Well, after taking my time to describe the kit parts in as much detail on their own I’ll now try to shed some light on how the kit actually is building – something that is quite obviously missing in most kit reviews, filled with happy voices of how detailed and accurate those are.
As you will undoubtedly notice no kit part is present in the finished article un-altered. Truth is modifications to parts were not needed because I am such a great accuracy hunter, or because I was willing to display how much ignored the fit factor is these days. I had to alter the parts so they could actually FIT and the final article looks like a vehicle, and not a pile of parts thrown together.
So, let’s start with a pic. What you see below is the assembled major components painted a crude metalizer paint. That’s how I prefer to show the original is actually metal – no inks, pencil leads or other quirky finishing techniques.
I’ll start with the basic vehicle frame. As you’ve seen it’s a one-piece affair, with details (incl. muffler) molded on. And that’s cool. What’s not hot is that there’s no way of telling how the exhaust pipe should be sitting – it’s locating “pin” has absolutely no determined fit that sets the angle, at which said pipe incidents the muffler.
Suspension assembly appears to be easy at first look. Vague instructions could have you put axles reversed, so check your ref. pics and use the lower “hull” for dry fit whenever possible. The heavily molded parts had either axles sit inclined on both vehicles. Some serious grinding on the chassis and the springs (after they were cleaned up due to mismatched halves, of course) finally got the suspension to fit straight.
If you elected to fit the two shifters on the vehicle’s floor make sure you trim what protrudes on the bottom of the lower hull, or your chassis will not fit in the designed recesses. Also, you need to extend the chassis’ main beams about 1,5mm forward before you mount it, or it will not be reaching the armored “mask”, that protects the vehicle’s front. As you can see on various pics of M1114 the towing ears of the vehicle are located in the mask’s lower half, exactly where said two beams should meet the mask, but on the kit… No sir, they don’t.
When mounting this notorious armor up front I had to use some coarse sandpaper, because the back of the plate was anything but level. I also had to modify the front of the hood/bonnet so I can get it to sit straight.
The “back doors” on my vehicles were glued shut. The lower part (fitting between the tail lights) is much thinner then the rest of the kit, so take care to have it straight and aligned properly. The upper part (the one on the back that’s openable two ways) fits almost OK – be careful when cleaning up the sprue gates – the clear plastic is kind of brittle.
DML is so loved by today’s modelers because of the mass of additional detail it supplies – be it rubber tires, etched brass parts or whatever. On this kit the biggest etched part is an INTERNAL BULKHEAD, whose thickness you cannot observe when mounted in position – whether vehicles is posed all-opened-up or not. But that’s not the point. The point is that 1) the positioning of the part is WRONG and 2) the part itself is not properly done – important details are missing!
1) The bulkhead between the fighting compartment and the luggage area in the back on M1114s follows the angle of the wheel arches. This means it is NOT VERTICAL as represented by DML but inclined, and also covers the recess that contains the cooling unit over the left wheel arch.
2) At least TWO STRENGTHENING RIBS, made from L-shaped steel profile + a part of the cooling unit of the fighting compartment must be mounted on said bulkhead. I wonder who could have missed them as they are quite visible on interior shots of the M1114s.
I used a rectangular piece, cut out of an Alu beer can to simulate the bulkhead (see back circled area; the straight lines show the far end of the bulkhead) and glued on two “ribs” of the same material. The cooling vent were made from pieces of scrap plastic, originating from kit sprues.
Onto the marriage of upper and lower halves. The central columns are integral parts of the upper body. They end with locating pins that must fit into holes between the door cutouts in the floor of the lower body. Well guess what – on my example the holes were too far ahead, so the pins had to go (forward circled area).
Oh yes, almost forgot. You must close the large holes between the front wheel arches and fighting compartment to avoid the see-through effect that would occur otherwise. There are also no pedals, so you should improvse should you decide you want the on your vehicle.
Driver’s wheel… Instructions call for VERTICAL sit. This is WRONG. Also, the steering column is molded way too short. Combined with the small, flat seats, that are almost directly mounted to the floor on this kit the driver’s hands should no less than a meter long, and 2/3 of his height should come into the upper body (because OOB he sits so low he would be unable to see through the windows/windshield). Also, no “arms” are attached to the steering column, as opposed to the prototype.
Seats were modified: I glued pieces of plastic onto their sitting area and back and tried to give them at least some anatomical shape, as this is actually done on M1114s. Despite the obvious presence of a weapon station there isn’t any reference to the presence of the gunner’s footbase on the vehicle’s floor. I cut out the dragons on the sprues to represent it and used part of the etched fret’s frame to show its extendable supports.
The “table” on which the vehicle’s radio equipment is molded in such thicknesses it looks like add-on armor. Since the radios are actually two on the examples I’ve seen I used some laminated plastic sanded to shape to represent the second unit and added a couple of knobs to give it a tad more realistic feel (the molded detail is VERY soft). Same material was used to create an extra box, placed partially under the com table.
The air filter in front of the windshield – several different lengths are seen on various vehicles. I elected to have the lower edge of the cover to be level with the vehicle’s roof.
On weapon stations I tried to stick to OOB, but failed. For starters the shields are way too thick. Next, I cut out the Mk.19’s muzzle brake, rolled a new one from Alu sheet and glued it on to the barrel with superglue. The back support of the grenade launcher appears to not be in use on most weapon carriers, same applies for those odd-looking handles, mounted to the pintles. Ammo cans and their supports were done from available materials – laminated stirene (sprue “labels”), beer can. Make sure you check your references, because kit instructions fail to provide clear indications as to where the ammo should actually enter either guns.