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M998

Academy 1/35 M998 IED Gun Truck Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2009 Manufacturer Academy
Subject M998 IED Gun Truck Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13405 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice up-armored variant Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Novice MSRP (USD) $24.95

First Look

M998
M998
M998
M998
M998
M998
M998

The family of HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle - pronounced Humvee) produced by AM General is the modern day utility vehicle that combines the mobility of the World War 2 Jeep with the cargo and personnel carrying capabilities of a small truck. With over 15 variants in the field, it was natural that the Humvee would be on the front lines of the first and second Iraq wars.

Unlike previous combat operations, Operation Iraqi Freedom (the second Iraq war) brought forward a new generation of threats - the improvised explosive device (IED). The IED isn't new, Allied forces were dealing with these weapons in Vietnam as well as earlier combat operations. Like the buried munitions in Vietnam revealed the armor weakness in the M113 APC, the present day IEDs devastate many of the combat vehicles used by allied forces in Iraq. When these weapons started becoming the weapon of choice of the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, the Humvee was one of the more vulnerable vehicles to this type of threat.

While DoD struggled with a solution to the problem, clearly the near-term solution was to up-armor the vehicles in the field until a new solution could be fielded. Humvees quickly evolved with a variety of improvised armor solutions to protect its crews before production armor upgrades reached the depots in-theater and more standardized armor protection operated in the field. While these up-armored Humvees provided greater protection, the insurgency simply increased the explosive yields of their weapons and once again devastated their targets.

In 2007, a massive procurement and rapid production cycle began that has not been seen since World War 2. The DoD contracted with five different companies to produce thousands of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles based upon existing armored vehicle designs but incorporating a new armored boat hull to deflect the explosive blast wave of a bomb detonating below the vehicle. As soon as these vehicles entered the theater, casualties dropped significantly.

Academy released their first Humvee kit a number of years ago and had produced the best kit of this family of AM General vehicles, beating out the Italeri and the Tamiya re-boxing of the Italeri kit as well as a few other attempts from other manufacturers.

More recently, Tamiya released a new-tool Humvee kit (there are now two variants available) and detail-wise, their kit now beats the Academy kit in detail (simply through improved molding technology as well as better detail information that has become more readily available. However with an MSRP of over $10.00 more than the Academy kits, Tamiya's details come at a premium. With no real glaring errors in Academy's kits, they remain a better value for many modelers.

Academy has issued several new variants of the Humvee to reflect more of the configurations of this versatile vehicle and these have been accompanied by re-releases of their existing Humvee offerings. One new offering recently released is the M998 IED gun truck. Let's take a closer look:

Molded in tan styrene, the M998 kit is presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts and a set of rubber (vinyl) tires. Those of you familiar with this kit series will recognize two of the parts trees (and the clear parts) are from the standard M998 hardtop kit while two other trees are from their soft-top troop carrier/cargo truck variant. These trees are supplemented with a new tree (third photo) that represents one of the early up-armor configurations.

The new sprue provides the up-armored side frames for the body, new armored front doors with open areas for visibility as well as use of crew weapons. At this point, armored glass hadn't made it into the field. Armored rear sides are provided to shield a rear gunner so he could (somewhat) safely stand in the truck bed and operate the pintle-mounted heavy weapon. The new set also provides a new brush guard and winch cover for the front of the vehicle.

In addition to the new vehicle parts, the new sprue provides an M82A1 .50 caliber (big honking) sniper rifle, the 40+ year old M40A1 sniper rifle, and the M4A1 .223 caliber follow-on to the M16. In addition, the kit provides the standard M2 machine gun and Mk.19 grenade launcher options with shield for the gun pintle.

Decals are provided for a representative vehicle stationed in Najaf, Iraq, in 2003.

These latest updates provide some interesting options to bring the Academy Humvee more up-to-date. While the hardtop isn't provided in this release, the soft-top and standard truck rails are still there, so with some creative parts swapping, you can build this IED truck as boxed or use this kit to render an number of other unique configurations.

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