Kinetic 61007 1/35 M-ATV Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Well engineered and lots of options
The M-ATV is a US military utility vehicle that was born out of necessity. Its name is an acronym of acronyms: M-ATV = MRAP- All-Terrain Vehicle and of course MRAP = Mine Resistant Ambush Protected. The M-ATV traces its roots back to the Willys MB General Purpose (GP is pronounced Jeep) four-wheel-drive vehicle which served the US military and its allies in all theaters during World War II and through the Korean War. During the 1950s the Jeep was replaced by the M38 which still looked like the old Jeep, but had improved performance. By Vietnam, the M38 was phased out with the M151 Mutt which also bore a resemblance to the Jeep but offered still more capabilities than its predecessors.
By the 1980s, a new utility vehicle changed the image of the tactical utility vehicle forever. This new vehicle was the M998 High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV pronounced Humvee). The Humvee and its improved variants would serve through the first and second Iraq wars, but this four-wheel-drive utility vehicle which could be sling-loaded under helicopters and negotiate through some of the toughest terrain finally ran into a new type of threat - the Improvised Explosive Device (IED). After the fall of Suddam Hussein, a growing insurgency planted bombs which devastated the Humvee and its crews with alarming frequency. Despite efforts from industry and improvised solutions in-theater to improve the armor protection of the Humvee, the insurgency would simply use bigger bombs. Another requirement was developed - the MRAP.
In a push that hadn't been seen since World War II, the US Department of Defense sought off-the-shelf solutions to provide much-needed protection for the warfighters in-theater, but these solutions needed to be delivered in a VERY ambitious timeline. Contracts were issued to multiple US and international companies for adapted armored cars and riot vehicles, with the better solutions fitted with mission equipment and shipped overseas. If you lived near Charleston AFB, you saw not only C-17 Globemaster IIIs but also An-124 Ruslans that were hired to help airlift MRAPs into theater. With the MRAPs in Iraq, US military crews finally had adequate protection from IEDs. Even though many of these MRAPs were still destroyed by these IEDs, the crews usually escaped with minimal injuries against threats that were usually fatal in the Humvee. While the MRAPs are usable in the relatively flat terrain of Iraq, these top-heavy vehicles are not suited for the landscape of Afghanistan. The MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle requirement was born.
Unlike the MRAP contracts, the M-ATV was intended to be produced by a single company so that logistics (parts and maintenance) would be common across the fleet. Oshkosh Trucks won the contract and began a rather fast-paced production schedule. Despite being the size of a large truck, the M-ATV is a blend of four-wheel-drive mobility and armored protection. Like the Humvee, the M-ATV hood and other components are fiberglass composites. The armored cab can seat 4-5 crew in special shock-absorbing seats similar to the crash-resistant seats used in helicopters. These seats help absorb the severe blast shock that the vehicles experience next to a powerful IED explosion. The underside of the vehicle is protected by an armored boat hull which deflects the blast wave out from under the vehicle instead of up through the cab. The armored cab and mission equipment make up the bulk of the weight which necessitates a 7.2 liter Caterpillar C7 diesel engine to move the vehicle around. The vehicle's independent suspension and four-wheel drive allow the M-ATV to get into the rough country of Afghanistand that can't be accessed by the MRAP. The M-ATV is in service will US forces alonside the MRAP and Humvee, but now crews have the protection and mobility they need to get the mission accomplished safely.
Kinetic has released the first of a series of new-tooled 1/35th scale armor and AFV models with this MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle. While they were first to announce the production of this kit, it was Panda Hobby that was first to get their own M-ATV kit to market. There is definitely no collaboration on these kits as the two companies took two different approaches to render this truck. So how did Kinetic do with this kit? Let's take a look:
The kit is molded tan styrene and presented on 10 parts trees plus separate hood, one tree of clear parts, one fret of photo-etched details, and five rubber tires. According to the specs, this kit is comprised of 543 plastic, 14 photo-etch, and 22 rubber parts.
There are a few comparisons between the Kinetic and Panda Hobby kits online though as those reviewers note, there is very little information on the truck available to judge one kit over the other. We'll look at other factors that might help you with your kit decision.
The Kinetic kit produces the chassis frame as one part which will make initial build-up of the chassis a little easier and faster. The kit does provide some nice suspension details as well as the visible parts of the drive train. Like the Panda kit, there is no engine or transmission provided so you won't have anything to see should you want to pose the hood open. The lower boat hull armor which provides the crew with significant protection from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is well-detailed right down to the running boards for cab entry/dismount.
One thing that this kit does do an excellent job of is internal cab details. Where the Panda kit has no mission equipment provided, the racks and mounts inside the Kinetic kit are populated with FBCB2, VIC-3 intercom, radios, computers, etc. We'll have to get these built-up and painted to see how well they captured this details but kudos for providing them!
One note on mission equipment, if you have the opportunity to see an M-ATV in person, you will only be seeing one of over 21 different configurations that the government wanted these vehicles to accommodate depending on the user and mission. This kit has the BFT antenna as well as the UHF SATCOM X-wing together with the the tubular VHF antennas and IED systems.
The crewed armored turret provides your choice of M2 .50 caliber machine gun or Mk.19 grenade launcher.
The one thing distinctively missing from this kit is the Oshkosh logo on the hood. Oshkosh won the contract for the M-ATV and these vehicles display the Oshkosh logo front and center on the hood. I don't know if Kinetic was trying to avoid the trademark logo problems that we now have, but perhaps we'll see these as a photo-etched enhancement in a future detail set.
Markings are provided for six examples along with typical vehicle stenciling. The kit provides painting instructions with both Gunze Mr.Color and Mr.Hobby as well as Vallejo colors.
This is a nice special edition release from Kinetic and the addition of mission equipment in the cab make this project better detail-wise than the Panda offering. This kit relies on finer-molded styrene parts for its build hence only one small fret of photo-etched parts are provided. This will greatly enhance the buildability of the model over the Panda kit for the average modeler. We'll do a side-by-side look at these two machines in the near future. This kit should be available soon at your favorite hobby shop. Better yet, this kit is available at only $49.99 from LuckyModel.
My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!