by Brian Eberle
As a fan of Specialty Armored Vehicles, I was thrilled with the AFV Club announcement that a Husky Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection (VMMD) kit would soon be released. I placed my pre-order and waited six months for the kit to arrive. I had to wait another 2 years before beginning my build in April of 2020, which continued intermittently until January 2021.
The AFV Club kit (AF35347) includes the base vehicle, less any of the mission specific packages like the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), or the telescoping Investigation Arm, that attach to the front of the Husky. To supplement the AFV Club kit, I ordered the Husky Mine Detection System (HMDS) set from Legend Productions (LF1331), the HUSKY Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection (VMMD) Lenses and taillights colored photo-etched set from Voyager Model (BR35135), and the resin U.S. Husky Mk III Sagged Wheel Set from DEF Model (DW35095).
My pre-build research included multiple on line references including vendor brochures, U.S. Army releases, walk around photo essays and the fantastic book “Husky VMMD” by Ralph Zwilling from TANKOGRAD Publishing.
Overall Impression: I am a fan of the AFV Club kits. Their kits are well designed, engineered, with clean parts, and great fit. I also love their range of kit subjects. Sadly, I was disappointed with aspects of the Husky kit. In large part due to vague instructions, decals with spelling errors, ill-fitting and fragile vinyl hydraulic power lines, numerous injection mold knockout marks in visible places (e.g., wheel fenders), and parts on the sprue tree that were not in the instructions (F27 and E6).
This kit requires an experienced modeler and lots of patience. With persistence the build turned into a genuinely nice representation of the Husky. I spent close to 90 hours in the build, most of that spent on the operator’s compartment, and on the supplemental HMDS kit and Lens and Lights sets.
The Build: Except for correcting one kit design error and the addition of a few interior details in the operator’s compartment, I built the kit per the instructions up through step 15. At this point I began deviating from the kits instructions to add details, integrate the supplemental Voyager, Legend Productions and DEF model aftermarket kits, and to place fragile sub-assemblies aside for later installation. In this build review, I will highlight where I deviated from, or had issues understanding the kit’s instructions.
The Operators Compartment (Cab)
Steps 1 through 5 I found the instructions clear and the assembly without issue.
The details within the operator’s compartment are quite good. The molded control panels accurately represent most of the details found in the real vehicle. The molded plastic display panels thankfully eliminate fiddling with tiny plastic or photo-etch (PE) levels and gauges.
The kit does have one glaring mistake on the left control console – it is molded backwards and should be spun 180 degrees to correct. The error is nothing that a razor saw, some sanding and glue could not correct.
There are a few detail omitted, including:
If you display the Husky with the doors open, many of these missing details would be noticeable, and can be scratch built into the cab during construction.
The operator’s compartment in surrounded by three large panes of armored (ballistic) glass windows which have a green to light blue tint depending on the ballistic protection level. The kit provides clear styrene for the windows. To portray the windows in green, I coated the styrene with Future Floor Polish and let them cure overnight before tinting. My first attempt was with Alclad II Lacquers Armoured Glass Tint but that turned out disastrous. The Alclad kept pooling on top of the glass and would not sit on the styrene. After multiple attempts, I stripped the windows (mostly) clean and started anew. I painted the windows using thin layers of Vallejo Acrylic Emerald Green (70.838) and Transparent Green (70.936).
Modeler rant …… Why do model manufacturers create clear windows for up armored vehicles? Armored (ballistic) windows are nearly standard on modern tactical vehicles including the family of MRAPS, up armored HMMWV series and the urban survival kits for Abrams and Bradley’s.
Construction of the operator’s compartment is a small kit by itself (with or without the omitted details listed above). All the interior parts require individual painting, detailing, and weathering before assembly. In a few cases (such as the interior windows, fire suppression bottle, and the environmental control) decals are also called for.
Step 19 completes the operator’s compartment, offering two options for the roof top access into the operator’s compartment – Open or Closed. I assembled the hatch doors in the option position but did not install them as they are fragile. I built and tacked in place with white glue the closed door frame for use as a painting mask while painting the vehicle to prevent overspray into the interior. I set aside the open hatch door assembly for later in the build.