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In-Box Review
135
D9R Armored Bulldozer
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by: Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]

Introduction

All muscle; this is what the D9R Armored Bulldozer is all about. Fully armored weighing in at a hefty 62 tons with a 405hp CAT 3408C motor, the Caterpillar D9R is a formidable foe on the battle field. Originally designed for heavy construction the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) modified the D9R Bulldozer with heavy armor plating, armored glass and a small weapons package to adapt this behemoth for engineering as well as in front line combat roles.

Using the massive S-U blade mounted to the front of the tractor, the D9R obviously can move earth around with ease. Yet not limited to plowing dirt, the armored bulldozer is used to move obstacles on roads such as cars and trucks, detonate improvised explosive devices (IED’s), level building, clearing mine fields and busting bunkers. This beast is used to clear the way for military units to gain forward movement on and off the battlefield. The over 70 ton towing capabilities of the D9R can easily tow main battle tanks on and off the battle field.

The fifteen plus tons of armor added to the D9R protects not only the two person crew cabin but all of the major drive and operations components of the tractor. Armor placement is customer specific depending on the application the vehicle is needed for. There is a machine gun mount on the roof of the cabin as well as optional smoke and grenade launchers. Some models are equipped with slat armor to protect against rocket propelled grenades. The entire 360 degree view cabin is protected by thick anti-ballistics armored glass to thwart off small arms, machine gun and sniper fire.

Not much will stop a D9r once it has its eyes set on a prize. Whether it is bringing the buildings down and moving earth to make way for advancing troops or breaking ground for new construction in war ravished battle zones, the D9R is the right machine for the job! A brand new D9R from Caterpillar might set you back about $900,000 US. Since Caterpillar does not actively supply military upgrades to the bulldozer you will need to bring in pros, this of course is classified but I would venture to guess it might cost you at least two or three times the cost of the base tractor to outfit this beast for battle. The D9R is playing an active role today not only in the IDF but in the United States Marine Corps carrying out missions throughout the world.

Contents

“OK then”…that was my first response upon opening the shipping box in which Meng Models D9R Armored Bulldozer was delivered. This is a big box! It is needed as the D9R is a big Bulldozer. Even in 1/35 scale this is a huge kit. All the contents of the kit are nicely sealed in bags and organized very well within the box. Minus the decal sheet there are 696 parts, including photo etch parts in this kit. The contents are as follows:

  • 17 – Beige styrene sprue trees (main kit parts)
  • 5 – Dark grey styrene sprue trees (Caterpillar Tracks)
  • 1 – Clear styrene sprue tree (clear armored glass)
  • 1 – Blue green styrene sprue tree (blue green ballistic armored glass)
  • 1 – Decal sheet (for 3 variants)
  • 1 – Photo etch sheet
  • 1 – Set of 4 poly caps
  • 1 – Length of rubber hose (hydraulic lines)
  • 1 – Instruction booklet
  • 1 – Two-sided color painting reference


Review

Let’s take a look at the instruction booklet first. The instructions are laid very well in a 20 page staple-bound booklet translated into 3 languages; English, Japanese and Russian. The first four pages contain a brief introduction of the D9R Armored Bulldozer in the three languages. Page five is the standard explanation of suggested tools that will be needed to construct the model, Paints that will be needed and a brief showing of the possible depictions that can be made with this kit.

The instructions start on page six of the booklet. Each of the thirty-nine steps to constructing this model are a well laid out, highly detailed explode view format. It is probably good to note that the photo etch installation marking are colored in a light grey color which is only a couple of shades lighter than the plastic parts instruction. Even through the photo etch part count is not high with this kit; I will suggest that the builder use a highlighter and mark these parts of the instructions prior to building. A few seconds of pre-marking the PE will save a lot of time beating yourself up over completely missing the PE installation.

Step 1 covers the undercarriage assembly if the kit. The undercarriage roller frame (G5) is a one-piece unit connecting with the rear plate with access cover (R10) moving right to the installation of the suspended undercarriage (S1 &S2) which will house the bogie suspension, rollers and idlers as well as the elevated sprocket.

Step 2 covers the installation of the sides and top venting access plates for the engine compartments (L5, L8 and G1). The radiator cover plate (G2) is installed in this step as well. On the real D9R the radiator is attached to this plate and is a hinged attachment. This is not an option on this kit however.

Steps 3 & 4 show the full assembly of the ripper attachment located on the rear of the tractor. Located on sprue trees R & P, this is the single hook variant of the ripper with stabilizers and mounting plate.

Steps 5 & 6 are the installation of the ripper to the bulldozer. From sprue trees B & P the instructions call for the construction and installation of the hydraulic ram cylinders that control the ripper. In these two steps the construction allows for the ripper to be fully movable upon completion of the model.

Steps 7 to 10 are the installations of the interior to the Operator Station or control cap. The major parts for the base plate construction are located on sprue trees L, M & N. The hydraulic, decelerator/governor control panel and the vinyl suspension seats are all located on sprue tree J.

