In a complete reversal to my previous vehicle-based project, I decided to pick up my reference material at the start of the project rather than just as it was coming to an end. Osprey does produce a New Vanguard on the Humvee series written by Steven J Zaloga. However, it’s a little outdated now thanks to its cut-off of 2005 but provides a good jumping-off point. With the Spectre HMVs being more designed for the later armoured versions I started looking for an alternative. And then I discovered that Haynes had a manual available for the vehicle.
If you are unaware, Haynes have been producing reference books designed to assist drivers in repairing their own car. Through the years I’ve seen a fair number of the practical guides. They also do some more unusual books in the series, such as for the Star Trek Enterprise, and several historical vehicles. For Christmas, I received their Churchill Tank book and found it a great read (although sadly I’m not sure I’ll be in a position to use it’s maintenance tips). I quite like their books, both for the technical information and photos, so I had to pick it up.
The book was .published in 2014 and is in the usual Haynes style, in hardback, full colour and a whopping 154 pages. It starts off with the history of the Humvee program (including a look at it’s predecessors) before moving on to cover the production and the various variants that have been created off the basic vehicle. It also looks at the stranger selections including some words dedicated to the Hummer. A short chapter looks at more details of the manufacturing process. The bulk of the book then looks at the internals of the Humvee (including plenty of close up shots of internal systems).
This section covers literally EVERYTHING you’d want to know about the mechanics of the vehicle, from details of the transmission to the number of bolts used to hold the wheels together. Perhaps more useful for wargamers, it then moves on to look at the variety of body types and accessories available for the Humvee chassis. Most importantly, this includes the various weapon systems available for the Humvee. The following chapter expands on this detailing the Humvee in action, not just with the Americans but also with a few other nations. This chapter is packed with images of vehicles in action
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Haynes book without some practical information and so the final chapters are designed for those who may be actually interested in purchasing one. As well as detailing how rare if it to buy one (in part due to some of it’s civilian unfriendly features) and how to import them into the UK, it moves on to look at more practical matters such as how much it’s going to cost (back in 2014). A short chapter looks at the mechanics point of view, including the ever important serving schedule, before finishing off with a few pages of appendices.
Overall, I think the book is certainly worth a buy. It provides a nice deep dive into one of the iconic vehicles of the 20th Century, covering every aspect of it from development through to its many uses. It’s also a nice easy read, giving lots of information without having to chew your way through it. The only downside is it’s price – if you’re used to Osprey’s reference books, it will seem expensive. However, there is lots of information to make it worth your while.
Coming at it from a wargaming/modelling point of view, I think the book has plenty of use. There will be big chunks that you’ll breeze past (I’m not sure you need to know the exact details of certain internal systems if assembling a resin kit) but there are so many images of the vehicles that it’s a perfect jumping-off point for detailing your own vehicles. As well as overall shots, there is a great deal of information and examples of where to place your stowage in order to both look cool and realistic.
You know, after the 9 posts that was Project Technical, I think it’s safe to say that pickup trucks with guns mounted on them are pretty great. On the other hand, there is something to be said for a vehicle that is actually designed to carry a group of infantry over rough terrain while carrying a heavy weapon and not assembled in some backstreet workshop. The Humvee is an icon of the post Cold War conflict, be it on the streets of Somalia, the dusty highways of Iraq or attempting to climb the mountains of Afghanistan.
I’ve talked to Spectre for a while and when they mentioned they were looking into making a range for the HMV, I was immediately interested. This interest grew with every update, especially when they showed off the various elements to the range. More importantly, I started planning out all the various combination of turrets and weapons I would need, gather reference material (see below) and soon enough the realisation hit home that this would be a brand new project.
As with all projects, we’re starting with the initial impressions. We’re going to take a look at the basics of the range in their rawest state and act as a basic primer before moving on to tweaks and painting in future posts.
First up, the basic details. The HMV range is mainly produced in resin with the only required metal parts being the various guns you attach. From talking to the Spectre team, I discovered that this is the first product that Spectre have produced in resin in-house, primarily as a way of fixing the supply issues previous resin releases have had and allow them to do more in that area. In fact, if you check the vehicles collection page, you may notice a lot more things in stock.
Most of the finished product is great, with nice deep detailing in most cases. I did noticed a few air bubbles and slips (including a chunk out of a bumper) but no more than you might see from other similarly sized producers. In most cases I was able to hide the issues during construction or fix later with green stuff or thin plasticard. As with all resin models, I recommend cleaning them in warm soapy water (especially the wing mirrors). There was a fair amount of cleaning up to do with most pieces and some of them (such as the doors) were very easy to crack or damage while removing from the sprue. Overall, the experience was pretty much what I would expect when buying a wargaming ready kit – it rewards a little bit of careful planning ahead.
Of course, all vehicles have to start somewhere and even in a modular system there is a core set to buy. In this case, the HMV package includes what is in the picture above. Most of these parts are used in all variants although some, like the rear bumper are replaced in various upgrades. As always – DRY FIT EVERYTHING BEFORE PICKING UP THE GLUE.
