by: Rob Harvey [ ]
Originally published on:
Intended as a follow on to the ‘add-on armor’ program, begun in 2004, Fragmentary Armor Kits, or FRAG kits, began to be fielded from around 2006/2007. The vulnerability of U.S. wheeled vehicles to IED and RPG attacks had long been a problem during Iraq’s insurgency. Modular FRAG kits provide protection for various areas of the vehicle in order to increase crew survivability.
FRAG kits are at the time of writing broken down into seven different types, and kits of the same number do differ between vehicle types, there are for example several different types of FRAG doors for various soft skin vehicles.
The seven kits are as follows:
FRAG 1- IED overlay. On HMMWV vehicles this kit provides supplemental armor. For the A, B, C pillars and door frame.
FRAG 2- Armor protection for wheel wells
FRAG 3- Fuel tank protection
FRAG 4- Floor protection
FRAG 5- Armored door kit. This kit differs between generation 1 and generation 2 (M1151, 52 etc) Humvee’s. The M1114 FRAG 5 features 600 pound
armored doors with external window and latch hardware, D-rings to enable the removal of blast damaged doors and armored rocker panels.
FRAG 6- Supplemental protection for FRAG 1 and 2 areas as well as new armored doors. Intended to provide protection against Explosively Formed
FRAG 7- Designed primarily for M1151 vehicles, this kit provides overhead armor protection. Also includes additional front windscreen emergency
egress capabilities, increased fire suppression capabilities and new armor suspension kit. FRAG 7 also sees the introduction of a new Load Range ‘E’ tire and wheel assemblies for increased reliability and durability.
In addition to FRAG kits a number of other innovations have been fielded to increase the survivability for crews but also allow them to continue to carry out their mission. One such innovation is the ARDEC (Armament Research Development and Engineering Center) at Picatinny Arsenal, OGPK turret. Fielded from 2007 the Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) is an integrated armor and ballistic glass turret mounted to the turret rung of tactical and armored vehicles. The OGPK gives full 360-degree protection for the gunner whilst enabling full visibility of their surroundings.
Voyagers kit, consisting of both photo-etch, resin and turned metal parts provides replacement and detail parts for the M1114 FRAG 5 Humvee. The kits contents are as follows:
• Photo-etch sheets of varying thickness x8
• Resin parts x13
• Turned metal parts x33
• Metal accessory part x1
• Clear film x1
• Steel wire x1
• Plastic rod x1
• 1.0mm thickness clear plastic sheet x1
• Instruction sheets x4
Although the box states this set can be used with both Bronco kits 35080 and 35092, it can in fact only be used with the later kit (M1114 up-armored HA tactical vehicle). Only this kit includes the armored rocker panels necessary to depict a FRAG 5 equipped vehicle.
Because of the high parts count of the set I shall break the review down into several sections examining then main parts. The contents will cover the following:
-FRAG 5 doors
-LVOSS smoke launchers
-Generic interior and exterior details and replacement parts
Despite the box top photo the following items are NOT included:
-MK19 grenade launcher
-DUKE IED jamming device
-Aggressive pattern Humvee tires
FRAG 5 Doors
Made up of no less than 20 parts the M1114 specific FRAG 5 doors are certainly very impressive. The main door is a resin item, onto which photo-etch window framework and latch mechanism coverings are fitted. The resin doors in my sample review where slightly warped which may cause some construction issues, a bit of hot water should straighten them though. The photo-etch framework isn’t particularly complicated, but there are a number of intricate folds that would only really be achieved with the use of a photo-etch bending tool. For the D-ring the modeler is given the choice of using folded photo-etch or making their own from plastic rod. Frankly the folded etch option won’t look satisfactory so these will unfortunately have to be scratch built using the etch as a template. One of my main concerns with the doors is actually the windows. Voyager provides a sheet of clear Perspex for these, but I can see if being quite difficult to cut, especially given the small size of the windows. One may wish to consider using the Bronco kit plastic windows.
The LVOSS (Light Vehicle Obscuration Smoke System) launchers are individually made up of around 15 photo-etch, resin and turned metal parts, consisting of; the M7 discharger, mounts, grenade rounds and wiring conduit covers. The turned metal grenade rounds slip comfortably in the hollow launch tubes, which allows for the possibility of leaving some tubes empty. The rounds themselves probably depict L96A7 CS anti riot grenades, M98 non-lethal distraction grenades (green colored round) or M99 blunt trauma grenades (green colored round).
The detail of the smoke launchers is exceptional and a vast improvement over the Bronco parts in terms of finesse and scale thickness. Construction should be fairly simple, with some etch parts requiring bending which could be achieved using tweezers. One will however need to consult reference material and add the electrical wiring, which is a fairly obvious omission.
The turret is made up of three basic sub-assemblies-the turret ring, armored turret sides and front gun shield. A large number of photo-etch make up the assemblies with many complicated folds required, which again could only be realistically achieved with a photo-etch folding tool. The actual turret ring is made up of photo-etch disks (complete with traversing teeth) sandwiched together to give correct scale thickness. Correct alignment is fundamental and will require some careful gluing. The side profile revealing the sandwiched layers will require filling with putty and smoothing over. This process could prove difficult and I feel the turret ring would have been better provided as a single resin item.
Many of the smaller photo-etch parts do provide significant refinement over the kit parts and provide many fine details, such as the gunner M4 carbine stowage clamp, a resin turret traverse control stick and excellent scale thickness armored side walls.
