M915A1 US Army
Line Haul Tractor

Minimanfactory Kit No. MMF 35001
1:35th Scale

Review by Terry Ashley

The M915 Line-Haul Tractor (Truck, Tractor, 14-ton, 6x4) series consists of the M915, M915A1, M915A2, M915A3 and M915A4 vehicles coupled with either the M871 semitrailer (flatbed, 22.5 tons), M872 semitrailer (flatbed, 34 tons), M967/M969 semitrailer (5,000-gallon tanker) or M1062 semitrailer (7,500-gallon tanker). The US Army and Reserve units used the M915 series which saw extensive service during Operation Desert Storm and in OIF.

The kit:

This full kit of the M915A1 Line Haul Tractor is the first kit from new manufacturer Minimanfactory with the M872 Flatbed Trailer also released separately (kit #35002) to make up the full Tractor/Trailer combination and is quite an undertaking as the opening shot, so let’s see how things have turned out not only for these kits but for future releases.

The kit consists of approximately 160 parts in light cream resin, 11 tyres in black vinyl material, 9 in clear resin and an etched fret with 88 parts, a sheet of photo film windows as well as an eight page colour instruction sheet for a full multi-medial type kit.

Etched and other parts
Minimanfactory MinimanfactoryMinimanfactory

The quality of the resin casting is excellent with very few if any blemishes such as air holes and more importantly there is no warping on any of the parts in my kit with the full length chassis being perfectly square and flat and the single cab casting is also perfectly square with detail on the inside walls and roof for an impressive casting.

There is some resin ‘film’ type flash on some parts with the chassis and cab having the most, but this actually looks worse than is on first look with it being quite fine and easily removed with a pass of the trusty #11 blade.

Some other parts such as the radiator grill and large bull bar have by their design resin film inside the grills that again is quite easy to remove with the #11 blade and most other fine film is quickly dealt with but there is also some very fine castings that will require care when removing any film present.

The quality of fidelity of the castings is best summed up with the large fuel tank which includes the securing straps in the single casting and after removing the fine resin film inside the straps an impressive piece results.

Detail of fuel tank after cleanup

As mentioned the full chassis is in one piece cast perfectly square and this makes for a sound footing for the rest of the kit such as the front and rear suspensions made up of finely cast components that fit together without any problems with locating lugs on the chassis to ensure the springs fit evenly on both sides.
The rear suspensions if assembled carefully allows the two sets of wheel bogies to articulate along the lines of the real thing and are quite detailed with springs, sway bars and additional brake cylinders and could be detailed with the addition of the brake lines from wire or tubing.

The two large differentials are also nicely detailed with additional drive shafts and steering linkages on the front wheels with the separate axle mounting allowing you to reposition the front wheels easily by adding small wire pins to the holes already included in the suspension parts.

The kit provides a full engine made up of 22 resin and 2 etched parts including the large radiator and again the parts are cleanly cast and there are small locating pins and holes on some parts that make assembly very easy for a resin kit. You will need to study the instructions carefully and numbering the smaller parts with a fine pencil before removing them from the casting blocks will make things easier but more on the instructions later.

The large radiator has excellent detail on both sides and this fits into the equally large front radiator grill with the etched mesh trapped between them and obviously will have to paint the insides pf the radiator before fitting the etched mesh.

On the chassis there are locating ridges that fit into corresponding mounting on the engine to ensure the engine is attached at the right position with the radiator also fitting neatly to the front of the chassis.
The huge engine hood is provided in a single large casting or as five separate panels allowing you to show the hood open to expose the excellent engine and obviously there is additional wiring and plumbing that can be added to the engine to fully detail this if it’s to be exposed?

The main cab has a full interior that includes the two large seats with excellent cushion texturing, the driver’s foot pedals and gear levers between the two seats as well as the instrument panel detail nicely engraved with separate steering wheel and steering column. On the front bulkhead are additional details with the fit of the floor into the one piece can casting not posing any problems?

The two doors are separate and have details on both sides allowing you to show these open or closed with the main windscreen, door glass and rear window supplied on the photo film sheet that you carefully cut out and fit in place.

Additional details for the cab include etched windscreen wipers and extremely intricate rear view mirror mounting frames that are quite delicate and will need care during assembly.

The wheels have separate rims and brake drums with just some fine resin film to be removed from the rim lightening holes before assembly which is quite straightforward with the tyres fitting very snugly to the rims without any gaps around the edges to deal with.

The tyres themselves are cast in more of a soft resin type material rather than the traditional vinyl as it is quite easy to cut away the casting blocks and the resin film in the middle of the tyre with a sharp scalpel blade. The tread pattern on the tyre is well defined but there is a cutting scar left after removing the casting block but this can easily be hidden at ground contact after fitting the wheels.

At the rear of the chassis is the fifth wheel assembly with etched walk plates added to the chassis and the spare wheel and mounting as well as the hydraulic line support added behind the cab. Adding the curled hydraulic brake lines here will add further detail to the kit but you will have to source the cabling yourself as no tubing or wire is provided for this.

The large fuel tank and smaller air bottles carried either side under the cab have additional etched crew steps as there are for the rear of the front fenders that add some nice detail definition to the kit as does the etched heat shield and top pivoting cap for the large right side exhaust pipe which is made up of three resin pieces fitted together to form the complete pipe running from the engine.

Additional etched parts are provided for the rear mud flaps, the rear view mirrors and fender light guards with the cab side grab handles added from wire (not included in the kit) as well as smaller fender attachment strips with these parts adding to the overall good impression of the kit.

I dry fitted many of the larger assemblies and smaller items such as the engine and radiator parts as well as the cab and suspension with all parts fitting together very well for a resin kit with only some minor trimming needed here and there. I didn’t assembly these parts fully as I want to build this kit more fully later with the additional details mentioned above instead to ‘as it comes’ for this review.

These are in the form of an eight page booklet with colour photos of the model during construction showing the parts in place as you go, each is called out by number but there is no overall part layout diagram which is why it is best to number each part with a fine lead pencil as you prepare them for assembly so as to lessen any ID problems.

The photos are rather small being 60 x 45mm and at times it’s not easy to see the parts mentioned, there is also a few occasions where a part is shown assembled but is not identified by number until a few steps later and it’s important to study all the sequences before commencing assembly.

Overall this is an excellent kit with high levels of resin casting and detail on the parts with the work needed for cleanup and during assembly a lot less than on a lot of other full resin kits I have played with.

The lack of any warping on the larger parts makes the assemblies even easier as you don’t have to worry about making corrections to the parts as well as fitting them correctly and as mentioned I didn’t encounter anything out of the ordinary for a resin kit during the dry fitting.

Providing you study the instructions carefully the kit will assemble into an excellent kit of the big M915A Line Haul Tractor with the separate kit of the M872 Flatbed Trailer (kit #35002) available separately to build the full rig.

Highly recommended 8/10
Resin parts:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Detail images
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Prime Portal
WWP US Army Truck Tractors
Present Vehicle Line No.3
Wings & Wheels Publications.
Published by RAK, Czech Republic.
ISBN 80-86416-08-9
108 pages all in colour.

Thanks to Minimanfactory for the review set.

Page created January 20, 2008