Meng 1/35 D9R 'Doobie' Bulldozer
|NOTES:||Includes photo etched parts|
The D9R is the latest in a long line of armored bulldozers that are in service with the Israeli Army. It is powered by a 474 gross horsepower engine, with a pull weight of 71.5 tons. The first D9 series was produced by Caterpillar in 1954. These bulldozers quickly became popular with many construction firms around the world due to their reliability, availability and power, including those in Israel. The Israeli army, lacking many construction/engineering vehicles back then, quickly appropriated them for use in the Sinai War and since. They were used to breech obstacles, build fortified positions and clear debris. During “Operation Peace for Galilee”, D9 bulldozers operated in the frontline, breeching obstacles, clearing landmines and paving roads. Israeli troops quickly found out that the unarmored variants suffered heavy casualties from snipers, roadside bombs and the like. A program went underway to armor the bulldozers to protect the crew.
The Israeli Military Industry and Israeli Aerospace Industry were contracted to develop armor protection for the bulldozers, including the D9R. At first, these only protected the crew cabin but eventually also included major important areas such as hydraulic systems and engine compartment etc as well. When the D9R entered service in 2000, a series of new armor were developed and added. In total, some 15 tons of armor were included, bringing the weight of the vehicle to 65 tons loaded. Since 2000, the only major threat left to these behemoths are shape charged anti-armor/tank rockets/missiles. To deal with this threat, especially RPG’s, the most numerous anti-tank weapon in the hands of Palestinian terrorists, the Israeli Aerospace Industry developed a series of “slate” (fence) anti-RPG armor for the bulldozers called Sulamot, which won the IDF Ground Command Award.
These changes and additions proved to be extremely effective and devastating. During the many ensuing conflicts, the bulldozers soon found themselves busy, many drove right into the frontline, under heavy fire to either recover disabled vehicles (including MBT’s) or outright drive right on through houses occupied by Palestinian Hamas or Hezbollah fighters. This tactic, known as “Nohal Sir Lachatz” or “pressure cooker procedure” was developed in response to Hamas or Hezbollah fighters hiding inside houses taking pot shots against Israeli troopers. One such incident caused 13 casualties. In response, the Israeli called two or three armored bulldozers and send them charging at the threat house all at once. The Palestinian fighters soon found out once these monsters get a full head of steam with those nasty dozer blades raised, very few weapons in the world, especially those that are man portable, can stop these things. Faced with only two choices, either get buried alive or the second one, many chose the second one, surrender! It was during one of these operations that killed Palestinian terrorist Mahmoud Tawlbe, who was caught trying to plant a bomb on a passing Israeli amour and one of the alert D9 pushed a wall on top of him. Crushing him instantly. However, this tactic, and peace time use of the same thing, demolition of houses, sometime by rushing armored bulldozers to crush and destroy the condemned houses can sometimes prove controversial, as when one D9 crushed American activist Rachel Corrie to death when she was trying to defend the house of her friend.
These bulldozers soon found themselves doing another dirty, perhaps even more dangerous job, that of disarming or getting rid of roadside bombs or IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices). They soon proved to extremely good at it. Their armor make them almost impervious to explosions, with at least one surviving a half ton of explosives. For even more dangerous work, IDF now have remotely controlled armored bulldozers (D9N) called Raam HaShachar (Thunder of Dawn). In fact, these bulldozers are so effective the U.S. Marines bought several armor kit sets for their own D9’s and used them in Iraq.
Despite its combat nature, these armored giants also sometimes find themselves serving in peace time, such as the Mt. Carmel fires in which several drove directly into the heart of the fire, under armor protection to push dirt on the fire or create fire break lines.
Always controversial but extremely deadly and effective, the D9R will remain in service for years to come. Ironically, the IDF engineers have a rather funny name for this monster, “Doobi”, which in Hebrew means “teddy bear”…..Some teddy bear huh? The D9R armored bulldozers can weigh as much as 70 tons fully loaded (with both the regular armor and the slate armor). It has a crew of two, a driver/operator and a commander.
