by: Evan McCallum [ ]
The KTO Rosomak (“Wolverine”) is a Polish infantry fighting vehicle based on the Finnish Patria AMV armoured personnel carrier. This kit represents these vehicles as they were in the war in Afghanistan with additional armour, sensors, and mesh side skirts as a defense against rocket-propelled grenades. These vehicles earned the nickname of “Green Devils” by local fighters due to their resilience to RPGs and the fact they were initially deployed in green camouflage rather than a more appropriate sand colour.
The kit comes in a very sturdy, slightly larger than standard-sized box with an attractive piece of box art that is repeated on the shorter sides of the box. Other sides feature all the photo etched metal parts included, as well as a side view of the vehicle (taken from the markings pages of the instructions) and some background on the vehicle in English, Polish, and German. The back of the box is blank white cardboard.
Inside the box, the sprues are packaged in bags with no more than two sprues per bag, except for a set of four smaller sprues which are packaged together. No parts were broken or damaged in the kit. Decals and wheel tyres are each provided in their own re-sealable plastic bags as well, and the photo etched metal frets come sandwiched between two thin adhesive sheets, meaning parts cut have little chance of shooting off across the room, never to be found again. The hull upper and lower, as well as the turret upper component each come as an entire piece molded on their own sprue. The level of detail on the turret and hull is incredible, with beautifully rendered anti-slip pads (with texture), louvres, hinges, and bolts everywhere. The hull tub also features a tread pattern molded onto the floor that is equally impressive. The only downside to this is that the engine deck hatches located on the upper front of the hull are molded on in a closed position, so the kit’s engine cannot be displayed. Also included was a nice little poster of the box art, which was a nice touch.
As is the norm, the instructions begin with a few warnings and diagrams of all the sprues and other parts provided in the kit. All text is in both Polish and English, while paint colour options are provided for Vallejo Model Air, AK Interactive, and Hataka Hobby. The only paint colours called out are “Sand” and “Black”. The instructions make use of a sort of 3D solid-modelling that I found was much easier to understand than the more standard method of simply doing everything with black lines on white background. Parts are shown going together clearly with very precise arrows, and all subassemblies show a final completed form which further helps to emphasize where all the details go on. All photoetched parts that require bending also receive their own clear, large diagrams which were very helpful. For myself, everything was legible, but some people may find that things get a little small on some of the steps that show details going all over the hull, as the images of the model are quite “zoomed out”. Markings are provided for three vehicles, all in a plain sand yellow finish with different markings and licence plates. These are shown at the end of the instructions in full colour views of the top, front, back, and both sides of the tank, leaving nothing to the imagination. I would have liked to have an option for the vehicle in green, given its nickname, but that might require modifying the kit to be a little “earlier” i.e. removing some upgrades.
The kit plastic was of a good quality, feeling a little more brittle than what I’m used to from Dragon, but I don’t think this really contributed anything negative towards the build itself. A few attachment points seemed quite thick on larger pieces, but overall they were engineered well to be in locations that didn’t interfere with detail or cause extra work/frustration. The photoetched metal is not the standard brass – it’s silver in colour – but it cuts and folds just as easily as any brass PE I’ve used. Parts are scored to help any bending required, and actual attachment points from parts to the fret are minimal. The decals are printed by Techmod and appear to be well designed with minimal carrier film around some of the insignia provided. I haven’t painted the model yet so I cannot speak of how well the decals perform, but they do inspire confidence.
Often armour kits begin with suspension and hull assemblies, but that was not the case here. Steps 1-16 cover a series of subassemblies that will be added to the hull as the build progresses later on. This includes the wheels, transmission elements, hatches and doors, seats, and the driver’s console – an impressively well-molded assembly with a ton of crisp, deep detail. The seats for the rear compartment can be set in folded-down or folded-up positions. Therefore the actual bottom of the seat glues to a rib along the back that isn’t the most positive connection, and will need to be held in alignment for a few seconds while glue sets. Pointing this out, however, feels like splitting hairs since these first steps go together very well and are made up of very well molded pieces.
With all these parts out of the way, steps 17-19 comprise the construction of the vehicle’s engine. This is only a few dozen pieces, but the design of the kit makes it completely invisible in the end. There are no see-through grills or openable hatches to show off this part, so I didn’t bother to build it.
Steps 20-22 cover the bending of three photoetched details that will once again be only used later on in the build (steps 37, 41, and 52). I’d recommend waiting until those parts are actually required before folding them so they do not get misplaced or damaged.
