by: Mario Krajinovic [ ]
Improvised explosive devices (IED) are unfortunately the most successful weapons used by insurgents and terrorists in the recent military operations led in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are responsible for more than 60% of all casualties of both military personnel as well as civilians and remain a potent danger even now. The HMMWV chassis only could withstand a certain amount of armor upgrades and is now being substituted with more protected frames such as the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles. One of the vehicles currently deployed in Afghanistan is the Oshkosh M-ATV - MRAP All Terrain Vehicle, developed by the Oshkosh Defense, Wisconsin. It is designed to provide the same levels of protection as the larger and heavier previous MRAPs while providing improved mobility.
The Oshkosh M-ATV was chosen as the winner of the M-ATV programme in June 2009 because it had the best survivability of the other 4 contestants and Oshkosh had the best technical and manufacturing capabilities of all the competitors. The Oshkosh bid was also the second cheapest with a unit cost of 470 000$. The first vehicles arrived in Afghanistan in October 2009.
The M-ATV utilizes the MTVR chassis and TAK-4 suspension with the Plasan (an Israeli owned vehicle manufacturer that develops, manufactures and assembles custom-built vehicle armor systems and chassis up-armor designs as well as Add-On Armor Protection Kits for light-weight military tactical vehicles) designed armored hull developed for the Northrop Grumman/Oshkosh JLTV. The V-shaped armored hull offers protection for the crew and passengers from IED attacks while the critical systems such engine oil/coolant/hydraulic system can withstand a 7.62 mm round and continue to drive for at least one kilometer.
The Oshkosh TAK-4 suspension is coil sprung and fully independent, and offers 16 inches of travel while the centrally inflated run-flat tires allow the M-ATV to travel at least 30 miles at 30 mph even if two tires lose all pressure.
The M-ATV also features modern vehicle safety systems such as traction control and ABS in addition to modern creature comforts such as an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system and power outlets for charging portable electronic devices.
The M-ATV's roof mounted turret is capable of mounting weapons such as the M240, Mk. 19, M2 .50 cal, or the BGM-71 TOW. The roof weapons can be operated either from the turret by person or remotely inside the cabin with a CROWS 2 remote weapon station.
Curb weight: 27,500 lb (12,500 kg)
Gross weight: 32,500 lb (14,700 kg)
• Length: 246.8 inches (6,270 mm)
• Width: 98.1 inches (2,490 mm)
• Height: 105 inches (2,700 mm)
• Crew: 4 1 gunner
• Armor: Plasan composite
• Main armament: 1× 7.62 mm (.308") M240 machine gun, 1× 40 mm Mk 19 grenade launcher, 1× BGM-71 TOW
• Payload capacity: 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg)
• Engine: 7.2 liter inline-6 Caterpillar C7 turbo diesel, 370 bhp; 925 lb-ft
• Power/weight: 25 hp/ton
• Speed: 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) (electronically limited)
• Transmission: Allison 3500SP, 6-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
• Suspension: TAK-4 independent suspension, 4x4
• Operational range: 320 miles (510 km)
Last couple of years brought what every modern modeler was waiting for. A number of kits in both resin and plastic form that made us jump in joy. As the new vehicles were fielded, kits arrived. One of new companies that jumped the wagon was Panda Hobby, a new company (not to be confused for Panda Models!) and their first release in plastic – the M-ATV in 1/35 scale. With the early CAD images released in August, 2011 the kit is now available in stores all over the world and is a very welcome release, so let’s see what this kit is all about.
The package comes in a nice top-opening, cardboard box (35x25 cm) with a clear and concise box art. The art is nothing spectacular but is a nice rendering of the M-ATV signed by the artist Sime(o?)n. The sprues are packed by two in plastic bags, so some parts may come off from the sprues as in this case. This goes as well for the clear parts, but fortunately no scratching was present. The tires come separate in the box and the only exemption from the 2 sprues-per bag is the hood and the cab parts.
So what’s inside the box?
• 12 tan plastic sprues (A-J)
• 2 clear plastic sprues (GP1 & GP2)
• 2 separate tan plastic parts (bonnet and the crew cab)
• 3 photo-etched frets (PE-A, B, C)
• 5 vinyl tires
• decal sheet
The number count is 392 plastic, 84 PE, 5 vinyl parts which may seem much for a kit of this size, but does a large part number equal details and build complexity? We’ll get to that a bit later. On to the sprues:
Crew cab & bonnet
The crew cab and the bonnet come as a separate piece tied on a large molding stub. This is somewhat fragile so take care and remove this first, as if it breaks off, it could lead to un-necessary repair work to the edges of both parts. The armored cab provides enough space for four soldiers and a gunner and the kit represents the standard A-kit armor package (while the B-kit can be applied in the field based on the mission requirements). The bottom of the turret ring in nicely depicted but is also scarred with two large pin-holes next to it so some filling will be necessary if you plan to show off the interior. Alternative method could be punching out matching styrene discs and just gluing them in the pin-holes. Also missing from the cab are some panel lines that continue from the lower edge if the doors. One can easily add them using a sharp blade or a scriber. Other than this, there aren’t any other molding defects present. The cab is a fairly complex build and will look the part once everything is installed with numerous headlights, DVE (Drivers Vision Enhancer) sensor – which will definitely be the focal point of the model and armored doors.
