20th century modern conflicts that ensued after the end of the Cold War, (such as the peace enforcement in Somalia, Bosnia, KFOR operations in Kosovo) dictated the need for more protection to military vehicles such as the HMMWV and their crews. The US Army had started adding armor to its HMMWV’s years before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The armament carrier and TOW missile carrier members of the HMMWV family had been technically armored when they were introduced, with supplemental armor added soon after. The armor level of these vehicles protected to some degree, but mostly from shrapnel and some small arms fire, while other variants in the family did not even have this level of armoring.
With the start of OIF in March 2003., the US forces did not employ the M1114 variant simply due to the fact it was not part of their standard equipment. As units transitioned to full spectrum operations, however, the greater mobility, speed, and lower maintenance needs of wheeled vehicles made them the favored vehicle for most units.
The Army categorized the level of armor protection for non-combat vehicles using a 3-tiered structure:
• Level I protection could only be achieved by vehicles manufactured with armor built into the original design of the vehicle.
• Level II protection was achieved by installing specially made, add-on armor plates and glass to vehicles that provided nearly the same level of protection as Level I vehicles (like the ASK armor kit).
• Level III protection (“Hillbilly armor”) was created out of need and sheer ingenuity employing various materials available locally, such as Hardox steel plates, sandbags, body armor strapped to the door etc., to fill the immediate need for protection.
M1114 HMMWVs fell under the Level I category. Factory-produced, they provide all-around protection, both with the glass and the armament on the front, rear, sides, top and bottom. The features of up-armored M1114 are 200 pound steel-plated doors, steel plating under the cab and several layers of bonded, ballistic-resistant glass to replace zip-up plastic windows which increased the weight of the M1114 to more than 2000 pounds of the original. In addition to increased armor protection, the up-armored Humvee’s feature more rugged suspension systems that needs to be able to handle the added weight and ballistic-resistant glass, high capacity brakes, lift points, reinforced frame, self-recovery winch and large capacity air conditioning unit that enable crews to operate with the windows up, even in hot-humid environments. The weapon mount, located on the roof of the vehicle, is adaptable to mount the M-240 machine gun, M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, or the Mk.19 40mm grenade launcher. The weapons platform can be traversed through 360o. Evolution of these basic features came with FRAG kits (Fragmentary Armor Kits) and variants of upgraded gunners stations, such as the Objective Gunner Protection Kit.
Even before I received the kit, I heard (from some of the people talking on various forums) that the kit box is oversized. It’s really that big. Due to the size there is a question of shipping price as this could be an interesting point if ordering from overseas. You expect a lot more content than there is in the box, probably something like a dual-kit part number, but this is not the case. The box art is very nice, in a Tamiya-esque
manner, but not breathtaking, signed by artist Su Lei. As this was my first encounter with a Bronco
kit I was really looking forward to taking a better look of the contents.
The instructions come as a 19-page full color booklet. There is a paint suggestion table given for Humbrol, Tamiya, Gunze Sangyo’s Mr.Hobby Color and Hobby Color line of colors and a tree-parts overview. The build itself is shown through 27 steps in exploded view with color call-outs for specific parts or areas.
There are 4 paint/decal options provided:
• 95th Military Police Battalion, attached during OIF to 16th Military Police Brigade
- overall NATO three tone camouflage with a sand colored rear hatch
• 95th Military Police Battalion, attached during OIF to 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), XVIII Airborne Corps
– overall sand
• 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, New York Army National Guard
– overall sand (this option is stated as the last one as well, and according to the reference material I saw, this is a mistake in the instructions)
• 924th Military Police Battalion, 977th Military Police Company, 'Raiders'
– overall sand
For anyone looking for some reference shots, all of these are described in Concord’s title “US Army HMMWV’s in Iraq”, (pages 28, 29, 32, and 34).
The decal sheet is very nice, providing all the necessary markings and a number of stencils. The smallest of the stencils are unreadable, but the sheet has some nice touches like the proximity warning signs, ”Mozn” markings for the bottled water (also provided on a clear sprue) and a map decal for the onboard computer. All of the decals are printed on what looks to be a very thin carrier (no mention of printing company) so this should ease the decals into conforming nicely and minimize silvering. I do have concerns about the background color of certain decals for the first option, such as the cover hatch, and battalion ID plates on the front and back. They appear on the instruction page to be sand colored, but the sheet itself has some peach hue to it. If this doesn’t rock your boat, one could try to find an aftermarket set of Echelon’s decals (#T35022) “Humvee’s in OIF & OEF” (to my knowledge, the only AM decal sheet with the necessary markings for the M1114).
