Ace 1/72 GAZ-M1 "Emka" Soviet WW2 Car

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

History

The GAZ M-1 illustrates the interesting relationship between the Soviet's desire for rapid industrialization in the 1930s, and American assistance towards that goal. A close relationship with the Ford Motor Company resulted in the license production of their 1933 V8-40, with GAZ production spanning from 1935 to 1941. The M-1 became the standard Soviet staff car of the period, with over 60,000 produced. The car proved quite popular with the Soviet people, with the "Emka" even showing up in period songs.

The Kit

To the best of my knowledge, this is the only model kit of a 1930s Ford sedan available in 1/72, which right there makes this well worth having. Upon opening the box, you are greeted by three sprues of plastic parts and a small photoetch fret. The windows are provided in clear acetate, and a small decal sheet presents three choices for your staff car. For those familiar with Ace Model kits, the parts have good detailing, but heavy sprues that will require quite a bit of work to remove and smooth down. Coupled with the spots of flash here and there, this kit is not for a beginner modeler. Still, with a bit of work it can be turned into a nice replica.

Assembly is pretty straightforward, with no real hidden problem areas. The chassis is molded with the fenders in place, with a separate rear axle and differential, lower engine piece, and leaf springs. Flipping this assembly over, the next step is to add the interior, which features separate front seats, rear bench, steering wheel, and shifters. The seats have nice scribed cushion detail, and with some careful painting it should look quite good. Also included is a dashboard, with instruments and glove box molded in.

The upper body is made up of three main pieces, and a quick test fit shows that this assembly will require quite a bit of test fitting and adjusting. Once it is all together, though, it should fit nicely down onto the chassis fenders. A separate front grill hints at future releases of later GAZ staff car variants, as also included in this kit is the rounded shape found on the GAZ 11-73. The remaining details include separate headlights and taillights, bumpers, and spare tire. For the main wheels, there are separate hubcaps for a different option. The photoetch provides the hood sides, license plate holders, side window frames, and windshield wiper blade.

The decal sheet is quite small, as there is not much in the way of markings for these vehicles. Of the three choices, two are Soviet and one is German. The German and one of the Soviet options are overall gloss black, while the third is 4B0 green. The decals provide the requisite license plate markings, and in the case of the Wehrmacht vehicle, a swastika on the front doors.

Conclusion

This is a very nice little kit of a subject popular in real life, but rare in the modeling world. While out of the box it is a Russian vehicle, it would be quite easy to convert this into the original Ford V8-40 (just a grille change and a wheel change, really). With that small change you could build a vehicle that would not look out of place in just about any setting during the late 1930s, from alongside an American Airlines DC-3 to sitting next to an I-15 on a grassy field. For those wanting a more ambitious project, many of the Fords were built as Woodies, and Soviet examples included pickup trucks. The potential is great, and hopefully Ace will expand on this kit to provide some of those options.

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