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M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Kit

Italeri 1/35 M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2014 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6513 Primary Media Styrene
Pros New tooling for this version Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $47.00

First Look

M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Kit
M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Kit
M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Kit
M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck Kit

The M939 family of military trucks was developed in the late 1970s to replace the M39 series of military trucks developed in the early 1950s. The M923 is a five-ton 6x6 truck used by the US military and its allies to move personnel and supplies. After the second Iraq war, supply convoys would come under attack by insurgent forces but the only armored escort vehicles belonged to the military police. Soldiers rummaged through the scrap yards and improvised armor plating to provide some protection to the truck drivers. Armed escort trucks, or gun trucks, were also developed from materials on-hand to suppress insurgent attacks. The running joke in-theater was that having to scavenge for scrap metal for protection was 'hillbilly armor' or 'farmer armor'.

Italeri has reissued their M923 'Bigfoot' truck with some new tooling to represent the improvised up-armored trucks and the armored shell on the truck bed to protect the gunner. This kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on three parts trees plus one tree of clear parts.

What is really nice about this release is that the new-tooled parts represent the scabbed-on armor plating applied to the cab as well as the armor shields that surround the bed of the truck. Since this was done in the field, the armor plating was fabricated from available steel sheets that corroded rather quickly and will make for an interesting opportunity to test your weathering skills.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Detailed chassis and drivetrain
  • Detailed cab
  • Cab doors are positionable
  • Improvised front bumper
  • Armored enclosure on truck bed
  • M2 machine gun w/mount

Even with the new-tooled parts, some of the complaints about the basic M923 kits center around the wheels, simplified cab and engine details. The truck bed and rails have wood textures molded into the surfaces but as I discovered during my build review, the bed and rails of the M923 series were metal. Fortunately there are some really outstanding aftermarket resin wheels and detail sets for the M923 to bring this kit up to contemporary standards. We'll take a look at some of these in an upcoming build project.

M923 'Hillbilly' Gun Truck

For a look at the build review of the 'Hillbilly' gun truck version of this kit, look here.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!