In the zip-lock bag with the decals, a PE fret is provided as well. It’s a 52 part affair and provides meshes, hinges, a rear hatch warning plate, riveted strips etc., which should look the part when installed. This set is not for super-detailing, but it is a welcome sight in this kit, and I believe that most of the kit manufacturers should follow this way.
The kit is made over 10 main sprues; each individually packed to avoid breaking and scratching of the parts, marked by letters A – P. There are 7 tan colored sprues giving all the chassis, body and interior parts; 1 clear sprue with the necessary transparent window parts, signal lights and a water bottle; 1 PE fret; wheel parts (including 1 spare).
The lower body part is nicely packed with the wheels in a separate small box with M1114 and M1114 Frag 5 profile drawing. The thing about the wheels is this; I got accustomed to getting either rubber tires (prone to cracking and aging over time) or plastic halves (which always leaves a nasty seam to clean up). Bronco’s wheels are done in 3 pieces each. What you get is this – two separate sidewalls and a middle part with the pattern to hold it all together. Pretty neat as all you have to think about is getting a nice fit and some easy edge cleanup. Speaking of wheels, the details on these are pretty good. The outer sidewall has nice writing detail – unfortunately either due to the lack of license/copyright or just molding errors, the “Goodyear Wrangler MT” now reads “Goodyeap Wpangler MT
”. This is an obvious error if you know what are you looking for, but the writing is so minute, that with paint and weathering it should be next to invisible. There is one more inaccuracy present on the wheels of the kit; the aggressive pattern of HMMWV’s tires is misshaped and wrongly sized. The outer treads are supposed to be longer then the inside ones, but that is not the case with the kit, and the shape is “almost there, but not there yet”. Anyway for someone looking for more accuracy, there are a number of AM sets that can make these parts look better. With some nice paintwork and weathering the kit wheels will do just fine, but accurate they are not.
Sprue A includes the chassis frame, suspension, transmission, spare tire mount, steering, fuel tank, exhaust and rear bumper parts. Everything is crisply detailed with no pin marks on the visible side of parts. The few things to notice are a couple of sink holes on each side of the chassis frame next to the rear axle. This will go out with some puttying, and one can also remove the lengthy seam lines present here while sanding the rest.
Sprue B (2X) comes divided in 2 parts; B
. The B
part holds small pieces such as towing hooks and clips, antenna mounts, as well as suspension springs, tire sidewalls and seats.
part holds some accessories – water and fuel cans and ammo boxes. Again, no pin marks are present on the visible side of the parts, but there are some large pouring stubs on the back side which will need taking care of prior of assembly. The seats look a bit undersized, and come with seating imprints perhaps in aiding the positioning of figures. These are, however, very pronounced and could be replaced with some AM sets. Fuel canisters also have some very nice raised lettering on them and will look nice once painted and weathered.
The springs are nicely molded, but for added realism, one should look for the option of scratch building these as it’s not a very hard thing to do and will certainly add to realism. If not, the kit parts are ok for a more casual build. One nice point on this sprue is a part with small bolts that you can cut off and use in your build, as indicated in the instructions. There are enough of them so most of us ham-fisted people can build without fearing the carpet monster.
Sprue C also comes divided in 2 parts; C
. The C
part holds the doors, turret assembly and side armor for the vehicle body. The latter features very nice rivet/bolt and door hinges detail but also includes a lot of pin marks on the interior side. They are a combination of raised and depressed pin marks, but are shallow enough so cleanup should be no problem. The turret assembly also looks somewhat smaller, and compared to the Legend’s GPK turret this stands out clearly. It’ just a feeling, but since I don’t have access to some real life example to go to with a measuring tape this could be more accurate than the AM part. The doors have nice details both inside as well as outside, with no molding errors once assembled.
part includes parts for the turret ring (with nice detailing for the interior), radiator and belt assembly, AC system, and engine parts. Some of these parts are full of pin marks, but if you choose to keep the bonnet down this should pose no problems. This is especially noteworthy for the radiator assembly as the entire housing is dominated by two very large pin marks, but when painted (black) and fully assembled with the radiator fan and belt system, covered up, it is next to invisible. All of the vent covers are nicely done, see-through and with no flash present. One thing I don’t like is the engine parts over the radiator assembly. Although it’s nice that Bronco included it, it looks more like overcooked spaghetti than proper engine wiring. If you do not like this, there is a CMK resin update set that could possibly be adapted to fit the kit parts.
Sprue D gives you more body parts like the rear hatch cover, tail gate, rear firewall, roof (armor?) padding, radiator grille/mask, bonnet grilles, as well as some interior parts like the steering column and wheel, dashboard, gunners mount, body stiffener rods, and the front windshield assembly. The hatch cover is nicely detailed inside out, and comes with a nice rendering of tie-downs. They are very minute and look nice, although for added realism, one could exchange them with PE counterparts.
