by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The Oshkosh M-ATV was developed as a lighter and improved mobility Mine Resistant Ambush Protected(MRAP) vehicle. The design was to provide the same mine protection of the heavier vehicles with the intention it will replace the M1114 HMMWV’s. The M-ATV began to arrive in service in Afghanistan in 2009 as part of an initial purchase order of some 8700 vehicles. Some of the vehicles were fitted with the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS or CROWS II). This weapon system allowed for the targeting and firing of the weapon from inside the vehicle. The system could mount multiple weapons, to include the M2 .50 Cal MG, Mk.19 Grenade launcher, and M249 SAW.
The latest kit from Panda Hobby adds the CROWS II to the M-ATV MRAP as used in Afghanistan.
12 plastic sprues plus front hood and body molded separately
2 small sprues of clear plastic
3 frets of photo-etched parts, plus one small part on its own fret
5 rubber vinyl tires
1 sheet of decals
1 instruction book
1 paint scheme sheet
On opening the box of the M-ATV MRAP with CROW II RWS from Panda Hobby I saw a box full of light tan molded plastic. The multiple plastic sprues are separated into multiple plastic bags. Note, I did have a couple of parts that had been broken off the sprue in my example. Having a look at the plastic moldings, the quality of the moldings look good, but I did find a little bit of flash, especially on some of the smaller detail parts. Thus some clean-up will be needed during the assembly process. It was nice to see that I did not see any ejector marks to get in your way during the build. I did find some of the sprue gates that were molded in awkward spots, for example on the mirrors that may be a little trick to deal with.
The overall molded detail does look good, including cast-on names on the drive train parts, logo on front hood, and more. There are also some fine molded parts like the side mirrors, clasps, tie downs, and more. There is also some good looking surface detail, as seen on the front driver seat. Unfortunately I did find some of the parts look a little soft in detail, for example the steering wheel and some of the rivet detail.
The kit does include three frets of photo-etched parts for that extra detail, and from a quick look, these should add a nice touch to the built kit. Personally I find the photo-etched parts a tad thick, but it does seem to be pliable.
Assembly of this kit from Panda Hobby is completed over 24 steps in the 20 page booklet included. The instructions look to be clear and concise, and should help in building this kit. Unfortunately I did not see any paint call-outs in the assembly instructions, thus the builder will have to do a little research when it comes to paint colors for parts.
Assembly of the M-ATV begins with the frame and drive train parts. Assembly looks to be rather straight forward, but I did notice while the kit includes the oil pan and lower motor, the full motor is not included. The assembly of the axles and a-frame is a multi-part affair, but does look like the final product will be well detailed and look great. The kit does include vinyl rubber-like tires with great looking tread pattern, and will definitely make the vehicle look “beefy”.
After completing the frame assembly construction then moves on to the interior of the vehicle, and yes it does include a full interior of the crew compartment. There looks to be a lot of detail here, and this is where a lot of the photo-etched parts come in, especially for building the seat frames. The dash does include raised surface detail and decals to represent the instrumentation. There is also a console mounted on the rear of the driver’s seat, that presume would be for the CROWS operator. Again, as mentioned earlier, there are no paint call-outs for the interior, so a little research will be needed.
With the interior complete the build moves onto the cargo bed. And there are plenty of antenna mounts and antennas to represent a US vehicle in Afghanistan. The assembly of the exterior then begins. There are some fine parts here, for example the mirror mounts, so some care will be needed. The stage also includes the assembly of the doors, and they do include interior details. Clear plastic parts are included for the windows, but the parts will need to be tinted to match the actual vehicle.
The final stage for the vehicle involves mounting the body to the frame then adding the armor plating on the bottom of the frame. With that done the IED counter measure boom is built and mounted, then the CROWS is built. The CROWS looks to be well detailed, but with today’s slide molding technologies, I would have expected the M2 to have a hollow barrel end.
The kit does include a small decal sheet, that does include decals for the dash and some other markings on the M-ATV, but from my observations the decals look thick. I was also able to feel the thickness running my finger across the sheet. I am not sure how they will apply, but just a warning.
The kit does include a paint and marking guide for one vehicle, but then again there was not much deviation in the color and markings on the vehicles.
Overall this looks to be a good kit to build from Panda Hobby. The kit does include some fine detail and the photo-etched parts will add more detail. With a full interior detail and great looking exterior detail this should produce a good looking M-ATV with CROWS. While there are a few short comings in the molding and decals, the majority should be able to be resolved by an experience modeller, and should still produce a great looking model for a beginner or novice. Having not been much of a modern AFV fan, this kit peaks my interest, and I would recommend this kit to anyone looking to capture a modern AFV.