Unlike many other APCs, the M113 really needs no introduction. It is an APC that has seen decades of use with front line and supporting units for more than thirty armies around the world. It has spawned numerous variants and versions. Over the years improvements have been made to increase performance and safety. It was born at a time when US Army strategy called for the bulk of its equipment to be air transportable, which contributed to aluminum being used in the fabrication of its hull. It is meant to be operated in water with little preparation. First introduced in 1960 with a gasoline engine, it was replaced in 1964 by a diesel variant. It is probably the one armored vehicle that springs to mind when thinking of the US involvement in Vietnam.
Even in Braille Scale, kits of the M113 have been available since the late 1980’s. Though the kit was released in 2007 or thereabouts, the Trumpeter 1/72 M113ACAV offering was hoped to be an improvement over the venerable Esci kits that have since been reissued by Italeri. Modelers will need to overlook the kit being identified as an “Armored Car” on the box, though.
The kit consists of six sprues molded in a light gray. The tracks for each side are a single vinyl type. Total parts count is listed at 55 pieces.
The kit includes some basic interior detail, a good thing since the M113 ACAV is seldom seen with hatches closed. The floor is a separate piece from the hull casting. Benches and a fuel tank are included, but the kit lacks the commander station and drivers area details. The separately molded rear hatch has both outer and inner detail, with fairly prominent ejector pin marks on the inner side. The bench seats are more accurate than the Italeri/Esci kits as is the floor, but the Italeri/Esci offering does include a very simple commanders station.
Also included is engine compartment detail. The engine area is simple, composed of six parts, but depicts the diesel engine well for Braille scale. One prominent omission is an air cleaner. However, none of the engine access panels are molded separately, so a builder wishing to show this detail must separate the panels. Quite a shame, since the detail will never be seen otherwise.
The roadwheels are molded as separate inner and outer pieces. The vinyl track is fairly simple, but does include the track horn. While the Italeri/Esci kits have link and length tracks, they have no track horns and only outer roadwheels.
The hull is molded to allow other M113 variations to be kitted. The engine exhaust piece depicts the M113. The upper hull plate is molded with antenna guards in place as solid lumps that will be challenging to detail or replace. The side skirts have large mounting tabs that result in large voids on the hull sides if not mounted in place. The trim vane, headlights, shovel, and trim vane are molded as separate pieces. The drivers hatch and commander’s hatch, and rear cargo area hatch can be poised open or closed. As is common to Braille scale kits, most hatches are void of inner detail. Extra track sections are molded with the front hull section.
Detail components for the ACAV kit are well molded, perhaps a bit thick for true to scale, but accurate. Very simple mounts are included for each of the M60s. Two jerry cans are included. Again, one curiosity of the instructions is the inclusion of a CIP (No. B30), that would not be used on the early M113ACAVs. This panel would be used only with OIF vehicles such as the M113A2 or M113A3, which Trumpeter also produces.
Decals are included for five different vehicles, though only one version is illustrated on the instructions. Most appear to be from the 1968 to 1972 period. As an aside, each vehicle appears as a color illustration in the Squadron/Signal Publication “Armor in Vietnam” by Jim Mesko. Most curiously, one of the decals is for an M113 used on a M54 5-ton truck used as a gun truck.
Instructions are well laid out and fairly typical for Braille Scale kits. Most builders will choose to build up the hull pieces before painting, then add the details.
Overall, this kit serves as a more accurate representation than the offering by Esci/Italeri. The details included offer more potential opportunities for building the M113 than the Esci/Italeri kits. While I admit to being a fan of link and length track, this track detail and assembly simplicity will serve it well. Most shortcomings are common to modern Braille scale kits. The decals are a definite plus, though I now would like to see an M54 offered in 1/72 more than ever.
A Build Log
has been started on the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.