Arriving in Afghanistan in late 2009 and early 2010, the Oshkosh M-ATV (Mine Resistant Ambush Protect-All Terrain Vehicle) is intended to replace the Humvee as a means of transporting troops on patrols; convoy security operations; reconnaissance; and command and control missions.
The Humvee in different variants, having been in service for many years and going through several upgrades to increase survivability, had in increasingly become unsuitable for the counterinsurgency operations that the USA was/is engaged in, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Facing multiple threats from IEDís and deadly EFPís the Humvee and other soft skin vehicles failed to offer the necessary protection for troops, whilst heavier armor such as the M2A2/A3 Bradley was unsuited to the types of operations being conducted. From around 2007 the US began fielding a fleet of various MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles, with characteristic V-shaped hulls and heavy armor capabilities able to better absorb blasts than flat hulled vehicles, whilst maintaining a similar degree of maneuverability and situational awareness that previous vehicles offered. However as the US involvement in Iraq began to be drawn down, focus shifted to the conflict in Afghanistan where it became increasingly apparent the existing MRAPís where unsuited to the rough terrain and limited road infrastructure.
The M-ATV is intended to provide increased protection for its crew compared to M1114 and M1151 Humvee variants, but with a far greater off-road capability than existing heavy MRAP models. The armored vehicle cab, developed by Plasan, consists of a factory installed A-Kit and V shaped hull armor designed to protect against IED and EFP blasts. The interior has a spall liner covering, protecting crew against splinters and shrapnel. Off-road mobility is provided by the TAK-4 modular independent suspension system and R20 Michellin XZL tires with run flat inserts and a 2-channel CTIS (Central Tire Inflation System).
The M-ATV can be fitted with mission specific equipment such as the LRAS3, CROWS II weapon station, TOW-2 and the O-GPK turret. In addition the M-ATV is fitted with a plethora of electronic countermeasures and jamming devices intended to defeat remote operated explosive devices. The M-ATV also has a small cargo area located directly behind the crew cab for the purpose of carrying mission related equipments, tools and maintenance items as well as crew gear.
Inside a sturdy box are 10 tan colored sprueís, one clear sprue, a vinyl rubber sprue, a small photo-etch fret, five rubber tires and a small decal sheet. According to the box there is a very reasonable parts count of over 400 pieces, making it a fairly well detailed kit but within the abilities of most modelers with a few years experience.
The instruction booklet is spread out over 31 pages and features straightforward diagrams, which are generally easy to follow. According to some online sources and my own initial inspections, there are however a few numbering mistakes present and some unclear parts locations, so itís best to take care when building. On the last two pages are some useful black and white reference photos of the real vehicle, not much use as a painting guide, but handy for anyone wishing to add some additional detailing.
Sprue A contains the parts for the bonnet and some front chassis components. The molding is fairly good with no injection sink marks to fill on any of the visible surfaces, however some of the sprue attachment points are quite heavy, therefore care will be needed when cutting off some of the smaller items. Some of the parts do a have a bit of flash as well. There is a large piece which fits under the bonnet and acts as the wheel arch, on the rear walls of the arch near the crew area are molded what look like small blobs. These are in fact supposed to be bolt heads and are a pretty hopeless representation, replacing them with photo etch or plastic bolt heads would be advised.
One of the major parts of this sprue is the actual bonnet itself. Itís quite a thick molding, presumably to avoid any warping of the plastic. The detail is a bit soft with very poorly defined bolts around the front grill. Thereís no Oshkosh logo, and while I appreciate the need to avoid legal issues, a misspelled logo similar to the DML ĎContinentauí tires would have been nice. A prominent mold seam along the fenders will need to be dealt with as well. Unfortunately the bonnet recesses appear to extend too far forward compared to the real vehicle, and the flat edge on the curve of the fender is too big which means the contours of the fender do not look correct. Kinetic provide a photo-etch piece for the cowling grill, which is supposed to be stuck behind the cowling openings on the inside of the bonnet. In reality the grill should be much more forward therefore the etch will have to be cut up and stuck within the cowling openings, not behind them.
Sprue B contains the side and rear crew compartment body panels as well as the front windscreen panel. Thereís no molding marks on the interior or exterior of the panels, which is pleasing, although unfortunately my sample did having a small sink mark between the windscreen frames on the front panel. There are however lots of molding stubs to contend with and a lot of mold lines on the smaller parts, while the molding on the edges and joining faces of the body panels is a bit rough and will need sanding to provide a flat edge. Many of the smaller items such as the spotlights sadly lack the finesse that Iíd like to see in a modern kit, although they are usable. The body panels are accurate and seem to have all the correct bolt details, although the hexagonal bolts on the bottom armor of the side panels look a little too large. Pleasingly, Kinetic have molded interior details on the inside of the windscreen panel.
