Model : Mfezi ambulance
Manufacturer : BaxMod
Scale : 1/72
Type : resin
Paint : Humbrol
Accessories : Scratch
The Mfezi was designed entirely in South Africa as the successor of the Rinkals type ambulance. The vehicle was build using the experience gained in ruff and mined terrain. It is one of the few ambulance types that provide a mine proof protection to a crew of 4 and 6 wounded.
Inventions are often done when people live in periods of shortage and I must believe that this was so in South Africa. The country was submitted to a yearlong embargo and so it needed to develop and help itself. That way, they needed to fly longer than other country’s with certain aircraft types and they needed to invent their own weapons industry.
The Mfezi has also been adapted on the inside to serve either as a command or a control vehicle. No outer changes have been done to it, only interior adaptations.
The kit is made by BaxMod, an abbreviation of Baxter’s Models, apparently a South-African modeller who succeeded in creating a whole line of 1/72 vehicles. They also make some conversion kits for aircraft so that some typical South-African types can be created.
The parts are made from white resin and they are shipped in a firm cardboard box. They have a lot of flash but can easily be cleaned up. The instructions come in 2 pages but instead of drawings they use a computer animated combination of drawing / picture on which you can easily identify the cleaned-up parts. Painting instructions are mentioned in each stage if necessary.
The decal sheet allows only one version to be built.
The kit is rather complete with an ambulance interior and an engine. You only need to add some minor details like cabin interior. All doors can be positioned open or closed.
You really need to clean up every item because of the flash. It’s a soft type resin, maybe a bit too soft because on first impression it seems too easy and you are tempted to sand away too much detail. Later stages in building proved I was right regarding this because I regularly needed to correct things with the aid of Vallejo putty.
All parts can only be glued using cyanoacrylate glue or “superglue”. Please let me remind you all that inhaling resin dust is bad for your health and you better use water abrasive paper.
I will describe and comment the various stages using their stage numbers as per the instructions.
1: Drivers compartment interior:
This only consists of a one-piece floor-front plate and a steering wheel. I omitted this steering wheel until the end so I could add some interior detail in the form of pedals, a better dashboard and gear stick.
2: engine front and radiator grille:
The radiator grille and part of the internal cooling come in one piece that must be implanted in the engine front panel. The grille in my example was slightly damaged in one of the corners but repair was easy. The towing eyes on the front panel need to be drilled out.
3 engine front from stage 2 and nose:
The engine front is put together with the nose of the Mfezi. This nose will later on receive a hood.
Putting it all together was no problem and everything looked fine until I needed to fix this part in stage 12 to the truck’s body. Only than it looked as, on my model, the nose position was warped. Adjusting was needed in order to avoid a very badly looking truck, something that cannot be corrected with adjustment of the chassis.
The front plate will receive later on, as a finishing touch, two grab handles just on top of the radiator grille and two handles on the sloping part of the nose.
4: ambulance body:
These come in left and right halves and form the biggest parts of the kit. Both parts must be cleaned up very carefully and both bottom sides must be sanded equally. Best thing is to glue the water abrasive paper on a smooth surface like a piece of glass plate.
All windows must be constructed and cut from a piece of clear plastic. This plastic may be a little bit thick and may even be tinted light blue because these windows are made from security glass and offer protection against explosives.
The left body half in my kit showed signs of a bad injection. The bottom part of the engine was extremely thin and you would rather believe that is was a piece of flash rather than it former part of the body half. I opted to clean up the roof from stage 14 first before gluing both halves together. A dry run of both halves showed that they bended towards each other. Because the body has straight edges and a V-shaped bottom, it seemed more than necessary to look if the straight edges could be maintained. It was easier to adjust the bottom parts than the walls.
I fixed the roof with tape to the body halves before gluing them together. That way, they were able to dry under the correct 90° angle. I also used Zap-A-Gap so that all openings could be filled.
Once dry, the bottom was filled and sanded flat. The inside seem was filled with putty as well in the ambulance compartment as in the engine compartment.
Body Halves Assembled
5: driver’s compartment:
The driver’s compartment receives the parts described in stage 1. This part strengthens the body but needs adjusting with putty.