Steps 11 to 13 cover the construction of the inner cab plating and interior armored glass and window frames. Most of the parts for this section are located on sprue tree J. However, there are a few assembly parts located on trees A, K, M and T.

Steps 14 to16 show the installation of the exterior armor cab parts. The large sections of plates are located on sprue trees F, K & L. Minor parts of this assembly, like the dropdown step grating, grab bars/handles and venting panels are located throughout trees A, L, M & N.

Step 17 covers the installation of the cab’s ballistic glass and exterior frames. The armored glass used in this section is the bluish green polarized glass one of the two sprue trees marked T.

Step 18 shows the installation of the armored roof section (L1) to the cab along with dropdown step plates and various grab bars (A, N)

Step 19 is the completion of the exterior roof assembly consisting of more grab bars,, lights and antenna mounts. (N, B and W)

Step 20 lays out the installation of the hydraulic line prior to mounting the cab to the undercarriage.

Step 21 refers to the photo etch construction of the fuel can bracket holder and the machine gun and mount for the top of the cab.

Step 22 is mounting the cab to the undercarriage.

Step 23 shows the final installation of the hydraulic lines laid out in step20 to the ripper hydraulic cylinders.

Step 24 covers the complete construction of the bogies including rollers and idlers. During this step of the construction, provisions are made to allow the bogies to be completely operational when the model is complete.

Step 25 is the installation of the bogies to the undercarriage as well as the construction and installation of the elevated drive sprocket.

Step 26 is all about the construction of the track links for the D9R. The Caterpillar track chain is constructed first…parts C1 and C2 make up the entire track chain with the two end links, A5 and A6 to bring it together. The extreme service grouser or track shoes are installed next lying on top of the track chain.

Step 27 is the assembly of the exterior lights.

Step 28 covers the assembly of the exhaust stack

Step 29 is labeled as “Attaching external parts”. This shows the installation of various grab bars, the exhaust stack, fire extinguisher and some photo etch detail parts.

Steps 30 to 32 are the construction and installation of the two hydraulic cylinders for the bulldozer’s blade attachment. (Sprue trees B, E & J)

Step 33 shows the installation of the hydraulic lines for the blades cylinders along with the top cover plate. (G8, G9 and G13)

Steps 34 & 35 show the installation of the exterior light setup constructed back in Step 27 and various cover plates for the top of the blade hydraulic cylinders. (Sprue trees B, E and W)

Step 36 is the construction of the D9R semi-universal (SU) blade. The blade, backing plate, Cutting Edges and End Bits along with the top guard (Sprue trees B, D and E) are all show in this assembly.

Step 37 shows the Push arm assembly for the SU Blade. (Sprue trees B, E and H)

Step 38 is the installation of the push arms to the SU Blade.

Step 39 covers the installation of the Duel Tilt assembly and the final installation of the SU blade to the dozer. In this step these parts are not glued allowing for full movement after construction of the model.

The final two pages of the instruction booklet are the parts legend showing all the sprue tree and part therein.

The separate painting and decal placement sheet is laid out showing the three variants the D9R dozer can be depicted as; United States Marine Corps, Iraq, 2004, the IDF 603rd Engineers Battalion, Second Lebanon War, July 2006 and finally the IDF Combat Engineers School Bahalat”z, August 2008.

The decal sheet is from Cartograf and printed cleanly with all marking to depict the D9R bulldozer in any of three configurations.

Parts Review

In having a chance to inspect all the parts throughout this kit I noticed that the parts are molded crisply with plenty of really nice details. All of the main structures appear to indicative of what is found on the full scale D9R; bolt patterns, service plates and vents are all similar if not exact replicates of the original.

The Operator Station is laid out very similar to the station on the original. The seats are molded very well and details such as the radio and communications equipment are as well. The ballistic window assembly is beautifully done on this kit whereas there is an inner clear styrene window set up as well as the bluish green exterior glazing as seen on the original bulldozer.

Please note: There is a fair number of ejector pin marks on the interior of the cabin walls and roof sections. Some sanding and possible filling may be needed to remove these if so desired. These pin mark should not show very much if you plan of constructing the kit with the cabin doors closed as the double layered armored glass should obscure most of this.

The entire drive train including the undercarriage, bogies, roller and idlers and drive sprockets are very nicely molded and the construction is straight forward. The added factor of allowing the movable rollers and idler is not necessarily needed but still welcomed.

The track chain and grousers are molded very clean. There is one pin mark in the center, underside of each of the track shoes; however, this is not seen after the tracks construction. The tracks should be completely movable when the construction is complete.

The Single-shank ripper attachment is done very well with this kit. The ripper is completely movable after the model is finished. The separately added rubber hoses for hydraulic lines are a nicely added detail.

