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HEMTT M983 Tractor Kit

Trumpeter 1/35 HEMTT M983 Tractor Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2015 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject HEMTT M983 Tractor Scale 1/35
Kit Number 1021 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $79.95

First Look

HEMTT M983 Tractor Kit
HEMTT M983 Tractor Kit
HEMTT M983 Tractor Kit
HEMTT M983 Tractor Kit

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 an opportunity to work with the HEMTT on a few engineering programs in my previous life and I became a fan of this heavy Oshkosh truck. Of course Oshkosh builds even heavier trucks including the M1070 HET, but the HEMTT has the distinctive look of some futuristic vehicle. The only options for a HEMTT kit in 1/35 scale were the M977 cargo truck, M978 tanker, and M985 gun truck, all from Italeri. While these kits offered reasonable details, they still needed lots of aftermarket help to bring the kits closer to contemporary standards.

When Trumpeter started floating test shot images of several HEMTT variants, I was very pleased to have some detailed options coming in our scale modeling future. The first of these HEMTT variants was originally going to be packaged with the Patriot missile battery kit as the prime mover for the radar and launcher trailers. At some point in the product development process, Trumpeter decided to release this HEMTT prime mover as a separate kit to keep the cost of the Patriot kit lower.

So here we have the first installment of the HEMTT, the M983 prime mover. This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 12 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus the cab shell, one tree of clear parts, and one fret of photo-etched parts. Among the features and options in this box:

  • Fully detailed diesel engine
  • Removable engine cover
  • Photo-etched grilles and heat shields
  • Detailed chassis and drive train
  • Detailed cab interior
  • SINCGARS radio tray and radio in cab
  • Positionable cab doors
  • Photo-etched chassis center platform
  • Detailed rear hitch assembly
  • Winch
  • Detailed spare tire rack with VHF antenna base

This is easily the nicest detailing on a HEMTT kit to date. While Trumpeter has hinted at other variants in their development process, none are in their 2016 catalog nor have been announced (yet). If you happen to have the Italeri M977 or M978 kits, you could make a few modifications to this M983 to convert it to a truck or tanker. You can also find a low-boy trailer and depict this tractor in a variety of other support roles. Perhaps we'll see the Pershing and its trailer from Trumpeter or from the aftermarket community. In any case, we have a welcome addition to our heavy hauling fleet!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!