In my opinion the M113 model most suitable – at least theoretically – to represent Operation Iraqi Freedom version is Tamiya “M113A2 APC Desert Version” kit, as it comes with OIF decals and includes some parts to build most common during that operation M113A3 variant (see a review here
). It even includes one sprue from Tamiya “Modern U.S. Military Equipment Set”, so we get a few reasonably well done ALICE backpacks, duffel bags, sleeping mats and bags, ammo cans, tent bag, tarp bag, two jerry cans, CIPs and a few smaller parts. It seems a lot, but when you attach it all to the model and then compare it to photos of some M113A3 vehicles during first days of OIF, it becomes clear that much more stowage is needed. Some of these vehicles were barely visible under tons of crew gear and other stowage! Those belonging to 3rd Infantry Division had special stowage racks added to sides to accommodate some of this load.
The Legend “M113 OIF Stowage Set” is exactly what is needed to give M113 model that overloaded look of early OIF tracks. It includes plenty of resin cast accessories and photo-etched storage rack. On the box of the set is a photo of Academy M113A2 kit with Legend parts attached. While Academy kit is generally more accurate than Tamiya one for M113A2 vehicle, the latter includes more parts needed to build M113A3 version – more common during OIF. Also Academy kit does not include OIF markings and accessories.
Contents of the set
The set does not include any instructions, but there is no assembly required, so this isn’t needed. The photo of painted accessories attached to the model shown on the set box can provide some inspiration for possible layout of parts on the vehicle.
As mentioned already, the set includes photo-etched storage rack for the M113 side armor and this is the only PE part we get. We also only get one rack, what is disappointing, as these were typically attached to both sides of 3rd ID vehicles. But it seems to represent the real thing quite well, although it would be better if it was etched from thicker brass sheet, as vertical bars are extremely thin and one was broken in a sample set I received.
Aside from the PE rack, in the box we get a zip-bag full of resin parts:
- two Combat Identification Panels (CIP). They are slightly larger (1 mm taller and 1.5 mm wider) than those included in Tamiya M113A2 kit and this means that they are too big, as those in the kit scale up exactly to correct 30” x 24” of the real thing.
- six large 40 mm ammo cans (usually used for storage of small crew items, not ammo). One of them has a strap molded on, but only on one side what means that it can only be attached in one position to the vehicle side.
- nine plastic type water jerry cans – six of them cast individually (four with straps molded on – all around each can this time, and two without straps) plus three cast side to side as one part with a strap keeping them together molded on. Unfortunately it looks like either the mold for the three can part was squeezed deforming the part or the part was deliberately made too thin to make it fit in the PE rack, as these jerry cans are about 1 mm too narrow. Those individually cast are correct size and in fact they seem to be exact resin copies of Tamiya kit parts.
- four rolled sleeping mats – two thicker ones and two thinner ones. I don’t know if this is correct – I thought that these mats only come in one size?...
- six duffel bags – three parts with slightly different details on them, two copies of each. While slightly different overall shapes and folds on these parts are very nice to give them more natural look, different size pockets and handles may not be correct, as these probably should all be identical in standard issue bags.
- five sleeping bags – four larger and two smaller. Again I have some doubts about these parts, as the larger ones are about 50% bigger than parts in Tamiya kit and those small ones are a little bit smaller than kit parts. I don’t know exact size of rolled US Army issue sleeping bag, but I think they come in one size. It is however likely that the bigger resin parts, although looking like oversized sleeping bags, are in fact meant to represent some other type of equipment which I cannot recognize.
- six ALICE backpacks, each with different layout of pockets, straps and attached equipment (sleeping mats, canteens etc.), so no two look the same.
- ten ALICE backpacks in protective camouflaged sand covers – again each sculpted individually and different from others. At least I guess these are ALICE packs, as on most parts irregular shapes under sand covers are not obviously recognizable and only on one part the easily recognizable backpack top cover is visible. One of the parts even has a “battle damage” added in the form of bullet or shrapnel made hole.
- two folded cots.
- five canteens and five shovel bags.
- three coils of concertina wire – two larger ones with most of protective wrap removed and one smaller (tightly coiled?) coil of wire in protective wrap. It is also possible that smaller coil is meant to represent come different type of wire in a wrap, what would explain the size difference.
-traffic cones – one individually cast and seven stacked together cast as one part. These are large traffic cones – scale up to about 820 mm (32”) tall, but it is perfectly correct, as traffic cones can be as large as 1 meter (40”) tall.
- two rolls that can be anything – e.g. canvas tarpaulin. One has molded on strapped shovel and rope details on it.
- two larger sets of various accessories cast together. The bigger one consists of a large wooden box with camouflage net, coil of rope, tent bag (undersized compared to the one in Tamiya kit), large 40 mm ammo can and some generic bag – all strapped together. This part is meant to be put on top of the M113, as can be seen on the set box illustration. Smaller part consists of smaller wooden box with two jerry cans, a rope and a tarp (or some other canvas cover) cast together. This part is not visible on the set box photo, but the shape of the tarp and the position of resin casting block suggest that it should be attached to the side of the vehicle.
All parts have usual resin casting blocks on them and some will require a lot of careful sanding to remove, but it shouldn’t be difficult and it is a norm for resin sets. Casting is very clean with no flash, but there are some air bubbles on parts. Not many of them and most hard to notice, but some, like these on CIPs and shovel bags, will require modeler’s attention. On some parts very thin and fragile strap details were not properly cast, or were damaged during packing and the best way to fix them is to remove these damaged resin details completely and replace them with straps made from strips of metal foil.
While some individual parts included in the set may not be exactly correct and accurate, as a whole the set is extremely useful and very well done. The biggest flaw in my opinion is inclusion of only one PE rack, but at least it can be used as a template to build additional ones from strips of styrene. It is also important to mention that almost all parts from the set, while meant for use with M113 kit, can in fact be used with any modern U.S. military vehicle. Practically only the PE rack is really M113 specific part.