Sprue C includes the crew compartment floor panel, roof, doors and some other smaller exterior details. Again thankfully there are no particularly difficult or visible mold marks to deal with other than some mold circles on the inside door panels, which would be fairly easy to sand away. Unfortunately the exterior door hinges are missing some fairly obvious bolts, and the rear door window frame shape is incorrect as well. On the kit the frame sides are completely vertical, whereas in reality they should be angled slightly forward. Some of the smaller items suffer from the large sprue attachment points and some flash, the supplied antenna bases are pretty hopeless because of this.
This sprue consists of some of the interior parts such as the dashboard, crew seats and radio racks. The gunnerís platform and radio racks are a little heavy and lack the finesse of photo-etch items. There is also a bit of flash to contend with and some very awkward mold stubs to cut out and sand clean. The crew seats are a pretty good representation but are rather over simplified, for example the driverís seat lacks the entire bracing framework while the upper attachments for the 5-point seat belts are missing. The seats have some very prominent mold lines that will need to be sanded away too. The lower seat belt buckles that are molded open are a nice feature, although they will need to be opened up a little more as there is a bit of flash present.
The dashboard is a very impressive piece, complete with some nicely molded dials and buttons, even an open air vent, as well as the BFT screen, albeit a little undersized in my opinion. There is also a mount present next to the BFT screen for the AN/PSN-13 DAGR (Defense Advanced GPS Receiver), one will need to source the actual GPS receiver from elsewhere (Bronco includes one in their M1114).
Also included on the sprue is the fire suppression tank, albeit a little undersized when compared with reference photos and some excellent intercom units. There are four AN/VIC-3 FFCS (Full Function Crew Station units), and the intercom master control unit. Kinetic should be commended for including these finer details.
Sprue E contains the chassis frame, chassis components and the V-shaped ĎPlasaní hull armor. The chassis itself has a very prominent mold seam running the length of it which could be visible on the finished vehicle, while the other bits are generally molded well, although there are some sink marks on the armor panels. Sadly the actual front of the chassis frame appears to be totally incorrect, with the frame ending on a right angle onto which the tow shackle loops attach, Instead the frame should slope down at the front. The V-shaped armor looks very good on the other hand and appears to have all the correct angles. There is a two-part exhaust pipe that will need careful filling and sanding to eliminate the join seam.
Sprue F (x2):
Sprue F consists of the parts for the two TAK-4 suspension units. Generally the parts suffer from the same flash and excessive mold seams as elsewhere and some poorly molded edges, which means sanding will be required to get a snug fit of parts.
Thankfully there are no real sink marks; instead there are a lot of mold stubs that need cutting off. Judging from reference photos the suspension looks fairly accurate, although the springs are a poor and sadly the suspension units have absolutely no bolt detail where they attach to the chassis frame. The wheel hubs are quite nicely detailed, but again lack any Oshkosh markings and the front of the hub is recessed whereas it should be flat.
Sprue G contains the components for the rear cargo area and framework onto which the antenna and ECM devices are mounted. The molding on these parts is quite good with less mold seems to contend with but again lots of mold stubs. The electronic equipment framework looks decent enough if a little thick, but does seem to be lacking a few bolts here and there. Equally the nature of trying to mold these parts in plastic means that itís a little inaccurate in some places, an AM company tackling this in etch would make a good alternative. The plastic fenders and toolboxes are well done; with the toolboxes having some etch fittings for around their top edge.
Sprue H features the O-GPK turret, ECM antennas and BFT antenna. The O-GPK looks respectable enough and is basically sound, despite the scale thickness of the armor being a little off due to the limitations of plastic molding. There is no detail on the underside of the gunners ring visible from the interior. Thankfully Kinetic chose to mold the gunnerís overhead protection separate, which doesnít seem to be fitted onto most M-ATVís. The MK19, which is included on this sprue, is made up of quite a few parts, which may be difficult to assemble easily and generally the detail on these parts is not great, replacing the Mk19 with an AM items seems like a better option.
The ECM antennas are pretty good if suffering from some prominent mold lines, will the bolt detail on the DUKE antenna is quite weak and again an inexpensive AM item might be a better replacement.
This is the clear sprue and includes the windowpanes and headlight lenses. Thankfully there is not much in the way of mold lines to contend with on the parts, however care will be needed when cutting the clear parts from the sprue to prevent the attachment points cracking the actual pieces. Sadly the two front windscreen panels appear to have sunk a bit during the molding process which means the clear plastic is distorted, I suspect that a coat of armored glass clear green would highlight this issue further still. Using very fine grade sanding and polishing stick to flatten the panels, and remove the distortion can deal with this, but itís a annoying all the same. The O-GPK panes have the frames molded onto them so very careful painting will be required on these parts.
