This third Stryker kit from AFV Club is of the final version to see service and arguably the most exotic being the M1128 MGS (Mobile Gun System) which is armed with a M68A1E4 105mm auto loader gun capable of firing all NATO ammunition plus a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun and a commander's M2 cal.50 12.7mm machine gun. The 3-man crew comprises Driver, Commander and Gunner.
The M1128 has been deployed to Iraq where like other Stryker variants is often fitted out with a full suite of slat (bar) armour that gives the vehicle a completely different look. The kit represents the initial production version which differs from the prototype in a number of areas most notable not having the large winch on the left hull side as with other Stryker versions and the MGS prototype.
The kit uses the lower hull from the recent M1130 CV TACP (kit #AF35130) which has some detail enhancements from the initial M1126 kit as well as using the suspension sprues and excellent vinyl wheels from both the M1126 ICV (kit #AF35126) and the M1130 CV TACP with a totally new upper hull as well as the turret/gun assembly the same as with the real MGS.
This new kit uses six sprues from the previous kits as well as six new sprues and the upper hull for the MGS for a total of 539 parts in olive drag plastic although there are quite a few not used with this kit, 29 in clear plastic, an aluminium barrel with recoil spring, plus eight vinyl tyres, a small etched fret along with vinyl poly caps for the suspension as well as the instruction and decal sheets.
Vinyl tyres and additional vinyl parts
Standard of plastic moulding is again very good overall with nice clean detail but there is a sprinkling of fine flash and some very shallow sink marks about the place but most notably very few pin marks of any consequence and of course the usual mould seams which will need care when cleaning from the smaller parts.
This is a large tub with indentations for the suspension components and includes details on the hull sides such as the rear suspension mounting detail which are cleanly rendered by the use of multi-part moulds with the lower front hull plate a separate part as is the rear hull plate. This hull tub as mentioned is from the recent M1130 CV TACP (kit #AF35130) and includes a number of finer detail enhancements over the initial M1126 hull tub for better detail definition.
All the suspension components are separate with the front two and the rear two differentials mounded together with the connecting drive shaft and the four wheel drive shafts and the diffs have separate bottom sections with excellent details.
The front wheel mounts, shock absorbers, wishbone struts and steering arms are provided with the front four wheels fixed in place and at the back are the large shock absorber assemblies with new plastic perforated suspension covers in place of the etched covers included in the M1130 kit. These plastic covers have extremely fine perforated holes included that you can actually see through and as they are mostly hidden behind the large wheels look very much the part as well as being far easier to fit than etched covers.
The large rear side panniers are also separate to provide better definition than if included with the lower hull.
The rear hull panel is new to this kit and has the two side opening doors of the MGS in place of the usual Stryker ramp with the doors having separate hinge posts and hinge mountings which are movable allowing you to open and close the doors if you wish. On the inside of the doors are separate large locking mechanisms for excellent detail but there are also some pin marks that will need to be eliminated before fitting the locks.
The fit of the rear panel to the hull is very good not requiring any trimming as are the doors and you should take care while fitting the hinge posts to ensure everything lines up okay and temporarily fitting the doors on place while you attach the door hinges will aid in this process.
Also included are separate taillights and towing shackles with the taillight having separate clear plastic lenses which can be painted before fitting for a better look as well as two aerial posts and mounting brackets as fitted to the MGS.
At the front is the separate lower and side bolted plates that fit nicely to the hull along with the tow shackles and lifting eyes added for good detail definition.
The main vinyl tyres are the same as in the previous kits with the tread pattern very well done as is the sidewall detail consisting of subtle contouring between the fine ribs and also includes the sidewall “Michelin X” embossing. Overall the tyres are about as good as your are going to get for the Stryker and as such have also been used as the basis for most if not all aftermarket resin wheels released to date as it would be very difficult to do a better job from scratch.
The wheel hubs are made up of 5 plastic parts with inner poly cap to help fitting with the detail on the hubs matching the actual wheel hubs very well. There are the 8 separate hub step rings still included but these are only now fitted to the front two wheels and also included are the smaller fittings applied to the other 6 wheels allowing you to build the wheels to current production standards.
Assembly is straightforward with the wheel rims fitting neatly into the vinyl tyres without any play and the rear brake drum parts neatly trap the poly cap to fit easily to the back of the wheel rim.
Also included in the kit is a spare wheel hub but this is not used with this kit and may give an indication of other Stryker versions to come from AFV Club which can only be a good thing for Modern armour fans.
This is completely new for this kit as you would expect and has the rear hull configuration for the turret ring as well as the single large upper deck hatch at the back and is without the large winch recess as mentioned above. Detail on the hull is as crisp and well defined as on the previous kits and still has the cutouts for the separate engine access hatch and Driver's hatch as well as the separate hull side panels as with the previous kits.
