The three options in the kit are the M548 or M548 with M55 quad .50 cal MG from Vietnam or the M548A1 with markings for an IFOR vehicle along with the appropriate decals for each version.
The kit consist of 347 parts in olive drab plastic with 5 clear parts, 5 resin and 8 etched parts plus a set of vinyl tracks as well as the decal and instruction sheets.
Quality of the moulding is quite good given some are have been around for a while with a minimum of pin marks but there are some as well as a few annoying little sink marks on a few parts such as the gun mount parts with the resin parts typical Hobby Fan with just the casting blocks and some fine resin film to be removed.
The lower hull tub includes the upper hull sides and has the axles with the correct offset for the suspension and subtle weld seams on the sides with separate inserts for the crew steps and rear fuel cap for good definition.
The running gear has drive sprockets with the lightening holes included although the drive teeth are not quite the right shape and the central hub details are not quite there but they do have the angled pads on the inside of the sprockets for not a bad representation of the actual sprocket.
The road wheels again unfortunately miss the actual contours of the real wheel with the raised section being too large and the bolt heads too far to the outside as a result and the central hub plate should be square and not round.
Finally the idler is not bad but the outer rim is too thick and the central hub slightly undersized but overall these items should be okay for most and are better representations than in some kits.
The tracks are full length ‘rubber band’ type in glueable vinyl and not the individual link plastic track as with the original M548 kit and while these have very good detail on both sides including the rubber pad retaining bolt on the inside workable track will give better detail definition as well as giving the gentle sag of the M113 track.
At the back the tail gate has the lower section that can fold down with separate to steel cable and mounting while the front hull section is also separate with hollows for the separate headlights and lower winch. All the tools and lights are separate parts for good definition although the tools could benefit from etched tool tie downs and brackets and there are also the upper lifting eyes and two spare track links for an overall good impression.
One the inside the front compartment tub has the full width crew seat with a separate two part driver’s seat plus the steering levers with moulded on foot pedals and separate instrument panel with engraved dials.
The engine compartment top panel has nicely engraved intake screens with additional etched mesh screens plus a choice of short or tall exhaust stacks for the appropriate version.
You get a choice of adding the canvas cab cover with clear plastic ‘glass’ inserts
and two different upper .50cal gun rings, one the early type (from the WC63
kit) for the Vietnam version or the later style ring for the M548A1 as well
as the .50cal MG which is quite okay for a plastic .50cal.
One thing to watch is the front MG ring “legs” attach at the same location as the lifting eyes on the top of the front hull so if you are to install the MG ring mount don’t glue the lifting eyes which are only for the gun truck version. The instructions do note this but it’s easy to miss if not careful along the way.
The rear cargo bay has separate floor panels but you don’t get the full canvas cover from the original M548 kit and so if you choose the cargo version filling the back with gear will be a good option.
The M55 .50cal gun mounting:
For the gun truck version you get the M55 quad .50cal mounting from the M35 Gun Truck kit (AF35034) which is almost a kit in itself and builds into a nice mounting with separate parts for the battery, generator and some plumbing as well as detailed mounting plates and base for the four .50cals which are again quite nice for plastic guns.
The separate flash suppressors on the guns are solid and you will want to hollow out the ends for a better look and also note that the cocking handle is on opposite sides of the gun depending if they are mounted on the left or right of the gun mounting. Take note of this as both are numbered the same in the instructions although differently on the sprues (left P4, right P5), so take care.
There are some niggling minor sink marks and small pin marks on some of the gun mounting parts that will need a bit of effort to remove but some may be hidden by the guns and large 20mm ammo bins after assembly.
The ammo bins are in five parts each allowing detail on all sides for a good appearance and you also get four large etched gun shields which show in the only picture of the vehicle I know of on page 52 of the Concord book “Armor of the Vietnam War”.
In fact AFV Club has also used this picture as reference as the decal sheet includes the vehicle number and name “Snap Fox” as shown in the photo. The photos shows that the side skirts are not fitted but the instructions and the box top show these in place on the gun truck but are easily left off.
The M20 trailer mount is also included in five resin parts to add to the
cargo bay but the three mounting jacks (parts R3 and R4) lift the base some
3mm off the bay floor when assembled but the trailer should be lowered to
sit flat on the floor. This means you will have to cut off the lower legs
and also extend the section of jack pinion out of the top of the jack to
correctly depict the trailer stance.
The trailer wheels are not included and these were often simply folded flat on the trailer but removed altogether in other situations but you don’t get the choice here. It should also be noted that the lower part of M55 pedestal should actually be part of the trailer but doesn’t really matter when the whole assembly is mounted in the cargo bay.
The details on the resin M20 trailer are quite nicely done to give a better representation than could be achieved with plastic parts and this base will no doubt be included with the separate M55 Gun Trailer to be released by Hobby Fan (set HF061) in the near future.
A large assortment of .30cal and .50cal ammo boxes are included to add to the cargo bay floor with these also coming form the M35 Gun Truck kit.
AFV Club have departed from the usual exploded view drawing type instructions with these having colour photos of the kit parts during assembly similar to those tried by Dragon some time back and personally I don’t think these are as clear as the line drawings. Indeed you will have to take care in quite a few sections as there are numerous long arrowed lines going all over the place and it’s easy to get mixed up where things go.
The small decal sheet has markings for four vehicles and is well printed with thin carrier film but strangely the painting and decal placement diagrams are simple B&W line drawings even though the rest of the instructions are in colour.
The four vehicles are:
Overall this is a nice kit of the M548 despite the fact it is the only game town with some nice details and the inclusion of the M55 mounting offers an interesting alternative even if a rather unknown version.
Thanks to my credit card and Lucky Model.com for the review kit.
Page Created April 1, 2006