Trumpeter 1/35 M1126 Stryker (ICV)
|Date of Review||February 2007||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||M1126 Stryker (ICV)||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||0375||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-etch|
|Pros||Excellent exterior detailing||Cons||No interior, 'roll your own' unit and vehicle markings|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$39.95|
The US Marine Corps made the leap from tracked armored personnel carriers to their Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) in the early 1980s in order to have the capability to rapidly deploy a combat capability anywhere in the world without an excessive airlift effort. The US Army was reluctant to make the switch to wheeled vehicles, preferring instead its M1 Abrams tank, M2 Bradley APC and M3 Bradley.
When the Army's mission shifted from defending the line in Europe to more fluid operations worldwide, they reconsidered the LAV, only to have Congress choose the HUMVEE to meet their mobility needs. In Desert Storm, the Rangers borrowed a few LAVs from the Marines and found they didn't quite meet their needs.
By the turn of the century, the Army had embraced the need to have some of its forces capable of rapid deployment into remote areas where the transport of the M1 and M2 would be difficult and maintenance on those same vehicles would be nearly non-existent. A trade show was hosted to look over the available wheeled combat vehicles to understand the state of the art and the issues in adopting such a capability into US Army doctrine. A source selection followed and the team of General Motors/Canada and General Dynamics Land Systems (makers of the M1 Abrams) was selected to tailor the GM-designed vehicle to meet US Army requirements. The vehicle family was named for Medal of Honor recipient PFC Stuart Stryker. The M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) is designed to carry a crew of two and a squad of nine.
For a look at the kit as it looks in the box, our in-box review is here.
There I was, in mid-build of Italeri's magnificent 1/35 PT-596 when this kit shows up courtesy of Stevens International. I was pleased when Trumpeter provided new LAV-25 kits to supersede the ESCI kits, but I was really interested when Trumpeter announced that they were going where no one else had gone - straight to one of the US Army's newest tactical combat vehicles - the Stryker! Of course several companies have since announced Strykers of their own, but Trumpeter got there first. I decided to take a break from the PT boat and give this nice-looking Trumpeter kit a quick build. Lesson number one, never use 'quick build' and 'Trumpeter kit' in the same sentence. There are lots of details in this box!
As is standard with armor kits, construction begins with the lower hull. The Stryker is an 8x8 wheeled vehicle, which means that all eight wheels are powered. The first step is to build up all four differentials. These assemblies are mounted to the lower hull with interconnecting drive shafts to connect the power train together (or at least give the appearance that they're all inter-connected). The front two axles are steerable, so steering arms are added appropriately.
The forward suspension units (parts A45 and A46) drop into keyed holes in the lower hull, but they didn't really want to go together. Closer inspection revealed a hint of flash and mold lines inside the holes that receive these parts, a little file work cleared the way for a smooth installation. This step did foretell the fact that the kit does have subtle mold lines on many of the parts which will require clean-up along the way. The remainder of the suspension goes together smoothly now that we're taking a little more notice of the mold line/subtle flash on some of the parts.
I opted not to assemble the wheel hubs and tires at Step 7 as I wanted to wait until after painting to add the wheels.
The next major assembly is the rear of the vehicle. The rear hull has a typical quick-in/out ramp that can be lowered, plus a door in the middle of the ramp that can be used for vehicle ingress/egress with the ramp closed. The design is similar to the ramp/door used on the M113 APC. The ramp and door are molded separately to give you the option of posing one of them open, but since there is no interior provided in the kit, I assembled everything in the closed position. The detailing back here is quite nice, right down to the grab irons and photo-etched tie-down straps to hold the Jerry cans in place.
The completed rear hull assembly mounts nicely to the lower hull. The engineering in this kit is really well-done! I opt not to install the Jerry cans, so the storage racks will remain empty for now.
Now for the upper hull. As with the lower hull, many of the laminate armor plates are installed separately along with all of the various equipment and crew access hatches. Whenever the aftermarket community catches up with this kit, you won't have to do any surgery to 'open up' this vehicle for super-detailing!
The kit provides some of the exterior details in your choice of photo-etch or styrene parts. This is a nice touch as the photo-etch provides some nicer detail while the equivalent styrene parts allow the less-experienced modelers to build the kit without the need for photo-etch. I opt for a combination of photo-etch and styrene depending on the details. The photo-etch vent covers are definitely used.
To put the level of detail into perspective, there are 29 steps in the instruction sheet. Twenty of these are dedicated to the upper hull! Take your time, tackle everything a step at a time, and take care that you've cleaned up each and every part to make the build process smooth.
The Commander's Remote Weapon's Station was assembled and left off the vehicle until after painting, as were the rear view mirrors.
Painting and Finishing
I gave the assembled hull a wash with warm water and dish soap to remove any remaining oils and dust from the build. I set the hull aside for a day to dry.
I looked at the color recommendations in the instructions and photos of the vehicle online. I decided to paint the vehicle with Tamiya Black Green as a base coat. Any resemblance to this color after weathering will mean I missed a spot. I painted the wheel hubs Black Green as well. Once these were dry, I assembled the wheels.
I decided to represent a vehicle that hadn't yet deployed to the sandbox, but had been used in training. I applied a mist of Tamiya Sand to the underside of the hull, a little heavier around the wheel wells. I also give the assembled wheels a good misting as well. Misting a color on the model is different than painting the model that color as I'm not trying to paint the undersides Sand, rather I am making the Black Green look dusty.
The upper surfaces of the hull were subjected to a misting of Tamiya Field Gray (which is a gray-green in color) to imply some fading. Areas inside panels were given a heavier application of Field Gray to imply more wear. This provides some variation in the base color which avoids the dreaded mono-color model.
Looking at various photos, the periscopes in the vehicle have a reddish color with a hint toward purple. I painted the periscope lenses silver, then mixed up five parts Tamiya Clear Red with one part Tamiya Clear Blue. This color looks about right for the periscope lenses.
The headlights and the camera lenses on the remote gun unit were painted Gloss Black. The reflectors and tail lights were painted silver, then Tamiya Clear Orange or Clear Red, as appropriate.
The 50 caliber machine gun was given the standard Flat Black followed by a rub-down with a pencil lead to bring out the gun metal appearance. The wheels were installed and the model was set aside to thoroughly dry.
Now for the decals. Trumpeter provided generic background color plates as decals for the unit ID markings, then a supply of letters and numbers to render a variety of vehicles. I applied the markings for the vehicle represented in the enclosed color profile, one decal at a time. This was a royal pain in the butt, clearly someone at Trumpeter didn't have sufficient information to render the vehicle markings so they provided separate letters and number so you could do your own. I still have some dry-brushing and other weathering I could do, but I thought I'd call a halt to share the model with you.
The model went together nicely. I was VERY impressed with how all of the various panels and plates go together to form the hull of the M1126 without any gap or fit problems. Again, care must be taken to clean up any flash and mold lines in these parts, but if you take the time, you're rewarded with a model that falls together.
This is definitely one worth building. Definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!