by: Seb Viale [ ]
IntroductionThe M1129 Mortar Carrier, also known as MCV-B (Mortar Carrier Vehicle version B), is based on the Stryker infantry carrier vehicle, which is itself a descendant of the Swiss Mowag Piranha III. The precursor of the M1129, the MCV-A, carried a mortar that could only be used dismounted, whereas the M1129 is fully capable of firing its weapon from the mounted position within the vehicle.
The M1129 is used in the US Army Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, where it is part of the MTOE (Modified Table of Equipment) for each Brigade's maneuver infantry battalions and RSTA squadrons. The vehicles are either organically subordinated to battalion level or company level. The battalion level vehicles are armed with the 120 mm M121 mortar system, which is the vehicle mounted version of the M120 mortar. Additionally, they carry the 81mm M252 mortar that can only be used in a dismounted capacity. The company level vehicles also carry a vehicle-mounted 120mm mortar, which is augmented by the 60mm M224 mortar for dismounted use. Each Stryker infantry battalion thus has a total number of 10 mortar carriers, all of which are equipped with the 120mm system.
The first M1129 vehicles were put into service in Spring 2005 with the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. The 172nd Stryker Brigade deployed to Iraq in August 2005 being the first unit to fire the M1129/MCV-B in theatre. (Source Wikipedia).
contentsThe kit comes in a 41x26x8 cm sturdy box with nice box art (some will judge it as unconventional box art, but I personally like it), containing 820 light grey plastic parts on 13 sprues, 1 transparent sprue, two PE sheets, a decal sheet, and 8 vinyl tires.
The instruction set is typical Trumpeter style, B&W exploded view drawings comprising 29 steps to complete the Stryker itself. A separate painting and decal guide is printed in color.
The lower hull is a new tool one with the same part number as the M1126. Of the sprues present in the kit only sprue A (2 sprues) and sprue B are from the M1129, with some new addition on sprue A like the periscope for the TC hatch. The remaining sprues are new.
Trumpeter is finally putting an end to the Stryker family, to date all the variants of the Stryker have been released in plastic either by Trumpeter or AFV Club. The final opus of this saga is the mortar Stryker, the most important part of this kit is not the subject itself but the way it is depicted since a full plastic interior is present. A new tooling of the lower hull has been done. I do believe that most modelers will not buy the M1129 for the subject but to obtain a complete Stryker interior. So Trumpeter is finally releasing a plastic interior for Stryker, this is a brilliant move. (Maybe “too late” and “what about a Slat in plastic” will say some grumpy modelers).
reviewI will review the kit as usual following the instruction steps.
Lower Hull: step 1 to 6
This is a large tub with indentations for the suspension components and includes details on the hull sides which are cleanly rendered by the use of multi-part moulds. The lower front hull plate comes as a separate part, as does the rear hull plate. On the interior of this part, you will find all the new tooling inputs with small gluing indicators for the interior parts.
All the suspension components are independent with the four gearbox differentials and the short drive shafts. The gear boxes are made of 4 pieces and you need to carefully follow the building order since part A8 cannot be glued later. The wheel mounts, axles and steering arms are nicely depicted, but you cannot angle the front four wheels since they are fixed in place and it would take a bit of work to alter the angles of the wheels if you wanted to depict the steering. Enough reference builds can be found on the internet to address this issue if you so wish to undertake this task. On the four rear wheels are the large shock absorber assemblies with outer covers, and you have a choice between using the solid plastic ones or the perforated PE parts.
The large rear side boxes are also separate, made up of four parts each to render better definition.
Detail on the rear panel is quite well done with most of the features included, as well as separate door latches with inside details on the ramp and door. Since this Stryker is coming with an interior this part is totally new and all injector pins as shown on previous model have been removed. Extra details such as lamps and cables are also displayed.
On each side are the large can racks, which are provided in plastic or etched parts. Etched straps are also included for the fuel and water cans although there are no attachment points on the rear panel to attach them. One of the most striking omissions is the fact that the fuel cans have only two handles even if it a new tooling kit.
Separate taillights and towing shackles are present although the taillight detail is a little basic since the lower part should be rectangular; it is round in the kit part.