The bonnet is a pretty large piece cleanly molded with some thin seam lines running down the wheel arches. This is a simple thing to get rid of with some light sanding. Photo-etched grille is also provided so there’s no need to further enhance this part on your own. Also an OshKosh logo is present which is quite nice and hopefully no trademark issues are involved, but anyway this is a good thing for us modelers. Clear parts make up the headlights and will look great with a bit of TLC. The interior of wheel arches also receive some PE goodness and will properly close the gap that the lack of engine creates.
Sprue A – this holds the parts for the lower parts of the chassis such as the V-shaped underbelly armor plating (protecting the crew from IED and EFP strikes), rear wheel arches, spare wheel hub, transmission cover, extinguisher bottle of the fire suppression system, cab floor and back-plate, and finally the dashboard. The dashboard itself is exquisite in detail, with raised gauges and buttons and is almost the exact replica of the real thing. Decals are provided for the instruments, but for all you that want to open the cab up, some more detailing will bring this to a higher level. Molding is great, with pin-holes on the back-side of the parts and will remain invisible on the model.
Sprue B – present here are the chassis frame, gearbox cover, suspension mounts, driver seat and cargo space flooring. The driver’s seat is a multi-part affair and the seat itself has nice texturing and once assembled will look really busy and almost like the real thing minus the seat belts. Some flash is present on the cushion part of the seat, while there are 4 pin-marks to fill in on the rear side of the backrest. The one thing about this sprue is the relatively large molding stubs on the rear side of the parts. They will require careful removal as they could interfere with the assembly. No other pin-marks are present on the visible side of the parts.
Sprue C (x2) – on this sprue there are parts for the mud flaps (with the OshKosh logo), tow hooks and tie down points, suspension mounts, rods, swing and control arms, shock absorbers, coil springs, roof-mounted headlights, wheel hubs, rear stowage box bottom parts, and door-entry tubing steps. Some of these parts are delicate, and feature a lot of flash. Also, some molding stubs attached are larger than the part itself! This especially goes for the tow-hooks. Two of the biggest gripes on this sprue are the wheel hubs and the springs. The hubs are not accurate in the bolt positioning or shape. The shape of the bolts is not hexagonal or even right; they just appear like little blobs. This is easily remedied with the use of aftermarket wheels which are available from various manufacturers. Springs on the M-ATV are large coils that are visible-through. The way the kit parts are molded is by two halves (which leave a nasty seam line that’s hard to remove) and the springs look compressed. The best way to handle this is to discard the kit parts and scratch-build the springs from 1mm wire, which should not be too hard to do, and will certainly improve the look of the entire model as this part is quite visible.
Sprue D – on this sprue are the crew cab armored doors with windshield and window frames, door hinges, suspension wheel mounts, x-blade antenna circular base, steering wheel and rod (shaft), rear-view mirror mounts, rear stowage box frames, and some small parts for the interior. These parts are also marred with large molding plugs that are fortunately on the rear side of the parts and some flash around thin parts like the rear-view mirror mounts. The doors are a multi-piece affair again, and will look great. The only thing I found lacking was the window frames. The ballistic windows made by Schott DiamondVIew Armor Products have thin edge while the kit parts are too thick. Also the front windshield windows lack the prominent backing under the frames which can also be added with some styrene strips.
Sprue E –the largest sprue in the box provides part for the rear storage space, the frame, rear cover plate, front wheel arch inserts, stowage boxes, various suspension mounts, transmission shaft, rear entry steps, x-blade antenna, exhaust pipe and a couple of door hinges. The frame itself is very nice, but very complex due to large number of parts needing to fit perfectly. Once assembled you can finally understand the lack of stowage space in the M-ATV! Again, some of the thinner parts are wrapped in flash, and large molding stubs are present as well. The exhaust could benefit from thinning and drilling out the pipe to properly depict this fairly large part and shouldn’t take more than few minutes.
Sprue F – 360 degree protection comes from the O-GPK (Objective Gunner Protection Kit) roof mounted armored cupola. The M-ATV fields the M249, M240B machine guns or the Mk.19 grenade launcher. Some of the later fielded vehicles also operate the CROWS II remote weapons station which is not included in this kit. So what do you get to protect your 1/35 gunner? The turret is the kind with the overhead protection, something not usually seen but in the field none the less. 15 parts are needed to assemble the turret itself and will look decent; however, I am not too sure about the accuracy of the bolt pattern if you are concerned by this. There are a lot of AM options if you decide to follow that option. Also present on this sprue is the M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun which is quite basic and could use a replacement. The molding is great for the turret parts as there aren’t any pin-marks on the interior or exterior. The same cannot be said about the M2 as it features some large molding plugs and pin-marks and needs its bore drilled out. The turret base ring and hatch cover are nicely molded with a single pin-mark on the inside of the hatch cover.
