Thursday, June 15

New 35th scale Tri-cars & container storage to fill our your Vietnam scenes from Gecko Model

Gecko Models continues to broaden their 1/35th scale Vietnam-era range of plastic kits with new & much needed background items that aren't specifically soldiers or military vehicles, but the everyday fabric of life in that time & theatre. We look at both the three-wheeler & container kits in our preview...

New 35th scale Tri-cars & container storage to fill our your Vietnam scenes from Gecko Model 

To add to their recent series of rural farming scenes we looked at, Gecko Models are really investing in the Vietnam War-era South East Asian theatre. We have two new products for you in their future releases in this preview...

Saigon Shuttle Tricar w/Driver & passengers model kit(Vietnam War Era)
From Gecko Models
Kit No #35GM0111
1/35th scale
The Subject: The Lambro 550 or the "Xe lam"
In the 1960s, the "Xe lam" (local name for Lambro) dominated every corner of the southern metropolis. Until the 1990s, the Xe lam began to disappear from the southern streets, replaced by public buses. Xe lam was then encoded in the minds of the old Saigonese as an unforgettable memory.
The Lambro 550 or Xe Lam was introduced in 1967 and was named after its maximum carrying capacity (550kg). The Lambro 550 was based on the earlier Lambro 200 and 450, still using a 200cc engine. This improved it over the Lambro 200. In addition, the brake system was upgraded to a three-wheel hydro system while maintaining a top speed of 62km/h. The light at the cabin's head distinguishes the Lambro 550 from the Lambro 200. Lambro 200 had a central light, while Lambro 550 had two lights on either side. The trunk was lengthened to 1420mm and widened to 1250mm. The trunk is 1015mm tall, which made it suitable for carrying the passengers. The capacity could be anywhere from 10 to 14 people.

Lambro 500's in Saigon in 1960s
There were 3,200 Lambros in Saigon alone in 1968, out of 17,000 running throughout the southern region. When public bus services were discontinued in 1971, the number of Xe Lam in the city increased to 30,000, seven times that of taxis. There were two types of three-wheel transportation at the time: Lambro and Horse-Drawn Waggons. However, unlike the small horse-drawn waggons that had previously been used in the Mekong Delta, the Xe Lam was more convenient and comfortable for commuters.

Lambretta tricycles in 60's Saigon.
It was the main means of public transport. It could carry up to 10 passengers sitting on 2 benches at the back. Whilst the driver’s cabin had a canvas top to protect them from the sun and rain. The front seats by the driver’s side could also be occupied, accommodating for at least two extra passengers.

The interior of a still running version...Great fan!
The Lambros were present in Saigon from as early as the 1950s. They reached their peak time in the early 1970s. With the privatization policies adopted by the old Southern Government, people could afford instalment purchases with very low interest rates. This led to the strong increase of Xe Lam ownership. At that time, the vehicle itself was not cheap: 30 gold bars (1.125 kg) each. After 1975, the Xe Lam still played an important role in transportation in the South of Vietnam, due to the lack of and immobility of cars. However, in the 1990s, cheap motorbikes became popular, meaning that the Xe Lam became less common. It was used mainly for carrying garbage or other materials. Today, 3-wheel Lambros can still be found in Saigon.

Lambretta Lambro 550 at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

The Kit:
The "Saigon Shuttle Tri-car w/Driver & passengers model kit(Vietnam War Era)" as it is called from Gecko Models in 1/35th scale is a greatly anticipated kit. There area lack of civilian subjects in injection plastic in our scale, so this and Gecko's recent push for new kits in this era and genre will be well received we are sure. Nothing much is mentioned in the features but we do know that a driver and passenger are included!
A coloured CAD version of the kit is provide by Gecko hinting at one of the colour schemes. There are countless possibilities of this three wheeled taxi for you to choose from.

US Military 8' Storage Container Set (Vietnam War Era)
From Gecko Models
Kit No #35GM
2 containers in each kit with water & fuel cans included
Photo-etched parts included
2 marking choice supplied in this kit.
1/35th scale
The Subject: The US Army's 8 foot Container in the Vietnam theatre
Containers became the backbone of logistics support for Vietnam, and nearly every major Army unit moving into the theatre carried their spare parts and supplies in containers. Many containers never made it back from the theatre; they were employed as command posts, dispensaries, portable stores, bunkers, and so forth. The containers provided millions of square feet of covered storage that the theatre lacked.

1968 - A Conex container is being unloaded upon the arrival of the 1st Cav Div. (Airmobile) to Camp Evans, 22kms north of Hue. Photographer: SP6 Samuel L. Swain
Commercial industry began to develop methods of moving containers. During the Vietnam conflict, Sea-Land Container Services, Inc first introduced containerships designed only to carry containers.
Inter-modal containers were developed to be shipped via rail, truck, air or ship. Today, they are used commercially as well as by all military services. The use of inter-modal containers may possibly be the most valuable element in global transportation in most industrialized countries.
The term "CONEX" remains in common use in the US military to refer to the similar but larger ISO-standard shipping containers. Each kit "contains" two containers

The Kit:
We have a lot more detail from Gecko on this kit than the three wheeler. We do know that there are two containers in each kit, an that as a bonus Gecko supply ten water /fuel cans in the kit also (unexpected).

The kit is mostly plastic, but there is some photo-etch to replicate the thinner parts of the container. 
There are two marking choices supplied in this kit.
The decal sheet provides shipping and ID stencils for each container which is kind of indispensable really!
These kits have not been advertised by distributors yet - which is usually the first people know of them, so no pricing or other information yet. We will let you know when we know more.

You can find out more about Gecko Models kits on their website