IPMS Gent modelbouwclub


Typeresin, white metal
PaintHumbrol, Vallejo, MIG products
Accessoriesscratch,Evergreen products
ReferencesOwn pictures: Classic Military Vehicles 31, December 2003 : Voitures Militaires Magazine 9, June/July 2006


Tilly Trucks described under the military nomination “Light Utility 5cwt” made up the base for all types of transport vehicles of the British army during WW2. Their loading capacity was about the same as that of the wartime Jeep i.e. about 250 Kg. Main difference between them and the later Jeep is not only their main appearance but mostly the fact they didn’t have four wheel drive capabilities. “Light Utility” was transformed by the soldiers to “Tilly” and this name would become the nickname for vehicles of this type. These light trucks found their origin in the civil market where they started their lives as ordinary civil cars, in this case the Austin “10”. Austin, Hillman, Humber and Standard all made “Tilly’s”. They were all provided with the same type of rear body. The front of these models all look the same but they do differ mainly on the radiator fronts, engine ventilation panels on the sides and the tailboard at the back. I have always admired this model and I certainly wouldn’t mind keeping a real one in my garage. It’s a little truck with a look oh so British. Even in its military livery it can be called a beauty with its civil car nose combined with a rear body and canvas roof. Very typical for these vehicles was the spare wheel fixed on top of the roof.

You can find pictures of these trucks from 1939 as in use with the BEF till 1944 on the Normandy beaches. You can find them in Europe and Africa, in Malta and India. They were put in use again by the German forces after the Dunkirk debacle in 1940 where they could lay their hands on the abandoned ones.

No “Tilly” has ever been released by any of the big manufacturers in 1/72 scale. However, when visiting “Trucks ‘n’ Tracks” in Folkestone I saw that some British cottage industry manufacturers did make some models of them in 1/76 scale. These models are made in resin or white metal and are mainly destined for use in war gaming. Accurate Armour recently released a resin model in 1/35 and Tamiya launched a 1/48 injection moulded model. I was able to make a photo shoot of a Hillman “Tilly” a couple of years ago and this made me decide to buy one of those 1/76 models.

The kit

Tilly I opted for the Gramodels Tilly because I found this the most beautiful one when compared to the white metal ones. Unfortunately, only when starting the build I did realise I didn’t buy a Hillman but an Austin. It has a different radiator front and different side panel vents on the hood. The tailboard also differs from the Hillman one. The kit is sold in a small white box without any markings or picture and can be called rather basic. There are two resin parts one being the chassis plate with seats, the other being the cab and engine hood. You can also find 5 white metal wheels, 2 parts probably representing the rear folding seats, 2 white metal seats as a replacement for the resin ones and finally something that probably must represent a second headlight. There are no decals provided. Comparing the parts with pictures of the real thing one realises that there is a lot of work to do.

Construction starts with cleaning up the resin nose. The radiator front is not recognisable probably because Gramodels had tried to represent its canvas winter protection. Unfortunately I can’t live with that and so the canvas was cut away as well as the headlight located between the engine hood and the left mudguard. The hood was cleaned up and detailed by scribing.

Research on Internet brought to light that the radiator fronts differed between manufacturers. Austin had a main bar in the middle and horizontal grids (Hillman also had a main bar in the middle but with metal wire mesh) and the ventilation covers in the engine hood side panels also differed. Austin had 3 ventilation covers each side whilst Hillman only had 2 each side but with no covers, only metal wire mesh.

The outer lines of the radiator grille are scribed with the help of a cutter and a small strip of Evergreen strip is glued in the middle of the radiator grid. This small strip is wider at the top than at the bottom and so it was necessary to sand the edges to make it thinner. Representing all grids is impossible but I tried doing so by using fine copper wire and I think the end result was quite reasonable. The radiator sides receive a small aluminium strip that must represent a clear border between the radiator and engine hood. All this to represent a decent looking radiator.

Both vehicle doors have thick outside panels, something not so on the real vehicles. This was cut and sanded. The driver’s door was cut out so to be able to represent this in open position.

The cargo bay was distorted and all the panels needed to be cut and thinned till the right shape was obtained. The result of thinning these panels is that the wheel arches become too shallow to accept the wheels and so they need to be deepened themselves. The tailboard also needs adjusting.

