by: Matthew Lenton [ ]
Originally published on:
The original M998 Humvee was Indiana based AM General’s winning design in response to a 1979 US Defence specification for a high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV), with the first production vehicle coming off the line in January 1985. A fully enclosed armament carrier variant with sloping back door and roof weapons mount, M1025, was part of the first series production. 1995 saw the introduction of the Expanded Capability HMMWV, with uprated chassis and bigger engine to both increase payload and allow heavier ballistic protection to be fitted. The up-armoured armament carrier based on this chassis is the M1114, and is the subject of this kit. This is the first full vehicle model kit available outside China from T-Model (aka Termin Moulds), and in this review we will look at how it builds up.
Packed in a strong locking top flap box, the two main sprues are bagged together, with the smaller sprues, the PE and the clear parts each in separate zip bags. Instructions are a full colour 12 page booklet on high quality matt paper, covers of heavier stock, and, like the design of the box, is somewhat superior to that of the average injection moulded plastic kit. Also included is a separate print of the box top art, with CAD detail images on the reverse.
The body and chassis parts are spread across the two main sprues, but break down roughly like this:
Sprue A: chassis, axles, door interiors, wind shield, back door
Sprue B: roof and side panels, suspension, weapons, door exteriors
Sprue C x 2: wheels, tyres, seats, springs
Sprue G: windows, lamp lenses, front grille / lamp unit
Hood: the hood / bonnet on an individual sprue
PE A (thick PE): gun shield, lifting rings, fuel filler armour
PE B (thin PE): radiator grille and reinforcements, ammo box detail, windshield wipers.
No decals are included, and painting instructions show only one finishing option, overall desert yellow, the primary codes listed are Ammo by Mig. This kit has interior details but there is no paint guidance either at this point nor in the course of the build; NATO Green is included on the paint list without being indicated on the illustration, so possibly that is intended as the interior paint, but no instruction on where to use it is included.
This is a kit with many details, 146 parts making a finished model only 67mm long. The quality of the moulding is very good, with no significant flash, and mould seams are particularly subtle. Sprue gates are quite small and well positioned, with a subtle ridged pattern to avoid any doubt on where the sprue stops and the part starts. Impressive levels of well-executed detail are evident on many components, the tyre walls for example bearing tiny but perfectly legible branding (rendered, but not noticeable at real size, as ‘GOOD YEAP WPANGLER MT’); the suspension members and the chassis frame are also of note, with the complex shapes well reproduced, there being evidence of slide moulding on the frame. Many of the large flat components such as the hood, the roof, rear door and the interior bulkhead are fully detailed on both sides, although these have ejector marks on the undersides, so although the detail is there should you decide to display these areas, some tidying will be necessary. Note that this isn’t the case with the crew doors as these are assembled from inner and outer halves, the interiors being well and cleanly detailed, and should look good just as they come if modelled in an open position. The interior crew compartment is, I think, sufficiently well detailed to stand exposure through an open door, although additional equipment such as navigation and communications devices are lacking and would need to be added for the authentic look of an operational vehicle. The engine has a fair amount of detail although mostly moulded in place with the hull plate, with the air cleaner and hose being presented as a separate part; the big sloping radiator actually fills much of the engine compartment, and features rudimentary edge piping and hoses. As I think is normal at this scale, if you wanted to show the hood up, you’d probably want add additional cables and pipes, so although this is a well detailed kit, don’t expect everything to be there… The underside of the vehicle is very well represented should the modeller have a scenario for making use of it, and the big suspension members and springs that are so characteristic of this vehicle certainly look the part.
On to the build then, and I noticed the plastic seems somewhat harder than other kits I’ve built recently: one effect of this was that a metal file didn’t do much, while a glass file worked really well; the other effect was that there was very little in the way of “fluffing” or any fibrous plastic being produced as a result of abrading. So, a few more strokes of abrasive are required, but a very smooth finish can be achieved.
Step 1 attaches axles to suspension cross members (photos 1, 2). To represent a vehicle on a very uneven surface you’d start modifications now as the articulating A frames and drives are moulded integrally. Step 2 is the chassis frame, starts by removing a tiny block from the rear fender, the possible future purpose of which is unclear. The front suspension unit from Step 1 needs to be added along with struts B28 and 29 (photo 3). The strut ends have pins to locate in holes on the chassis; as with similar joins in this kit the holes needed to be drilled a bit bigger for the parts to fit well. I still had some difficulty getting the struts to fit, only to notice the very next day on T-Model’s Facebook page that they numbered the struts the wrong way round… my cement was fully set by then, so no idea if things would have been easier if fitting them the correct way. The equivalent at the front is a single piece, A9 (photos 5, 6); a good fit though again location holes needed enlarging, and assembly is a little tricky, as eight connection points are to be lined up.
