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Italeri 1/35 M977 HEMTT Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2009 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject M977 HEMTT Scale 1/35
Kit Number 0292 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Interesting vehicle Cons Simplified details
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) is family of heavy duty trucks in service with the US armed forces. The HEMTT entered service with the US Army in 1982 as a replacement for the M520 Goer. The basic HEMTT series is an 8x8 prime mover that has a 10 ton cargo capacity.

The truck chassis is produced by Oshkosh Truck Corporation and is used in the civilian world as an airport firefighting vehicle. In military service, the chassis is fitted with different tanks, pallets, or boxes to define its mission. The HEMTT is currently fielded as:

  • M977 cargo truck
  • M978 tanker
  • M983 Patriot/Pershing prime mover
  • M984 recovery vehicle
  • M985 cargo truck
  • M1120 load handling system

With over 13,000 HEMTTs in service today, this heavy hauler will continue to support the troops for years to come.

I had the opportunity to see ( and photograph) an M1120 HEMTT demonstration and was curious what sort of kits might be available for the HEMTT series. I remember that Italeri had released a few kits of the subject several years ago, and after a session with Google, I found the M978 tanker and the M977 cargo truck from Italeri in styrene and a handful of resin kits in 1/72. Revell/Germany also released both Italeri kits in their own boxes, but none are currently in production.

I was really interested in building the M1120, so the logical kit to start from was the M977. After searching through the online retailers' listings, I resorted to eBay and eventually found one that was still sealed in shrinkwrap and still reasonably priced. Excellent!

The kit is quite simple in its layout which means that out of the box, this will be an easy build for the average modeler. Those of us afflicted with Advanced Modeler's Syndrome (AMS) where everything can be done better, I saw some opportunities to improve the basic kit.

Molded in tan styrene, the kit is presented on three parts trees, plus one tree molded in black styrene representing the eight wheels (the spare tire is molded in tan), plus one tree of clear parts.

While the interior of the HEMTT's cab is simple, it isn't quite as simple as portrayed in the kit. Nevertheless, you can work up the 'look' with the kits provided in the box. To Italeri's credit, they molded the driver's door separately so you can pose the door open if you wish.

The tires don't quite capture the tread pattern of the big honking Michelin tires, but these can be 'worn down' a little more and weathered to represent a truck that has been heavily used/abused.

The engine housing is set up to show the rear end of the big Detroit Diesel engine, though there are some opportunities here too to add additional plumbing.

The chassis appears to be well laid out with good detailing of the four powered axles as well as the four-wheel steering system.


Out of the box, the Italeri (and Revell) M977 is just what I need as a starting point for my M1120 project. Since I am afflicted with AMS however, my next step was to look for any aftermarket detail sets available for the kit. I found a company in Belgium called ' Pro Art' that produces an impressive array of detail sets for US military vehicles, but their website isn't equipped to handle secure credit card transactions.

While I found a few US hobby shops that claimed to carry the Pro Art product line, none of them had everything I was looking for. I finally happened upon a UK stockist that was set up with PayPal and could special order my wish list. After a few weeks, I received the Pro Art M977 interior detail set, exterior detail set, and wheel set. I also procured the Pro Art weighted Stryker wheels and their modern US radio set, but that's part of a different project. Unfortunately that UK Stockist has since shuttered their business. I've since found that Lucky Model will carry the line periodically.

I am quite pleased with this kit and many of the conversion possibilities available. If Revell or Italeri reissue this kit again, I may have to do the Patriot or THAAD launchers that are mounted on the HEMTT chassis. In the meantime, I have the basis of my M1120 project and all I need to do is fabricate the load handling system and my special payload.

I am pleased to see more of the modern military utility vehicles coming available in this scale. These subjects provide some much needed relief from the 'yet another Sherman/Tiger/Panther' kit release and offer a wide range of vignette or diorama possibilities.