by: Brent Sauer [ ]
Operational experience in Somalia, IFOR and KFOR missions demonstrated that exposed gunners in the turret of HMMWV Armament Carriers needed protection from enemy fire when manning their weapons. The initial response to this need was the adoption of the Gunner Shield Kit (GSK). The GSK was an angled steel plate which was mounted to the turret ring bearing sleeve. The GSK was first seen on M1114’s during early combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated that not only were the GSK’s needed on the M1114’s but they were also needed on the legacy M1025/M1026 Armament Carriers still in use in both combat theaters. The GSK was standard equipment on M1151 Armament Carriers that were produced in later years. The major problem identified with the standard GSK was that when a gunner took cover behind the shield, he or she could not observe the battle space in front of them and lost situational awareness. As a solution to this problem, IBIS TEK produced the ‘Clear Gun Shield’. The Clear Gun Shield had three sections of the shield constructed with laminated transparent armor. These three laminated transparent panels gave the gunner options to view the battle space in front of the weapon system. The Clear Gun Shield was so successful with the HMMWV platform that the Army decided to adopt it for use on the Stryker AFV platform as well.
Toro Model released product #35021 Clear Gunner Shield For Stryker/Humvee Vehicles (PE & Laser Cut Clear Parts) in March 2016. Prior to this release, the only Gunner Shield Kits available as part of a kit were in the Bronco M1114 HMMWV and Academy M1151 HMMWV kits. The GSK represented in the those kits were standard, all metal GSK’s. Photo-etch and resin GSK’s were available from Live Resin, Blast Models and Legend to name a few aftermarket manufacturers. The Clear Gunner Shield comes packed in a small sturdy cardboard box that is 3”W x 5”T x 1.5”D.
Inside the box is two Ziploc bags. One Ziploc bag contains three laser cut clear acrylic parts that replicate the laminated transparent armor. The clear laser cut parts have a removable adhesive protective sheet on both sides. The second Ziploc bag contains one photo-etch fret that features six PE parts to build the gun shield. The items are protected inside the box by foam packing ‘peanuts’. There are no instructions provided with the kit. (Photo 1)
Since there were no instructions included, I analyzed a few photos, the provided parts and came up with my own assembly concept. I broke the assembly process down into six steps:
1. Remove parts from the photo-etch fret (referenced as PE for the duration of the article).
2. Fold PE frames for the ballistic glass sections
3. Install PE frames on the backside of the gunner shield.
4. Trim and sand acrylic 'glass' to required size to fit in PE frames.
5. Glue on front PE details just below the weapon elevation slot.
6. Fold shield section at appropriate angle.
I used a standard #11 blade to cut the parts from the fret and used a small needle file to remove any remaining metal from the fret attachment point.This photo shows the parts removed from the PE fret. The clear parts are sitting next to their corresponding frame sections. (Photo 2)
I started assembly by folding the frame for the large rectangular laminated transparent armor section. (Photo 3)
For installation of the frames on the back of the gun shield, I used Cyanoacrylate (also known as CA or superglue). In the photo 4, I have installed the large rectangular frame on the back of the gun shield. YOU MUST BE VERY CAREFUL TO ENSURE THAT THE FRAME LINES UP APPROPRIATELY WITH THE OPENING WHEN LOOKING AT THE SHIELD FROM THE FRONT. (Photo 4)
Photo 5 demonstrates the previously mentioned importance of aligning the frame with the shield opening when looking at it from the front. (Photo 5)
In photo 6, you are looking at the top of the gunner shield/frame after frame installation. (Photo 6)
Photo 7 shows the square acrylic 'laminated transparent armor' piece with the adhesive protective laminate removed. The part clarity is fantastic. As a result of the laser cutting process, each glass piece has a ridge around the edge that makes the part too thick to fit into the PE frames that you have installed on the gunner shield. To fix this, I used a no. 11 knife blade and cut the ridge down so that the glass surface was flush. In addition to the depth of the parts being too thick, they were also too wide. To fix this, I used a #1500 sanding stick to sand down the edges and gradually reduced the part dimensions until they fit in PE frames satisfactorily. The key here is to remove just enough material to make the clear parts fit well. (Photo 7)
In photo 8, the large rectangular clear part is in place in its PE frame. You are looking at the front of the shield as indicated by the etched rivet detail on the front of the shield. (Photo 8)
In photo 9, you are looking down from the top of the shield/frame. The top edge of the ‘laminated transparent armor’ is visible. (Photo 9)
Looking at the installed large rectangular acrylic section from the rear of the shield. Notice the clarity of the piece. (Photo 10)
In the next two photos, I have installed the large rectangular acrylic part and the smaller rectangular acrylic part at the bottom of the shield. I still have to install the side glass and the two detail parts to the front of the GSK. Be sure you have the opening for the smaller rectangular glass from facing away from the angle part of the shield. Otherwise, after you bend the side shield angle, you will not be able to get your acrylic part back into the lower PE frame. (Photo 11 & 12)
Here is the rear detail of the completed shield. (Photo 13)
The front of the completed shield. (Photo 14)
When I 'sized' the glass parts to fit, I sized them so that they were snug yet I could still remove the clear parts to prime/finish the shield.
The assembly takes patience and some basic tools to get everything to go together right. As mentioned previously, I used CA glue but others may prefer to solder parts.
Overall, I highly recommend the Toro Models Clear Gunner Shield if you want to have this GSK variant in your HMMWV or Stryker fleet.