by: Jason West [ ]
The RG-31 is a South African designed Mine Protected vehicle adapted by the US forces for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also popular with UN forces and used by Canadian Forces. Its V-shaped hull and high suspension help protect its occupants from the dangers of land mines and small IEDs. Kinetic has recently released the Mk 3 version of this vehicle in 1/35th scale. The kit comes molded in tan styrene and features a small fret of photo etch and 5 rubber tires.
Steps 1-5 deal with the lower hull, plus the front axle and suspension. Assembly is pretty straight forward here, although take care when lining everything up to ensure that the vehicle sits level when done. There are a lot of sink marks and ejector pin marks on some of the pieces, although a lot of them are hidden from view when assembly is completed. I used the optional PE for the framing of the side steps, as it looked much better than the plastic parts.
Step 6 is the assembly for both front fenders. Access panels are separate, but you would need to scratch build the interiors as nothing is provided. Assembly here is once again very straight forward. I left the clear light parts off until the final step
Step 7-9 is the interior. The interior provided has basic details, which are some-what soft. As I elected to close my RG up, I didnít add any extra details. AM resin and or PE would go a long way to improving the kitís interior.
Step 10 is the window assembly. Again, I left all clear parts off until painting was finished. For the greenish armored-glass effect, I sprayed the insides of the clear parts with Alcladís Armored glass spray. The result turned out very nice, in my opinion. Note that the pictures I have seen of the UN vehicle show that the side windows do NOT have the pistol ports in them, so check your references. Step 10 also has you assemble the antennas. I would recommend that you do not attach them until the end, as the plastic is extremely brittle and it is very easy to snap them off. Also note that the instructions show the mirrors installed sideways compared to the pictures of the real vehicle. The kit only includes 2 basic antennas, so you may want to add an aftermarket Duke antenna like I did. The pictures I was working with show one on the left rear.
This is the rear hull assembly. There is a small part that needs to be shaved off the door if you are modeling it closed. It is marked in the directions. Again, I left the glass out until the end.
Step 13 is the turret assembly. The M2HB detail was soft and the ammo can and its ammo cradle were not included. I drilled out the end of the M2HB, but if I were to do it again I would replace the gun with an AM one.
Step 14 is the upper hull assembly. Again, there were no assembly issues here. I added the antenna and side mirrors as directed, and promptly broke them off. Leave them off until the end. The plastic is extremely brittle and any bump can snap them off.
Step 15 has you attach the top and bottom hull parts together. This is one place that the fit was tricky. Note that there is supposed to be a step between the upper and bottom halves, so do not panic when they donít line up!
Step 16 as you add the window assemblies. Here, I added the frames without the glass.
Step 17 is the front and rear bumpers plus the wheels. The light guards are made with photo etch and were fairly easy to add. No painting descriptions are given for the lights, so check your references. There is a mix of red, clear and orange lighting here. The tires are made of a hard plastic. These tires are a huge improvement over the tires included in the M-ATV kit. Tread detail is very nice, although they do not have the tire manufacturer logo on them. The hubs are separate, so painting is simple.
Step 18 adds the front and rear fenders. Assembly here was fairly easy, although I did use clamps on the front hood so that it lined up with the fenders.
The final two steps have you add the rear suspension and the wheels. As long as you take your time, everything lines up nicely. At this point, I added the armored glass plus the lights. The clear plastic is every bit as fragile as the tan plastic, so take care when installing the pistol ports. I cracked the back window.
Option 1: Unknown US Unit in Baghdad, 2006
Option 2: USMC unknown date/location
Option 3: UNIFIL- United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, 2007 (Drawings show window glass without pistol ports, which matches pictures I have seen. Unfortunately, no optional side windows are provided.)
The Kinetic kit of the RG-31 Mk. 3 is a good kit and builds up nicely right out of the box, but would look even better with some aftermarket items. This kit is recommended.