Sprue G – features the spare wheel mount, gas/brake pedals, BFT monitor, chassis covers, various antenna bases, windshield wipers, bonnet hinges and some small miscellaneous parts for the chassis. No molding issues are present here.
Sprue H (x3) – the smallest of the plastic sprues feature parts for the crew seating. Frames, cushions and the back-rest make up the seat and then you finish it off with a number PE parts, small hook points and mounts. It’s really amazing to see how complex these parts are. No texturing is present on the seats and no pin-marks are visible. The lack of PE seat-belts is the only thing missing to properly represent the seating.
Sprue J – the sprue with the counter-IED equipment; Rhino IR jammer, DUKE tubular and flat antennae and the appropriate bases/mounts. Nothing special about this, just use reference photos to see what goes where on your model and you’re good to go. There are better detailed AM options for the antennae if you feel the need for more detail, as the tube antenna lacks some rivet details, the Rhino could use some smaller T-handles and the flat Duke antenna is easy to snap off the wire part.
Clear parts (GP1 &GP2) – there are 2 sprues, one providing clear parts for the vehicle (windows and lights) and the other for the turret ballistic glass parts. Even though they are both packed in the same bag, no scratched or broken parts were noticed. All parts are clear, thin and without any defects with the proper scale thickness.
Vinyl tires – The actual tires are 390/85 R20 Michelin XZL tubeless tires mounted on 20x10” rims. Run-flat inserts from Hutchinson enable the M-ATV to drive 50km/h up to 50 km with punctures from small arms fire or shrapnel damage. The 5 tires are molded in black vinyl and are nice enough to use straight from the box. They feature sidewall Michelin X and tire dimension writing as well as appropriate ribbing. The pattern is nice but has a thin molding line running on one edge of the tire. The dimensions are very close to the real ones. If you want to replace them with resin ones, there are plenty of aftermarket options out there.
Photo Etched parts – the 3 PE frets are really something about this kit. The abundance of PE parts is simply amazing and unthinkable in a mainstream plastic kit just few years ago. Etched flawlessly in a clear wraparound plastic they are designed to enhance just about every piece of this kit. Grills, brackets, handles, mounts - you name it. The largest of the PE parts is intended for the interior, specifically the center shelf. This is the largest visible thing inside and is the housing for the comm gear which unfortunately is lacking from this kit. It will be somewhat complex build and please use the appropriate tools to bend these. A large amount of small PE parts are intended for the seats and the outside of the crew cab. This PE set is a really centerpiece of this kit and will really show off this kit in a proper way.
Decals – a small decal sheet will provide the necessary stenciling, and ID markings for your M-ATV. Also included are the instrument decals and the window rubber lining? which can be difficult to mask or paint, so this is a nice touch by Panda. All decals are printed in register without mention of the printing company.
Instructions – the instructions are printed on glossy paper and feature 22 black & white pages containing 24 assembly steps. The assembly itself is depicted in standard exploded view with decal, PE and color callouts where necessary. Unfortunately, errors in the assembly order have been noticed, so for further reference and corrections look at some build logs available here on Armorama that have mentioned this before. The coloring guide is somewhat lacking, but due to the simplicity of the camouflage scheme this is negligible.
This kit is a great kit, no doubt. However it’s complex, has too many parts and is over-engineered. A lot of smaller parts are further divided into smaller sections with 3-4 parts. Some parts are lacking in detail like the coil springs but that is a molding limit nothing else. Speaking of the molding, it’s quite good somewhere you ask yourself how come there aren’t any pin-marks and then you find them somewhere where you would like them the least. There’s lots of flash and that will take some time to remove. The lack of any interior equipment like the new HARRIS radios, TACSAT, and other comm gear on the center pedestal shelf is really a letdown but can be overcome with AM resin sets. There are a lot of PE parts and I can understand the logic of Panda Hobby but if you’re not adept with PE parts this may not be an easy build. Some details are soft like the wheel hub and the bolt details but we can only hope Panda will continue upgrading its models. Also there is the question of the parts fit.
This kit is a great example of what a complex kit is. It’s probably a tough build but looks stunning and is a very close replica of the real deal. Add your own touch by detailing the areas that you find lacking and you will get a show stopper any time.
• R. Zwilling, Jeffrey DeRosa – “OshKosh M-ATV photo walkaround” , AK Interactive AK-097, 2012.
• R. Skipper – M-ATV reference CD