This is a full resin kit of the M9 (ACE) produced by Hobby fan, it is one of there earlier resin releases, but is still a much sort after model which seems to go in and out of production. I'm not sure if the model represents a prototype vehicle of one in full production as reference material is a little scarce.The kit comes in the usual Hobby fan box, with a colour photo on one end and a black and white label that acts as the security seal on the box.
The M9 (ACE) Armoured Combat Earthmover is a United States armoured combat earthmover capable of supporting forces in both offencive and defencive operations. It performs critical combat engineer tasks such as digging hull defilade fighting positions for guns, tanks and other battlefield systems to increase their survivability. The ACE breaches berms, prepares anti-tank ditches, prepares combat roads, removes roadblocks and prepares access routes at water obstacles.The engine, drive train and driver's compartment are laid out in the rear of the vehicle, while the front features an 8.7 cubic yard bowl, apron and dozer blade. Armour consists of welded aluminium with selected steel and aramid-laminated plates. An armoured cupola containing eight vision blocks covers the driver's compartment. The vehicle hull is a welded and bolted aluminium structure with a two speed winch capable of 25,000 pound line pull. Towing pintle and air brake connections are provided. It is equipped with a unique suspension system which allows the front of the vehicle to be raised, lowered, or tilted to permit dozing, excavating, rough grading and ditching functions. In addition, the M9 has Armour protection against small arms and artillery fragmentation, a smoke screening capability and chemical-biological protection for the operator. It is capable of 30 MPH road speed, By raising the dozer blade and using its scraper blade, the ACE can fill itself with ballast to improve dozing efficiency. Another key feature of the M9 is its unique hydro pneumatic suspension system. The principal components are eight high-pressure hydraulic rotary actuators (four on each side) which connect to the road wheel stations. During high-speed travel, this system assures a smooth ride through the use of shock-absorbing accumulators. In earthmoving operations, the operator rotates the actuators, thus lowering the apron and blade for digging.The ACE is a single operator vehicle, without the advantage of a weapon for local suppression. Habitually, manoeuvre task forces provided two Bradley Fighting Vehicles to protect the ACE during breaching ops. While this is a high price to pay for protection of one vehicle, commanders deemed it necessary for the success of their operations. Commanders felt that the ACE needs an additional crewman and a protective weapon such as the .50 calibre machine gun, or the Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher.
In the Box
On opening the box you are greeted with the smell of resin, a joy to be hold to any long time model builder. On the top are the instructions these are in black and white line drawings no where near the quality you get from say Dragon or Tamiya, but they appear to be adequate for building the kit. If you have built any form of resin kit you will have a good idea what to expect, a separate sheet contain a list and diagrams of all the kit parts. Underneath are four bags containing the resin parts, and there are quite a few of them some of which are very fine, all cast in a cream resin. All the parts are attached to casting carriers and have quite a bit of flash on them, real care will be needed to remove them with out damaging the kit part, you have been warned.Under the bags there are four main components of the kit, these build up into the main structure with the Chassis being cast in a single part, mine arrived with no sign of any warping of casting bubbles.The bags contain the rest of the kit, and seem to have been separated into there logical parts. The first bag contains the dozer blade and the side body of the kit, the next contains the tracks and wheels. I should note at this point that the tracks are link and length pieces with the ones that go around the drive sprockets being cast in one piece in a curve shape. Care will be needed to remove them from the carries with out damaging them. The double wheels are cast in one piece with details to the front and back of the wheel.The main dozer blade is shown in the down position ready for action, as while in transit the bottom section can be raised to give a better ground clearance on the move. The Third bag contain the rest of the structure, you will note from the pictures that the turret is a solid piece so if you wish to add a figure this will need careful drilling out. Finally the fourth bag contains all the small detail parts need to finish the model off. A small piece of clear plastic card also come with the kit so you can add the protective window used when working with the turret open.
If you are looking for that little something different to add to your collection, and you have the time and patience to build this kit then I can really recommend you pick one up should you see one. Its not for the beginner and i would recommend that you cut your teeth and a more simple resin kit before you attempt this one. Time and patience will be needed so as not to damage any of the parts as you remove them. Its a little expensive but then its also a little unusual. Recommended for the more competent model builder.Available from Hobby easy priced at $121.79 plus shipping not forgetting to mention armorama when you order.
Reference pictures taken from Prime portal
The military Enthusiast and modellers reference site.