Panda Hobby 1/35 HMEE-1

KIT #: PH 35041
PRICE: ~$65.00
DECALS: One options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The High Mobility Engineer Excavator Type I (HMEE-I) is a nondevelopmental military vehicle fielded to the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) and other selected engineering units. Tasks performed by the HMEE-I and III include repair and improvement of roads, trails, bridges and airfields.

The high mobility of the HMEE-I provides earth-moving machines capable of maintaining pace with the Army’s current combat systems. All HMEE-I will be capable of accepting armor in the form of an armor cab (Crew Protection Kit), are C-130 transportable without armor, and diesel driven. HMEE-I replaces Small Emplacement Excavators in BCT and HMEE-I in Stryker BCT. The HMEE-I is employed in Infantry BCT, Armored BCT, Stryker BCT, Multi-Role Bridge Companies and Engineering Support Companies.

The HMEE-III Backhoe Loader is a Commercial Off-The-Shelf backhoe loader with military modifications to include an armored cab designed for units that are relatively stationary and do not require speed and rapid deployability. The HMEE-III is used by Combat Support Brigades in general construction tasks. It is employed by Horizontal and Vertical Construction Units, and other nonengineering units such as Military Police and Quartermaster Units.

800 of these were purchased at a total cost of 230 million dollars. They are manufactured by the JCB corporation.


So basically what we have here is a backhoe on steroids. The instructions start you off by building up the four cylinder diesel and its armored housing. This is fit onto the chassis side frames along with the usual cross braces and suspension members. It is four wheel drive so there are a pair of differential and axle assemblies the fit to the underside of this. Much of the lower chassis is covered with armored plate. The next several steps include adding the engine cover as the rather large variety of add-on  boxes, cylinders and steps, followed by the wheels.

This is followed by building up the covered cab and attaching that in place. The kit is designed to have operable front and back excavators so there are a considerable number of parts involved in allowing this to happen. First the frame work for each end is assembled. After this the side braces as you see on every backhoe are built up. Then the bucket in the back and the front loader sections are assembled and attached. The final assembly steps attach the various ancillery bits like mirrors, exhaust, armored roof plate, and air conditioning unit along with it various piping.

It all makes for a fairly complex, yet straight-forward build. There is the usual photo etch sheet for things like muffler screens, grilles and smaller attachment hangers. A nicely done decal sheet is also included. The kit does not provide a dedicated painting and markings guide. I have to assume they are all in desert tan. To figure out where the decals fit, you'll have to use the box art and the drawings on the side of the box to determine the marking's placement. To me, this is the one area Panda Hobby really needs to improve things.


All in all it is a very neat kit. If you are tired of Shermans, Germans, and MBTs in general, this would make for a great break from the norm. It is something all army units have and something that is used in all current theaters of war in which the US is involved.


September 2019

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Thanks to Panda Hobby for the preview kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.

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