DUKW in Malaya

This is Mohd Shaharul bin KN Zain's rendition of the versatile DUKW which saw service in Malaya during the pre independence period. All text and pictures by Mohd Shah

"For my third contribution to MGB 2009, I chose to build the famous DUKW amphibious truck. As I had not built AFV's in some time, I was a bit worried about being "rusty" on the subject. But the choice was made and I used Italeri's popular "DUKW-British Royal Army" kit as the base.

The kit gives decals for a light grey DUKW serving during the Malayan emergency but I wanted to find another vehicle colour scheme that served in Malaya. After some research, I discovered that the Australians had used Ducks during their invasion of Borneo at the end of WW2.

Operation Oboe Six was the codename for this invasion and its objective was to retake Brunei, Labuan and North Borneo (now Sabah)from the Japanese forces between 10 June 1945 and the end of World War II.


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Operations commenced with amphibious landings by the Australian 9th Division at "Brown Beach", on the island of Victoria, Labuan; "White Beach" at the south-east tip of Muar island and at "Green Beach", north of Brooketon.

On Labuan, the Japanese made a stand in a swampy area of jungle known to the Australians as "The Pocket". Although they were outnumbered in the area by a factor of roughly 10:1, the Japanese waged a dogged resistance campaign.

I did some research into the vehicles used, and found that one of the units involved in the Oboe 6 landing was the 19/21st platoon of the Royal Australian Army Service corps. Photographic reference was obtained from the amazing archives of the Australian war memorial website.

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The vehicle was painted in an overall olive drab, then a self-mixed dark green to represent Australian service green. Hairspray was used to give a mild chipped effect, and weathering was a combination of washes and pastels. A scratchbuilt crane was added as some DUKWs were fitted with these to help loading/unloading. The cargo bay was filled with an assortment of accessories scavenged from other kits to represent a vehicle loaded up with workshop equipment. Unusual (and scary!) for me, I also added a figure to give some scale.

I hope it is a fair representation of an Aussie DUKW that helped liberate Borneo from the Japanese, an important but often overlooked chapter of Malaysia's history."

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(see Mohd Shah's build log in the forum here )

Compiled by Loo Chee Keong

Tagged under: 1/35, Build Log,