by: Russ Amott [ ]
In answer to requests for a light weight means of transportation for airborne troops, the Cushman company provided the Model 53 scooter. With a fixed suspension, simplified design and heavy springs on the seat for driver comfort, the scooter was simple, easy to maintain and manage, and could tow a reasonable load. The downside was that the scooter weighed in at just over 250 lbs, and was easily damaged when dropped by parachute. Bumpers were added to the frame, increasing the weight by another 50 lbs, while using the same delivery means, resulting in more bent and broken scooters.
The Model 53 did see service in limited numbers in Western Europe but was eventually withdrawn. Sales of the Model 53 continued post war, advertised as the scooter that the airborne went to war with.
Plus Model has expanded their line of Cushman scooters with a new model of the airborne version.
The kit comes in a clear plastic blister pack and is made up of 13 resin parts, a photo etch sheet with 24 parts and piece of copper wire. A photo of the completed kit is on the insert paper, with assembly instructions inside, in hand drawn form.
The resin parts are attached to the pour blocks and offer a reasonable, if somewhat simplified level of detail. The engine is exposed on this kit, so a muffler and engine parts, including the drive chain, are included. Foot rests are added to the side of the frame. All resin parts were well molded with no visible defects.
The instructions are a bit difficult to follow as for exact placement of parts. Frequent reference to photographic images will be needed. Fortunately there are a large number of images available on line and many of these scooters are present in museums.
One marking option is provided, for a scooter from the 101st airborne division. Color is overall olive drab. I have seen photos of the scooter, which is a restoration. I don't know if the markings are original from wartime service.
Comparison of the kit to the actual scooter will reveal that many of the scooters have different front and rear wheels-the rear has a more aggressive tread pattern. The front tire is frequently more rounded. This includes the actual scooter on which the single painting option is based on. Also, having initiated the construction of this kit, I have found that the front tire does not allow for the fit of the front mud guard in the forks. I don't know if it is the tire diameter or the length of the forks, or a combination of both.
This will build up to a very nice looking model, and provides room for additional detail for those who wish to add it. It will need care in assembly and for a proper look the front tire issue will need to be corrected. For those who want something extra for an airborne diorama this kit should serve nicely.
Plus Model lists the kit at their website with a suggested retail price of $21.20.