The Semi-Universal Blade attachment is just about spot on to the original. With just a quick reference shot I notice there are twelve holes molded on the cutting edge of the model whereas the original has fifteen…I do not think this is an issue at all with the model. An extremely minor issue and even less so if any weathering is done to show excess dirt buildup on the blade and cutting edge. There could have been the added piece of rubber hose line to add visual hydraulic lines to the cylinders for the blade arm attachments and the duel tilt cylinder. This is something that can easily be accomplished with some fine gauge wire sheathing or aftermarket rubber hoses from Riich Models if you want.

The overall exterior details that get added to the outside of the model are cleanly molded and in line with what are attached to the original service dozers. The steps and the dropdown step grating are modeled very however the dropdown plates are a fixed part on the model whereas the original they are stored in the up position during use, the option would have been nice to allow these plates to be up or down. This is merely an observation and not a critical selling point on this kit at all.

The roof mounted machine gun is molded decently. The barrel will have to be drilled out to make a better representation or it. There may be an aftermarket upgrade set for this gun on the market to enhance the overall look. Looking closer the gun over this appears to be the FN Mag 7.62mm weapon used by the IDF for this application. At the present I am unaware of the model used with the US Marine Corps version. It is quite possible that the same weapon is used on both as the upgraded armor on the US version appears to be made and installed by the same defense sub-contractor that the IDF partnered with to create their D9R Armored Bulldozer.

Conclusion

This is an exceptionally well made kit with a great deal of detail that is sure to please the buyer. The subject matter is refreshingly different while still falling into the genre to which it resides. It is nice to have the three main options for depicting the use of the D9R. The photo etch sheet adds a nice flare to some details on this kit. I can an only assume that there could possibly be another upgrade set added in the future to cover maybe tool holders, steps/dropdown grating and maybe even the slat armor that was installed on many of the original bulldozers. I am pleased with the added detail of movable track links along with the movable SU blade and Ripper attachments.

A little more care could have been taken to improve the cabin interior in respects to the ejector pin marks. This is certainly not a deal breaker when looking to purchase the kit as these can be easily sanded to remove them and if the option to have the doors closed on the cabin a little less concern regarding the pin marks may be not needed.

Meng Models teamed up with Desert Eagle Publishing for the creation of the D9R Armored Bulldozer. I would urge anyone looking to build this kit to please check out Dessert Eagle Publishing’s IDF Armor Series No.7: Doobi D9 Variants book. This is an exceptional 80 page walk around of the D9R bulldozer with over 200 reference photographs…and asset to any model builder’s work bench for this kit.

All in all I highly recommend this kit to anyone. With very little effort, Meng Models D9R Armored Bulldozer can be build up into an impressive static display model for anyone’s collection.

I will be constructing this model step by step in a thread here on Armorama, please stop by and check out the process.
Link to Blog Live links

References

Dessert Eagle Publishing Live links

CAT Website Live links

Armored Bulldozer Wiki Live links

IDF Caterpillar D9 Wiki Live links

IDF Armor Series No.7: Doobi D9 Variants book distributors Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: This is well detailed, quality built model about an interesting subject matter and a refreshing addition to the world of armor modeling.
Lows: There are minor issues such as ejector pin marks inside the cabin of the tractor which are easily rectified with sanding and the lack of any slat armor supplied with the kit.
Verdict: An outstanding representation of the famed IDF service armored bulldozer with great detail surrounding a very interesting subject; highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
97%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: SS-002
  Suggested Retail: $45.00
  PUBLISHED: Aug 13, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Israel
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 95.50%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.82%

Our Thanks to Meng Model!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Todd Michalak (TRM5150)
FROM: MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES

I am building what I like, when I like and how I like it; having fun doing it. I have been building and finishing models on and off my whole life but the past ten years things really exploded. Just about anything goes when it comes to hitting the bench, but wrecked armor, rusted hulks, ships or ...

Copyright ©2018 text by Todd Michalak [ TRM5150 ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Todd, one, admittedly, very small discrepancy, in your review you state: I'm assuming you are referring to the center part of the leading edge of the blade here. In the Desert Eagle book there is a very clear photo of the blade, and there are 12 holes on the leading edge, so Meng got it right. If you have a pic with fifteen holes I'd guess there are different versions of the blade and Meng based theirs on the 12 hole one. Like I said, a small discrepancy but there you go. (If we are talking about totally different things here...sorry ) Mike
AUG 13, 2013 - 12:17 PM
Awesome review!! Thank you!
AUG 13, 2013 - 01:44 PM
Hi Mike, Thanks for the info...I had thre shots I found while looking, each having 15...lol 12...15...what is 3 holes between friends? After taking another quick look, it appears that the Commercial version tend to have the 15 hole vs the IDF armored...even found one with a continuous edge instead of the three part!! Awseome because this give the builder room to do what ever they want to their builds!! Thank you very much James!! Appreciate it!!
AUG 13, 2013 - 09:53 PM
We broke our quick reply box. Working on it. Until fixed go to topic to reply.
Thanks.
   

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