Wheels: step 7
The tires are vinyl with the tread pattern pretty well done without a prominent seam line. The sidewall details consist of raised section ribs with the Michelin X logo and dimension charts embossed onto it. The wheel hubs are two plastic parts with separate hub rings, and as mentioned in the instructions, you can decide to attach these rings or not.
Despite new tooling, details on the hubs are the same as the first batch, no improvement have been made by Trumpeter here. The errors can be listed as follows;
• The outer ring of bolts are too big and positioned too far inboard while the central hub is too small and is not raised, finally the outer “star” ribs is too big.
• The separate ring is far too thick and the inner oval cut outs too small for what are very basic representations of the Stryker wheels.
• Moreover no drum brakes are present on the inner part of the hub.
Assembly is straightforward with the wheel rims fitting perfectly into the vinyl tires.
Interior build: Step 8 to 12
The starting step of the build of the interior is the attachment of the floor. The anti-skid pattern is nicely represented. Then, the build focus on the pilot driving station with all the small screens and electronics nicely depicted. No decals are provided for the screens, this is a big omission from Trumpeter since most of them will be visible at the end of the build. The TC post is also done in this same step.
Most of the electronics components are nicely molded with dials and buttons. I was able to identify Sincgars radio, FBCB2 so far. Surprisingly, decals are provided for some radios and communication materials but none for the screen, you will need to do your own.
Since this version of the Stryker carries mortars, the rear compartment is empty and no seats or benches are provided. So for the ones (like me) that would do some kit bashing, extra work will be necessary. The interior is built really rapidly and the result will be outstanding.
Mortar Build: Step 13 to 15
The Soltam 120 mm Mortar is constructed in step 13. The details are good and you will need to use more than 50 pieces for the mortar. A metal spring is provided for the mortar elevation axe. This will permit the modeler to close the upper hull hatches. The mortar is then attached in the lower hull.
Ammo racks: step 16 to 18
Remaining parts of the lower hull are built such as ammo racks (with no ammo??). Folding seats for the mortar servants are also glued in these steps; you can either open them or closed them.
Backdoors: step 18 to 21
Since the Stryker has interior, the back door is newly tooled and includes all the components for the closing mechanism, all doors can be open or closed.
Upper hull assembly: step 22 to 33
Interior step 22 to 23 All the light supports and as well as fire extinguishers are attached during these steps. The attachment is eased by the presence of different holes and marks to identify the location of the pieces. The cables are missing to connect much of these pieces but this can be fixed easily during this step.
Exterior The external build starts with the build of the capstan as all the other Strykers, this build is identical. A great addition is the winch, completely detailed with capstan and drum for cable, but all these nice details are covered at the end of build which is a pity.
Engine Deck Step 25 Similar build as all the Stryker, the level of detail is improved by the use of a PE grill. Again the driver’s window is assembled but no change has been done to improve the dimension issues on the lateral windows.
Hatch assembly Step 26 The rear hatches are built at this step. Since the hatches can be visible on both sides some sanding and filling are required. Since interior is provided, the TC hatch is newly tooled and all periscopes are glued in place but those pieces are in plastic and not transparent ones, this clearly will impact the level of detail.
Complete assembly step 27 All previous sub-pieces build in the previous steps are attached in place onto the upper hull. All the side baskets are mounted here, but the thickness of the plastic will not give good detail. A PE counterpart would be welcome.
Light cluster assembly step 28 and 29 The head light clusters have all the parts, although the base plate is a complicated molding. You may also wish to add the wiring to the back of the light clusters for a better appearance. The large tube brush guard will need care removing the mould seam. L-shaped wire connectors are provided as parts WG6.
The driver’s hatch is again newly tooled since the periscope needs to be fully detailed with a non-transparent plastic part.
Step 30-32 The final details are glued in place like the small hatches, baskets and weapon.
The upper hull is glued in place onto the lower hull. The tow bar is the same as seen on previous Strykers. The final step is the assembly of the mirrors.
ConclusionTrumpeter with this final Stryker has released a nice kit with good interior detail, moreover the subject is nice. But, the most important is the fact that with some extra work, you will be able to easily transfer the interior to any other Stryker of the Trumpeter range.