The interior:

Tilly A dashboard is provided but, when comparing it with pictures, it does represent more a Hillman type than an Austin. Due to the fact that I’m not sure if these parts have ever been interchanged (like they did on the Willy’s / Ford jeeps) I decided however to keep the dashboard as it was. Some paint and dry-brushing would do the job. A transmission tunnel is provided and two small holes are drilled out to receive a hand brake and a gearbox switch handle. Both seats and the bottom plate come as one and these seats are cut away to be replaced. Those seats were mounted on a frame and even here there was a difference regarding the manufacturer. I followed the Austin type and added two U-form frames made from copper wire. The left door receives a thin paper inner plate representing the door panel. A window and a door handle are added on both doors. Two small plastic parts are added on the Floor just before the pedals and the pedals themselves are made from copper wire and plastic. A scratch build steering Wheel column made from Evergreen rod and a steering Wheel from the spares box complete the interior.

The cargo bay is more detailed on both sides as per the real thing. The tailboard is mounted in open position and receives two fine copper wires representing the chains that keep it horizontal.


Tilly Before finishing the rest of the model I wanted to be sure if the metal wheels provided in the kit could be used. After cleaning them up the profile on the tires was refined using a triangular file so to get a more realistic profile. Axles are not provided so they were made from Evergreen rod. A fellow modeler proposed to replace the wheels by some jeep examples but I didn’t want to do this because I would have lost the so typical design of the rims. Gramodels doesn’t provide any supports or a canvas cover and as all Tilly’s had one they had to be scratch build. Using my photo references I made 3 metal supports that were glued to the sides. I’m a big favourite of using paper napkins when making a decent canvas in this small scale. As it is indeed a very small model I cut out some basic paper parts that I glued on using Klir (Future). First of all I added the vertical part just behind the cab followed by the most rear part above the tailboard. I than added a first paper layer over the complete width of the vehicle. When completely dry and hardened these parts were adjusted in size only to be followed by a new piece of napkin, this one cut to the right size from before. Klir was used again and the whole thing was set aside to dry.

The canvas of this type of Tilly has two small windows on each side. Because the canvas is made of paper, they can easily be cut out using a fine and sharp scalpel. The windows are cut out on both sides and the bottom and the rest is folded upwards and again glued with Klir. The canvas binders are made from a very fine plastic strip formerly used when making super 8 films. The connection between the canvas and the roof of the Tilly also receives some. A folded piece of canvas is added at the rear of the vehicle. When finished and as a final tough, some stretched sprue representing cord will be added on both sides.

The Gramodels model did come with a shovel mounted on top of the roof but this wasn’t well represented and not as fine as wanted. So, the shovel was discarded and later replaced by a PE example from Hauler that fitted perfectly. The spare wheel also finds a place on the roof; it is adjusted at the rear and detailed by adding four canvas belts.

Headlights do differ according to the manufacturer. The Hillman ones are directly placed on the fenders but those of the Austin are fixed to the sides of the engine compartment. I drilled holes in the sides and added a fine metal rod. Both headlights are made of Evergreen rod and receive a very fine copper wire running from the headlight into the engine compartment. Once the vehicle will be painted, windows will be added as well as the driver’s door fixed in an open position.

Painting and decals:

The vehicle first receives a base coat Humbrol 1 (grey) and next, the interior and the canvas are painted in kaki (Vallejo). Wheels and steering wheel in black (Humbrol) because this paint still has a better cover on white metal parts. The entire vehicle is spray painted US medium green (Vallejo) and receives a black Mickey Mouse pattern camouflage. After highlighting and a drybrush all is sealed by a coat of Klir. Decals from the spares box are added. The Tilly had unit markings, an M series number and a plate with a figure 2 tonnage; all of them found in the spares box. Another ceiling coat of Klir is finally followed by a coat of Vallejo matt varnish.

The diorama:

Tilly By this time I received some 1/72 scale products of the Belgian manufacturer Unicorn Models and the idea to put it in a small vignette arose. Products received consisted of some resin boxes, baskets and bags filled with fruit and vegetables and the Tilly was in fact an ideal vehicle to collect groceries. A quick look into the spares box provided a small wall that was ideal enough to represent an English or Norman garden wall. As it would turn out to be a small dio, I would only use a small box, the wall, the Tilly, some crates with vegetables and bags from Unicorn. The white metal figurines provided in the kit are not suited for the purpose, they do represent more the bodies of two dead WW1 soldiers than a driver and its passenger. I used a Preiser figure of an old man with cane and an Airfix figure as the driver that is loading the truck. The vignette was called “They’re good veggies, lad” and was presented as such for the first time at Truks ‘n’ Tracks Folkestone 2009 where it received a bronze medal in its category. Who could ask for more ?

Keep ‘m building.





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