by: Sean Hopkins [ ]
The MRAP or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle has roots dating back to the 1970s during the Rhodesian Bush War. It was here where a V shape hull was first utilized to increase crew survivability in the event a vehicle were to hit a land mine. Fast-forwarding to modern conflicts, the modern day MRAP was born in response to the increasing IED threat seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the variety of vehicles currently in operation, all MRAPs are designed with occupant survivability as a driving requirement. To achieve this, MRAPs untilize an armored V shaped hull, which deflects what would be an upward blast away from the crew and any occupants. Also, MRAP crew compartments are located at a noticeably higher level when compared to other vehicles, placing the vehicle crew further away from an explosion. Additionally, specialty crew seating, armor packages, and other unique design features have made the modern day MRAP a vehicle which has saved countless lives of those operating or traveling in them.
The Navistar (formerly International Truck) MaxxPro is an MRAP, which encompasses all these design features. The first incarnation of the MaxxPro is formally known as the MaxxPro Base. The design is based on a modular body, which is then mounted to a Navistar WorkStar 7000 series chassis. This allows for ease of maintenance and serviceability, upgrades, and increased production capacity.
This modular design also allowed for the development of a number of MaxxPro variants:
• MaxxPro Plus - A variant with dual rear wheels and increased carrying capacity.
• MaxxPro Dash - A more maneuverable variant that was designed with Afghanistan in mind.
• MaxxPro Dash DXM – A MaxxPro Dash with independent suspension partially designed by Hendrickson.
• MaxxPro Recovery Vehicle - A wrecker with the body of a MaxxPro Base.
• MaxxPro Dash DXM Ambulance and MaxxPro Plus Ambulance - Ambulance versions of the MaxxPro Plus and Dash DXM.
Furthermore, additional armor packages termed as MEAP (MRAP Expedient Armor Program) have been developed to counter new threats such as EFPs. Specific to the MaxxPro, these packages came to be known as EFP kits.
Legend Productions' 4 x 4 MRAP Truck is based on the MaxxPro Base and captures it beautifully. It contains 210 cream resin parts, 255 photo etched brass parts, a bag containing lengths of wire of varying diameters, and a thick clear acetate sheet. Additionally, an 8-page instruction booklet is enclosed showing the location of each part and their associated number. However, the kit does not include any decals for unit markings or vehicle stenciling.
Upon removing the shrink rap, a pungent aroma of fresh resin fills the room as this kit has just come out of the mold. Inside are 3 bags of bubble wrapped resin parts, a bubble wrapped chassis frame and V hull, and a single piece casting of the hood. I first wanted to inspect the hood, as it is a complex shape, which I would first expect to see air bubbles or some other type of imperfection, but to my surprise, none were found. In fact, this has to be one of the most beautiful pieces of resin casting I have ever seen. Further inspecting the chassis frame and V hull, you notice these large gaping holes, which I assume were used to control warping, which there was not even the slightest hint of warping. Other parts will cover some of these holes but some will not and leaves the challenge of filling and leveling out these holes. This feature also exists in the roof panel, right and left sides of the body, and rear wall. Again, some of these are removed as you remove the excess material or casting plugs, but this still leaves some that must be filled. It shouldn’t be a hard task but to eliminate warping this I something I can easily deal with.
The kit also provides a full interior, capturing the modular design perfectly. However, the modeler must establish how and when the interior must be painted, as certain parts will be very hard to access once installed and there is no painting guide provided. Unfortunately, Legend did not capture a few glaring features seen on the truck, but aren't hard for a modeler to add; these include the sliding hatch for the roof gunner, a coating of antislip for the panels on the roof, some armor panel lines are incorrect on the hull sides, and some missing interior detail revolving around the seat tie down points in relation to the hull. More pertinent issues rest in the V shape hull in which outside support braces are simplified and the tire fire suppression lines are missing.
A high point I have to stress is the engineering of this kit is top notch. I have never encountered a predominantly resin multimedia kit that has the builder in mind. Upon cleaning the parts up, the kit essentially builds itself and reminds you of a Tamiya kit. Again, this does not come without specific challenges in terms of planning when you will paint at certain stages of assembly, but to achieve this level of detail things have to get complicated at some point.
Lastly, I’d like to comment on the value of this kit. With the inclusion of weighted wheels, interior, and all the photo-etched parts, the value of the kit is outstanding. There isn’t much more to do in terms of detailing this kit, but it certainly won’t run away in price like some plastic kits tend to do when trying to achieve the same level of detail.