One thing to note is the air conditioning inlet on the firewall. It’s really small, and comparing it to some reference pictures you can really tell the difference. One good place to find a replacement set is Legend’s M1114 detailing set that addresses this issue as well as some other that will be described a bit later. The tail gate is also detailed inside out, but the molded cargo straps could also be replaced with some PE to give them a 3D effect. The bad thing on this sprue is the front windshield; the exterior looks ok, but the interior has 10 pin marks, both protruding as well as recessed, that will make harder to cleanup. The rest of the parts are nicely molded with no errors.
Sprue E is broken into 5 separate pieces E-Ea-Eb-Ec-Ed. E
’s got everything one needs to build a M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun and the according weapon mount. Due to the slide molding technology, the cooling jacket on the M2 is a separate part with pre-drilled vents and with appropriate thickness. The barrel is also drilled, and the entire assembly has nice detail overall. If not satisfied with the plastic parts, there are a number of aftermarket M2’s available out there.
is the Mk.19 sprue that comes with a drilled out barrel, detailed ammo cartridge as well as ammo box.
is the smoke discharger assembly. It’s sharply detailed, but has some pin marks and pouring stubs on the mounting brackets.
is the biggest hiccup of them all. This sprue contains the heart of the FBCB2 - Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below; communications platform that provides situational awareness to the commanders and tracking capabilities of friendly and hostile forces. What Bronco gives you is this:
• PLGR - Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver, hand-held, single-frequency GPS receiver
• DAGR - Defense Advanced GPS Receiver, hand-held, dual-frequency GPS receiver (replacement for PLGR)
• SINCGARS ICOM dual system radios
• single earphone piece
• 2 boxes for the intercom system
• Digital command and control system monitor
Here’s the bad part: the entire radio rack is wrong. It is ok for the older SINCGARS setup, but not for the modern FBCB2 Bronco envisioned, however one can model an early FBCB2 setup with provided kit parts. The crucial parts missing are the CPU (a prominent boxy part) and keyboard normally used. If you’re looking to upgrade these parts, there is the DToys resin kit to the rescue. Also the BFT antenna is missing, but this is also addressed in the Legend detailing set. This part is something that needs a lot of references. Please be aware of the time period you’re modeling this one, find good reference pics since there are many different layouts in setting the FBCB2 up, with many depending factors of who, how and why was it installed.
has parts with accessories; a couple of M4 carbines, one with a M203 grenade launcher and the other with a forward grip. They are nicely detailed, although I would like to see more options like different optics, and modern rail systems, but these are nice. Caution is needed when separating the thin barrels from the pouring stubs. Also included here are an AT-4 launcher, CIP recognition panels, and ammo/weapon floor brackets.
Sprue F is the only clear sprue in the box. It gives you all the windows, headlights, turn lights, and a water bottle. All of the transparencies are clear, without blemishes and are thin enough to avoid any distortion while looking through them.
Sprue G is simply 2 parts; the roof and the bonnet. The bonnet is highly detailed; with complete inner ribbing if you decide to leave this part open. It’s a first in all the HMMWV kits out there and a welcome touch by the manufacturer. It also has tow hooks backing plates on the exterior, so no need for PE parts here. The roof part is a nice part of kit engineering. On first sight it is ruined with dozen of pin marks, but then you figure out that there are parts for padding, and once you assemble everything, almost all of them will not be seen at all. Also the vent covers for the AC system is a nice combination of PE meshes, and slide molded grilles which once completed should look the part.
Sprue H is basically not a sprue but a single piece of the lower body. It’s nicely detailed all over, with some pin marks present on the bottom, but with the adding of the chassis frame and everything else attached to it, it shouldn’t be a concern.
This kit is a very welcome sight to many modern vehicle modelers. Before, Tamiya’s kit was the standard in kit engineering, details and fit. But if you wanted an updated HMMWV kit, there was only the option of expensive resin conversion sets (either MIG Production or Legend more recently) that usually leaves you with a lot of work in hacking up your kit. Resin conversion sets are usually not welcome for those with heart issues, lack of will power, or people who don’t want to shell out a few hundred $ for AM sets.
Bronco is the first one to come up with an updated M1114 kit all in plastic. It comes with some lows that can be fixed with the existing AM resin parts or some scratch-building. This is a modern, mixed media kit, with plenty of details and gives you a kind of “oh-look-they-included-this-too” feeling when you start looking in the box. The price tag is not small, but it’s a better base to start building a M1114 kit for anyone that can recognize themselves in this text. For anyone wanting to detail this thing even more, scratch-building and resin/PE is the norm either way.
This kit is not ground breaking but is a good upgrade on the top of the benchmark list for HMMWV kits. I can’t wait to give this one a go.
A Build Blog
has been started in the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.