Once again I do have reservations about the windows, which as with the doors must be cut from Perspex sheet. Cutting to the correct dimensions will be crucial and a decent fine modeling saw will be essential. The turret ring sadly also lacks any detail on the underside, visible from the crew compartment. Maybe most of the detail isn’t a major problem, although the manual turret traverse handle and electrical box might be necessary (taken from the Bronco kit). One will also need to add the electrical wiring feeding through the inside of the rear turret wall to the battery box.
The turret is absolutely not for the faint hearted, the modeler will require decent tools and etch bending equipment to achieve any reasonable results, and significant experience working with photo-etch will definitely be needed. That said it would certainly look impressive once finished and adds significant refinement and detail over the kits plastic turret.
Additional Interior and Exterior Details
In addition to the larger assemblies described above, the set also includes many smaller detail and replacement parts generic to the M1114 (and other variants for that matter). As with the larger assemblies a decent photo-etch bending tool and some find tweezers will be a must when working with these pieces, perhaps even more so as many of the additional interior and exterior details are very small and fiddly assemblies.
The detail on all of the parts is generally good and Voyager have provided the items which are best suited in photo-etch, for example the gunners platform which as an etch item looks far superior to the clunky plastic parts. Some items such as the air-conditioning intake vent grills and mud flap are provided despite their inclusion in the Bronco kit as perfectly adequate photo etch parts. I’d prefer Voyager left these out and provided the modeler with items not already adequately covered, in their place the newer SINCGARS/Blue Force Tracker equipment mount would have been better.
Starting with the interior detailing, Voyager provides new mounts for the crew seats, seat belts and other details for the seats. The front belts are not really accurate and would be better replaced for anyone concerned with being 100% accurate.
Thankfully the M1114 manuals are readily available online for anyone such as me who’s fanatical about these things. New pedals and dashboard details are provided as well along with an exquisite gunner’s platform. The kit radio shelf is replaced entirely with very fine photo etch parts. Although I do wonder whether the FRAG 5 Humvee’s wouldn’t be equipped entirely with the newer Blue Force Tracker and SINCGARS mount which differs significantly from the radio shelf depicted here.
Voyager also provides a photo-etch rectangular box to sit behind the gunner’s platform. This is a ‘rear blower assembly’, basically part of the air-con system but is not fitted to M1114 family vehicles so should be left off. In its place should be a rack for three 40mm ammo cans, this can be sourced from the Bronco kit or indeed this set if one doesn’t fit them in the cargo compartment. The racks for the ammo cans and fuel can stowage in the rear cargo compartment are all replaced with photo-etch parts, these are incredibly fiddly so great care will be needed when assembling them. These parts do however offer significant finesse over the kit parts and feature many tiny details such as the tie down ratchet straps.
Moving onto the exterior detailing, a whole new rear tailgate is provided in resin complete with photo-etch detailing such as the tow bar straps, fine retaining chains and even smaller working hinges (kudos to anyone who can actually construct them and make them work). The ‘AM General’ logo on the tailgate will have to be removed, as the M1114 doesn’t feature this.
A significant omission from the Bronco kit is the Blue Force Tracker antenna, Voyager come to the rescue with a nicely detailed resin part. The photo-etch plate onto which it is mounted does look too short compared to all of the references I have seen. The wiring running to the antenna through the roof will also need to be added.
Other exterior details include tiny photo-etch wipers, some incredibly intricate and detailed bonnet retaining clamps, radio antenna mount and a much better detailed metal antenna (just add aerial). There’s also a new winch front plate, which is fitted below the radiator and headlight housing, and should offer a better scale thickness to the plastic part. New front intake grills and rear air-conditioning intake grills are provided as well, which are a little finer than Bronco’s etch parts. Finally Voyager has provided new mud flaps, spare wheel mount base, rear wheel arch armor plates and a front hood CIP panel. There’s some photo-etch wing mirrors provided as well, frankly though these offer nothing over the kit parts combined with some reflective foil. Finally there are a few smaller pieces of etch to cover some of the more minor details which aren’t really worth mentioning in this review.
As the review has mentioned throughout, this photo-etch detail set is not really for those with limited experience working with etch. The intricacy of many of the parts and numerous, often awkward, folds required of the etch assemblies mean the modeler will need to have a range of dedicated tools at their disposal, decent lighting, a clear working environment and a lot of patience.
I do feel as well that for many of the assemblies it will be necessary to have specialized glues to achieve any decent results, perhaps even a fine soldering iron. Using basic modeling super glue will probably not be adequate for many of the pieces. Furthermore I would suggest a fine needle attachment on ones glue tube for sticking the smaller pieces of etch together. The modeler will also require a sharp, fine, saw for cutting the Perspex for the armored windows.
Despite these comments though I do feel this is an excellent detail set. The combination of resin and extensive photo-etch parts provided offer a high level of detail and refinement over the plastic kit parts. Assemblies such as the OGPK turret have a much more realistic scale thickness in etch than plastic and its equally pleasing to see Voyager provide different thicknesses of etch sheet to account for this. As far as I can tell the accuracy of this detail set is largely spot-on, there are a few omissions such as the LVOSS wiring. There has been talk online regarding the different size of the Voyager OGPK compared to the Bronco kit part, unfortunately without scale plans to hand I cannot comment on this.
Voyager has duplicated some parts in this set with what’s already adequately provided for in the Bronco kit, which is a little pointless, but on the whole this set addresses the necessary improvements required of the Bronco kit.
When one considers the amount of photo-etch, resin and turned metal parts provided and the retail price (on Lucky Model anyway) of £17.53 GBP or $28.99, then I think the set offers excellent value for money and is highly recommended for skilled and experienced modelers.