by: Eric Buchanan [ ]
Originally published on:
Under threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program was launched to stem the tide of deaths occurring in the US HMMWV fleet. The HMMWV was modified and up-armored to the point that it was suffering from maintenance failures at an unacceptable rate. MRAPs were designed under a wartime program that delivered thousands of vehicles to the US military at a rapid pace. These vehicles were rushed to Iraq and Afghanistan as fast as they could be built. They replaced the HMMWV in operational roles by 2010. This turret is an adaptation of the turret used on the M1167 HMMWV and was used on a couple of models of MRAPs. I have seen photos of them mounted on the MaxxPro and the RG-31. There are very few photos of these vehicles in action.
Legend Productionís MRAP TOW Turret set contains the complete turret and components of the system that attach to it to the Kinetic RG-31 with the included adapter and the Panda MaxxPro Dash DXM without an adapter. The kit was mastered by Peter Samofalov who is known for his past work with Live Resin and from his storefront on Shapeways. The kit is the result of a collaboration between Peter and Legend to produce a line of 3D mastered figures and conversions. The TOW ITAS sight and FCS are an evolution of those parts that Peter sells on Shapeways. He has recently expanded his offerings on Shapeways to include a TOW missile rack, TOW missile tubes, crates and empty launcher tubes.
This will be a full build review of the multimedia kit. The kit contains parts in resin, brass wire, and insulated wire. The kit comes packaged in Legendís typical end opening card stock box with the parts in small zipper bags. The black box has a photo on it of a rendering of the kit.
2 Brass Wires, 0.3mm and 0.5mm
1 Insulated Wire
The instructions are typical of Legend. There is a single sheet of glossy, A4 sized magazine like paper that is printed on both sides with photographs and renderings of the kit. There are three exploded views that show all of the parts required for each of the three sub-assemblies, the turret, the launcher and the secondary weapon. The rest of the instructions are a combination of photos of the parts and renderings with arrows to show which parts go where. There are part numbers on the instructions but there are no numbers on the parts or on the pour blocks. All parts identification must be done by comparing the parts to the exploded views. Parts placement isnít always clear so you will need to carefully study the instructions and actual photos of the real equipment. Legend also has a series of photos and renderings of the kit available on their site that show different rendered views of an assembled kit.
The turret kit comes with the complete turret, the missile launcher and sight, and a secondary weapon for self-defense. Even though this turret is similar in appearance to the one for the HMMWV, very few parts are the same. The M240 is also almost completely new with a new M240, mount and different accessories. The pour blocks on the parts are attached with numerous, large contact points that require very careful cleanup. There were a few very small air bubbles visible where the pour plugs were attached. The main sight, part #32, has very delicate rib detail. The pour block on this part is attached along a face that has these ribs. I have no idea how this can be cleaned up preserving the detail. Part #32 should have been broken down into more than one piece. Another thing to note is that many of the flat parts have ribs that extend from the pour block along a flat face. These ribs are difficult to remove in some cases because they run close to required detail. The ribs are added by Legend to lessen any chance of warping that may occur after the parts are removed from their molds. There is slight curvature to only two parts. Those parts are the two halves of the hatch. They required gentle heating with a blow dryer to flatten them. There are also numerous triangular ribs added to some parts to strengthen detail. Careful study of the real thing is the only way to guarantee you remove the correct material from the parts with them. The smaller parts have small attachment points which are easy to remove. There are large areas that need to be removed from the large openings of the turret hatch opening, turret ring and roof adapter. The main turret ring has a disc of resin over the opening that has no clear demarcation between the part and the disc. The disc attaches where the turret ring has fine toothed detail. It was impossible to tell how much material to remove and once removed the tooth detail is completely wiped out. There had to be a better way to add a disc to this part.
The detail on the turret and its accessories is truly amazing. It places this kit on par with the best on the market. The parts are smooth and blemish free. All detail is very sharp. Most details have a scale appearance. I say most, because I think the turret walls are far too thick. There are a few small details that are simplified. Most of these details are handled much like they would be on a plastic kit. I think that Legend could have added undercuts to some of this detail to improve its appearance. The turret can either be shown in a transport configuration, or in a firing configuration with the rear turret sides folded down. All of the detail is captured very well. Nothing is omitted.