The fact of the matter is, I wanted to get this kit when it first came out last year. The least of which is it’s a rather esoteric subject and would look good on my M-1070/M-1000 HET transporter (whenever I can get around to that. But that’s another story). However, things went awry when I got my Trumpeter 1/200 scale USS Missouri instead.
Ok, warp time to now. With the Missouri project slowly turning into Project “USS MISERY!!!” (I kid you not), mainly due to the fact my parents bought me the Pontos upgrade set, turning a 2 year project into 4, I reached burned out stage and needed something new to keep my interest going. Hence this monster of a “teddy bear”.
The box is pretty big. Not as big as my 1/200 Missouri box, but then again, what can? (That box can be used as a coffin I swear!) Opening it one is greeted with 24 sprues packed tightly inside. These include 5 black ones (Tracks) with the rest in the in vogue sand coloring for armor models these days and two clear ones. Now the two clear sprues are duplicates, one is completely clear, the other in a slight sky blue tint to represent the coloring of the thick armor glass that is present on this vehicle. Nice touch! The package is finished with 4 polycaps for the drive sprockets and blade holders, a small photo-etch fret and a long vinyl string for the exposed hydraulic lines.
Detail definition is definitely top notch, worthy or even beating the best from Dragon or Tamiya. If you are trying to find a one piece chassis, you won’t find it here. In fact, the whole entire vehicle is broken into several modular pieces so the modeler can assemble them in subassemblies and then bring them all together in the final stages. These include the lower chassis, the big huge ripper on the vehicle’s back. This ripper is extremely detailed and take no less than 4 steps. Use cement sparingly on the correct places and it should move.
Then we get into the cabin and the armor carapace that surrounds it. This is called the “cockpit”. The cockpit contains two well-appointed seats, with controls etc. before moving to the various armor that surrounds it. This is where things gets a little complex as these armor pieces are many and thick, with details inside and out. Again, modeler can select either the clear or the slight sky bluish clear pieces for the armored glass. Be careful around the commander’s door and roof hatch and also the driver/operator window as these are designed to move when finished. It’s at this stage that the nice FN MAG machine gun is build. However, it should be noted that not all bulldozers are armed with this weapon since its best offense is simply raise that over 7 foot tall dozer blade and then run or crush everything over! Check your references! Strangely, the slate/fence armor is not included as many Israeli vehicles carry them. This is shown in the instruction book’s introduction article so it’s kind of weird that it is not included. However, this is a minor quibble since at least one aftermarket company, Voyager already offers it if the modeler really wants it.
The running gears and tracks are next. The running gear is a simple affair compared to what went on previously. The tracks are in three pieces and will require concentration to assemble since if you want them to work when finished, you have to be really careful and judicious with the cement and there just not a lot of space for those cement to go on! There is also an ejector pin mark on the underside of every track shoe, one of the slight disappointment of the kit though it should be noted once assembled, it can be hardly seen.
After some details on the chassis, we finally come to the business end and the reason for this vehicle being, the large dozer blade. Even in this scale, it’s large and impressive, fully almost 8 feet tall in real life. Several pieces goes into its construction, including various hydraulic cylinders and armor pieces and two headlamps on those cylinders. Becareful with the instructions here since there are two versions of these cylinders and both the USMC (use only one version) and the Israelis use both of them. After finishing this massive piece, it is attached to the vehicle itself to finally complete it. Three vehicle markings are included, including an USMC version serving in Iraq circa 2004 and two Israel versions.
This is one heck of kit that should entertain you for quite some time. The painting and especially weathering option should be endless. The vehicle itself is quite large, being almost 2 stories tall in real life and has a mean all business like look, what with a huge almost 8 foot tall dozer blade in the front and a massive ripper in the back. Highly recommended. Buy it, drool over it, build it, paint it and then admire it!
Kit courtesy of once again, my own hard hit pocket books.
NOTE: It should be noted that this kit is made in conjunction with Desert Eagle publishing, which publish a great D9R book should you need some reference on this awesome vehicle.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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