-154-9.
The chapter on Harness, pages 393-403, provides a great amount of detail to supplement reference #2, although one needs to distinguish between horse artillery and army service corps usage.
4. Taylor, Dick; Warpaint: Colours and Markings of British Army Vehicles 1903-2003 Volume 1; Mushroom Model Publications, ISBN 978-83-89450-63-0.
5. ----; Detail of the Sets of Harness required for the Various Natures of Service Pattern Vehicles; Published under the authority of HMSO, London, 1915. A reprint by Firestep Editions in association with the National Army Museum; ISBN: 978-1-908487-72-8.
"These Tables have been drawn up for the guidance of all concerned, to shew the sets of harness required for the various descriptions of service pattern vehicles. They must not be quoted as an authority for demanding harness from the Army Ordnance Department." No pictures, but how could any collection be complete without it.