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Trumpeter M915 tractor and M872 trailer

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale plastic model truck kit
RELATED TOPICS: VEHICLE | MILITARY
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The M915 tractor was based on the Crain Carrier Company’s Centaur series of trucks and built under license for the military by American General. Powered by a 440-horsepower, 855-cubic-inch Cummings diesel engine, the 6 x 4 tractor can pull heavy loads on improved roads.

Trumpeter’s new M915 includes an M872 flatbed trailer with a 40-foot container. Molded in light gray plastic, the kit features good detail and excellent fit. The curbside kit lacks an engine; only the lower part of the motor and transmission are visible underneath.

The cab is molded in one piece. Clear plastic provides all of the windows and lights; the 24 tires are molded in a hard vinyl. Photo-etch (PE) is provided for radiator grille, steps, grates, and exhaust shield.

The large instruction booklet features clear steps and relatively uncluttered diagrams. Unfortunately, it does not include color callouts for the cab interior or other details. The only painting information provided is the full-color painting and marking diagram. Decals provide markings for just one vehicle.

I’m always concerned about getting a multipart frame like that on the tractor square and flat, but Trumpeter’s engineering ensured the frame was perfectly aligned.

Getting this many wheels flat on the ground can also be an issue, but Trumpeter’s engineering was spot-on here as well. The front axle is posable, but glue the steering in place once you achieve the desired position. I left the wheels off until the tractor was painted.

I was impressed with how easy the PE parts were to work with. There are a couple of complex folds, but the relatively thick metal is forgiving. The only really tricky bit is forming the exhaust shield. I bent mine around brass tube slightly smaller in diameter than the muffler.

Basic features fill the cab; advanced modelers may want to add some details, but they will be difficult to see unless the doors are posed open.

Photos on the internet show the cab interior to be mostly NATO green. It’s not mentioned in the instructions, but the kit includes a decal for the dashboard. However, getting the single decal to conform to the raised detail is nearly impossible. So, I cut the decal into small sections and used parts of it; I painted the rest of the details.

The door windows are a snug fit; after masking them, I pressed them into the door openings without adhesive. The doors also fit snugly, so I pressed them into place to mask the interior during painting.

The rest of the cab exterior fit was impressive.

The biggest problem I had on the build was cleaning up and installing the six tiny clear roof lights — I’m still surprised they all made it onto my model!

I had trouble slipping the nicely molded vinyl tires over the wheel rims. I used a micro screwdriver like a tire iron to install them, but that slightly damaged some of the rims in the process.

The trailer built quickly, starting with the perfectly aligned frame. In Step 25, be careful installing the tops of the storage bins (Part H24); make sure the single hole faces the closed side of the bin. It is not keyed, so it’s possible to install it incorrectly.
 
The container was also a quick, easy build; cleaning up and installing the door latches was the only fiddly part.

For primer red on the container, I mixed Tamiya flat red and red brown. A flat black acrylic filter dulled the finish and variation to the color.
 
The decals went on the container and tractor easily and responded well to Microscale decal solutions.
 
I spent about 34 hours building my M915, aided by the kit’s impressive fit and engineering. The PE would make a good introduction to that media for intermediate builders. The finished model exactly matched the dimensions found on www.military-today.com/trucks/m915.htm.

Advanced modelers would probably want to add additional detail to the cab, hoses for the pogo stick, and brake lines on the tractor to really dress up the kit.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2018 issue.

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