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Trumpeter HEMTT M983 tractor

RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR | MILITARY
FSMWB0716_Trumpeter_HEMTT_Patriot_box
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One of many special purpose HEMTTs (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck), the M983 tractor is used to tow components of the MIM-104 Patriot missile system.

Molded in light gray plastic with clear lights and windows, the kit includes a small photo-etched (PE) fret and eight vinyl tires.

The parts are detailed, but a lot of ejector-pin marks, excess sprue, mold seams, and a little flash need to be dealt with. The error-free instructions feature color callouts for details but are a little vague about where some parts are located. Looking ahead will clear up most concerns. A color sheet shows a vehicle in desert sand and one in three-color NATO camo.

Study the instructions and plan subassemblies to make painting easier; there are a lot of details that will be hard to paint later.

The frame builds from two large side rails with cross members sandwiched in between. However, the cab end seems to be missing a few of the cross members.

I assembled the four axles without difficulty. I wanted to pose the front wheels turned to one side, but the kit was not designed to have the wheels turned. So, I modified parts B38 and B39. I left the axles off for painting.

A lot of people prefer plastic to vinyl tires, but the eight in the kit are top-notch with good sidewall detail, including the manufacturer’s name and other data. A small mold seam on each tire all but disappears under weathering.

The kit provides optional lights — entirely clear or with gray bodies and clear lenses. I chose the latter.

The simplified engine looks fine through the frame.

Detail fills the cab, and much will be visible through the large windows. A lack of surface area on the seat frames makes for weak assemblies. I bolstered the joints with strips of styrene inside the frames.

After painting the interior parts, I applied the numerous decals. It was easier to punch out the gauges from the large dashboard decals than to fit it over and around the molded detail on the panel. A drop of gloss for the glass finished them off.

Use caution attaching the grille; put the two large openings toward the bottom to accommodate the frame. The two grab handles were broken in my kit; these delicate parts would be best replaced with brass rod.

The PE is soft and easily damaged. I had trouble keeping the grating for the rear platforms (parts PE-A9 and PE-A12) flat. No cable is provided for the winch, so I added nylon string.
 
Using Ammo of Mig Jimenez acrylics, I painted the vehicle desert sand to contrast with the NATO-camouflaged MM-104. The decals — there are a lot of them — applied easily but are a little thick. So the edges show, even under a clear coat.

Finally, I joined the subassemblies to finish the HEMTT. I spent 54 hours on the tractor and it looks great. At 10" long, it’s impressive by itself. Combine it with the Patriot trailers and it will dominate a shelf.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2016 issue.

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