The M915 is the basis for a series of heavy trucks built for the US Army. In the late 1970s the US army identified a need for a line of commercial trucks. AM General was selected in 1977 and the first vehicles were delivered in 1978. This new release from Trumpeter depicts the M915 Line Haul Tractor. This vehicle is limited to operating on hard surface roads and typically tows the M872 semi-trailer. This combination has a payload capacity of around 30 tons and this new release from Trumpeter contains the M915 tractor, M872 trailer and a 40ft container.
As is typical of these larger Trumpeter releases the large box contains a large number of light grey plastic sprues, 24 rubber tires, a small decal sheet, and a small photo etch fret. The well over 500 parts are very well molded with no production issues, no broken parts or flash. This is typical of modern Trumpeter releases. Also, the instructions are typical of Trumpeter, clearly printed line drawings and I had no issues with them at all.
The construction starts as usual for kits of this type, with the nicely detailed truck. The basic frame construction progresses extremely quickly with no major issues. The only problem I had was in Step 3 when attaching the subassembly containing B10 to the frame. The attachment points for the photo-etch brackets to the larger frame are a little vague. I ended up cleaning all the pins out and just lining up the edge of B10 with the ends of the frame. Also, be careful when attaching D22 to B10, the locations are extremely vague and the parts are extremely easy to lose. Only two more things to mention in the construction of the frame, in step 7 you need to fold and attach PE-A7 to the box being built in the step. However, the attachment location is extremely vague and I can’t tell if PE-A7 needs to go inside the channels on the bottom of part C6 or not. The part is too large/too small to fit well in either position. Lastly, for PE-A3 on both sides of the frame, I couldn’t seem to get the parts to fit over their pins very well so I removed the pins. All three of these photo-etch parts are extremely easy to break off in handling so be careful.
Moving on to the construction of the cab with a general point on the tires and wheels first. I left all tires and wheels off during the build to allow for easier painting later. The only issue I had with this was encountered during final construction and I will address it there. The construction of the cab is very straightforward and I encountered no issues in steps 10-12. For step 12, I found it easier to leave parts 31/29, the exhaust sub-assembly and PE-A12 off until after final painting as I had masked all of the windows. Be careful when installing GP5 and GP7 into the respective door, the fit is extremely tight. So tight that I installed them without glue. When installing the cab on the frame you need to attach it to two previously installed parts, C7 up front and C35 in back. With the pins on C35 in place on the bottom of the cab I could not get the holes on the front two corners to line up with both pins on C7. I am assuming this is due an alignment problem from when I installed C7 earlier and I was able to rectify it by removing the right front pin with no issues. Be very careful when installing the wheel well subassemblies in this step, they are only attached with two tabs per side and are very easy to break off. I recommend dry fitting the hood to these parts as they dry to set the height of them both correctly. Two final things on the cab assembly: Part E31 in step 17 has no location marker on E20 so it can be tricky to install, and the front mudguards from step 18 (C29/C28) are extremely easy to break off during handling so I would recommend leaving them off until after painting.
The trailer and container are the last part of assembly that needs to be addressed. The trailer assembly is extremely straightforward starting with the frame in step 19, which goes together with no issues. When I was attaching the frame to the bottom of the trailer bed I had some minor fit issues. There was an inconsistent gap the whole length of both sides that could probably be managed with effective clamps but I don’t have any. The gaps were easy to address with Mr. Surfacer and light sanding before installing all of the H29 parts. The next parts that I had fit issues with was the suspension for the trailer built from H28/H27. After assembly that had pretty serious mold lines that required a fair amount of sanding to remove. The last two fit issues I had on the trailer were with the parts H6 where they attach to the bed and the G10 to G16 for the front of the trailer. There were minor gaps on these parts after assembly that was easy to fix with minor filling and sanding. The last part of assembly for the truck and trailer is installing the tires on to the rims. The tires for this kit are pretty stiff and difficult to install on the rims for the trailer. Specifically for part H11, there are very large tabs on the rear part of the rim and it looks like the tires are supposed to go over but with how stiff the tires are it is extremely difficult. I found that the easiest way was to install the tire on H11 first and use a hobby knife as a shim to pull the tire out over the front rim after painting.
The very last thing for assembly is the container, the build is very straight forward and I only encountered a few small problems. Be careful during step 29 to clean up all of the attachment surfaces. I did not and it led to some fit issues later where D1 was not really well attached to E1 and E2. I ended up having to remove all of the A7 parts to make it sit level on the bed of the trailer. Be careful when installing parts A10 – A13 as the tops and bottoms of these parts needed a little clean up to make them fit into the A4 parts.
The painting guide only provides a single scheme for standard NATO camouflage with a number of simple nicely printed decals. I used the Tamiya range of premixed NATO colors for all of the main colors and Tamiya Hull Red for the container. Be very careful when preparing the decals. The decals included in my kit example looked like they were printed without any carrier film at all. Upon contact with water the decals completely disintegrated and I can see no evidence of carrier film on any of the surviving decals. This is a huge shame because the decals are really well detailed and typical for Trumpeter really well printed but the lack of carrier film renders them useless. I would recommend trying a product like Micro Liquid Decal Film to try to salvage the decals if you encounter the same issue.
Overall this is a great kit. For the most part it builds up quickly and fits really well. It seems to be fairly accurate and because it is a standard long haul truck you can have a lot of flexibility with what it can haul making for interesting display options. The only real low point is the decals that I could not use, just be careful and check yours before use.
I really enjoyed working on this kit and I recommend it for anyone that likes modern military vehicles that has a large amount of empty shelf space. My thanks to MegaHobby and IPMS for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.
M915 Incorrect Versions
The M915 tractor depicted in the Trumpeter kit is incorrect. The kit is of an M915 with the 16 speed Cat transmission gear selector between the seats. The fuel tank in the kit is of an M915A1. The M915 fuel tank had fewer steps. The kit shows one air horn on the cab roof. The M915 had two, while the M915A1 had only one. The interior painting is wrong. The cab floor is a thick, black non-removable rubber mat. The seats, cab back and head liner are a dark greenish-yellow color. The seat mounts, tool box (the passenger seat sits on), inside door panels and dash should be olive drab.
The trailer depicted is of an early M872, identified by the larger tarp storage box, the vertical trailer tie down points and the one piece front bulkhead. Missing are the steel tube tarp bows that mount on the frame above the side board boxes.
Yes, those two rectangular boxes that mount under the frame are where the wood side boards and aluminum posts are stored. Each box opens to opposite sides. This kit shows a camouflage paint scheme on the tractor and trailer, except for units in Germany in the early '80's, most were painted solid forest green or sand.
I spent considerable time as an M915A1 driver including during the Persian Gulf War (Desert Storm). I've been waiting for a 1:35 scale kit to come out for 27 years.
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