Once assembled it looks like this. Immediately you can see just how detailed the vehicle parts are. I have my doubts how long the wing mirrors will last under constant gaming use, but there is at least more material to glue together with these compared to the metal bits in the technical sets. I’ll talk about the turrets more later but it’s great to see them spinning pretty freely.
The rear view shows off the special piece you add just for this version. The armoured section behind the cab turns this truck into the light cargo hauler/utility variant. Not one you’d always see in combat but it could be useful in a convoy situation. With the right turret setup, it could also be pretty great for various NGO forces that want something tougher than an SUV while offroading.
One comment is that this kit is only £16 for a good-looking vehicle. Combine this with Upgrade Alfa and a M2 and for around £20 you get a classic Humvee all ready for somewhere not many people are going to shoot back at it.
Of course, as cool as the basic version is, it’s highly likely you’ll be needing more than just a 4×4 pickup truck. So to help this out, Spectre have three upgrade packs available that take advantage of the modular design
HMV Upgrade – Alfa
If you’re wanting to make the classic design, this is the back you need. Sloped back covering the boot (or trunk) and a front mounted bullbar for smashing your way through any obstacles you might meet such as parked cars or insurgents getting in the way.
One simple install later and the shape seen on a thousand news broadcasts arrives. I can see this upgrade is probably going to be quite popular.
HMV Upgrade – Bravo
If you’re finding the Technicals to be a little too vulnerable for karting your operators around, than Upgrade Bravo is certainly worth looking at. Like Alfa it upgrades two parts of the vehicle, adding an IBIS TEK style front bumper (for even more smashing potential), a new rear bumper and an armoured open-topped box to surround the cargo bed. This box also includes a new rear hatch, allowing assualters to quickly mount and dismount when on operations.
Assembled and you can really see the change in shape that the new rear section adds – perfect for adding stowage to (either inside or on the sides). Additionally, the front bumper looks mean although the sheer size of the thing might make turning a little interesting.
HMV Upgrade – Charlie
The last upgrade pack is an interesting idea. Rather than new chassis, this just adds some new extra detailing elements. These are:
2x Smoke Grenade Launchers
Spare Tyre mounting point
Additional weapon mount
Microwave Antenna (for jamming primarily)
2x aerial mounting point
One thing with these is that most need a fair chunk of material removing before they were ready for use on the vehicles – the actual items are actually quite small so take care when preparing them.
When mounted on the vehicle, these elements really add the little bit of extra detail. The aerials go into slots at the rear of the common hull, meaning they can be used across any vehicle – the second aerial base went on the other Humvee I’ve been working on. The additional gun mount simply adds another post with the mounting system many of the newer weapon systems have while the spare wheel just looks cool. I had mounted the smoke grenade launchers on the vehicle (you can see the super glue marks) but they were removed so I could spin the larger turrets 360 degrees without the front shield clipping.
This pack feels like it’s designed to go with Upgrade Bravo, but I think it could be used with other variants. For example the spare wheel mount could go on the back of the boot panel and the additional weapon mount could go inside a turret for mounting some close in firepower. I really like the fact the aerials fit into slots on the base chassis making them incredibly useful.
A key part of the Humvee throughout it’s life has been the arms race between where the vehicle is deployed to (and what people shoot at it) and what sort of armour it carries. This has led to some interesting changes in visual profiles of the vehicle as more and more armour has been added to what was designed as a utility vehicle. Luckily, Spectre have included some options to let you up armour your vehicle.
By default, the core vehicle comes with lightly armoured doors moulded into the chassis. These doors have lots of detail on them and look pretty great, even down to the towing hooks needed if the doors are jammed shut. In most cases, these doors should be pretty great. The only comment – these doors are flat sided which means that a basic level of armour is on them. They are very much designed for post 9/11 and onwards. Depending on your local group, you might have a few people pulling faces if they turn up in early ’90s Somalia.
However, if you are rolling into serious trouble, you might want to invest in the more heavily armoured doors. There are two version available:
Door Armour Alfa (left) upgrades covers the windows, making them bulletproof while still able to open for troops inside to shoot out of.
Door Armour Bravo (right) covers more of the door making it more resistant to damage although it does prevent the troops inside from shooting out
As much as I like these additions to the vehicles, I did find the doors troublesome when removing from the excess material. There wasn’t a major cut off point visible to say “this is model” and “this is flash”, leading to some irregular edges and some overzealous trimming. It might be a case of me using the wrong tool for the job so I recommend being careful, otherwise you’ll be hanging some damaged armour off the side.
Of course, the other major feature on these Humvees is the turret on the top. As wargamers, this is probably the most important detail for us – we need to know what heavy weapons we’re rolling in to games with! The main common fact is that these turrets all have the usual notch that all the Spectre modern weapons fit into. I haven’t managed to run a full test of all the weapons to see what fit but it’s safe to say most of the sensible ones will work just fine.
