by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
The Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) consists of tactical wheeled vehicles based on a common truck cab, chassis, and internal components and two tactical trailers. The FMTVs, all automatic, come in 14 variations of 2.5-ton cargo and van models and 5-ton cargo, tractor, van, wrecker, tanker and dump-truck models. Eighty % commonality of parts — same engines, transmissions, drivelines, power trains, tires, cabs — in the new trucks is expected to save the Army millions of dollars in maintenance costs. Lighter-weight construction will cut fuel costs dramatically. The vehicle’s cab-over design — in which engine, fluids and hydraulics are all accessible in one place, under the cab — makes regular maintenance much easier.
The FMTV family is built by the Stewart and Stevenson Services Company of Texas. It is based on the European Steyr design. In October 1991, the Army awarded a 5-year contract, valued at $1.2 billion, to Stewart and Stevenson for the production of 10,843 vehicles. The FMTVs has replaced all M35 series 2.5 ton and M900 series 5 ton trucks in the inventory.
The M1078 LMTV, Cargo Truck is designed to transport cargo and soldiers. The M1078 has a payload capacity of 5,000 pounds (2.5-ton) and to facilitate loading/unloading, the bed side rails are mounted on hinges and can be lowered. The cargo bed can is equipped with a bench seat kit for transport of soldiers. The bench seats are constructed of a non-wood material and attach to the cargo bed side rails. The seats can be folded down and stowed when not in use. Soldiers are assisted in climbing in and out of the cargo bed area with the aid of a ladder stowed on the vehicle when not in use. A canvas and bows kit is available to keep soldiers and cargo protected from the elements. The M1078 can be equipped with an optional electrically operated MHE crane and self-recovery winch kit capable of fore and aft vehicle recovery operations. The winch has 308 feet of line capacity and 10,000 pounds bare drum line pull at 110% overload.
The Low Signature Armored Cab (LSAC) is a purpose built cab which replaces the standard FMTV cab. Based on experiences gained in Iraq, the need for more heavily armored vehicles was realized. The LSAC was designed to fill that need and does so very well. It can be either fully integrated on the production line or interchanged with a standard cab in approx. 8 hrs. LSAC Cabs have been applied to existing soft cab vehicles and new build vehicles. Additionally, LSACs can be added to any vehicle in the FMTV line, not just M1078s. This makes it a very flexible and desired modification. Lastly, many Soldiers also added Gunner’s Protection Kits (GPK) to the top of their LSAC LMTVs to give the gunner a bit more protection as well. As with other early GPKs, armored HMMWV windshield glass was added to raise the side armor for even more protection.
Trumpeter has provided an early version of an LMTV with the LSAC cab and Gunner’s Protection Kit with an M2 .50 cal on top with added HMMWV armored windshield glass to the GPK sides and rear. The vehicle in this configuration is representative of one that could be seen in Iraq or Afghanistan after about 2005. These were used as general cargo and troop transport vehicles throughout both warzones. Most current LMTVs are now outfitted with LSAC cabs.
The sturdy cardboard box contains 8 main sprues in light gray plastic; a small decal sheet of markings for 2 vehicles; 5 soft rubber tires; 1 PE fret; a bag w/a sprue of clear parts; and a one-piece molded cab shell. All the above items are individually bagged to keep them from being damaged during shipping. The more delicate parts on the sprues are additionally wrapped in foam to protect them from breakage as well. The multi-fold, 17 step instructions manual, a sheet of color CAD showing the features of the kit on one side and future releases on the other, and a two-sided, color Paint & Markings guide for 2 vehicle options (1 in overall sand and 1 in a mix of NATO camouflage and sand parts) round out the box.
The instructions are clearly written and have good illustrations for parts placement location. The assembly steps follow a logical sequence of the frame; suspension and drive train; fuel tank, battery box, and storage boxes and other small items attached to the frame; wheels and tires; cargo bed; armored cab, and finally bringing them all together into the final assembly of the truck. The placement of the armored parts for the fuel tank, air tanks and battery box, and other smaller armor plates are called out throughout the instructions. There are no paint colors called out throughout the assembly, however, decal placement is shown throughout.
The decals look to be in perfect register with very thin film. 2 marking options are given for a NATO camouflaged vehicle with sand parts from the 48 MP BDE, and an overall Sand vehicle from the 485 CSB (Combat Support BDE). There are also markings for vehicles from the Light Infantry BDE, 657 Aviation Support BDE, and 36 Infantry DIV on the decal sheet, but not mentioned anywhere in the instructions. There are also general information placards placed in various places around the vehicle and instrument panel decals.
The individual parts on the sprues look to be sharply molded and free of any flash. The five larger sprues consist of three sprues of suspension and frame parts, one of armored cab parts, and one sprue for the cargo bed. There are also three smaller sprue which hold the wheel parts and two sprues of benches for the cargo bed.
The wheel parts have the nice feature of having the stud holes open on the brake drums, which will easily facilitate leaving a wheel off by adding small rod or wire for the studs. There is also a spare wheel without lug nuts and open lug holes on another sprue. This spare wheel is also an issue though. It has too many bolts removed from the rim. The rims are a two-part design that bold together with a ring of bolts around the outer rim. The outer bolts are only removed when the rim is separated to remove the rubber tire from the rim. This outer ring of bolts has been left off the spare as well. You will need to fill the outer ring of holes with nut and bolt details to represent the spare correctly. The soft rubber tires are well molded and represent the originals well. They do have the prominent side wall stiffening bands on them. Fortunately, unlike the Trumpeter LAV kits, the word “Michelin” and size and rating codes are noticeably added to the sidewalls and look very nice.
The PE fret is good sized and very nice. It includes parts for the gun shield, some of the armor plate parts, a small screen for the air intake, and multiple pieces to detail the crew seats for the cargo area.
The frame and running gear detail looks very good. It looks as though all the individual parts and pieces such as gear box, transmission, transfer case, etc are represented. Shock absorbers, leaf springs, and other suspension parts are well molded as well. The bolts and fittings for the frame are crisp and present too. The bed and its fittings are also well done.
As with the original M1078 kit, the cab exterior is very well done as a one-piece shell, but this time with a separate back wall. The armor is well represented and all the armored parts are present. It shows the angular shape well and looks great. In this version they seemed to listen to modelers and offer separate doors; however they are still lacking all interior details. They are flat plastic, where the actual ones have arm rests, door handles, padding, and other small details. Most major interior parts are present though, with an adequately rendered dash and instrument panel, seats, and a fire extinguisher. On top of the cab is a Gunner’s Protection Kit gunmount with added HMMWV armored glass sides and rear. The GPK mounts a very nice .50 cal and has the option of either a PE or plastic gunshield included. The GPK is nice, but has a major flaw as well; the hatch is molded shut. It would have been better to mold the hatch as a separate part so a gunner figure could be added. There is the appropriate circular hole in the cab roof though, so swapping the gunmount out with one for a HMMWV will alleviate the issue with the molded shut hatch.
Overall the kit looks very nice. The frame, bed, and armored cab exterior look to be very nicely detailed. Assembly looks straight-forward and with no noted problem areas. The only area I see as lacking is the cab interior. There is no detail on the inside of the doors or inner cab walls. A full engine and tilt cab like their Chinese Tank Transporter would also have been a nice feature.