by: Pete Becerra [ ]
The US Army was looking to improve firepower of the baseline M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicle. Its 12.7 mm heavy machine gun is not particularly effective against modern armored vehicles. In 2015 the US Army approved a lethality upgrade by equipping a total of 81 Strykers with 30 mm unmanned turrets. This significantly increased firepower of the Stryker while preserving its mobility. The first upgraded vehicle, designated XM1296, was delivered for testing and evaluation in 2016. Its official designation is Infantry Carrier Vehicle - Dragoon, or ICVD. First operational vehicle was delivered to the US Army in 2017.
Modifications were made to the hull roof of the Stryker in order to install a Kongsberg unmanned turret with an Mk.44 Bushmaster II 30 mm cannon. This added around two tons of weight to the vehicle. The new cannon has significantly increased lethality, range and accuracy over the previous M2 heavy machine gun. It can effectively engage lightly armored vehicles up to a range of 3000 m. This cannon also fires airburst rounds that explode above the target. It allows to hit people hiding in trenches and behind walls. Airburst rounds are also effective against unmanned aerial vehicles. The canon has a dual-feed system so the gunner can rapidly switch between ammunition types. A total of 156 ready rounds are stored in the turret (78 rounds per side).
There is also an M240 coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. A total of 400 ready rounds are stored in the turret. Additional rounds can be carried inside the hull.
he Dragoon is operated by a crew of 2, including commander and driver and carries a full squad of 9 fully-equipped infantrymen. Dismounts enter and leave the vehicle via the rear power-operated ramp with integral doors or roof hatches. Main role of the M1296 Dragoon is to provide protected transport for its passengers. In some cases, this vehicle can support an assault of its dismounts with its firepower. Though due to its relatively light armor this vehicle is vulnerable on the battlefield.
Trumpeter was the first to start releasing the Stryker family. Then came more detailed AFV Club’s versions of the Stryker family. We all thought that all the variants had been done in 1/35 plastic, but the Army announced the M1296 Stryker Dragoon IFV and Panda jumped on it quick and released the first attempt at a Stryker, kit #PH35045 M1296 Stryker Dragoon IFV.
The kit consists of:
6 sprues of tan plastic
1 clear sprue
8 hard vinyl tires
1 upper hull
1 lower hull
1 photo etch fret
1 decal sheet
The decal sheet provided bumper numbers for one vehicle, but includes registration numbers for four vehicles. Now that the real vehicles have been fielded, there are more pictures on the internet showing other bumper numbers.
The instruction booklet was not void of errors, but they were nothing that hindered the build.
Page 3, Step 1: part numbers E16 and D69 need to be switched.
Only one E11 is shown, but you will need four.
Tie Rods, part numbers E25 and E24, are shown but not labeled.
Page 4, Step 2: There should be 2-part number E44. One is already shown installed.
Page 8, Step 7: Part E22 should be labeled part E62.
Page 9, Step 8: Part C61 should be labeled part C24.
Page 10, Step 9: Parts C39 are not labeled, but are shown attached to parts B4
Part D7 is not labeled. The part is shown in the instructions and is located behind part D8.
Page 11, Step 10: Part D59 is not labeled but is shown in the instructions.
Page 12, Step 11: You cannot see them, but Parts D49 and D50 are attached to the bar of the drivers hatch.
Page 13, Step 12: the diagram in the instructions for the left headlight fixture is not correct. Look at walk around photos of the real vehicle for reference.
Page 14, Step 13: Part C16, drivers hatch hinge cover, is not shown in instructions. You can add it or not.
First thing I started with was adding the missing anti-slip coating on the turret and top hull. On the turret, I used thin strips of Tamiya yellow tape to section off the areas of the anti-sleep coating. On the hull, the panels where my guide for the coating. I used Mr. Surfacer stippled on with an old cut down flat brush. After all the coating was dried, I skipped the hull construction and jumped to Step 14 to start the turret construction.
Step 14 is straight forward. Before we started step 14, I cut of the locking pins on the bottom of part B8. This was done so that the turret could easily be taken off and placed back on without it locking to the hull. Some seam cleaning on the main gun barrel is needed. Technically by looking at the instructions, you can leave off the 7.62 coax till after paining and final assembly. Build completely parts B9, D102, D101, D34, D35, C37, and D92 as a sub-assembly and attach after painting and final build.
In step 15, part B21 “does not” need any seem filling. The gaps are there on the real vehicle. The interior hatch handles, E58x2 and E57, do not need to be attached if you're going to have the hatches closed. Part D14 and D53 are black on the real vehicle and can be left off till the coax gun is attached to the main gun. The completed sight can be left off till after painting and final turret assembly.
In step 16, we finish up the turret by adding the smoke dis-chargers, grab handles, ammo belt/chute, wind sensor and mounting bolts for the add-on-armor. The photo etch sensor cover, part PE8, that attaches to part D25 is/was so fragile. It disinigrated cutting it of the fret. I found a sensor top from the wind sensor in Dragons M1A1 AIM kit to be an ok match and look the part. I replaced all the grab handles with thin brass wire since the plastic ones where also so fragile. Lastly, the photo etch chute, part PE3 was very hard to form to shape once it was constructed. A resin chute, heated to form, from Live Resin or some other aftermarket company would make a better replacement. On the real vehicle, you see these “bolt heads” all over the turret. These are not bolt heads, but are attaching points for additional armor. Panda provides these as part E1 but there are so tiny and, to me, seem impossible to clean up. I got the idea form someone else on the internet to use small diameter round rod to replace the “heads.” What the person and I did was just drill out all the locations points for part E1 and slide in a piece of rod and then cut it down to the size of part E1. It was fast and easy.
