In-Box Review
U.S. Reel cart
U.S. Reel cart RL35
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by: Charles Reading [ CREADING ]


I had never heard of a ‘reel cart’ nor really paid any attention to this type of military equipment, as it seems so much ‘less glamorous’ than weapons and tanks. While researching for this review, I was very surprised to find out how ubiquitous and versatile the ’reel cart’ was during WII.

Most of these carts were made by the Johnston Lawnmower Company with other manufacturers being Rock Island Arsenal and John Wood Manufacturing, the last two primarily manufactured the M3A4 Utility Cart. The carts themselves were made for a variety of purposes, from hauling mortars & machine guns to personal equipment. Or in the case of the subject of Plus Model’s kit: signal corps communication wire reels.

what you get

The model consists of 14 resin parts and a small fret of Photo-Etch.

the review

According to Field Manual 24-20 Field Wire Systems dated October 4, 1944:

Reel Cart RL-35 is a two-wheel cart with pneumatic tires, which may be pulled by hand or towed behind a vehicle. Each reel cart carries three Reels DR-4 or one Reel DR-5, which are removable. The axle is equipped with a detachable hand crank for use when recovering wire on the reels. Reel Cart RL-35 is particularly suitable for laying wire over terrain that is impassable to motor vehicles, such as soft ground or heavily wooded areas. Prior to being towed behind a vehicle, the handle (draw bar) is unfastened from the lunette on the tongue and placed in a bracket at the rear of the cart. The lunette fits the pintles on certain small vehicles only.

The Plus Model's version of the RL-35 is supplied with the DR-5, which as the above quote from the Field Manual 24-20 shows as a single reel. Its resin is grey with no apparent bubbles and a minimal amount of flash. The PE consists of various brackets and the end-caps of the DR-5 wire reel. There are instructions, which show blow-up drawings of the various numbered parts and where they fit on the completed model.

The kit is shown with the aluminum wheels which are denoted as ‘pressed wheels with holes’ rather than steel wheels, which had spokes. Plus Model doesn’t include any historical or painting information, other than the box art, although a quick Internet search of “RL-35 reel cart” turned up numerous sites, where both period and current restoration photographs should give the modeler all the information needed to produce a pretty accurate depiction.


This is a nifty little model perfect for any diorama/vignette depicting the Signal Corps.
Highs: Nice detail of an unusual subject that was manufactured in the hundred thousands and pretty much appeared on every front during every period of the war.
Lows: Only the box art to suggest any color scheme, although any form of Olive Drab is probably pretty accurate.
Verdict: Definitely a cool little kit. Will look great in any depiction of U.S. personnel
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 374
  Suggested Retail: $12.70
  PUBLISHED: Aug 10, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Plus Model!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Charles Reading (CReading)

I live in the mountains north of Santa Cruz California. I have been building now since the early 1990's when I rediscovered modeling. Most of my kits are built with dioramas in mind. I took a "creative block" hiatis for a couple years - 2011 to 2013. I wasn't active in the modeling world. During tha...

Copyright ©2021 text by Charles Reading [ CREADING ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks for the review Charles. Interesting bit of kit.
AUG 09, 2011 - 10:56 PM

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