One detail missing as it is from the other AFV Club Stryker kits is the non-slip texturing on the hull upper surfaces and this could be added using Mr.Surfacer or whichever technique you prefer.
These panels are moulded extremely thin with excellent bolt boss and other details and fit snugly to the hull sides without any problems while at the back are new luggage racks applicable to the MGS as well as the separate pioneer tools for the right side rack although there are no tie downs for the tools these could be added to finish off.
The engine intake and exhaust grills are finely moulded and you also get fine etched mesh screens to add to the grills but you should take care as these are in extremely fine brass and can be easily damaged if not handled with care during fitting. It should be noted that the MGS is not fitted with the large exhaust deflector now added to other Stryker types as there is no Commander's station to be compromised by the exhaust plumes.
There are many smaller sub-assemblies added to the hull such as the Driver’s hatch with 14 parts and 3 clear periscopes but the hinge is not workable with you positioning the hatch either open or closed but as there is no interior closed would be the best option unless including a driver figure.
The head light clusters with about 12 parts plus clear plastic light lenses have all the basic components that are finely moulded and you will have to take care during assembly. You may also want to add the myriad of wiring to the back of the light clusters for a better appearance while the large tube bush guard will need care removing the mould seam.
Other items added are the cable cutter in front of the Driver's hatch provided as lowered or raised position for your choice along with the large ventilator domes at the front left and right rear of the hull. There is also provided the large two part tow bar now carried by most Strykers along with a mounting rack for stowing the bar at the front of the hull when not in use.
The remainder of the smaller fittings shouldn’t cause any problems although you should take care with the many smaller parts while removing from the sprues and during cleanup and fitting to avoid any problems as some have very large sprue attachments in relation to the part size.The fit of the upper and lower hulls was very good with precise location not requiring any trimming or other problems.
This obviously is all new for this kit and the large gun housing is made up of numerous panels that thankfully all fitted together very well without any trimming required except for one which I will get too below. There are some fine join seams to deal with but as these are very fine shouldn't pose any real problems and overall the assembly was very precise and straightforward but make sure you follow the instruction construction sequences as some items have to be fitted before others to avoid problems.
The main gun housing is in two halves but after removing from the sprue are still joined by a cross member that looks like it is part of the mouldings but this should be cut away to leave the two halves separate. Added inside the two halves are poly caps trapped in place to allow the mounting to elevate after assembly.
The 105mm gun barrel is in turned aluminium but has separate plastic sections for the forward barrel tube that also include the fume extractor and having this full length as plastic halves sort of defeats the purpose of a metal barrel as you still have the join seams the deal with. As the fit of the plastic sections is very good there is only very fine seams to be eliminated which shouldn't pose any real problems. Included with the barrel is fine rifling in the drilled out muzzle which you couldn't get with a plastic barrel so there are some advantages for the metal barrel as well as ensuring it is perfectly straight.
As with some previous releases AFV Club have included a small recoil spring that is trapped between the two gun mounting halves to allow the gun the recoil but this is really a quite useless gimmick as the spring in my kit was too weak to return the barrel to position in any case and gluing the barrel in position with cyanoacrylate and forgetting the gimmicks is the best option.
The remainder of the gun mounting panels go together without problems and the two top hatches are separate parts allowing these to be shown open but as there is nothing inside it's best to glue these in place. Having them separate will be very useful if someone releases an aftermarket gun breech assembly at some time in the future.
One the back of the larger hatch (part S21) are moulded two very small hooks but these are also right on the sprue attachments and it is impossible to get these off the sprue without breaking off the hooks so I wouldn't worry too much as the hooks themselves are less than 0.5mm in length and are very difficult to glue back in place being so small.
Added to the sides of the gun housings are the large gun mountings and these have pins that fit into the poly caps trapped inside the housings allow the assembly to elevate and the outer housing walls are then added over these mountings and the right cover posed the only fit problems during the whole assembly process.
When fitting the large panoramic sight box at the back corner (will come to that shortly) this was slightly askew and tracing the problem back it was due the right side cover (part S19) which has a large T section at the back. This T section had been slightly bent off 90° during transit and I did not notice this while fitting the panel to the housing earlier so make sure the T section on part S19 is at 90° before fitting to avoid the same problems arising.
Moving to the large panoramic sight this can be retracted on the real MGS and AFV Club replicated this beautifully allow you to position the sight in the fully retracted or extended positions as you wish without the loss of any detail definition.
A small poly cap is trapped inside the body of the sight and the sight head which has clear plastic optic panels has a pin that fits into the body poly cap allowing the head to rotate, which it does perfectly. The sight is made up of 12 parts for excellent detail and you should paint the clear optic glass the appropriate colour either from the inside or the outside depending on your preference.
