Trumpeter 1/35 M1127 Stryker Reconnaissance Vehicle

KIT #

00395

PRICE:

$48 SRP

DECALS:

Three options

REVIEWER:

Blair Stewart

NOTES:

PE, vinyl tires, figures, stowage equipment

 

HISTORY

 

The Stryker is a family of U.S. Army eight-wheeled, 4+4-wheel-drive, armored combat vehicles produced by General Dynamics Land Systems. The vehicle is based on the Canadian LAV III light-armored vehicle, which in turn was based on the Swiss MOWAG Piranha III 8x8. The Stryker is the U.S. Army's first new armored vehicle since the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle was introduced in the 1980s. General Eric Shinseki championed The Stryker when he was Army Chief of Staff. The Army employs the vehicle in Stryker Brigade Combat Teams - light and mobile units based on the Brigade Combat Team Doctrine that relies on vehicles connected by military C4I networks.

 Pneumatic or hydraulic systems drive almost all of the vehicle's mechanical features. For example, a pneumatic system switches the vehicle’s drive between 8X4 and 8X8. The vehicle comes in several variants with a common engine, transmission, hydraulics, wheels, tires, differentials and transfer case. The M1130 Command Vehicle and M1133 Medical Evacuation Vehicle have an air conditioning unit mounted on the back. The medical vehicle also has a higher-capacity generator. A recent upgrade program provided a field retrofit kit to add air conditioning units to all variants, and production started in 2005 of the Mobile Gun System mounting an overhead GDLS 105 mm automatic gun. 

The Stryker uses a Caterpillar diesel engine common in U.S. Army medium-lift trucks, eliminating extensive retraining of maintenance crews and maximizing the use of common parts. Designers strove to ease the maintainer's job, equipping most cables, hoses, and mechanical systems with quick-disconnecting mechanisms. The engine and transmission can be removed and reinstalled in about two hours, allowing repairs to the turbocharger and many other components to be done outside the vehicle. Because of obsolescence concerns, the Caterpillar 3126 engine was recently replaced by a Caterpillar C7 engine. The C7 shares a common engine block with the 3126. 

Extensive computer support helps soldiers fight the enemy while reducing friendly fire incidents. Each vehicle can track friendly vehicles in the field as well as detected enemies. A day-night thermal imaging camera allows the vehicle commander to see what the driver sees. Soldiers can practice training with the vehicles from computer training modules inside the vehicle. The driver and the vehicle commander (who also serves as the gunner) have periscopes that allow them to see outside the vehicle without exposing themselves to outside dangers. The vehicle commander has almost a 360-degree field of vision; the driver, a little more than 90 degrees.

General Dynamics Land Systems is developing a new Power and Data Management Architecture to handle computer upgrades. 

The vehicle’s armor suite is thicker than the MOWAG design, which enables the Stryker to stop 14.5 mm armor-piercing machine-gun rounds and artillery fragments. 

The M1127 Reconnaissance Vehicle (RV) is used by RSTA Squadrons and battalion scouts, moving throughout the battlefield to gather and transmit real time intelligence/surveillance for situational awareness. The RV's purpose is to anticipate and avert threats, improving the brigade's decisiveness and freedom of maneuver. The RV accommodates a squad of six and one additional soldier, for a total vehicle capacity of seven personnel. The platform is a key enabler for both sensor and HUMINT-focused surveillance and intelligence operations. 

The reconnaissance troop is organized into a headquarters section, three recce platoons, and a mortar section. Each of the three recce platoons is organized with four Stryker reconnaissance vehicles, each mounting an M2 .50 cal machine gun or Mk 19 40mm grenade launcher and equipped with Javelins. Each vehicle carries a 2-man vehicle crew and a 4-man scout squad for dismounted reconnaissance (a 5-man squad if augmented by a linguist/interpreter). Each recce squad in the platoon has an assigned human intelligence collector. 

The first Stryker brigades were deployed to Iraq in October 2003. The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis was the first to field and deploy the Stryker vehicle to combat in Iraq. Strykers have been serving in Iraq continuously since 2003. In January 2009, the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, was deployed to Iraq. The 56th SBCT is the only National Guard unit in the U.S. Army currently fielding Strykers. 

The 5th Brigade 2nd Infantry Division was the first Stryker unit sent to Afghanistan, deployed in the summer of 2009 as part of an overall in-country troop level increase. The brigade's 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment has suffered the heaviest losses of any Stryker battalion to date. 

The Army recently announced that a protective design change is coming for the Stryker: the addition of a V-shape hull to the bottom of the 20-ton vehicle. The shape would help deflect blasts from the Stryker’s underbelly and is modeled on a similar design in the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, class of armored vehicles.

THE KIT

 This is my very FIRST Trumpeter kit, and I must offer my apologies to the folks at Trumpeter: this is a great model kit! Building on their M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) variant, Trumpeter has added 141 newly tooled parts on 6 sprues to reproduce the features for the M1127, including 50 cal. and  M240 7.62mm machine guns, smoke launchers and three crew figures. The kit consists of 440 plastic parts on 15 sprues, nicely detailed vinyl tires, and three sets of photo-etched detail parts. Features of the kit include a one-piece multi-slide molded lower hull, underside detailed suspension, central drive train with differentials and drive shafts, rear panel with separate ramp and crew entry doors, inside/outside latch handles, large jerry can racks, rubber tires and a new molded upper hull.

