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Italeri's big 1/24 scale
Volvo VN 780 Unit
Conventional US truck

by Ted Taylor


Volvo VN 780 Unit
Conventional US truck

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When Italeri first bought out the big DAF truck with its pre built chassis just about everybody was dumbfounded. "What a backward step in truck modeling”, “getting more like a kiddies toy” were the comments I heard. We, as truck modellers, want to build our own chassis from standard part. We also want to convert etc. etc. to other types such as rigids, long wheelbases and the likes but we can't with that type of chassis especially when the main chassis rails don’t even have the bottom flange moulded, indeed a very retrograde step and one we hope Italeri will discontinue.

The new Volvo VN 780 Unit (kit number 3818) is, I am afraid, another of these types of chassis with no engine components except a moulded sump, it has rear quarter fenders moulded on and inner front mudguards as well. The fuel tank brackets are also moulded so you can't alter those positions and in the final assembly the cab, sleeper and bonnet (hood) are all made up as one unit to cement onto the chassis, I suppose Italeri think if there is no engine what’s the point of having a movable hood and to make matters worse they have even simplified the steering to a point where it no longer turns and the parts are just a mockery of the real thing.



Complaint mode off.

At the end of the day you get a nice looking model from the outside, impressive and quite large.


Construction and Finishing


Construction holds no big problems but I made a few notes as I went along.

I liked the rear axle arrangement which meant I could paint the air bags before mounting and adding them after the made up chassis was sprayed but I would not advise you to mount the axles in step 5 or you won’t be able to get the prop shaft in. I would suggest you make up the gear box and mount it first then add the shaft and lastly the rear axles. The fit of the suspension is a bit sloppy as their locations are just slots in the rails with a draught angle built in, there are no positive pins and holes anymore.

In step 8, don’t add part 31b the light bar until you have some wheels on or it will get broken off because it hangs lower than the wheel back plates allow for.

The chrome tanks are nice but as always it can be a problem joining the halves without the seam showing, my solution is to gently sand the mating surfaces to remove the chrome and then use liquid cement to join them, wait a couple of seconds before applying pressure to soften the plastic, then squeeze together and let some molten plastic ooze out. Wait until it goes a bit rubbery then you can use a bare finger to rub or roll it off without damaging the chrome. The other alternative is to remove all the chrome and clean up the joins and respray with Alclad II chrome finish. I have added some fuel lines from the tanks to the chassis, they only go a little way along as there is no engine to go to.

Italeri's fifth wheels leave a bit to be desired, they only sit on the plinths and you either cement them in a haphazard position or leave them loose to fit any trailer. I nearly always cut some "D" shaped hinges from 20 thou card, then cement them on either side of the plate just inside the hinge positions, when these are hard I drill right through these and the two plinths with a 1mm drill bit. Take a length of 1mm rod and hold one end by a heat source until a mushroom rivet forms then place it through the holes and heat the other end (I use a lighted cigarette) now I have a tilting turntable to fit any trailer.

The cab floor was constructed and painted as per instructions but I assembled the four cab walls as one unit without adding the interior furniture, this, the roof and bonnet (hood) were then mounted on my wire coat hanger handles and sprayed up.

While these were drying the interior furniture was hand painted in my choice of colours then all the window frames were painted using a flat brush and Humbrol No 85 satin black. The lower windows parts 12g and 13g were sprayed with a coat of Tamiya’s smoke paint to give some privacy to the driver but the roof windows were left clear.


In step 19 I found that not all the mounting brackets for the airfoils matched up so you might need to make a few alterations in advance, it was too late when I did mine.

My assembled cab fitted onto the chassis perfectly and when the side skirts were made up they also gave no problems. The bracing bars Parts 48/49b for the mirror arms are shown fitted to the cab shell but they should be on the door itself so drill a hole directly below the one that’s there and fill the wrong hole with a piece of plastic rod.

The decals are just simply some checkered stripes so you may want to find some alternatives.  A fine looking Model Of an American truck from a European manufacturer providing you don’t look underneath the hood and chassis.

The trailer is an Italeri 48 ft reefer twin axle outfit which is very simple to put together, the box is made up from slab sides joined in the middle with overlapping flaps, they just need a little cleaning up at the joins, the same for the roof and floor.



A lot of US trucks have sliding running gear to adjust for different weight limits, the kit gives you the rails for this but no mention of the "sliding " arrangement. I have drilled holes in the frames of the running gear to match a pair of holes on the rails and I inserted two lengths of Brass rod at the point I wanted leaving me free to alter it as and when.

The wheels Italeri supply for trailers are the same as drive wheels on the trucks so are not suitable for a non driven trailer wheel. You can buy after market wheels if you wish from companies like KFS who have a number of different types on their books but I have used some resin hubs that I had made some time ago. First I cut the driven hub out of the outer wheel (before the two halves are joined) then the tubular extension of the inner wheel is cut off flush, at this stage I shorten the stub axle to be level with the outside edge of the inner wheel.


The two wheels can now be cemented together remembering to keep the Valves opposite each other and the resin hubs can be centered and glued onto the inner wheel so that the outer wheel looks bolted on to the studs and not part of the drive hub. To these I added the wheel nuts, just hexagons stamped out of 30 thou card with a punch and dye set. the wheels were then sprayed gloss black and then Alclad II chrome was sprayed over that to give me Chrome wheels to match the unit.



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Ted Taylor
Page Created 07 June, 2005
Last Updated 07 June, 2005

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