The assembled sight is then mounted into a two part mounting bracket that attaches to the side of the main housing allowing the sight to be raised or lowered while the sight head can be rotated for the stowed position, all very impressive.
Once the sight mounting bracket has been attached you can add the outer box panels to encase the sight and mounting bracket and as mentioned this box was slightly off vertical due to the issues with the side cover as mentioned above but if you ensure part S19 is perfect you shouldn't have any problems.
One small thing is I had to thin down the rear box wall to allow the sight to lower into the box unhindered but this is only a small adjustment and other that that no other alterations were required.
It is difficult to see the issue with the box alignment in the accompanying images as it is very minor but I guess I notice things that are not perfectly square but overall this assembly went together perfectly and the sight raises/lowers and the head rotates perfectly as with the real sight.
Added to the sight box is the three part hatch covers that can be positioned for whatever position you have the sight in and the fit of the hatches was also perfect not requiring any trimming and these actually held in place without glue such is the good fit.
There are a number of smaller details added to the gun housing such as the forward smoke grenade launchers and fine plastic grab handles as well as etched attachments which all go together without any problems and add to the good overall appearance of the gun assembly.
Moving to the small flat turret there are 9 separate armour panels that are attached to the outside and it is a good idea to write the part numbers on the sections as you remove them from the sprues to help in getting these in the right positions around the turret, the fit of the panels was spot on without any trimming needed.
The large gunner's sight box is made up of 9 parts again with clear plastic optics and the fit of these was also very good making for a quick and easy assembly that fits snugly to the turret roof, you can position the box door in the open or close position depending on your choice. Note that you have to attach this sight box to the turret before attaching the gun assembly as it will not go one afterwards.
Each of the two turret hatches have separate clear plastic periscopes and you have to be careful as the 7 periscopes around the left hatch are all different sizes numbered differently so it may be an idea to only cut one at a time from the sprue to ensure you fit them in the right positions around the hatch ring.
The periscopes around the right hatch have very small plastic mounting brackets added either end of the clear periscopes and these are best added before attaching the periscopes to the hatch as it is quite difficult to add the brackets once the periscopes are in place.
Each of the hatches have very small hatch mounting brackets that will require care during cleanup and fitting to ensure things go together as intended. The hatch mounting bracket on the left hatch is quite problematic as it is attached to the sprue by 5 large attachments and removing these without damaging the fine bracket is quite a challenge, one I failed as the bracket broke during sprue removal and was quite fiddly to repair before assembly.
The hatches themselves have texturing on the tops and fine details inside but there are also some small pin marks to contend with and you should be careful of the other detail while dealing with these. If gluing the hatches closed these of course won't be an issue at all and as there is no interior this could be the best option.
Fitting the fully assembled gun housing to the turret is a little tricky due to the gun mountings being movable and there is also the large curved ammo feed chute that has to fit to the underside of the gun housing and then through the top of the turret roof all at the same time.
But after a bit of manoeuvring the locating lugs on the bottom of the gun mounting fitted snugly into the turret roof holes for a very good fit and the feed chute was also a good fit although I did have to shave a little of the sides of the chute along the way.
The Commander's M2 cal.50 MG is the same as with the previous Stryker kits and is quite nice for a plastic gun with the receiver in two halves and single moulding for the cooling jacket and barrel with the muzzle also hollowed out slightly with this fitted to a multi part gun mounting and ammo box that is fitted to the Commander's hatch ring.
While the cal.50 is okay for a plastic gun it would certainly benefit with a barrel replacement from the available metal cal.50 barrels to add that extra detail should you so wish.
The fully assembled turret is a very snug fit to the hull turret ring with the usual notches to hold it in place and the fit is good enough to allow manual traverse while holding the turret firmly in place.
There are two decal sheet provided which are nicely printed with thin carrier film cropped close to the printed images which should make application easier and provides vehicle registration numbers and unit markings as well as good selection of stencil data for four unidentified vehicles included in the instructions.
These are the usual exploded view drawings which are easy enough to follow but of course you should study each sequence carefully before cutting or gluing as you would with any kit.
A couple of areas are quite confusing though and will require careful study, especially the head light assembles and adding the many smaller parts to the upper hull which are a little confusing but with care you should work these out.
This is another excellent kit of the Stryker from AFV Club with cleanly and well defined details and will build into a very nice replica of the M1128 MGS (Mobile Gun System) without any real problems. The gimmimky barrel can just be ignored and the overall fit of the parts makes for a fairly easy assembly on what is quite a complicated assembly in parts.
Highly Recommended 8/10
See the Stryker Subjects page for additional reviews of Stryker related kits/update sets.
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Present Vehicle Line No.17
Wings & Wheels Publications.
in detail Part 2
Present Vehicle Line No.19
Wings & Wheels Publications.
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