The Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) or 7-Ton is an all-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle used by the United States Marine Corps and United States Navy. It is designed to replace the ageing M939 and M809 5-ton 6x6 trucks and was first fielded in 1998, after the contract was awarded to Oshkosh Truck Corporation. The MTVR comes in several variants, for a wide spectrum of tasks and offers a major improvement in off-road capability. It features a welded, all-aluminum cab mounted on a rigid channel chassis frame with a conventional layout that houses the engine at the front, crew cab in the middle and troop/cargo section in the rear.
The Mk 23 MTVR cargo variant has a length of 24 feet, width of 7 feet and a height of 15 feet. The curb weight is 12.6 tons. It is powered by a Caterpillar C-13 six-cylinder diesel engine coupled to an Allison seven-speed automatic transmission, and an Oshkosh single-speed transfer box, which provide a power output of 440hp. The MTVR variants are also equipped with the Oshkosh TAK-4 independent coil-spring suspension, which provides superior mobility and allows each wheel to move independently on uneven surfaces. The vehicle features anti-lock brakes with automatic traction control and a CTIS (Central Tire Inflation System) which allows the driver to select tire inflation pressures according to vehicle payload and terrain type.
The MTVR is often referred to as a 7-Ton - 7 short tons (6,400 kg); denoting the vehicle's off-road cargo capacity. The MTVR's maximum payload on paved surfaces is 15 short tons (14,000 kg). It is the Marine Corps prime mover for the M777 howitzer, fuel and water assets, troops and a wide variety of equipment. Its wide versatility and off road capability make the MTVR an integral part of the Navy and Marine Corps logistical backbone.
Trumpeterís most recent truck kit in 1/35 scale is the USMC Mk 23 MTVR 7-ton cargo truck with ring-mount for a machine gun, but there is no gun include in the kit. The vehicle in this configuration is representative of one that could be seen stateside or anywhere the USMC or US Navy operates around the world. It could be used as a vehicle in Afghanistan or Iraq early in the wars from early 2001 and 2003 respectively; before armored vehicles were needed. These are/were used as general cargo and troop transport vehicles all over the world. This kit has been on many a modelerís wish list for a few years, since Trumpeter originally announced it and showed pre-production shots of it. It was well worth the wait.
Overall, the truck parts look great. On first impression, Trumpeter has outdone themselves with this kit. One of their biggest downfalls with their previous truck kits has been the lack of details on the cab interior and non-opening doors, roof hatches, and cargo bed tailgates. They look to have fixed most of these areas on this kit. The cab interior is very detailed and both the doors and roof hatch can be built in the open positions. The door interiors are improved, but still lack some major details. The rear cargo bed tailgate can also be modified pretty easily to be workable or built in the up or down position.
I will focus this article on building the vehicle and provide notes on improving it or correcting errors with the kit or in accuracy. For a more detailed overview that talks more about the sprues and parts, refer to Seb Vialeís (seb43) excellent In-Box Review or to Jim Starkweatherís (STAFF_JIM) First Look Review Video links to which are at the end of this review.
The build starts in steps 1 and 2
with the familiar format of the building of the frame first. The parts go together well and I had no issues with assembly or frame alignment. All parts have keyed tabs that provide a tight and square fit.
Steps 3 - 9
are for the suspension units. As mentioned above, the MTVR is equipped with Oshkoshís TAK-4 independent suspension units. Trumpeter has captured the TAK-4 units well. They are very detailed and look great, but they have a bunch of parts for each one. Be prepared to spend some time on them. Step 3 starts the construction with building the six side pieces for the three suspension units. As you work your way through to step 9, you combine them and add more and more details. Like I said, there are a lot of parts, but they come out looking great. There were no issues building them, other than the time it took.
: Axle numbering. Be sure to keep straight which axle assembly is which. To do this, I marked them with a Sharpie with the letters and numbers Trumpeter uses in the instructions for them. You build the suspension by first building individual side units, then connecting them with a differential between to build an axle unit. For example, you build two A sides, then two B sides, then connect one A side and one B side with a differential to make the rear axle unit, which becomes axle unit 1-1. Then you take another A side and another B side, put them together with a different differential, and you have the rear axle unit, which becomes 2-2. You do the same with the front axle by making and joining sides C and D to make the front axle unit, 3-3. Then you add the units by their new numbers to the frame. If you donít keep them straight, they can be easily mixed up and the suspension will not fit properly. Also pay close attention to which way the differentials face or they will not line up with the drive shafts.
