I wanted some Soviet artillery to go with my WW2 Red Army tanks, and naturally the infamous 'Stalin's Organ' must be included in my war gaming fleet.
Above: The Soviet BM-13N was based on the American lend-lease Studebaker truck, which was given the designation US6 by the Soviets. Source: Wikipedia
While there are plenty of display kits for the mid-war model BM-13-16M - which was the standardized version build on lend lease and licence built Studerbaker trucks - there aren't any quick build alternatives for the war gamer. I want to see if I can make a quick and dirty conversion designed with the war gamer in mind.
Luckily Pegasus Hobbies produce a quick build set called - rather vaguely - 'US Army Trucks'. You get two trucks in the set for about £8 and they are quite nice - if simplified - representations of the GMC CCKW, otherwise known as the Studebaker 'Deuce and a Half'. This hugely successful truck was the basis for the Soviet US6, which in turn was the platform for the Katyshua rocket launcher system.
The conversion process
Pegasus's version of the truck is the cargo carrying variant with a flat bed built onto the rear. We need to get rid of this before we can start building the launcher framework onto the chassis. Unfortunately the flat bed and cab are a single component of the model, so it's time to get your saw out!
The two major truck components of the model are the lower one-piece chassis and the upper cab/flat bed, these clip together once you add the cab interior details (seat, dashboard, steering wheel, etc). So I used my Dremmel multi-tool and it's cutting wheel accessory to separate the cab from the flat bed. It's quite solidly attached and will need some shaving and sanding once detached to smooth out the join.
I should mention something about the general quality of the Pegasus Studebaker. When I started modelling again, not so long ago, the first model I made was the Airfix GMC CCKW and I have to say that although the Pegasus kit is obviously simplified some of the detail is quite nice. Areas that are obviously dumbed down are the front grill and there is no 'glass' wind-shields included. It is perfectly adequate for war gaming and in fact quite an attractive model.
Next: Making the new launcher flat-bed.