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In-Box Review
135
Tunnel Rats
U.S. Tunnel Rats Nam
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by: Engin Kayral [ GRAYWOLF ]


Originally published on:
Historicus Forma

introduction

I checked the list of Vietnam War United States military figures of BRAVO-6 produced till now and found out that the company already released figures of almost all branches like Infantry, Marines, Mech.infantry, AFV crew, Military Police, Special Forces like Geren berets, SEALs, MACV-SOG or specific positions like RTO, Corpsman, MG team, Cameraman or Snipers. But every month, Vladimir Demchenko surprises us finding a new interesting subject and sculpting another unique kit. One of the recent kits; B6-35047 is a two-figure kit including Tunnel rats getting ready to search a Viet Cong tunnel. The typical gear on the figures and the following photo shows Vladimir made a detailed search again and inspired by a historical document again.


about the kit

In 1965, soon after the first US combat troops had arrived in Vietnam, it was realized that in some areas the Viet Cong had developed vast tunnel complexes in which to hide from the enemy. It was long known that such complexes existed, but it was not realized just how extensive they were in some areas, how important they were to the Viet Cong, and how difficult it was to detect and neutralize them. The tunnels were extremely dangerous, with numerous booby traps and enemies lying in wait.
At first ,United States and Australian infantrymen volunteered to enter the tunnels armed with only pistols and flashlights – the Tunnel runnerswere born, known to the Australians as Tunnel ferrets. Adding combat engineers and chemical troops to infantry, the units were formalized as tunnel exploration personnel and 4–6-man tunnel exploitation and denial teams were created. They came to be known simply as Tunnel rats with the unofficial motto Non Gratum Anus Rodentum – Not Worth a Rat’s Ass which also used as a shoulder badge.
When one of these tunnels were discovered, tunnel rats were sent in to kill any hiding enemy soldiers and to plant explosives to destroy the tunnels. Equipped with only a standard issue .45 caliber pistol and a flashlight, tunnel rats were usually short or small men in order to fit in the narrow tunnels.They were mostly phlegmatic White or Hispanic soldiers with steel nerves. The successful application of tunnel rats took place in January 1966 during Operation Crimp, a combined US-Australian action against the Cu Chi tunnels in Binh Duong Province.
box

The figures come well packed in standard BRAVO-6 light brown two-figure cardboard box . The front cover shows a photo of the assembled and painted figures and a shoulder badge of the rats. It can simply serve as a basic painting guide. Inside the box, parts are represented with the casting blocks which are placed carefully that allows modeler to remove the parts with no damage. Each figure body and small parts are seperately inserted in small plastic zip-lock bags to avoid unexpected damages during storage or transfer.
parts

The figures are sculpted by Vladimir Demchenko and cast in medium grey resin . The resin quality is very good and details are very crisp. No air bubbles, excess resin or any casting mistakes on the review samples. A short cleanwork will be needed to remove the seamlines on the arms.

FIGURE #1
Posed standing and pulling the slide to load his Colt, the figure comes in 4 pieces. The main part is Body with head and legs. Facial details and hair are well defined. He wears tropical jungle jacket with two chest and two lower bellows pockets - all with flap covers, jungle trousers with two rear and two bellows cargo pockets on both sides and canvas-leather combined Vibram jungle boots. Trotters are inserted into the boots to protect themselves from reptile dangers. Cloth folds of the uniform are well represented. He carries a M1956 pistol belt with a Compass pouch on the right side which is commonly used as an ammo pouch for small arms. Attached to his belt on the back side ; he has MX-306 A/G cable donut, which is a cylindrical wire dispenser that holds approximately 800 meters of field telephone wire.
  • Left arm : Posed to pull the slide of M1911 to load the gun. Seamline on the lower side of arm needs a short cleanwork. Upfolded sleeves and wrist watch are well defined.
  • Right arm : Posed to hold the .45 caliber Colt pistol. M1911A1 pistol and upfolded sleeves are well represented.
  • Field phone : He carries a TA-1/PT handset attached to the left side of his belt. It is a lightweight, waterproof, sound-powered, field telephone for use on field-wire lines to communicate with other field telephones or local, battery-operated switchboards. The TA-1/PT is equipped with a visual, incoming-signal indicator and a generator ringer. It has a talking range of 3 to 6 miles, which is ideal for use on a listening post. The set weighs about 2.7 pounds. Unlike most other military phones the TA-1 uses a dynamic microphone element so it's sound powered. Because of this there is not need for batteries. Signaling to another field phone is by means of a built-in generator that, instead of a crank, uses a level that you pump.

    FIGURE #2
    Posed kneeling to check a tunnel entrance, the figure comes in 4 pieces. The main part is Body with head and legs. Facial details and James Dean style hair are well defined. He wears olive drab army t-shirt, jungle trousers with cargo pockets and leather canvas combined boots. Trotters are inserted into the boots for protection from reptile dangers. Cloth folds of the uniform are well represented.
  • Left arm : Posed to put his hand with M1911 on the ground. A slightly visible seamline should be cleaned. Pistole is well defined and the hole on the barrel is already ready and needs no drilling.
  • Right arm : Posed to hold a MX-991/U angled flashlight to search the tunnel. The flashlight has a 3 way switch, 0ff-Blink-On. Inside the battery compartment under the spring is a storage compartment for a spare bulb. The bottom section unscrews revealing a compartment containing colored filters that can be attached to the front of the flashlight, by unscrewing the front ring, placing the filter inside and screwing the ring back on.
  • Bayonet : Attached to his right ankle, he carries a M7 Bayonet in M8A1 Scabbard for close combat.
    references

    The following book and website can be useful when painting this figure.

  • Osprey Publishing – Warrior 161 – Tunnel Rat in Vietnam by Gordon L. Rottman & Brian Delf
  • David Brubaker’s Vietnam Uniforms and Equipment website
    conclusion

    Another nice two-figure kit to display alone or add to jungle scenes with other figures. Usual great sculpt and high-quality cast.

    Very Highly Recommended

  • SUMMARY
    Highs: Nice subject, fine sculpt,realistic equipment,high quality cast.
    Lows: A few seamlines to clean on arms.
    Verdict: Another unique Vietnam War kit from BRAVO-6 with great sculpting of Vladimir Demchenko.
    Percentage Rating
    97%
      Scale: 1:35
      Mfg. ID: B6-35047
      Related Link: 
      PUBLISHED: Jul 23, 2012
      NATIONALITY: United States
    NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
      THIS REVIEWER: 92.05%
      MAKER/PUBLISHER: 95.03%

    Our Thanks to BRAVO-6!
    This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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    About Engin Kayral (Graywolf)
    FROM: IZMIR, TURKEY / TüRKçE

    Born in 1962,married and having 2 sons. I started modelling about 8 years old building USS Fletcher with mom. It was a model dad brought from USA., I think in those days only a few people in Turkey had info on scale model kits. Grown as an AF officer son , I built many aircraft models in years. Som...

    Copyright ©2017 text by Engin Kayral [ GRAYWOLF ]. All rights reserved.


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    Comments

    Great review Abi. I always like to read a bit of historical info behind the figures, thanks for that. As for the figures themselves, I think Vladi is among the top 3 sculptors today. He made an amazing job on these two as well. Mario
    JUL 24, 2012 - 12:39 AM
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