In 1951 the Ford Motor Company was given a contract to develop a new vehicle to replace the WWII era MB Jeep and its descendant the M38. The result was the M151 series of ¼ ton utility trucks, designed by Ford and later built by Kaiser, AM General Corporation, and GM. A production contract was awarded in 1960 for over 10,000 units that would be used by all US and many foreign military forces. More commonly referred to as simply a "jeep" or "quarter-ton", The M151 was produced from 1959 through 1982 and served from the Vietnam War throughout the Cold War and beyond.
The M151 had a monocoque body design making it roomier than previous jeep designs, and incorporated front and rear independent suspension with coil springs. Production of the M151 continued for just a short time when the M151A1 was introduced in 1964 with modifications to carry heavier loads and added small turn signals to the front fenders. Serious problems existed with the suspension that made the M151 and M151A1 unstable and susceptible to roll-over in tight cornering situations due to the central articulation of the suspension arms, the lowering of one wheel relative to the frame would make the wheel move inward, effectively over-steering the vehicle and causing it to abruptly overturn.
The M151A2, fielded in 1972, brought a significantly revised rear suspension with semi-trailing A-arms that greatly improved safety in fast cornering. Many smaller upgrades including improved turn signals and a one-piece front windshield with an electric wiper motor. The M151A2 can be identified by the large combination NATO turn signal/blackout lights on the front fenders, which also had to be modified to mount the larger lights. With some M151A2 units still in US military service well into the 1990’s, the M151 series achieved a longer run of service than that of the WW2 MB/GPW, M38 and M38A1 series jeeps combined. It has since been replaced by the larger AM General HMMWV.
surprised everyone when they announced two new M151 jeep kits. This review focuses on the M151A2 Grenada 1983 version. The kit is identical to their earlier (1980s) release of the M151A2 kit with two new sprues of figures and accessories. The model depicts a late M151A2 as seen during the 1983 US intervention in Grenada (Operation Urgent fury, Oct 23 – 15 Dec 1983) to stop the spread of communism in the western hemisphere. It includes parts and decals to build either a vehicle from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division or the 2nd Ranger Battalion, both of which took part in the operation.
The kit includes two large sprues with the basic jeep parts; three smaller sprues with new parts for two crewmen, weapons, six helmets (three M1 steel pots, and three Kevlar helmets), and gear, and a .50 cal and mount (more on it later); a small decal sheet; and a 14-step instruction sheet. The decal sheet includes markings for an M151A2 from the US Army’s 82nd ABN, 319 Field Artillery Regiment, HQ5, or the 2nd Ranger Battalion. Also included are decals for the gauges and various placards for the interior. The kit also includes one driver figure that is the same as in their original M151A2 release. Per Tamiya
standard, the parts are very crisply molded with no flash. Details are very good with both raised and engraved details where applicable. There are no visible deficiencies or issues with the plastic parts.
There are three sprues of new parts included to make the Grenada versions. The first is a sprue with the two new crew members which are nicely molded and have good uniform and facial features on them. They include the seated passenger and a standing gunner for the back. There is a second sprue containing personal gear and equipment for the figures including six helmets (three M1 and three Kevlars) and two ammo pouches. Also on this sprue is the extra gear for the jeep. This includes a couple ALICE rucksacks conformal to the hood, three cots, four ammo cans (two 7.62mm, two .50 cal), a pintle mount for the MG in the rear, two M60 MGs (one w/open bipod, one w/folded bipod), an M16A1 rifle, and a riser block for the MG pintle pole. The last new sprue contains a .50 cal MG and ammo can with rounds for the gun and a few unused pieces.
The Grenada M151A2
The main version Tamiya
picked for this release is apparently based on a picture of an M151A2 from the 82nd ABN full of gear and troops moving along a road in Grenada in overall sand paint with an M60 MG mounted on it (as opposed to the .50 cal as depicted in the kit). Most vehicle in the 82nd ABN at the time were in overall NATO camo, but this vehicle was sand since elements of the 3d Bde, 82nd ABN had just returned from Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission in the Sinai Peninsula and hadn't repainted their vehicles yet.
The .50 cal MG was not common on the M151 since the recoil tended to crack the mount and frame of the jeep. The more common mount was the M60 MG, as shown in the picture. There are pictures of Ranger and USMC M151s with the .50 cal mounted though. For the 82nd ABN jeep, I would use the M60 w/the folded tripod included in the kit and the older M60 pintle mount from the pintle pole of the original jeep parts, which are still included in the kit. Just cut the top part below the ring off and use it on the new pole.
As stated above, there are both M1 “steel pot” and Kevlar helmets in the kit. The instructions don’t point this out, but you should use the M1 “steel pots” if making the Rangers, along with painting the figures in overall OG-107 jungle fatigues. For the 82nd ABN troopers, you should use the Kevlar helmets and paint the figures in woodland BDUs since the 82nd ABN was the first unit to be issued the Kevlar helmet and BDUs in the Army and the first place they were used was in Grenada. You also have to make the tie-down strap for the rucksacks for this one from paper or masking tape. Lastly, there are decals provided that represent the taped over headlights for the 82nd ABN vehicle, and the headlights and turn signals for the 2nd Ranger Bn vehicle. They look good and should represent the taped over lights well.
There are a still a few issues, Tamiya
should have done better with this reissue. Oddly, the reworked grill piece in their M151A1 kit has very nice, hollowed out headlights, but this one retains the old grill with solid lights. Likewise, in their new M151A1 kit, there is a very nice front bumper included with the proper C-channel shape to it. This version still has the solid, square front bumper that has to be cut at an angle on the ends to somewhat resemble a correct front bumper. Also, the mounting plate for the NATO power adapter is present on the right side engine cowl below the windshield, but the adapter plug is missing. An issue with their earlier kit as well, the floorboards under the driver and passenger seats are not correctly represented from the underside of the body.
The fuel tank and battery compartment are under the seats that are not represented in the kit. They also could have updated and corrected the front suspension. It is missing the upper A-arm assemblies and all the steering arms and connecting rods. Also missing are the pedals for the gas, brake and clutch in the driver’s foot well. Lastly, the individual figures should have more gear on them. Only two ammo pouches are included. Each figure should have two ammo pouches, two canteens, and a first aid pouch at a minimum. They could also be seen with an angle-head flashlight, butt pack, M7 bayonet, extra ammo pouches, etc., etc… Most soldiers carry more than they think they will need so they are prepared for almost anything.
SKP Model M151A2 Lenses review by Darren Baker