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Armor/AFV: Modern - USA
Modern Armor, AFVs, and Support vehicles.
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Live Resin M153 CROWS II
WXerock
#450
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California, United States
Joined: July 19, 2015
KitMaker: 672 posts
Armorama: 668 posts
Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 08:39 AM UTC
Hello all, this will be my first attempt at a product review. I am going to review Live Resin set LRE-35223 M-ATV SOCOM Version Ė Part 1 which is the M153 Protector Turret with an M240 Machine Gun. This is the complete turret, interior operatorís screen and joystick. While the overall suite of sets is optimized for the Kinetic M-ATV, the CROWS II turret should be able to be used with any vehicle the CROWS turret is mounted on with a little scratch-building skill. The only thing that you should need to build would be a base for the roof of your vehicle. So, here we go!

The following information is from the official Kronsberg website.

In August 2007, KONGSBERG was awarded the prestigious contract of CROWS II (Commonly Remotely Operated Weapon Station) by the US Army. CROWS is a joint acquisition program for weapon stations for the US Army vehicle programs. In August 2012, KONGSBERG was awarded the follow-on CROWS contract, enabling KONGSBERG to continue the well-established cooperation with the US Army. The PROTECTOR family of Remote Weapon Stations are systems suitable for any missions whether on land or at sea, on mobile or static platforms for remote operation of payloads ranging from small caliber weapons to medium caliber automatic cannons. The system is modular, and all of the different variants of the PROTECTOR RWS share the same baseline technology. The PROTECTOR RWS is built for operation in extreme environmental conditions with capabilities that allow soldiers to operate from a protected position using stabilized precision optics and laser to observe, detect and engage targets with increased accuracy and reduced collateral damage. The feature of the PROTECTORís aim and fire function is the Detached Line of Sight. It enables the gunner to keep his sights on target, independent of the ballistic solution for the weapon in use. PROTECTOR is a mature and proven product based on millions of hours of operational experience in combat zones combined with a close cooperation with Defense Forces worldwide. The PROTECTOR has an unprecedented Operational Readiness Rate of 99%.

Now on to the review! This model consists of 39 parts cast in light gray resin. This is a high parts count for such a small model. There are no spares, so care must be taken not to lose any parts to the dreaded carpet monster! The resin that Live Resin uses is light gray and a bit harder than the plastic used in most model kits. It cuts and works easily and is pretty durable with a few exceptions which Iíll cover later. The color of the resin allows the detail on the parts to photograph very clearly. I really have no idea how Live Resin captures some of the tiny details that they do. There is minimal flash on the parts with most of it being on the casting blocks, not on the parts. Mold seams are impossible to see on most parts. There are 39 parts on 8 casting blocks. The castings are flawless, with no mold slippage, and incredible detail. The kit parts are bagged in a small zipper style plastic bag which is contained in a small white card box with a rendering of the kit on the outside. The box is a welcome feature of the kit as many of Live Resinís smaller sets ship in a zipper bag stapled in a folded over piece of card. I have had breakage due to shipping on every Live Resin set Iíve bought that is packed this way. None of the parts contained in the box for this kit were damaged in any way. None of the parts were broken off of the casting blocks. There are no instructions, but instructions can be downloaded from the Live Resin website. The instructions are renderings of the kit parts that use hand drawn arrows that in many cases are vague at best showing where parts need to be attached. A good set of reference photos is a must. Being a resin set, any cyanoacrylate glue can be used. Because Live Resin have created a model where most parts are near-scale thickness, the mating surfaces can be quite small. This can be a problem when gluing some parts which would be easier to glue if you had eight hands!

The first two photos are of all of the parts laid out.





As you can see, there are many very small parts. Some details are less than a millimeter across! The following two photos are of the spent shell casing basket. The rail around the top needs to have some small areas cleaned out between it and the cloth basket. I assumed it would be a nightmare, but was actually quite easy.





The next image shows the casting block with the joystick and most of the optics. Detail here is amazing. My only issue is with the optical surfaces, which are solid resin. If you want to use any sort of clear replacement, you will need to drill the resin out before mounting the parts. Clear lenses would have been nice, but Iím sure gloss paint will do the job nicely. Sorry there is only one image of this set of parts. I screwed up somehow.



The following pictures are of the M240 mount and the cradle uprights. Some of the finest detail in the kit is on these parts. Within the red circle on the first image is a knob that defies my understanding of how resin parts are cast. This mount is beautiful. I havenít seen any photos of the real thing without the weapon. On older sets which use the Mk 93 Machine Gun Mount, the mount itself is simplified Tamiya-like. There is no such simplification I can see here. On the second image there is a circle showing the ribs cast inside one of the uprights. Amazing!





Pictured next are the armor plates for the system, the interior screen with its uprights and the base of the system for mounting on a vehicle roof. The uprights for the operatorís screen are very slightly warped. They are the only such parts in the kit.





Pictured here are a smaller basket for the ammo belt links, a wiring harness, optical shades and the chute that connects the weapon to the ammo source. One of the parts, the main optical shield is highlighted in red and yellow. This is the one weakness I have found so far in the kit. The red area must be removed as scrap and the yellow area is the mounting surface. Once the part is removed, the mounting surface is not strong enough to be handled while trying to clean off the casting block. I snapped it into two parts and had to make a replacement out of Evergreen.





The next two photos are of connecting arms, small latches, a feed chute and an empty shell casing chute. You canít tell from these photos, but the empty shell casing chute is extremely thin and captures the look of the real rubber chute very well.





This casting block only contains three parts, the turret base, the ammunition can and a final optic.





And finally, we have the M240. The only downside to this casting is that there is a solid block of resin where the bore of the barrel should be. Looking at the rest of the castings, there is no a single reason I can see for this to be cast this way. It appears that this is from an older mold as there is more flash here than elsewhere. Again, most of it is on the casting blocks.





Well, thatís it for now. When I finish the assembly in a few days (hopefully), I will photograph the final product. So far I am more than a little impressed. As you can see, the kit is beautiful. The detail simply defies what was capable when I quit modeling in my early twenties (50 now!). Thanks for reading!

Regards,

Eric
youngtiger1
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California, United States
Joined: May 14, 2008
KitMaker: 534 posts
Armorama: 344 posts
Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 09:46 AM UTC
Nice review Eric. I like the touch of history in the beginning. I can see how you can snap the mounting part in two. Over all very nice detail and your are right about how can they cast such detail parts.

Anyway, are you building your humvee here?
caiman
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United States
Joined: March 30, 2012
KitMaker: 12 posts
Armorama: 12 posts
Posted: Saturday, November 05, 2016 - 07:17 AM UTC
Hello,

Im the guy who created the 3d model that was used for making the molds.

Im really happy to finally see this thing in resin! Thanks for posting pictures!! Id love to see this thing fully built.
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