Now to the hull. Once again, the anti-slip surface was done when I did the surface on the turret.
Step 1 has no construction problems, but there are some instruction mis-labels and/or part numbers left out. I mentioned these above. The kit is not meant to have steerable wheels, but some delicate cutting on the tie rods and steering rods, and you can re-position the wheels.
In step 2, there is no locating pins for part B7. To help with this, install parts E18 and then add part B7. Don’t forget to fill in the punch marks on parts E18. Everything else went together without issue in step 2.
Step 3 went together without any issues.
The only thing in Step 4 that I might suggest, is replacing part E5 with some thin brass wire.
In the Trumpeter and AFV Club kits, you can leave off the rims from the tires for ease of painting. This is due to the flexibility of the tires. The tires in the Panda kit are a very hard vinyl or maybe even plastic, so there is no flexibility. The rims have to be attached and masking or circle template will be needed for paining. As far as the rest of step, there was no other issues. I have also provided a picture with the differences between AFV Club, Trumpeter, and Panda tires.
In step 6, some putty and sanding were needed between parts D87/88 and B15/16. Other than that, step 6 went together without a hitch.
In step 7, you can leave off parts GP4, tail light covers, off till final painting/building. You can also leave off the fuel/water cans off after they are built till final completion. There is no photo etch straps provided for the fuel/water cans, so some are going to have to come from the spares box or made from tape/paper. Other than the part number mis-identified that I mentioned above, there is no other issues in this step.
No issues in step 8 other than the parts number mis-labeled that I mentioned above. There are a couple of “dimples” that need to be filled with putty on the sides of the upper hull.
In step 9, the tool rack has no mounting points for the tools, so be careful with alignment. Other than that, you have the parts that are not labeled and I mentioned those above.
I am so sorry and I apologize for no getting the part number that is labeled D? In step 10. I mentioned above the part that is not labeled in this step. Also, remember, that there are no mounting holes for the pioneer tools.
Like I said above, parts D49 and D50 are not shown or labeled in step 11. They are the “hinges for the drivers hatch.
In step 12, again, there are no locating holes for the pioneer tools, so careful alignment of the shovel is needed.
I mentioned the missing part C16 above for step 13. Unless your adding the winch cable using thread or flexible braided wire, part D54 can be left on or off.
In step 16, not only is it completing the turret, but also completing the hull.
At the point in the build, if you want, you can add all the missing cables and straps. Cables that are noticeable are coming from the head light structures and from the horn. On the real vehicle, there are straps tied all over the place. If you don’t want to add all those missing straps, at least add the straps to the pioneer tool rack and water/fuel can racks. I also did add a tow bar from AFV Club Stryker kits to the right side.
Painting and Weathering
Usually when I do a review build, I go all the way to the finish product. This time, I am doing this in two different articles, the build/review feature and a photo feature. So here you will see no extensive weathering, added gear or missing straps, etc. The final product you see here is painted with Tamiya NATO Green. Light washes and dry brushes finish it off till the straps and gear is added.
Not too many modelers like Panda models. They are an acquired taste due to all the corrections to the instructions and parts that don’t fit well. Panda kits are not for the faint of heart and do require some modeling skills under their belt. Aside from that Panda has been coming out with some great subjects that other companies don’t want to tackle or are just coming out with. Yes, AFV Club released their version of the M1296 and some modelers are loyal to AFV Club when it comes to Stryker models. Aside from instructions that need corrections, Panda’s version of the M1296 Stryker Dragoon IFV is not a bad kit. I would recommend this kit even to the loyal AFV Club builders just to have a side by side comparison. You never know, you might turn into one of those modelers who have to have the same kit from all the manufactures no matter what.
With that said and down, Panda don’t stop bringing us these great kits and I’m looking forward to reviewing your HMEE-1 kit coming soon.
The M1296 Stryker Dragoon has not seen any combat yet. Most of the pictures you find on the internet are of the vehicle when it was first announced and now the vehicles that have already been assigned to their units. Pictures of the unit vehicles are of them out in the field doing training exercises or at the firing range. The only dirt and grime you see is that from the dust of the roads from them moving from one spot to the other. Also, little gear is shown on them, the commanders, drivers, and maybe a few of the dismount squad.
I tried to show this with very little weathering. Legend Productions provided the M.O.L.L.E packs and oil can in the top rack. The drip pan is from Dragon’s M1A1 AIM kit. The rolled tarp in the top rack is from Tamiya’s Modern Gear set. I’m not sure what after-market company the MRE boxes came from or if they are from one of those files we pass around on Armorama.
The camo netting came from DEF Models. I had some camo netting from AFV Club, but it was old and fell apart, so I opted for the product from DEF Models. I cut the piece from the main sheet and soaked it in diluted Elmer’s glue and placed a piece of other after-market “gauze” camo netting. The new camo netting that the Army is using has a thin netting behind the main camo. I draped the two pieces of camo netting over the vehicle and used a brush soaked in diluted Elmer's glue to push it into shape around the packs and racks.
Once everything was dry, I gave the entire vehicle a light brushing of Vallejo pigments to blend everything together and then sealed all of it with Tamiya Flat Clear in a can.