In 1983 the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command awarded AM General a contract worth $1.2 billion to produce 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV, pronounced Humvee®), to be delivered in 15 different configurations over a five-year period. It was the largest multi-year contract for a tactical wheeled vehicle ever awarded by the U.S. Army.
The M1045/M1046 is the TOW Weapons carrier version. The M1045 is a TOW missile carrier, with supplemental armor, and without a winch. The M1046 is a TOW missile carrier, with supplemental armor, and with a winch. The vehicles are equipped with supplemental armor and the weapon mount, located on the roof of the vehicle, which holds the TOW launcher and sights.
The weapons platform can be traversed 360 degrees. The vehicles can climb 60% slopes and traverse a side slope of up to 40% fully loaded. The vehicles can ford hard bottom water crossing up to 30 inches without a deep water fording kit and up to 60 inches with the kit.
The Armor Survivability Kit (ASK), which was added during OIF, is an added layer of armor plates around the crew compartment and belly of the vehicle for added protection. It consists of protective armored doors with ballistic glass windows, side skirts, rear armor plate, and a ballistic windshield.
The box contains 4 main sprues in light gray plastic, 2 PE brush guards, an extensive sheet of markings, 2 clear turtleback shells and 2 hulls allowing a modeler to make two complete HMMWV models, one M1045 or 1046 with and one without the ASK upgrade. Also included are 4 smaller sprues with parts specific to the TOW and its mount, and 8 soft rubber tires.
Oddly enough, they too are molded in light gray; black would have been a much better option. Decals are by Cartograf and apply well. Two marking options are given, one for a standard M1045 in NATO camouflage from 101st Airborne and one M1046 with ASK upgrade in overall desert sand, with sand ASK upgrade from 3ID. The decal sheet also includes markings for 1ID, 2ID, and 16MP BDE, but no placement guide or examples are shown for these. There is also a smaller decal sheet with tyre pressure and sling/tie-down stencilling included.
All the molding looks great on this tiny kit. Fine detail is crisp, with no short shot parts, no flash, and no visible mold ejector pin marks. The TOW launchers and all associated equipment are faithfully reproduced in the kit. Each TOW assembly is a mini model in itself and can be built in either the vehicle mounted mode or ground mode. A full load of 6 TOW missile reloads is also included for the rear cargo area as well.
The cargo area can be modelled with the rear hatch in the open position as well, to show it all off. As a nice feature, the roof and front windshield are molded as a single piece, in clear plastic. The side doors and their windows are also molded in clear plastic in this manner. All you have to do is mask off the window areas and paint them the body color. It makes the window/windshield work quite easy.
The tailgate is also a separate piece and can be modeled in the open (down) position as well. The only inaccuracy I found in the parts was the old style radio. The kit has, as all available HMMWV kits do, the vehicle mount for the AN/PRC-77 radio. These radios were replaced with SINCGARS radios in the mid-late '90s and are no longer used.
I guess Dragon has improved the instructions in this kit, as compared to those in the M1025 kit. I read that they were vague and some parts were not listed on them. I did not find that to be the case with this kit. The instructions are in full colour with the parts labelled and arrows showing their placement. I had no issues with them at all.
Assembly is straightforward and follows a logical order of body tub, frame, upper shell, and details. All parts went together well. The only part that did not fit well was the upper shell to the body. It was a little warped and caused the rear of the shell to stick up. Some minor compression and superglue got it all to sit right though. The only other issue I had was with part number A35, the radiator and inner fenders. With it in place, the front end would not sit flush on the frame. It really can't be seen anyway, so I left it out and the front end sits just fine. Lastly, the rubber tyres were a real pain to get onto the plastic wheels. They were probably the hardest part of the whole build. Kind of like holding a 1/2 inch, greased marble. You get the picture.
painting and markings
I decided to finish mine as the all sand M1046 w/ASK from E TRP, 9th CAV, 3ID. This vehicle is from the Brigade Recon Troop of 2nd BDE, 3ID during the initial invasion of Iraq. I had no problems with the decals, other than needing a magnifying glass to see some of them. They are tiny but in perfect register. The finished vehicle looks great, even if I say so myself!
Overall, this is a great little model. I was not used to building in 1/72 scale and was not expecting much. However, I was impressed with the level of detail in this kit. Dragon definitely has a winner here. If you are a fan of modern armour or softskins, and like to build Braille scale, these are definitely a must have.