Sprue J consists of the vinyl rubber pieces including the hydraulic lines for the rear suspension unit, mud flaps sans Oshkosh logo and also the tires (although these are loose in the box). The hydraulic lines are a pleasing addition to the kit and save having to source tubing from elsewhere. They do have mold lines running along the length, which is likely to be difficult to remove, but probably wonít be seen on the finished model. According to one online review these parts are numbered incorrectly, I wonít be able to check this until the build, but be aware! (editors note: the correct numbering with a sprue layout is now included within the instructions at the appropriate step)
Finally there are the tires, which have a respectable enough tread pattern, but sadly are in my opinion pretty much useless. Firstly, initial testing suggests some of the tires do not fit the wheel hubs very well and leave a visible gap, which is difficult to fill. There are no markings what so ever on the tire, and again while I appreciate legal issues, this is too much of an obvious omission, just something would have sufficed. There is also a fairly prominent mold line running the around the tread face of the tire, I have been able to sand it fairly clean with a rough sanding stick, but itís not easy. Finally, there has been talk online of the fact that the tires are too large, whilst I do not have scale plans to hand this does certainly seem to be the case.
Probably best described as an accessories sprue, the parts included here are the rhino anti IED device, comms gear, cargo accessories and the M2HB.
The rhino is quite acceptable despite a few mold lines to be cleaned up and generally looks accurate, however it does seem that A-Stan M-ATVís tend not to use the rhino too often.
The M2HB is pretty poor and is probably best replaced with an AM item or a better example from another kit. Because it comes in two halves the cooling jacket for the barrel is going to be difficult to stick properly and will end up with a noticeable seam line. Equally there are some quite annoying mold lines all along the barrel itself and the whole item isnít very well detailed.
Moving onto the communications equipment, this for me is one of the strongest aspects of the kit and its very pleasing to see Kinetic tackle this where other companies have ignored these important parts. All the items are made from multiple parts so are quite well detailed and should fill out the interior quite nicely. Included in the kit are the following items:
-AN/VRC-104 (V) 3, but sadly no receiver/transmitter
-Falcon II AN/VRC-103 multiband radio vehicular mounting. The AN/PRC-117F (C) man-pack radio is not included
-Falcon III AN/VRC-110 vehicular amplifier and standard SINCGARS mount. Unfortunately again the AN/PRC-152 single channel multiband handheld radios are missing.
There is also an FBCB2 computer unit, stowed BFT keyboard and what I assume is the CREW DUKE control unit. An air conditioning unit is also provided to place under the gunnerís platform.
The cargo items provided consists of two fuel cans and two water cans, which arenít very well molded on my kit, with the handles molded closed. There is also a plastic transit case.
This contains 10 etch parts which have been described in the review. The etch is a sensible thickness and should be easy to cut and work with.
There is also a small decal sheet produced by Catograph providing some generic stencil markings. The decals look to be of a high quality and appear to be very complete.
Overall I think this is not a bad effort from Kinetic for their first 1/35 release. The kit looks to be relatively easy to assemble for most modelers, although one will have to be prepared for a bit of sanding, filling and general clean up of parts during the assembly process. The quality of molding is fairly acceptable, although I do feel that it lacks quite a bit behind the high standards that have been set by the likes of Bronco, Dragon and Tasca. For example, as I have mentioned throughout the review, some parts have quite a bit of flash, and rough edges that need to be sanded to allow a proper fit of parts. While other details are quite soft and poorly defined, such as the bolts around bonnet cowling. One area that I am very impressed by though is the lack of those annoying circular molding marks that a lot of kits from other manufactures seem to suffer from. Kinetic have presumably alleviated this issue with all the molding stubs, which are annoying to have to cut, but far less hassle that filling the aforementioned marks.
Regarding the general accuracy of the kit, Kinetic seem to have got it mostly correct. There is some debate about the dimensions of the kit, and itís certainly larger than other models of the M-ATV on the market, however without access to scale plans I cannot really comment on this. As the review mentions there are some troubling areas such as the bonnet recesses, the shape of the rear door windows, the incorrect front chassis and a few bolts that are missing or poorly defined. There is also of course the total lack of any Oshkosh markings, which is understandable because of licensing issues, but is a very obvious omission on certain parts.
One of the strongest areas of this kit has to be the interior, and Kinetic should be commended for including most of the major components and communications equipment that other manufacturers have ignored. Whilst the level of detail of these items isnít perhaps as great as one would hope for, the radios and other items a quite acceptable and help to clutter up what would otherwise be a fairly sparse interior.
The weakest part of this kit has to be the dreadful wheels, which in my opinion are not really acceptable in a kit of this price and considering the molding technology available today. Besides having no markings at all on the face of the tire, the biggest problem is they donít fit tightly onto the hubs and leave a visible gap, which is difficult to fill.
Overall this kit seems to be one with some good and bad aspects. Having a company willing to tackle a subject such as this for their first 1/35 kit is very pleasing and I congratulate them for trying something different. I do hope however that we will see steady improvements regarding the overall accuracy and molding quality of their kits, especially when they are not the cheapest option on the market.
Kinetic M-ATV Build Log ĎArmoramaí
MRAP, All-Terrain Vehicle walkaround ĎArmoramaí
MATV Discussion Thread ĎArmoramaí
Tankograd Publications 3/2010
AK Interactive AK097