Step 3 continues detailing the chassis. The instructions make very clear the assembly sequence for the front driveshaft A11, auto gearbox B38, and rear drive. With one end of A11 cemented to the chassis frame and still flexible, I added B38, once again having enlarged the holes into which the shaft ends locate, and applying some downward force to B38 (photo 7), located into it the end of A11, then applied cement. With that set, the rear drive shaft then the casing (B9) can be added (photos 8,9), followed by the suspension springs which are a very simple fit (photo 10).
On to one of the unique features, the multiple part tyre / wheel assembly. The main components are the two halves of the wheel with tyre sidewall, and these are simple enough to assemble (photo 12). In the same photo is a section of tyre tread to be fitted around the edge of the sidewall; the arrow points at a tag from the sprue connection, and this is the first challenge, to clean all the tags from both sides of each of the six parts that make up the four tyres, while maintaining the curved profile of the edge.
Consider when fitting the tread that photos show tyres often not fitted symmetrically, so with the noticeable chevron in the centre of the tread pattern pointing either up or down, the tyres being non-directional. According to an Armorama member the tyres are often installed with the date code outward, which may explain why the most common asymmetrical fitting seems to be with the chevron pointing down on the left, up on the right, when viewed from front on.
The edges where tread sections meet had small amounts of flash which were left in place (photo 13), as when cement was applied and the sections pushed together, the flash dissolved and filled some of the small gaps. There is a little lateral play in how the treads fit on to the rim of the sidewall, and it seems to make sense to pull them towards the outside edge of the sidewall to achieve the best alignment on the side of the tyre that will be most visible. At this point there were a few small but noticeable gaps between some of the tread sections, and I filled these by cementing in slivers of sprue to be carved and sanded to shape (photo 14). Having applied a fair amount of cement around the joins on the outer sidewall, the wheels were set aside overnight, but we’ll return to them shortly.
The instructions now call for wheels to be fitted to chassis, but most modellers will delay this until after painting, and there is no reason to add them now. Instead we go straight to fitting the underside of the radiator and the fan that sits behind it (photo 15). Also added are two extensions to the chassis frame, on to which the fender will later be fitted (arrowed, photo 16), and these have to be lined up quite carefully by eye.
Before moving on, we’ll revisit the wheels, as this was something I did a few times. The issue is to eliminate the join between the sidewall and the tread sections without damaging the tyre branding. Photo 17 shows a couple of small indentations (ringed) and the noticeable ridge (arrowed) at the join. I cemented on more slivers of plastic to fill the holes, and then alternately sanded (photo 18) and applied cement until the join was more or less invisible. Obviously cement must be fully set before sanding down, so the cycle was repeated over a few days.
The seats present no real problems in Step 6, with just the location holes for the rear pair being enlarged to fit the pips on the plinth, and the instructions helpfully provide a profile drawing of the angle of the seat back (photos 19, 20).
Step 7 looks simple, but I made a mistake. The parts for the windshield / dash are in photo 21, and photo 22 shows them assembled, waiting for the air cleaner and wading air intake; note the x in photos 22 and 23 showing how the duct for the internal ventilation was incorrectly attached to the underside of the air cleaner. This led to difficulty when fitting the windshield / dash unit to the vehicle body. Photo 24 shows the hole in the air cleaner being enlarged for the air intake. The steering wheel attaches to a tiny component via a tiny location point, which itself attaches under the dash (ringed, photo 26). This assembly seemed to me unnecessarily small and fiddly, possibly the reason for the additional diagram in the instructions. The steering wheel may be a little small, as in photos of the real thing it seems to be clearly visible through the windshield, while the kit wheel doesn’t really extend that high (photo 27).
We now add the rear bulkhead that divides the crew from the stowage compartment, with another helpful diagram to show exactly how (photos 28, 29). When it came to fitting the seats the grooves under the base of the driver’s seat had to be enlarged to fit the floor ridges. This Step 8 is finished by adding a final part of the engine compartment which includes the windshield washer tank and a couple of electrical components (photo 30).
