by: Peter Ganchev [ ]
IntroductionThe MJ-1 weapons loader was a utility vehicle, used by USAF armorers to transport and lift up to 3000 pounds (1360 kg) of ordnance or other stores to combat aircraft. Various versions of this vehicle have served from the 1950s and well into the 2000s lifting “mud” for Skyraiders to F-117s and F-15Es. The MJ-1 is powered by a 25 hp diesel engine; torque is delivered to the rear wheels and the lifting arms through a hydraulic transmission.
Previous kitsHasegawa has issued an MJ-1 as a part of their US weapon loading set. Despite being a bit simplified the kit delivers a decent lookalike of an early version of the vehicle.
Contents20 parts in cream-colored resin and a small decal sheet are packed in a sturdy box. 19 parts are used – there is a spare steering wheel. There are 10 construction steps, illustrated with 3D views. The color and decaling guide shows a single paint scheme of an all-yellow vehicle.
Build ObservationsOnce you have the parts off the casting stubs construction will take you minimum time provided you have the references you need. The kit is well-cast, I did not notice shrinking or scratches. The two pairs of lifting arms easily accept the protruding axes of part 3, and actually swing up and down before you attach the front plate to them.
What you are not told is that the kit is a tail-sitter. Because the vehicle’s body is made of two solid chunks, and there’s a significant overhang at the rear you must have something on the lifting plate, as well as the appropriate supports for it (the kit doesn’t include any).
On my sample the light in front of the operator’s place was broken, and I replaced it with an aftermarket one from the Elf 1/72 set. Another one was inserted in the aft wall of the vehicle. I fabricate one of the levers to the right of the dashboard using a piece of wire and a drop of superglue at the top of it.
As on the MD-3 kit the wheels are a bit disappointing in terms of shape and detail. The hydraulic piping to the lifting plate is not represented in the kit. Most pictures of yellow MJ-1s feature white stripes on almost all the edges of the vehicle body. They are not included in the decal sheet, and not mentioned in the painting guide. The dashboard decal does not correspond to the raised instrument panel details on the model. You also need to remember to make hole in it for the steering wheel shaft.
ConclusionsVideoaviation.com’s MJ-1 weapons loader is easy to assemble, and will add a nice accent to any Vietnam War era airfield diorama in the scale.