: Position able Steering. It is not mentioned in the instructions, but the front wheels can be built in any position to represent turned wheels. All the parts in the kit are separate pieces and can be built or easily modified to turn the wheels. To do so, follow these steps. First, in step 1, the steering gear box (F10), steering arms (B1), pitman gear box (F13), and tie rod (D45) are built. Attach the steering arms at an angle to turn the wheels, and then connect the tie rod to maintain the same angle on both steering arms. Next, in steps 7 through 9, you build the front axle units. On parts D11 and D12, front spindles; remove the spine in the upper socket. On parts B41, prop shafts; remove the pin past the CV boot. These are shown in red on the picture to the right. Do not glue the prop shafts to the spindles at this stage. Build the front axle unit as shown, but do not attach the spindles (D11 &12) until after the axle unit is attached to the frame. Glue the prop shaft to the differential after the axle unit is complete, but before attaching the spindles. Only insert the prop shafts far enough to catch the differential, leaving the shafts long enough to touch the back of the spindles. Once attached to the frame, glue on the spindles and use the outer tie rods (B20) to attach the previously turned steering arms in step 1 and fix the spindles in a turned position. You can get any degree of turn by varying the position of the steering arms (B1). That is it, a simple and accurate way to turn the wheels.
adds the completed TAK-4 suspension units and drive shafts to the frame.
has you build a couple subassemblies such as the fuel tank and sides steps, which are added later. The steps can be made from PE or plastic parts. The PE version looks really nice when done.
Steps 12 through 15
continue building and adding subassemblies to the frame. First, you build the air tanks and battery box, hydraulic fluid filter, and right side steps, again with an option of plastic or PE steps. The PE version looks better again here as well. Next are the air filter unit and some smaller details around this area. You also add the inner fenders to the frame. No issues here.
starts the construction of the cab. There are no surprises here either. In a welcomed departure from Trumpeterís earlier trucks, the interior is pretty nicely detailed. The instrument panel decals look nice as well. There are also a couple small knobs (brake and air release buttons) for the instrument panel. There are no call outs for interior colors though. The walls could be either forest green or sand (depending on the exterior colors). The floor is flat black. The seat cushions should be OD green with black for the lower support on the driverís side (parts F9 & F12), and the lower portion of the crew seat (D43) should be whatever color the interior is (sand or green). The steering wheel (A13) and steering column/shift lever (A22) should also be black. There are also nicely detailed, separate gas (E29) and brake (E14) pedals which should be black rubber for the pads with metal shafts.
: Gunnerís platform. Another nice feature is the movable, fold down crew seat/platform for the gunner to stand on. However, the seat could use some more details and needs to be modified if you want it to fold down to become the gunnerís platform. On the actual seat, the hinge point for the seatback is movable. It can be adjusted up or down to accommodate gunners of different heights and is secured in place by a pin on each side. The way Trumpeter has these molded though does not allow the seat to fold fully down into the gunnerís platform as the hinge point is too low. To correct this, I simply took the Trumpeter seat support rails (parts E37 and E42), cut off the upper hook part that holds the seat back, and flipped them over so the seat hinge is higher. I also cut off the small attachment pins at the top and bottom on these parts as well. Once the supports are flipped and swapped to the opposite sides of the seat (so the bracket faces the right direction), I added the upper hook back in place. To finish them off, I added bolts for the securing pins and drilled holes above and below the adjustable hinge bracket. I also detailed the gunnerís platform section from reference pictures with stiffeners, a thin upper lip, and bolts that hold the upper seat cushion in place. Lastly, I detailed the lower portion of the seat by scribing a line that delineates the seat cushion from the lower storage box and added a couple latches to the front of the box. The rest of the cab interior went together well with no issues.
continues the cab assembly by moving to the exterior and the gun mount. Smaller details such as lights, windshield wipers, and handles are added here. The gun mount is nicely detailed and looks the part when built. There is a minor issue here though. If installing the gun mount, the cover for the top hole in the cab (part D38) would not usually be installed as is shown in the instructions. This cover can be removed or snapped back into position and is usually stored in the bed or cab when not installed. I would only install the cover (D38) if you are not using the gun mount.
mates the lower cab and cab shell and adds the doors, exhaust pipe, rear portions of the fenders, and some other small details. You also build the exhaust pipe with a very nice PE heat shield/guard around it and attach the exhaust pipe and the rear portions of the front fenders to the cab assembly. The two assemblies went together well with no issues.
: Door interiors. The doors are another area Trumpeter has improved upon. Trumpeter listened to modelers and left them as separate pieces in this kit, unlike their M1078 soft cab where they were molded onto the cab shell. Furthermore, the door interiors are partially detailed with information placard decals to add some color and nice details. Most of the inner door details are missing though, as mentioned above. I added handles and a window crank from PE frets and sheet and rod styrene. They sufficiently flesh out the inner door panels.
completes the cab with the addition of smaller items such as side mirrors with PE mounts, PE steps, and the flapper of the exhaust pipe. As a nice feature, Trumpeter provides an overhead drawing showing the angles (in degrees from the centerline) of the exhaust flapper and side mirrors so they can be positioned correctly without much effort. If you want to get anal, you can go as far as putting a protractor to the parts to measure them exactly. I found the old Mark 1, Calibrated Eyeball to be good enough.