Possibly related to my error in Step 7, adding the windshield / dash in Step 9 was harder than it should be. Nevertheless care is still needed to get it correctly aligned as the connection points between it and the front bulkhead didn’t seem that definite: obviously the windshield needs to be at the right angle, almost, but not quite, vertical, it needs to be at 90˚ to the sides of the body, and also needs to be laterally centred on the body (photo 31). This step also sees the assembly of what I guess are anti-roll and side bars over the front and rear seats (photo 32). Although a diagram is provided to show the angle of the rear bar, what is really needed to perfectly align both sets of bars and the windshield, is to dry fit the roof, part B43, which has grooves into which each of these components should fit exactly (photo 33). You may also wish to check the exact lateral alignment of the windshield by dry fitting the body side panels B1 and B2.
Step 10 just adds the handbrake, and the main transmission and transfer-case selector levers. These are tiny, but fitted without problem into clear location points on the transmission tunnel (photo 34).
Most modellers will leave Step 11 to the end, as wheels, chassis and body will most likely be painted separately; the fit of body to chassis is so good that there’s clearly no need for it to be added now, and indeed the next step will be easier if it isn’t. Instead we move to Step 12 and the body side panels; I found these had a tendency to pull slightly inwards at the rear wheel arch, so I inserted a piece of folded card to hold the position while the cement set (photo 35), otherwise the fit was perfect. Photo 36 shows the rear body plate in place, followed by the tailgate in photo 37, and once again, the fit is so tight as to only just fit – so the hinges were sanded a little to allow the tailgate to engage with the top edge, flush with the rear plate. The first piece of PE is added to the right side, an armoured plate to cover the fuel filler cap which is moulded in to the panel and which would have been exposed on earlier Humvees.
Adding the clear lamps to the hood is another step that most will leave until the paint stage, but there is some complexity around how the external front grille, which is transparent, fits with the insert that is to be cemented inside it and acts as both internal radiator grille and the back of the headlamps. I worked out how to add that insert to the vehicle body itself, to allow the transparent grille to be added after base painting: the two components B33 / 34 were cemented to the clear grille, shown arrowed in photos 39 and 40; with the hood taped in place, the insert was dry fitted into the grille, then the assembly onto the body, and the attachment points on the vehicle for the brackets (B39 / 40) that the grille assembly mounts on to were worked out. The instructions, in contrast, show them being attached to the grille assembly first. The bracket locations are shown with one in place in photo 41, and both in photo 42. With those fully set, the grille insert was gently fitted into the clear grille, then cement applied to the back of it and to the brackets in photo 42 so that it could be cemented in exactly the right position, allowing the clear grille to fit over it (photo 43).
The doors are much simpler. Photo 44 shows the exterior and interior of the driver door with window panel. The next photo, 45, shows the pane in place, and note again how tightly it fits, I had to file down the edges a little to fit in the aperture. To make things easier there are spares of the window panes, as there is a tendency for (me) scratching, splintering and losing them. The inside of the door also reveals that the window could potentially be mounted in a fully or partially open position (photo 46), although a frame across the open edge of the pane would be needed. There are actually alternative panes included on the sprue that have tiny handles, although these aren’t referred to in the instructions and I’m not sure if they correctly represent what would be visible with the pane slid down. Photos 47 and 48 show the authentically weighty armoured look of the doors.
The standard M1114 roof hatch is represented, with the asymmetric hinged section and the mount for either a M2HB 0.50in heavy machine gun or a Mk19 40mm automatic belt fed grenade launcher, both of which are included in the kit. The hatch door is detailed on both sides, though the interior has a couple of circular mould marks on it. I’m not quite clear if the two items that look like struts (one ringed in photo 49) should be folded out if the hatch is open, and clearly there is no provision for doing so. The long hinge that joins the two hatch parts together is a great fit, and it does actually look like a heavy duty hinge in the open position (photo 50, 51). Note the handle and mechanism that fits on the underside edge of the hatch ring in photo 51.
