MiniArt US Motorcyle WLA w/Rifleman
Harley-Davidson began producing the WLA in small numbers in 1940, as part of a general military expansion. The later entry of the United States into World War II saw significantly increased production, with over 90,000 being produced during the war.
The WLA is very similar to civilian models, specifically the WL. Among the changes making it a military model:
- paint and other finishes: painted surfaces were generally painted olive drab or black and chrome- or nickel-plated parts were generally blued or parkerized or painted white. Some parts were left as unfinished aluminum. However, Harley-Davidson was apparently very practical in its use of existing parts and processes, and many finishes remained in their bright civilian versions for a time, and, in some cases, for the whole production run.
- blackout lights: in order to reduce nighttime visibility, WLAs were fitted with a second set of blackout head and tail lights.
- fenders: to reduce mud clogging, the sides of the standard fenders were removed.
- accessories: a heavy-duty luggage rack (for radios), ammo box, leather Thompson submachine gun scabbard, skid plate, leg protectors, and windshield could be fitted. Most came with at least these accessories less the windshield or leg protectors.
- air cleaner: an oil bath air cleaner, originally used for tractors and other vehicles in dusty environments, was fitted to handle the dust of off-road use and to allow easier field maintenance. Oil bath cleaners require only the addition of standard motor oil rather than replaceable filters.
- fording: changes to the crankcase breather reduced the possibility of water intake into the crankcase.
The kit arrives in a sturdy top opening box. The contents are 75 plastic parts for the motorcycle and 11 for the rifleman. There’s also 24 PE parts and 3 clear parts, all for the motorcycle. The box contains:
- One large sprue for the motorcycle, a small sprue for the rider and a small clear sprue.
- A small photoetch sheet
- Even smaller decal sheet.
- The instructions are one piece of glossy paper folded to make 6 sheets of paper that are each a little smaller that letter/A4.
The instructions are clearly draw, well laid out and easy to follow. The colour call outs are in 7 manufacturer’s paints, so there has to be one there you can work with!
Ths is the 7th WLA kit from MiniArt, the same motorcycle kit for each one with a different figure and one of the kits has 2 motorcycles and 2 figures. The kit itself looks to be nicely engineered and I really like the jigs for getting the spokes of the wheels bent to the right shape to fit into the wheels. There’s also a jig to bend 4 of the PE strips to the right contours to fit on the motorcycle. I find those to be really nice touches and turn what might have been a slow careful job into nothing harder than just pressing things into place on a former and then putting them in place. MiniArt looks to have put some thought into it. There are a lot of small parts so it will take some care to not feed the carpet monster.
There’s just one decal option, a second one might have been nice, but doesn’t really detract from the kit at all.
Price is around $26.00 depending where you are.
All in all it looks like a very nice little kit with some thoughtful engineering behind it. We’ll know more when we do the step by step build.
Many thanks to MiniArt for the review sample.