I added some pedals and a gear stick as well as a big and a smaller handrail in both door openings. The steering wheel in my kit was broken and was replaced with one from the spares box. The dashboard was created using some instrument decals.
The engine comes in one piece and is rather well detailed. It’s a shame I could not find more documentation on this truck or its engine searching the Net.
Of course, one may be happy when there is an engine provided in a kit but every engine needs cables and a battery and I do not know their exact emplacement. This is a pity because the truck cries out to be presented with all doors and hatches open and I have the feeling that an engine compartment that is not complete does not work out well regarding the amount of work involved to complete the model.
The engine compartment was painted in a dark sand colour Humbrol 118 or its equivalent Revell 382.
Engine in gunmetal with a raw umber wash and a dry brushing of polished steel.
The ambulance body receives a floor; minor adjusting with putty and some cleaning-up.
8, 9 and 10: ambulance interior and driver’s compartment:
The kit provides two separate seats for the driver’s compartment and 2x 2 seats for the ambulance part. Two beds are provides as well as an open locker and a basin.
The few pictures available show a dark coloured interior and I painted it in the same colour as the engine compartment. Seats in black, blankets in dark green and cushions in white.
Al this also receives a light wash with raw umber and a dry brushing of the basic colour + sand.
The windscreen not only has to be fixed in a perfect horizontal position, it also forms a strengthening between both body halves. Windows are made from pieces of clear plastic. Both windows will receive window washers at the end as a finishing touch.
The inner side of the windows is painted with a mixture of gloss varnish and a drop of deep blue, this to add depth to the security glass.
12: see nr. 3.
The kit provides detail regarding the hinges on top of the body but, when compared with pictures, they look too big. I adjusted them a little by sanding, taking care not to loose the details. The hood is secured at the front by two locks. Incisions are made in the hood and the locks are moulded on. Looking at the picture on the cover, you can see that the left one stands too much to the left side. You need to cut it off and to replace it because it gives a warped appearance to the nose.
I have no idea on how the hood of the Mfezi is kept in its upright position but the almost identical engine hood of the Casspir is retained open by use of a hydraulic pump. I constructed one from a piece of Evergreen rod and iron wire. I hope it is correct.
14: roof and hatches:
Watch out because, once fixed, it is almost impossible to change anything to the interior. The roof must be sanded equal and squared. The flash in the openings of the hatches needs to be cut away.
A test fit showed that the roof was too narrow by a few millimetres. I don’t know what the reason is for this; maybe I didn’t sand enough on the lower hull parts. On the other hand, if so, the nose wouldn’t have fit either. Anyway, I only saw one decent solution and that was to cut the roof lengthwise and ad two lengths of Evergreen in between. When dry, it needs to be sanded smoothly.
An ambulance has interior lighting and I constructed some light bulbs from clear plastic sprue. I also added some wiring made from fine copper wire.
Take care sanding the top of the body flat very careful before fixing the roof. Some putty will be necessary.
The ambulance body on my model had the tendency to bend to the outside. Because we work with resin and therefore need to use superglue, I decided to start gluing the roof to only one side, the straightest one.
Once dry and after verification if all was still correct, I glued the second wall.
The five hatches (4 squared and 1
circular) were cleaned up and fixed. The one for the driver and the first in the
body were left open, a handle made from copper wire added on the inside.
Roof pre assembly
Note roof is to narrow
It looks like most South-African vehicles use the same suspension system. I looks like that because, when looking at different pictures of different machines, one can see difference.
The suspension of the Mfezi consists of 4 spring leaves and 4 shock absorbers, one for each spring leaf. The layout shows that the shock absorber is mounted on the outside of the spring leaf. This seemed unlikely to me the more that a test showed out that the shock absorber could not convert with two fixing points on the lower body.
The picture on the cover did not give any solution; neither did the Web or pictures from other SA vehicles like the Buffel or Casspir.
A picture in MMI of a rebuild Mfezi showed that the kit was correct and that it needed only slight adjustment before fixing.
Unfortunately, the layout is not very comprehensive as to where just must fix the springs, on the lower site or in front of the location points. The Mfezi is a high vehicle and so I fixed them on the lower side of these points. It looked good and I left it drying overnight to be sure it was strong enough before fixing both axles. But, when test fitting the axles, it showed that the vehicle would be too high on its wheels. I needed to cut away the springs again and to reposition them in front of the locating points. Unfortunately, by doing this, the shock absorbers proved to be too long.