The Chassis and Suspension
Next, the construction of the chassis and suspension is covered in steps 23-30. These steps may look a little confusing at first glance with so many parts going together, but it’s largely just a number of the same piece going on in a few locations. As mentioned earlier, most of these steps show both an exploded view with all parts leading in with arrows, and a view of what the model will look like with all these pieces on, so it is very clear. Some text is present in English and Polish, noting which parts to align carefully and where not to apply any glue.
The transmission subassemblies and wheels built earlier will be used here. Also note that the tyres have a directional tread pattern. I found a couple of wheel hubs to not fit into the separate plastic tyres perfectly – one for each side appeared to be a little tight. One side also needed a little filler due to a gap around the hub. While the kit does not mention it, I was able to very easily angle the front wheels without modifying any kit parts at all; the tie rods, drive shafts, everything could be posed as it would be in real life when the vehicle steers. I found this to not only add some interest to the model, but also shows that the parts of the kit are well designed and follow the original vehicle.
The Lower Hull
Steps 31-35 look at adding the interior detailing of the hull tub. While not a full interior (it lacks stowage racks on the side walls behind the seats) it comes very close. The seats that were assembled earlier are now put in, as well as the driver’s console, and the engine (if I had actually built it). Textured flooring interior walls, roof bracing, fire extinguishers, stowage bins, and a whole slew of fancy computer looking things fill the interior nicely, with much of the empty space to be filled later by the turret basket. Sunken pin marks were present along the upper face of the hull tub above the wheel wells, which required filling as they were noticeable behind the seats in the rear of the fighting compartment. A few locating holes meant for parts located on the underside of this surface also went clean through, showing behind the seats and next to the driver’s console. I filled these with super glue and sanded them flush.
Steps 36-40 cover the detailing of the underside of the lower hull, as well as the front and rear. Take care when attaching the bins numbered J6/J12 and J5/J13 under the hull at the rear. The instructions were quite vague in where the piece mounts, and there are no locating marks for them, only leftovers for the wading gear that is not present on this variant. Looking at the instructions’ final assembly drawings and a few reference photos, I mounted these boxes slightly recessed back from the rear hull plate. Parts A29, which mount on either side of the rear doors, I assumed to be small spotlights to help the crew enter and exit the vehicle. These parts had slight sink parts present on what would be the lens, and were also quite difficult to get to sit in place while glue sets due to their thin attachment peg. I would recommend super glue or something that sets a little quicker than Tamiya Extra Thin cement.
The Upper Hull
The upper hull is detailed in steps 41 and 42. There are relatively few parts to go on, as most details are already molded into the upper hull itself. A few hatches assembled earlier go on here, as well as a few of the photoetched screens over the engine deck vents. I left off a few clear parts here, those being the headlights, the headlight cover, and parts for lights along the hull sides. I will put these parts on after painting. Note that the headlight covers are incorrectly labeled as parts J18 and J19; they should be K18 and K19. I also elected to mount the inner sets of side-view mirrors on backwards, as a few photos of these vehicles in action showed this done. I assume that this is due to the fact that the outer set of mirrors is installed to give a wider view around the mesh skirts on the hull sides when they are mounted, rendering the inner pair of mirrors useless. This is not an inaccuracy though, as it is not shown in all reference photos I found.
In steps 43 and 44, the mesh side skirts are assembled for the lower hull. The one-piece plastic frames feature a slight lip on the inner edge which allows the photoetched mesh screens to drop in nicely – note that the PE does have an “outer face” with a little more depth of detail. I secured them with a few drops of Gorilla Glue Gel Super Glue, and didn’t have any issues with the PE coming off even when I bent the skirts a little to mimic some damage. As a side, a couple of PE hatch handles are folded in step 44 to be used in step 46.
The Turret and Master Upgrades
Steps 45-47 look at the assembly of turret hatches and the turret basket (the bit that hangs down below the turret into the hull). Much like the rest of the interior, the console is very nicely molded, there are a few tiny joysticks to be glued on that are quite small. Note that the two seats here can be folded up, swung out to the side, and glued at any height along the attachment rail sticking up from the floor. The kit doesn’t specific this, and just shows the seats in a standard position, but it is a nice touch that once again the kit parts provide some realistic options for placement. Swinging the seats out makes it a little tricky to pull the turret out though, however it is still doable.
Step 48 looks at assembling the main gun. The kit supplied barrel is quite nice, being a single piece, but I was supplied with the Master upgrade set here that included a metal barrel and separate muzzle brake with even more crisp detail than the kit brake. Master did an excellent job in protecting the muzzle break – which appears to be some sort of resin or plastic, it’s too small to really tell – by sticking it to a slightly adhesive plastic sheet surrounded by a soft foam square. The Master barrel fit perfectly into the turret.
