Back in the 1980s, when the U.S. Army was working on the specifications for a new truck to replace the aging M35, Austrian truck maker Steyr began working on a new platform based on its 12M18, a truck originally developed for the Austrian Bundesheer. The 12M18 is also used by military forces in Canada, Kuwait, Pakistan and Thailand. When the Army released its specifications for a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) in 1988, Steyr linked up with Houston-based Stewart & Stevenson and sent several prototype vehicles to the U.S. over the next two years. In October 1991, Steyr along with Stewart & Stevenson won the bid. The first truck rolled off the Sealy assembly line in June 1993. In 1996, the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps became the first unit to be equipped with the FMTV.
This review is based on a pre-production kit and does not necessarily include all the items that will be found in the commercial production release, such as decals and painting instructions.
The kit consists of:
• 8 plastic sprues,
• a transparent sprue,
• the cabin,
• a PE fret,
• 5 vinyl tires.
The pre-release instructions encompass 16 pages, with 19 stages in total. The first two pages are dedicated to the instruction and content of the kit.
Each step is displayed as a black and white line drawing, simple to follow and not overly busy, which in my opinion should make a relatively easy build.
The build starts with the frame in steps 1 thru 3, followed by the suspension (step 4) and the overall transmission (step 5). The complete air line for the inflating system is done in step 6. The fuel line starts with the assembly of the fuel tank that requires 6 parts. The construction of the tires/wheels are accomplished using 6 pieces each. The winch, tires and fuel tank are attached to the mainframe in step 7.
Step 8 covers the assembly of the flat bed plus the rest of the air line. Steps 9 thru 13 concentrate on the flat bed and seats. Steps 14 to 17 are dedicated to the cabin exterior and interior. The final assembly is done at steps 18 and 19.
The Mainframe, Transmission and Suspension:
One of the most striking lack of details is there is no engine. Only the lower louver of the engine is depicted with very few details.
The mainframe is nicely reproduced with all the small bolts and the details are crisp. There are some ejection pins in the support of the mainframe, but appears to be hidden after construction.
The transmission is impressive and the universal joints do not have ejection pin marks.
The suspension is done perfectly, comprising the shock absorber and the highly detailed torsion bars (6 plastic parts each).
The Inflating System:
The M1078 is equipped with an inflating system to regulate the pressure inside each tire, therefore a complete air line is mounted on the vehicle with a compressor, air filter and air tank.
Trumpeter did a great job to represent this system. The air filter, in my opinion, seems to be under scale, but the 3 air tanks are adequately detailed.
The construction of each wheel requires 6 parts, the tubing of the inflating system are molded apart from the hub, resulting in an extraordinary level of detail. The tires come in vinyl with the not only the Michelin X logo but also includes “radial regroovable” and “395/85 R20 XML” in raised lettering approximately 1mm high. These are the most detailed modern scale tires I have ever seen. The tire pattern is depicted well, but there is a horrible seam line down the middle, I hope that Trumpeter will correct this before release.
It is interesting to notice that there are 6 hubs on the sprue, a possible release of M1083 6x6 family of trucks from Trumpeter ?
The Flat Bed:
The flat bed walls are molded in a way that you cannot open them, even the rear part G4. In my opinion, Trumpeter can easily correct this issue since the ladder to reach the flat bed is present, but nearly invisible when glued in place.
One other remark, the flat bed doesn’t come with canvas, maybe this can be added as an option?
One good point in this area is the level of detail on the seats which comes in two options: open or closed.
The Cabin Exterior:
The cabin is molded in one piece with the doors attached to it, and it will require precise surgery to open them, if so desired. Same comment applies to the roof. I hope that trumpeter will fix these important issues later, which would open many more display options. All the small lamps are represented in transparent plastic and with painting the result will be brilliant.
The Cabin Interior:
What’s to say? The interior is not really done well. The dashboard is simplified and the number and position of dials are incorrect (please check my photo at Eurosatory 2008). The inflating system control panel is present but totally inaccurate. The same could be said about the seats. The two rear boxes are pure imagination, since behind the driver there two compartments, and behind the passenger seat there are the radio racks (from the vehicle I have seen at Eurosatory 2008). The sunshield is missing, as well as all the details on the door interiors.
The basket for the spare tire is simplified, and is missing the strap on the sides along with the chains on the top.
Trumpeter did an outstanding job on dimensional accuracy and detailing on the overall vehicle. The frame and the tires are especially well detailed.
Unfortunately, the cabin and the flat bed do not give enough freedom for the modeler to include such a vehicle inside a diorama. It is unfortunate that the fine work done by Trumpeter in some areas, are over-shadowed by the lack of details of the cabin and the flat bed.
A Build Log
has been started on the Forums to further evaluate the kit construction.
I would like to acknowledge Trumpeter for sending me the pre-production review sample.