I was afraid that this construction would prove to be not so strong as suspected, so I drilled a few holes in the body where the shock absorbers had to be fixed. They were than slid into the holes and glued. As a final strengthening, all points received a drop of Zap-A-Gap.
16: transmission and rear doors:
Transmission comes in the shape of a box that must be glued to the bottom of the truck. Some putty is needed.
One point that was forgotten by BaxMod is the inclusion of both transmission axles. These are made from Evergreen rods and run from the box to both axles.
The rear doors on my model will be fixed in an open position and they must receive some attention regarding their locks and lock openings that will be constructed using some pieces of scrap plastic and metal wire. The picture on the cover is a good reference.
A spare wheel is fixed on the outside of the left rear door.
17: axles and wheels:
Both axles need adjusting and the lack of reference material is felt once again. Study of the picture on the cover shows that a plate fixed under the transmission bowl protected the front axle. You would be tempted to glue this plate to the axle but that would be wrong.
The rear axle has two small plates. These must be positioned looking forward in the direction of the front axle.
18: ladders and stabilisers:
Be careful when cleaning up because thin and fragile. Both ladders find their places under both front doors. It seemed they had an additional step hanging from chains underneath the lower step. I constructed these from scratch.
Both stabilisers are fixed, the front one in front of the axle, the rear one at the back of the axle.
Ladders and Stabilizers
19: side mirrors and handrails:
The kit provides two side mirrors that must carefully be cut off. The rails on witch they are fixed must be constructed from metal wire. The layout gives the right references. Some careful drilling provides a better fixation points. I used self adhesive aluminium foil to represent the mirrors.
20: rear folding steps:
You must decide if you want to show the model with its rear steps folded or extended. My model has all doors open so the steps must be extended. The kit provides two steps but the third one must be constructed from plastic card.
Two strengthening bars must be fixed between the nose panel and the body and two antenna wires placed on top of the roof close to the rear doors.
Looking at pictures in MMI its seems that SA vehicles get a base coat in a red-brown colour, sort of anti corrosion paint. The base coat on the truck became Humbrol rust.
The Mfezi was then painted Humbrol 118 + sand in 70/30 proportion. Borders were accentuated with H118 on low pressure and with 0,15 needle. The flat surfaces finally got a coat of Xtracolor Russian Havoc Tan. It is lighter in colour than H118 and tends to go to Desert Pink.
A wash with strongly diluted black paint
gives an accent to details and, finally, all was sealed by a coat of Klir
(My SA friend described it as “spot on” so I guess it is good.)
Tyres get mat black with a German panzer grey dry-brush and a wash of strongly diluted sand in the grooves.
They are than fixed in position in a diagonal way, i.e. left front and right rear first. If these tyres make that the truck has a decent fit, right front and left rear are mounted. It is more complex but in my opinion the only decent way to get all the tyres touch the ground without problems. You more than often see trucks with wheels hanging in the air, something impossible in real life on normal road.
Only one set is provided.
Both sides and the right rear door get a red cross on a white circle. Front and rear get SA licence plates.
Not an easy one even for someone who had constructed a few resin kits before. The lack on information and documentation about South-African vehicles is felt with each stage.
A very unusual vehicle, high on its wheels and of unknown construction in our countries.
The height of the vehicle reveals the chassis completely and so it is impossible to camouflage any mistakes.
The resin is of a rather poor quality with a lot of bubbles but it lends itself to detailing.
BaxMod models are not found currently over here in Europe and their price tag lies around the 25 €. That is rather expensive and if I should have found this model and taken a look at those resin pieces with all that flash, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I am glad it was send to me by a SA friend.
Despite all of the above, I can only congratulate BaxMod for daring creating kits of South-African vehicles, some of them science fiction looking, that are almost unknown to the world but of which the Buffel is the best known. I can only encourage them to extend their range with many other types like the G6, Casspir, Kwevoel, Mamba and Samil trucks. I only hope they use a better quality resin for that.
Keep ‘m building