Steps 49-53 look at finishing up the detail on the turret and mounting the main gun. The gun can only be mounted in a level position and not elevated at all, which would be a nice feature in the kit, but would have made the external connections between the sights and gun much more complicated. Parts I15 and I16 are rolling shields around the turret basket, so if you plan on posing the turret rotated slightly you can place these shields anywhere along their track. These shields also had a very nice perforated texture on them with a ton of tiny holes going all the way through the piece. The periscopes for the commander and gunner are molded in solid plastic, not clear, but I would cover the lenses in a coloured reflective material anyways to mimic modern optics’ anti-reflective coating.
The grenade launchers on the turret side are molded as six individual pieces, and would have required some work to clean up nicely due to some molding seams. However I was once again supplied with the Master upgrade set here. Much like the barrel, Master packaged the fine parts in a protective foam square, and even supplied 6 brass bolts even though only 5 are required. There are also two different styles of cover for the launcher tubes. For a complete beginner with resin like myself, it was incredibly easy to remove these tube covers and the armour plate that the launchers mount to (replacing part H43 in the kit) from the casting blocks with just a hobby knife. The final assembly looks awesome, and features a few bolts that are missing from the kit parts as well.
I would recommend leaving the hatches on the turret roof closed as the kit has no interior for the turret at all, just the turret basket that hangs below the turret and into the fighting compartment. Looking in through the rear doors and hatches, the upper turret area is not visible, so the basket is enough here. This was a little disappointing, as the rest of the kit’s interior is very good, so it would have been nice to continue this in the turret too.
Instead of using the kit-supplied antenna bases, I was once again supplied with the Master upgrade set. I received both the stowed/angled backwards and the vertical position sets (one antenna each). Again, small details were protected nicely and the tiny rubber, brass, and PE bits can with a few extras. The rigid back of the thin plastic box that the parts come in made sure that the long antennae were not bent during shipping. I found that the vertical antenna went together perfectly, but that the supplied length of wire to tie the angled antenna onto the turret to be a little too stiff. The wire would bow out instead of remaining taught, and the more I tried to tighten it the more it just bent the antenna down at the base. I obviously fiddled with this a little too much as this eventually caused the rubber antenna base to break. At this point I just mounted the brass antenna vertically into one of the kit antenna bases while still using as many of the Master detail parts here as I could. I’d recommend maybe using stretched sprue or something a little more flexible to replace the wire in the Master set, and hopefully that will go a little better for you. Also of note, the Master instructions were always very clear and made the tiny PE assemblies very easy to understand, however they did not show were to mount the two ends of that wire on the turret. They appear to mount into the two large bolt holes on the armour plates angled 45 degrees from the back face of the turret, in the lower holes, though it seems as though they could feasibly mount into any of these bolts holes in reality.
The final steps, steps 54-57, show the chassis, lower hull, upper hull, and turret assemblies going together. This is also where the mesh skirts are mounted, though the instructions are unclear about the mounting of the brackets that hold the skirts onto the hull – only a few of these parts are given numbers in the instructions! A few are labeled properly (for example, O1 and O2), one is just labeled “J” which is an entire sprue in the kit, and the rest have nothing. However, they are all on the O and J sprues, which is pretty clear given the parts that are actually labeled, and this is not too difficult to figure out. Still, it seemed a little odd that the last few steps in the instructions seemed almost unfinished.
I mounted the side skirts with Wilder Quick-Mask to hold them on but not permanently. I decided to damage the skirts a little bit by just bending them gently by hand and by making a few gashes in the mesh lower down with a hobby knife. I also left off the skirt next to where the engine would be after seeing an interesting photograph of a KTO in Afghanistan.
This was my first encounter with an IBG Models kit, and I doubt it will be my last. The overall process was enjoyable and, despite the high number of steps in the instructions, it builds up quite quickly which is very motivational. Positive fit, a very high level of detail already molded onto parts, and photo etched metal “only where you need it” made the build just fly by. The only things I did not like were the complete lack of an upper turret interior (just close the turret hatches and you don’t notice this) and some missing details on the inside at the rear, which is noticeable through the hull roof hatches. While I personally don’t mind a few missing details on the interior, it seems to be expected from kits these days that manufacturers offer an interior will actually give you the full thing, so it is a bit of a downside. The pin marks were nothing difficult to fix up and the few mislabelling were quite easy to figure out if you just look at the sprue layout in the instructions, or see what sprue is used for similar parts in the same step. First impressions do matter and IBG Models has made an excellent one on me; I do highly recommend this kit.