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In-Box Review
Heavy Semi-truck with Pontoon
U.S. Semitrailer 6-ton
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

U.S. Semitrailer 6-Ton
Model: Z-196

Roco Minitanks made scores of WWII and post-war tanks, halftracks, guns, howitzers, softskins, troops, and accessories. Minitanks’ extensive selection of HO (1/87) military vehicles included heavy wheeled vehicles including U.S. Army 6-ton semi-tractor trailers; this one carries a bridge pontoon.

Minitanks 6-Ton Semitrailer with Pontoon Bridge
The model is factory assembled and packed in the traditional blister pack stapled to the orange and blue striped Minitanks card backing. The model is identified both in German and English. On the back is a brief description of the vehicles, technical data, and system employment, again in both German and English.

The model is 6˝ inches long with the pontoon. The pontoon is 5 inches long.

Roco also made a pontoon bridge to go with this model set, model Z-197 (see below).

Kickin' the Tires
The set is comprised of a tractor, a semi-trailer, and pontoon barge. The models are molded in hard dark olive styrene. It is listed in my Minitanks catalog (postmarked 23 November, 1971) as Pontoon Tractor Trailer, and its molding displays the standard of the era: fairly sharp but marred by sinkholes, flash, seam lines, and visible ejector circles on too many parts. Also, there are many burrs where parts were harshly separated from their sprue. At least the flash is thin and can be removed easily.

The models are snap-tight, parts held by tabs and slots. Surface detail is both raised and recessed: panel lines, straps, tie-downs, and other appliances. Each axle is metal with hard plastic wheels pressed onto each end. Roco did not use any clear lenses for lights. In fact, they forgot the headlamps!

Semi-tractor. Roco model this truck after the Corbitt Model 50SD6 / White Model 666 6 Ton 6x6 Truck (G512 and G514):

    Corbitt 50SD6 Truck, Prime Mover and Cargo, 6 Ton, 6x6, soft top . In 1941 Corbitt Company (Henderson, NC) began production of the Model 50SD6 6 ton 6x6 cargo truck for the U.S. Army. The vehicle was intended as an artillery prime mover so was equipped with a 25,000 lb. winch behind the cab and pintle hooks both front and rear.

    White produced a nearly identical artillery prime mover as Model 666. Brockway produced a chassis using the same design, as a platform for Quickway revolving cranes (Brockway Model C-666/F-666, Ordnance G547) and for bridge erectors (Brockway B-666). Other models based on the 50SD6/666 design included gas tank trucks, Signal Corps vans, and tractors that were produced by Brockway, Ward LaFrance and FWD between 1942 and 1945.

    The common engine for all these trucks was the 855 cu. in. Hercules HXD 6 cyl. (gasoline) rated at 202 hp @ 2150 rpm, 642 lb-ft torque at 900 rpm. The manual transmission has four forward speeds plus a two speed transfer case. The cargo truck length was 286-289 inches.

The undetailed cab canvas top can be removed; the windshield can be lowered, and the fifth-wheel pivots. Behind the cab the spare tire can be removed from its box.

Otherwise there isn’t any decent detail. The cab interior is rudimentary – a steering wheel, and seats. Same for the chassis – just basic representation of the engine, drive train, suspension, etc. .

Trailer. I can find no information on the trailer prototype. The landing gear can be extended to support the trailer off of the tractor.

Pontoon. I found no information on the pontoon prototype. It has basic detail.

Paint, Markings, Instructions and Decals
Minitanks are usually molded in a dark olive, as is this one. No markings, decals, nor information about what could/should be applied is supplied. Quite a few aftermarket decals sheets exist for 1/87 WWII and NATO vehicles so you should be able to mark the machine for your favorite unit.

There is no instruction sheet.

This heavy tractor-trailer makes an impressive model. The model has some detail, both good and bad. Among the drawbacks are ejector marks and flash, lack of detail, missing headlamps, and lack of clear lenses for what lights there are. Regardless, it makes a nice model of a heavy-duty engineer pontoon transport. Recommended.

    Roco was founded in 1960 by Mr. and Mrs. Roessler after Mr. Roessler recognized that plastic injection moulding (which was quite a new development then) made it possible to manufacture models with greater detail compared to the metal models that were produced at the time. Initially Roco made Minitank models only, but entered the model railroading market a few years later with HO- and O-scale models. Models in N-scale models followed in 1965.

    In 2002 the company, which was privately held, was sold and extensive investments and modernization measures turned Roco into one of the most modern manufacturing plants in the model railway industry. Unfortunately, the investments also led to high indebtedness which ultimately resulted in a bankruptcy in the early summer of 2005.

    In July 2005 the Roco assets and trade name were bought by Modelleisenbahn GmbH, this new company will continue production of the Roco models.[2]

Minitanks--Roco or Herpa?
Austrian model railroad giant Roco released this grader as part of their huge HO (1/87) Minitanks series. Minitanks is known for detailing, scale and precision in the model building world ever since. Roco was forced into reorganization recently and the Minitanks series is now distributed by Herpa. For this reason, I refer to the series simply as Minitanks. Herpa's website states, ”On October 1, 2007, Herpa has taken on the worldwide distribution of the military series Minitanks. In cooperation with the Modelleisenbahn GmbH (Roco), the line will be continuously advanced and extended.”

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here – on RailRoadModeling.net.

References and Sources
[1]. Olive-Drab.com. Corbitt White 6 Ton 6x6 Truck. [Web.] 12 October 2011.
[2]. Roco. 87thScale.info. n.d. http://www.87thscale.info/roco.htm.

Roco Minitanks Collectors Club. Minitanks
Page 1. 10-5-2009.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Positionable windscreen and trailer landing gear, removable top. Fair hub detail.
Lows: Thick parts, flash, visible seam lines and ejector circles, rudimentary cab detail, and no lenses for head and tail lights -- and no headlamps!
Verdict: It's still an impressive model that can make a good load for your train or detail a diorama. It can be converted to a heavy civilian truck.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:87
  Mfg. ID: Z-196
  Related Link: Minitanks Pontoon Bridge w/o pontoons
  PUBLISHED: Jun 15, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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