The D7 medium tractor was developed in the late 1930ís and used during the WWII by the US Armed forces and other allied nations. It came in various versions with features such as winches, cranes and dozers, and was mainly intended for earthworks and removal of obstacles on the battlefield or on the roads of advances.
This kit represents an armored version with a dozer, which was intended to be used in the front line clearing the way for the troops. Iím not sure of the quality of the add-on armor used on this vehicle, but it would certainly provide both operator and vehicle some protection against enemy fire or shrapnel. During my search on the internet, Iíve stumbled upon claims, that this kind of armor was wrong, but Iíve been able to find at least one picture of a D7 with this exact kind of armor, so MiniArt
is right with this version.
provides a large number of parts, but even though this is their fourth D7 kit, almost every part is used in the build, and you donít end up with 30 or 40% of unused parts, which another certain model manufacturer usually does.
Whatís in the Box?
The kit comes in the standard size box with a nice box art by Booth (?) , and it contain a staggering 767 parts molded in light grey styrene, a few clear styrene parts and a very small fret of PE. The instructions come as a very nice booklet, where the marking and painting guide is in color. All the sprues are sealed in one clear plastic bag. The kit content is as follows:
29 sprues of light grey styrene
1 sprue of clear styrene
1 small fret of PE
1 decal sheet
1 instruction booklet
The construction begins with the assembly of the engine. This is actually a major part of the vehicle, and I must honestly say, that MiniArt
has done a very impressive job. The only down side to this is, that some of the parts are almost microscopic in size, and furthermore is that the styrene is very brittle, and the thin pipes, handles and levers breaks very easy, which really challenge ones temper. But apart from this, the individual parts are well molded and require a minimum of cleaning.
All parts of the engine build is excellently detailed, I especially like the ďCaterpillarĒ, which is molded into the engine block. With all the pipes, various filters and others, it will be such fun when it comes to the painting and weathering stages, and see all these great details spring to life. This armored version does not cover the engine, so everything here is fully visible.
When built, the engine is mounted onto the chassis, and the radiator and all the different steering and control rods and mechanisms. And as said before, these parts are very thin and long, and they tend to break very easily. The really bad thing about these nice details is that they are all to be covered up by floor plating and the operatorsí seat. This is actually a real shame, because MiniArt
has done a great deal of work with these details. The floor plating is very well molded, and has some nice and crisp anti-skid detail. The operatorsí seat is rather large and looks almost like a couch with a nice cushy seat and arm rests. It looks quite comfy.
A warning has to be given with the construction of the seat. The instruction clearly shows that the armrests are to be built, so they are located over the sides of the seat, but if built like that, the armored cap cannot be fitted over it. Guess this is something from the versions without the cab, which they forgot to correct when redoing the instructions. The same problem occurs with the tool box, which at first appears to be placed on the left fender. This is later shown to be placed on the rear of the armored cab. If it was to be located on the fender, the driverís door would not be able to open very much.
On the right side of the engine is located three small control gauges, and MiniArt
has provided some very small decals for these. This is a nice detail, which adds to the realism of the build, but unfortunately they canít be seen, once the armored cab is in place, so I guess it would be pointless to use them on this build, but such decals are always very nice to have in the spares box, so donít throw them away.
On the right fender the hydraulic oil reservoir is located, and from this some very long and twisted pipes are running along the engine. These are very likely to break due to their delicate size and shapes and the brittle styrene, so take extra care on these. Later in the building process some small pipes are to connect to these ones, so do pay attention to getting them fixed in the right position.
A winch system is to be fitted on the rear of the vehicle, but MiniArt
has not included any string for the wire in this kit. It would have been nice if a piece nylon string had been provided, and I really canít imagine it is very expensive part to include. Oh well, guess most modelers have something useful lying around. I used some black nylon string for my wire.
Ending this sub assembly I added the frontal armor around the radiator and the head lights, which makes sense since this will be part of this sub assembly. The frontal armor plate has been molded so that it looks like itís full of small holes to help the ventilation for the cooling system, but I wasnít satisfied with the looks of it, so I drilled out all of them, using a very small drill bit. I must admit that it was quite laborious, but Iím happy with the result.