I went for the grenade launcher which involves adding a very tiny piece of PE to the ammunition box (photo 52) to represent a handle and latch; not sure if this is better than if moulded, as the handle should be cylindrical in shape, but inevitably is rendered flat. Perhaps I’m griping because I glued it slightly out of place, and with the CA glue setting immediately it was far too delicate to remove and reposition. I also managed to crush the muzzle of the grenade launcher while cleaning up the barrel, so I replaced it with a section of rod, drilled out before being cemented in place (photo 53). The handles of both weapons are provided as separately moulded parts, but both of them are somewhat chunky in appearance, especially the mounting plates which could do with thinning down, or perhaps these could have been provided as PE. The shield is from the heavy gauge PE sheet, and has a nice thick, square-edged appearance. Bending it to shape is relatively simple as the single (well I thought it was single…) bend is perpendicular to the edge from the point of the curve of the lower edge. The instructions contain a drawing with a view from above, but it isn’t edge on, so is perhaps not as helpful as it might be. Photo 54 shows the angle of the bend I arrived at having studied a number of photos. There isn’t much in the way of guidance nor helpful connection points for the fitting of the ammo box to the launcher (it seems to attach only by the belt feed), nor the launcher to the mount, and in turn to the shield. I would have liked the four indentations on the shield front to be full holes with the attachment point of the bracket having corresponding pegs. This was one area of the kit that seemed a bit vague, and involved a fair bit of assembling, checking alignment by eye, and repositioning of parts while cement and CA glue were still flexible, in order to get it looking right (photo 55). Perhaps the machine gun is easier.
Moving towards the final bodywork assembly, the upper rear side panels need to be fitted between the body side and the roof. The instructions show all being fitted together, but most modellers will want to paint the interior before the roof goes on, so the choice here is cementing the side panels to the roof plate, or to the vehicle; other builders seem to have chosen the roof plate, while I went for the vehicle body… (photo 56). Something to bear in mind is that join between the roof plate and the side panel will need to be eliminated before the exterior is painted (arrowed, photo 57), noting the ventilation slots for the air con. Photo 58 shows the rear door dry fitted in the open position, then photo 59 is the interior with it closed; note the quite subtle circular mould marks on the inner face.
Adding some details to the hood: ringed in photo 60 is the hood closure, part B27, incorrectly numbered in the instructions as B31; the slot that this fits into had to be widened a little to allow the tiny component to sit flat. Moving to the top surface (photo 61), the large metal grille from the thin PE sheet fits in a slight curve, having to be clamped in place while the glue set. The two rings are from the heavier gauge metal sheet and represent the lifting hooks, which are surrounded by metal reinforcing plates, the real hood being made of lightweight composite material; note that if modelling the hood in an open position the rings would need to be attached inside the engine compartment to the mounting points either side of the top of the radiator, ringed in photo 62. In the same photo the rear view mirrors have also been fitted (arrowed), noting that the driver side mirror is fitted correctly, but noticeably lower.
For the sake of this review I attached the wheels with Mod Podge (photo 63) so that the body could be test fitted to the chassis (photos 64, 65). The fit is very definite and perfect, to the point where there will be no need to bring them together until painting is complete. The remainder of the photos show the roof, hood, grille and hatch all just resting or blu-tacked in place. There remain the windshield and wipers to be fitted, and the front cross member that houses the winch can be added after painting.
The overriding impression of this kit is one that has been thought out and designed with a greater degree of attention to detail than normally encountered with the mass production kit brands. It is perhaps part of a braille scale trend which is seeing a divergence between those manufacturers who are utilising advances in CAD design and manufacturing technology to allow kits to be quicker to build while offering a superficially decent appearance, and those who are exploiting the same advances to produce small scale kits that offer levels of detail and complexity that at one time were only available in larger scales.
As noted repeatedly, design tolerances here are tight, so no sloppiness of fit, instead a small amount of sanding or drilling allows the modeller to achieve an exact fit. I found this was helped by the hard plastic which facilitated a precise smooth finish. It also cemented well, bonding easily but no excessive melting even with tiny components.
T-Models state that their kits are “Not simple but simple to build”, and I would mostly agree with that… the kit is complex in terms of having many parts, but the great majority of it fits together extremely well, and one of the difficulties I had was self-inflicted, a result of not paying enough attention to the instructions. The wheels have great detail but require some work, while the clear front grille is quite complex in terms of working out how to accommodate painting; the instructions could perhaps have dealt with that. Perhaps my only other negatives were with the grenade launcher where I thought things were just a little vague, and a set of decals would have been a plus.
Overall though, a pleasure to build and certainly something beyond most braille kits. It seems to be available in Europe for a little over 20 Euros which seems decent value considering the number of parts and the inclusion of the PE.
Pat Ware AM General Humvee 1985 onwards (Haynes 2014)