Academy 1/35 M998 IED Gun Truck Build Review
|Date of Review||December 2017||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||M998 IED Gun Truck||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||13405||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice up-armored variant||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$25.00|
It is interesting how projects sometimes find their way onto our benches. I had just finished another build and was looking at an ambitious project when my computer decided to head south. It not only went down, the video wouldn't allow me to see what is happening. So instead, restoring my computer was my next ambitious project and I wanted something easy on the bench to work on while the computer went through its numerous reloads and revisions.
You may have also seen an interesting mini-series called 'The Long Road Home' which is excellent and presented like 'Band of Brothers'. This mini-series looked at the events around April 4, 2004, also known as Black Sunday. As the second Gulf War ended and 'peacekeeping' began, US forces began to face a formidable insurgency and the military vehicles in theater were not suitable for that type of warfare. The standard utility vehicle at that time was the M998 HMMWV or Humvee, and its lightweight body wasn't designed for protection from small arms fire. As shown in The Long Road Home, the Humvees (and other vehicles) were fitted with some manufactured armor kits as well as improvised armor from sheet metal stock. While the best kit of the M998 in 1/35 scale comes from Tamiya, the only kit out there that replicates one of the improvised gun trucks comes from Academy.
Out of the box, the Academy kit looks good, and while I received some 'interesting' feedback for my first-look of the kit, it nevertheless has some interesting possibilities. With that in mind, I dug up my kit and set about building the kit. Construction begins with the underside of the chassis and while the suspension is somewhat simplified, I am actually relieved after having to deal with a few kits that 'feature' multitudes of tiny parts. The drive train follows and the kit provides the underside of the diesel engine and transmission. All of it goes together goes together smoothly.
With the basic body shell mounted to the chassis, it is time to flip the model over and work on the rest of the shell. In step 6, the top of the front fenders (parts B18/B19) and the well dividers (parts A4/A5) reveal that not all of the assembly process is going to be smooth. While the well dividers mounted up okay, the fender wells are not well done and the instructions only indicate that they go somewhere 'over there'. It turns out that the fenders are going to influence the fit of the hood on the model, which in turn affects the windshield frame. I got everything together, but I'm not that happy with the fit.
As you can see in the images above, I also started the process of painting the model. The pre-war Humvees had NATO tri-color camouflage, and some vehicles were given a hasty sand paint job in the field before they were cycled through depots in the field and in Kuwait to get refit and updated. I wanted to depict an improvised gun truck that was the recipient of the sand paint on its exterior while the interior and cargo bed remained NATO green. I also started the process of painting the details on the underside of the vehicle, though not too much effort will be expended here as it will be receiving some generous coats of dust and grime.
The vehicle received an overall coat of NATO Green primer before receiving its Desert Sand exterior. So far, I like the way Academy provided the rear interior well covers and side covers to box in the truck bed. We're almost ready to resume the assembly process.
A little more painting on the details on the underside. I never understood why the vehicles disc brakes are located on the inboard ends of each axle, and when I mentioned this to the chap from the AM General facility who was working on our full-sized Humvee conversion, he was quick to point out that one should never slam on the brakes as those huge wheels and tires could have enough momentum/energy to sheer off an axle. That was a useful safety tip...
Here we have the add-on armored doors and the side armor for the truck bed. The base plate, pedestal and pintle are dry-fitted to the truck bed to see how this is going to work, and ditto on the soft top over the cab.
With the major subassemblies together, it was time to add the remaining small details that receive the desert sand as well as assemble the .50 caliber gun, mount, and shield. With the small details in place, the painfully clean sand needed to be weathered to bring it into reality. I applied a coat of Future to the model, then brushed on a brown wash designed for OIF/OEF sand camouflage. When this had dried, I wiped away the excess and now have a more believable scheme. I used a similar wash designed for NATO camouflage on the NATO green interior.
The only aftermarket item I used in this build is a set of early DEF 1/35 M998 MT wheels. These were the early designed wheels released for the Tamiya M998 before they started 'sagging' the wheels. The tread pattern looks better than the kit's rubber tires, and I was able to use the Academy rims by removing a ridge molded inside the tires used to support the rims provided by DEF. Using the Academy rims ensured that I'd have an easy conversion.
The gun subassembly was mounted to the bed-mounted pintle and the overall model given an airbrush-applied coat of desert dust.
Overall, this was an easy build, with more time spent painting and weathering than assembling. The kit does have a few minor fit issues with the front wheel well fenders-to-hood-to-windshield mounting but a few adjustments overcame that challenge. The cab interior does replicate the early seats used in the M998 series though any resemblance the instrument cluster has to the real vehicle is coincidental. With the canvas top installed, this isn't an issue, but if you want to leave that top off, you can do some work in there with some instrument decals and placards to bring that area to life. This kit provides a SINCGARS radio and mount, though I opted to leave the radio out since some vehicles didn't have radios installed during the early phase of OIF.
Note: When this kit was released in 2009, the MSRP was $25.00 USD. While the kit is 'out of production' from Academy, you can find it in Italeri boxes (kit 6511) for the same price.