The engine hood, crank and exhaust pipe were left off, so that that all the engine parts are easier to reach during painting and weathering.
The next step is the construction of the armored cab. I built this as another sub assembly, because if the cab is glued on, it is very hard to paint the interior, which would be such a shame with all the excellent details.
This part is a straight build, but while making this a separate sub assembly; I needed to fix the air filter onto the angled piece of front armor, so it would connect to the intake hose on the engine when the finished cab was set in place.
I wanted to have all the hatches open on the cab, but again the very small and delicate parts for the opening mechanism simply broke when I tried to remove them from the sprue, so I had to find something in my spares box, which was usable. I also wanted to leave the doors left open, so the details was to be seen, but I found out, that the right hand door canít be open at all, due to the hydraulic oil reservoir, which is located on the right fender. Iím wondering if there actually was a door on the right side of the cab. It just seems to be very strange, that the guys, who made this armored cab, went through all the trouble of fitting a door, if it wasnít able to open.
For extra detail, I added two metal mounts on the rear of the cab, on which I intend to hang a heavy chain, which I imagine could come in handy in the field. This will be shown in the photo feature, which will follow this review.
The next sub assembly is the wheel and wheel mounts, which again is built up of numerous parts. All the different wheels can be made workable, but the true gem in this part, is the styrene molded springs. They actually work! Iíve never encountered anything like it in any other kit. Usually these springs are just molded as a solid part, but her MiniArt
has created a master piece. Well done!
I chose to assemble the mounts and cylinders for the dozer in this step, too. It will make the final assembly easier if there are not too many parts, because there will be some touching up to do with paint and weathering after every sub assembly is added.
The tracks are rather tricky. They look really great and are workable, but the cleaning of all the many small and very fragile parts, is a nightmare. MiniArt
only provides the exact number of track links to be used, so whenever one of the small and thin pieces breaks, you have to glue it, or else you donít have enough parts to complete the tracks. Another ďheads upĒ is, that several of the holes in parts where the pins has to go, are not big enough, and have to be drilled out manually before assembly. I used a 1.2mm drill, which made the hole big enough for the pins to fit and still be workable.
The way the instructions want you to assemble the tracks were not working for me at all. Maybe Iím not skilled enough for the job, but I found another method, which worked far better for me. I glued all the pieces with holes in them (Dc3) on one side of the thread plate, and when fully dried, it was easier to assemble one link at a time using the pin and then carefully gluing the other piece with holes (Dc2). Iím sure this makes a lot more sense, if you have the kit and studies the instructions for the track assembly.
I didnít mount the tracks until they were painted and weathered, and the vehicle was finished. I carefully connected the two track ends with a piece of Evergreen rod (1.2mm) on the underside of the track mounts, so that it wouldnít be visible.
Final sub assemble is the dozer, which is quite large. It can be set in an angle to either side, but the instructions only show the straight position. This is the easiest part of the kit to construct, but that doesnít mean that there are no great details.
I would suggest that all the sub-assemblies are painted and weathered before being assembled, because this will make the all of the areas easier to reach. The parts which fasten the dozer to the mount brackets on the D7ís running gear have to be painted and weathered after the assembly is completed, as will the 4 pieces of hydraulic pipe, which connects the hydraulic cylinders to the pipes one the D7.
Painting and marking
provide only one option, which is a vehicle from 237th Engineer Battalion, 1st US Army, Germany, April 1945. This vehicle is painted in an all over olive drab paint scheme.
In a time where manufactures are spewing Tiger Iís, Russian ďProject #ísĒ and such, MiniArt
has produced a very cool vehicle, which is very much out of category. The D7 armored Bulldozer holds a whole lot of excellent and crisp details. It is not a beginnerís kit, and my patience and building skills were at times challenged. The only major issue with this kit is the quality of the styrene, which is very brittle, and causes the small and very delicate parts to break. This is a real shame, because MiniArt
has gone a long way to produce a fine model, with almost as many small parts as in a Bronco Models kit. Aside from that, the kit is well engineered and has no real fitting issues. Itís very good value for money, and Iíll highly recommend this kit.
Photos of Jacob's completed model of this kit can be