As I stated above I think the turret walls are far too thick. Legend gives you the option of building the turret in the transport configuration with the walls all locked in their full upward positions, or in the firing configuration with the two rear segments folded flat. The real vehicle has warning stencils on these segments that warn of backblast if the shields arenít folded flat. Legend only gives you the launchers with missiles loaded which limits you to the firing configuration of the turret. This is unfortunate. I think they should have included an empty launch tube as well. The Fire Control System (FCS) mounts in the turret and is very well done. The real FCS is held down by straps which are not included. One very nice feature is that Legend included the motorized turret traversing unit.
All of the components of the TOW Improved Target Acquisition System are works of art. Every little detail seems to be captured very well with the exception of a fabric carrying handle on the sight seen on many photos. The rubber shade for the gunner must be seen. It is just amazing. Legend has even included the connectors for the ends of the cables as separate pieces. Careful study of photos of the real thing will again be required here. Legend has great pictures on its website that show a dismounted TOW Missile system wired up. The photos are great and will help with the wiring of the launcher and the FCS. On the other hand, there are no references that I could find to show the underside of the turret and how itís wired. This set comes with two launch tubes. One launch tube has a standard missile tube and the other includes a missile tube with an RF transmitter and an insulating blanket on the missileís motor. In my opinion Legend should have included an empty launcher tube. This would have made the kit far more versatile.
Secondary Weapon and Mount Detail:
The M240 and its H24-6 mount are almost perfect. The trigger guard on this M240 is molded well, unlike the M240 from the HMMWV turret which was solid. They capture the look of this type of mount with a T & E very well. The M240 in this set has a telescopic stock instead of a fixed one. There is also a myriad of accessories included for the M240 so study photos of the one you want to model carefully because it seems that Legend included parts for many different setups. The main sight even has two different front optics included.
Assembly is straightforward but poses a few challenges. The turret is well engineered but requires very careful attention during assembly to ensure proper alignment of the turret walls. Also you must use the right parts to show the turret walls in transport or firing configurations. For transport configuration use only part 22 (2 each). For firing configuration use parts 21 and 27 (2 of each). These parts are the latches that hold the back of the turret to the sides. The real turret is made of steel plates that are mostly welded along butt joints. The resin is so thick that there had to be some compromises made to make the turret buildable. The fixed turret walls all attach positively to large flat mounting areas. Two of the walls still carry the mounting tabs that are on the HMMWV turret which donít seem to serve any purpose here. They are a detail that doesnít exist on the real turret. They are located on the turret walls where straps and mount exist to hold an undetermined item to the turret walls. Iíve never seen any photos of the turret that show what stores here. The turret ring has a bevel on the underside that corresponds to a bevel on the inside of the adapter that is needed for it to mount to an RG-31. I do not have that model, so I canít comment on the fit. Some work will be required to adapt the turret to the roof of the Panda MaxxPro as well.
The launcher requires very careful study of photos of the real thing and the renderings on the instructions. My biggest gripe with the launcher is that the attach points between the parts are where Legend chose to attach the parts to the resin runners. Normally this wouldnít be much of a problem but Legend added numerous ribs to these attach points to make them stronger during mold removal. There is no way to determine on most of these parts exactly what the attach point should look like. On the eye shade you canít even determine there was ever any sort of peg to attach the part to the sight. On a positive note, some of the parts attach to a flat area which makes their location and mating very easy. It takes a bit of effort to push the launch tube assembly down into the traversing yoke. I would not add any small parts to the traversing assembly until after youíve installed the launch tube. They would be very easy to break off. Part 43 is a formed wire handle. Legend gives you a template on the instructions for forming the handle. Once assembled, the launcher and sight are beautiful to behold.
Secondary Weapon Assembly:
The M240 mounts to the outside turret wall on a H24-6 machine gun mount. The mount, and weapon are all perfectly molded and relatively easy to assemble, at least as easy to assemble as parts that are as small as grains of rice can be. There are no pitfalls here. The assembly does suffer from the same issues as some parts of the sight and launcher. Their mounting pins are impossible to salvage from the pour plug. The grab handle on the mount is to be added from wire. There is no template for this wire part. I think it could have been done in resin and been no more fiddly that the wire part. I broke this handle off numerous times during later assembly. I got frustrated and used the grab handle from a mount that I ordered from Peterís Shapeways store a couple of years ago. The swing arm and mount are exactly the same as those that come in the printed set. You can see this part in the final few photos because it is frosted clear resin rather than light gray.
MRAP TOW Turret set (LF3D009) is a solid offering from Legend. It has great detail and was moderately easy to build. I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to add an MRAP with a TOW missile turret to their collection.
Thank you to Legend Productions and Armorama for providing me with this review sample.