All of these turrets are quite light, with only a thin ring to attach to the vehicle rather the plug some other companies use. I’d recommend being very careful when moving vehicles around off the table, lest the turret drops off and onto the floor. Adding a crew figure and some other upgrades should help to rebalance them. Speaking of crew, the distance between turret ring and the “floor” of the turret section is relatively short so expect the crew to be trimmed slightly, probably at the knees. Also, several pictures on the Spectre website show a plug covering up the turret ring. This is currently unavailable but may be released soon if you’re wanting to make a more civilian looking 4×4.
Final point, be careful when accessorizing your vehicle – positioning certain upgrades (like smoke grenade launchers) may stop the larger turrets from swinging freely.
Included in the base variant, the turret ring is super simple to set up, with only two parts (turret ring and hatch). The hatch design is common across all the turrets and although it doesn’t close completely (the front half of the hatch is moulded onto the other half) you can still assemble it buttoned up or open.
Building on the turret ring is Turret Alfa, including a half height armoured panel and a gun shield. The gun shield fits onto the rest of the turret really easily with a big solid bar and socket. I also mounted the basic M2 .50cal – although it’s not designed for the half circle mount like the more recent guns, it has plenty of resin to bond to.
For proper armoured protected, Turret Bravo is the way to go. Based on the OGPK kit, this system has bullet resistant glass in both the gun shield and protective turret, giving the gunner both protection and visibility.
For this turret I added the SF version of the M2. As you can see, the under weapon light makes it a quite tight fit with the armour shield but as you can see – it looks pretty beefy.
All this analysing is cool but what am I doing with my vehicles? I haven’t yet got round to painting or adding the stowage (that will come later in the series) so for now, here are my first two Humvees.
Vehicle 1 is the first of what will be at least a pair of “Patrol” Humvees. This style is probably the most common in use and can stand in for pretty much any force. The Patrol Humvees will probably end up wheeling around US Army or Marine troops, especially if I get round to playing some of the Skirmish Sangin scenarios I’d previously avoided due to lack of Humvee. Similarly, the turret I built with it is all about being the most used setup I’ll go to.
Vehicle 2 is expanding out the SOF vehicles I have in my collection, giving them something a bit sturdier than the RZR or Technicals. It’s using both Upgrade Bravo and Charlie which, combined with the armoured doors, make it perfect for getting into the midst of the action and dropping off the assaulters on the X.
The original plan was to mount a minigun in either the turret or the rear section but due to stock issues I settled on the SF M2 in the turret (also a test to see if the two extremes of large weapon and massive turret would work) and one of the M240s from the twin GPMG mounts. The idea was to make it look like a proper mount and more like one of the troops had put their own MMG in place for the ride in before dismounting it later. I also placed it close to the spare tyre, working off the idea that it will provide a little cover. This is a vehicle that will definitely need a lot of extra stowage added to it.
Of course, no vehicle is ever used by itself so I’m going to do the photo comparisons and talk a little about cross compatibility.
EDIT: I realised that I missed out a photo showing off the vehicle compared to infantry figures. Here is the Spectre Humvee with a Empress SEAL (WIP) and a Spectre Ranger.
Can’t have a new release without some comparison shots. First up we’re looking at the Spectre vehicles, in particular the SF set. As you can see the Humvee is massive compared to the RZR and still chunkier than the Technical.
Looking at another Humvee available, you can see the Empress and Spectre vehicles are pretty similar from a distance. Up close, the Spectre vehicle is slightly larger, both in length and width. The M-ATV continues to dominate over all comers.
Speaking of other makers how do the Spectre parts compare? Well I’m not sure I’m rushing to replace all my turrets just yet. The Empress turret rings are slightly larger and, although the Spectre turrets fit and mostly cover up the hole, it’s not quite as smooth as the original. However, this could be easily fixed with some plasti-card.
Going the other way, I think the Empress vehicle crew will work well but you will need to build a floor up for them as they are cut off at the waist and maybe a little too short for your liking.
So after a first look, what do I think of the range? Well, the HMV set is the set to get if you want the most detailed Humvees currently on the market. Apart from a few minor issues (and those flipping doors) everything was really easy to get out, clean up and build. The end results look great, and I can’t wait to break out the paint and get them on the table. It would have been nice if all the weapon systems had been in stock on release day and a few new crew figures would have sweetened the deal. I’m interested to see what is coming next for this range – hopefully extra weapon systems (like a MK19 for the less SOF looking teams) or maybe a few smaller weapons (like a PKM or a M107 on pintle mount) ready for mounting in the back of the Bravo upgrade.
That aside, what’s coming next in Project Humvee? Step one is going to be looking at adding the stowage and getting painting on these vehicles. Next month I’ll also be picking up some more turrets (and hopefully crew for them) to give me all the options I might want. I’ll also be picking up two more vehicles to build. One will be the other Patrol Humvee but I haven’t decided what to do with the last one.
Some people have made some really cool mothership Humvees laden down with cargo for other vehicles but I’m tempted to go a little more “Middle Eastern Militia” with my fourth vehicle. Battlefield 3 has a really cool DLC called Aftermath which included some jury rigged vehicles. The Humvee based system, the Phoenix, has a MK19 launcher in a forward facing turret in the back of the vehicle so I may work from this and create something suitably bodged. I’m going to have a think, but keep your eyes open for more updates from Project Humvee coming soon!