 Trumpeter also includes various pieces of stowed equipment like ALICE packs, tarps, and other equipment bags, and includes printed paper for assembling MRE boxes, Coca-Cola and Pepsi cartons, and water bottle cartons. In all, the kit includes just about everything one needs to model a battle-engaged vehicle. The only thing representative of the latest versions being used in Afghanistan that the kit does not include is the "Catchers' mask"-style deflectors known as slat armor, which detonate explosive rounds like RPGs at some distance from the hull. Aftermarket kits of these are available (and the one’s I have seen are quite complex to assemble) but are not yet included in the Trumpeter kits.

 All moldings are in light gray or clear plastic and are very detailed. I found virtually no flash on any of the kit’s plastic parts.

CONSTRUCTION

After studying the 20-page instruction booklet (I have finally learned to at least glance at the instructions of today’s kits before launching into them. Hey: it only took me about 55 years of modeling to figure this out!), I began assembling the lower hull and drive train. Steps 2-7 take you through all of the suspension system and steering mechanisms. I deferred on Step 7, which guides you through assembly of the wheels, to a later time in the construction process.

Steps 8-9 cover the assembly of the rear hull, including the personnel door. Here, I assembled the nicely done PE jerry can racks and attached them to the rear hull using super glue. Once I had assembled it, I glued the rear hull to the bottom hull.

Step 10 begins the assembly of the upper hull, and, again, one has the option of using some very nice PE parts to represent some of the upper hull items. In step 12, one has to assemble all of the smoke discharging units, all of which are attached to PE bases. While tedious, the finished product is well worth it. Step 14, which is the assembly of the side stowage bins, requires some finesse as several of the parts are quite small. Also, I found that Part J49 is mislabeled in the instructions: it is actually J29. Be sure and drill out the two holes in Step 16 to accommodate mounting of the front smoke dischargers.

Steps 18-20 involve more assembly of upper hull items such as the head light assemblies, driver’s hatch and the winch. Once these are finished, Step 21 guides you through attaching them to the upper hull. At this stage, I attached the two PE grill covers to the grills on the vehicle’s topside. Step 22 involves drilling another hole, so be careful again.

In Step 23, I assembled the clear plastic parts into the driver’s windshield assembly. Trumpeter includes nice masks for the clear parts so that this assembly can be glued to the vehicle and painted at the same time as the entire vehicle.  Once the upper hull was completed, I began gluing it to the lower hull. Here is where I ran into my one and only fit problem: I had a somewhat difficult time mating the two hulls together. After fiddling, using a combination of liquid, tube and super glues, clamping, and in general struggling with the fit of the two pieces, I finally realized that the permanent gap I ended up with along the sides would not be overtly visible to the casual observer, and decided to live with it. My only caution to others is to dry fit, dry fit, and then dry fit again when you get to this stage.

At this point I began to feel like the end was near; then, however, I turned the page in the instructions and discovered that the turret assembly and the two machineguns were mini-kits in themselves. Once assembled, the Ma Deuce is impressive and quite detailed. The optional PE shield really adds to its scale look. Steps 30-32 involve assembling the crew members and attaching and making the stowage “tapes” or straps that are used to mount personnel equipment to the vehicle. I then cut out the stowage set boxes and glued them together with tacky glue. This requires a little bit of skill as the paper is naturally thin and you are forming a 3D object from a planar material. I found it very useful to scribe each potential box fold with an Xacto knife to facilitate folding the box flaps into the final shape. . The last assembly step was to drill holes in the antenna mounts and super glue a length of steel guitar wire in each to represent radio antennas.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Once everything was assembled, I headed to my basement paint shop. Strykers are a dark green color (not OD), and the Trumpeter full color painting guide in the kit calls for FS34102, so I opted for Testors Model Master Medium Green 34102.  I painted the wheels separately and set them aside to dry.

After the exterior coat was dry, I applied what few decals there are for these vehicles by transferring them to a puddle of Future at each decal location on the model (I didn’t want to go through the hate, pain and grief of giving the entire model a coat of Future). I then painted the soft cover equipment items with various shades of green and dry brushed them to highlight their folds, etc. I painted the two crew figures with a combination of oils and Model Master enamels. I added a few equipment items (such as a water can and a cot) from a Tamiya Modern U.S. Equipment Set. I used Tacky Glue to secure all of these items to the vehicle. I then cut various lengths of the kit-supplied “tape” strips and wrapped them around various equipment items. I left some of them unrolled as this seems to be common when a vehicle is in combat or deployed.

Once I finished all the painting, I slipped the vinyl tires onto their wheels and glued the wheels to the lower suspension. I covered the wheels and lower hull with a thin wash of reddish brown acrylic paint and then used artist chalk dust to simulate road dust over most of the vehicle. 

The final step in painting the model was to brush paint the sledgehammer, shovel and axe on the vehicle’s rear and their wooden handles.

CONCLUSIONS

In a relatively short time, Trumpeter has become a serious competitor in the 1/35 scale vehicle modeling world. I enjoyed every step of this project, and can’t wait to build my next Trumpeter kit. I highly recommend Trumpeter’s Stryker kits to armor nuts and others.

REFERENCES


“Stryker,” Wikipedia, April 2010.
“M1127 Reconnaissance Vehicle,” Wikipedia, April 2010.
 
Scott Fontane, “Army’s Stryker Vehicles to Get Safer,” The News Tribune, April 2010.

Blair Stewart

May 2010

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