Steps 20 and 21
marries the cab and frame. You also add a couple cab securing bolts, a storage box behind the cab, and a small hose from the exhaust to the air filter.
: Under cab details. Before you add the cab, you may want to add some details under it and in the engine compartment. I added some left over resin boxes to make up the top of the transmission and gearbox, an old engine shell to fill up the engine compartment, and a couple pieces of plastic tubing to complete the air intake and exhaust pipes on the right side above the frame. These are not mandatory, but the underside of the cab where the rest of the transmission should be and the area where the back of an engine should be are quite visibly empty and look strange to me. I also added some hoses here and there and some lines from the fuel tank and hydraulic filter, etc. These small touches are not hard to do and really bring it to life if you ask me.
: Steering linkage. Also missing is the steering linkage from the bottom of the cab (as if extending through the floor) to the steering gear box (part F10). This is an easy fix by adding a section of 0.030 rod to connect these parts once the cab has been added to the frame. At the connection to F10, add a square knuckle to complete the job.
builds and attaches the front hood assembly. There are two very nice PE pieces that make up the grill mesh and radiator front. You also add the headlights and blackout drive light with either a plastic or PE bracket (again, the PE looks better in my opinion) before attaching the hood to the frame. These parts went together easily and with no issues.
Steps 23 and 24
begin the construction of the cargo box. This too went together without issues with keyed locating pins for an accurate and secure connection of parts. You also add the rear tailgate (part F20), which can be easily modified to be in the open/down position, see below. There is also another minor issue with the instructions here. They show the access ladder (part F20) mounted on the outside of the rear tailgate. This is usually only mounted in this fashion when the vehicle is parked and troops will be getting in and out over the closed tailgate. Alternately, the ladder can be attached to the inside of the tailgate (pointing up when closed) so that when it is open, the ladder is on the outside and hanging down to allow easy entry to the bed, or it can be left off. When the ladder is not in use, it is stored in the locker between the frame rails inside the door (part F28) on the rear plate. Other than that, no issues noted.
: Rear tailgate. I also did some extra detailing to the rear tailgate to make it operable. I cut the raised areas and securing pins off the ends of the gate. Save the pins for later. Next, I drilled out the two end hinges (I couldnít get to the middle ones) on both the gate and the bed. I added small wire (included in the kit for the squiggle tie-downs) as pins to the tailgate hinge parts only. I also drilled holes in the ends of the gates where the securing pins go through. Next, I added the extensions to the bed sides from 0.020 sheet styrene strips to make the thin pieces that allow the gate to be secured to the bed. I drilled matching holes in these extensions to correspond with the holes in the tailgate. Lastly, I drilled out the backs of the securing pins we removed before and glued a short piece of the wire from earlier and bent them to a 90 degree angle. Once the gate is slid into place (do not glue it if you want to leave it operable), slide the wire from the securing pin through the holes in the bed extensions and the gate, turn 90 degrees and they are on, securing the gate. It now works just like the real thing.
continues detailing the cargo bed. Here, you add the mud flaps and rear lights, a couple large tie-down loops, a grab handle, and start adding squiggles used to tie the canvas top down. These canvas top tie-down squiggles are a pain. Trumpeter gives you a roll of copper wire and a jig (part A30) to make them with, but I found the jig useless as it broke after three failed attempts at the hooks. I ended up just bending them freehand with a tweezers; all 20 of them. It isnít too difficult, but be prepared to have a few fly off the tweezers. I made a few sacrifices to the carpet monster with them. You also add PE parts to the front wall exterior to make the storage racks for the bows and rails for the canvas; neither are included in the kit though.
continues adding large tie-down loops to the cargo bed sides and a top plate on the front wall. You also continue adding canvas tie-down squiggles and securing pins to the bed sides. Again, these are not hard, just tedious. Of note, the bed sides could be made operable or ďdroppedĒ in the same manner the tailgate was made operable above.
adds the completed bed to the frame.
completes the build by constructing the wheels and tires and adding them to the TAK-4 suspension units.
Overall this is a great kit that goes together well. There are no major issues with it and only a few minor ones that are easy to overcome. I do wish there was a weapon included for the gun mount, but that is easily rectified with one from any number of AM companies or left over from another kit. The most common gun mounted would be an M2 .50 cal, but an M240 7.62mm MG or Mk 19 AGL would also be appropriate. The assembly sequence and subassemblies allow for ease of painting. It looks really tough once done as well. Anyone with average modeling skills will find this a joy to build. I highly recommend this kit to anyone who enjoys building modern vehicles.
Seb Vialeís Mk 23 MTVR Review
Jim Starkweatherís (STAFF_JIM) First Look Review Video