IPMS Gent modelbouwclub


Erwin Bovyn

KitHEMTT M978 tanker
Manufacturer Italeri
TypeInjection moulded
PaintHumbrol (H), Vallejo (V), MIG products
Accessoriessets Pro Art Models nummers
PAU-35001 Fuelpump for HEMTT M-978
PAU-35002 Exterior set for HEMTT M978 etc
PAU-35003 Interior set for HEMTT M-978 etc
Real Model set Good Year banden
Aber set
Precision Metals tubes


Highly Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.

HEMTTDevelopment of this truck is linked to the ever increasing need of urgent delivery of goods of all kinds to front line units. Experience gained during WW2, Korea and Vietnam showed that troops needed a truck capable of transporting heavy loads at high speed cross country.

A competition was opened in 1978 regarding the development of a new truck in the 10 ton class and several companies replied. One of them was Oshkosh, a lesser known company but that already had gained experience in the limited world of heavy and military transport. They developed a vehicle based on one of their researches for the civil market using as much as possible components already available so to lower the unit price. The ensuing truck had a frontal cab and 8x8 all wheel drive and managed to pass all tests and win a first 250 millions US $ contract; good for a first production batch of 2.140 vehicles. The first ones would be delivered to the US Army starting 1982.

Several contracts would lead to the construction and delivery of 18.000 trucks of all types of which 13.000 will go to the US Army and the rest to foreign allied countries. The HEMTT served in Europe with the US Forces in Germany.

The M978 is the fuel truck version of them. They are supplied with or without winch. The truck weights 24.500 Kg and is capable of transporting 9.463 litres of fuel. An independent pumping station is mounted at the trucks rear end making it possible to load or unload fuel in the field. It makes it possible to fill up four vehicles at the same time.

The Kit

HEMTTThe kit makes part of a recuperated collection of ready build vehicles described as the “heritage collection”. It was hand painted and needed to take a bath in oven cleaner foam up to three times. This allowed me to recuperate several smaller parts that made clean up much easier. The former owner unfortunately had used a lot of paint and this will ask a lot more of cleaning up to do. The kit looked good and, looking at several Internet picture references, looked to be a decent reproduction of the original. Naturally, a lot of items could be super detailed or updated. The Pro Art Models sets are designed for this purpose. The super detailing of the rear pumping station will take most of the time spend. The cab detail set will be used as an example for other models.

The Cab

HEMTTThe cab is detailed using the Pro Art Models set n° PAU-35003. This resin kit has a rather detailed construction plan based on the Italeri kit plan. They tell you that certain areas must be cut away but it is here where we encounter the first problems as those certain areas that are supposed to be shaded are not shaded at all on the plan. The only thing to do is to compare the new resin parts with those from the kit and cut off where needed. But cutting away certain parts also means that you will loose the strength of the general construction and you will have to spend a lot of time reinstalling the new parts. Prepare yourself to a lot of cutting, sanding, filing, filling seams and general adjusting of the resin parts.

My general impression on this Pro Art Models set is that it is extremely suited if you want to present the cab with open doors. If you want to leave the cab closed however I would not recommend all the extra work because it won’t be seem after all.

Highly recommended and appreciated are the new seats and especially their chassis that make the Italeri ones stand in the shade regarding details, quality and finish. The new parts for the pedals and the lay out in the co-driver’s compartment are fantastic but, again, if you want to leave the doors closed all this detail will not be seen. Buying the Pro Art kit is however not in vain as you can measure all the parts and use these measurements to super detail other cabs.

HEMTTAs said before, one must cut away kit parts and replace them by the new resin parts. Amongst these are the two centre consoles for driver and co-driver and the upper part of the central console. There is also a new dashboard. Cutting away and replacing the consoles offers no problems but installing the new resin parts and their fit with the front cabin wall is something different. The new consoles are too big and must be diminished in size before they fit with the other parts. The same thing happens to the dashboard. This job will ask you plenty of time because the new dashboard not only has to fit with the cab front and the two consoles but it may not pass the cabin sides as we still have to fit the cab’s doors.

The moment I reached a reasonable result and that I had started to glue all parts, the whole outfit exploded in my hands. This was the moment to put all things aside and let it all rest one day. The next day saw the birth of the new cab. Some filler was needed at some places and after some sanding it became time to fit some smaller parts.

A small problem was encountered as the Pro Art Models instruction leaflet doesn’t mention that you need to reuse the kit’s speed gear handle. Detailing continues with the addition of a fuse box and a window washer water reservoir at the co-driver’ position. A handle must be added at the side but there is no mention of another handle located just under the glove compartment opening; detail much seen on pictures. On the other hand, Pro Art Models does provide a box, probably a first aid kit, to be fixed underneath the dashboard on the co-drivers side as well as some kind of electric devise that must be mounted on top of the inside of the windscreen. The purpose of this device in unknown, it can’t be a window washer engine because these are located on the lower side of the windscreen.

HEMTTThe cab also receives a new set of pedals and a more detailed steering column. There is no mention that the kit’s direction change lever should be reused. It is also needed to build a T form lever to be fixed at the driver’s console. The new chassis for the seats are splendid and the best improvements in the set.

Once the fixing of the small parts done we can start adding the door frames and adjusting them. Italeri instructions mention that the cab’s interior should be painted in a green colour equivalent to Humbrol H120. This colour proved correct when compared with pictures and so the interior was painted H120. The correct interior colours are very important as I plan to present the model with the driver’ door in open position. It is therefore necessary to work with washes and filters on the inside as well. The kit’ windows are cleaned up and replaced.

The roof is cleaned up and the flashing light removed. Pictures show that these vehicles when in use in the Gulf didn’t carry them.

The pumping unit

Kit PAU-35001.

We start dismantling the kit’s old pumping unit, in fact nothing more than an empty case. All parts are cleaned up and the doors opened.

It is not necessary to replace the rear wall as a new wall is fixed to it. The new wall is a bit bigger and needs to be adjusted. Part of the bottom side needs to be cut out as shown by the instructions and a new grille must be inserted instead. Take care when cleaning up the new part because it is rather fragile. The pump itself and its tubing are a kit on their own as there are many resin parts representing the pipes and valves. There are also two drums containing the fuel hoses. Comparing the parts with pictures shows that all is finely represented except for the valve handles.

HEMTTThe big pump comes as one block of detailed resin and had a link to the front tubing. It is finely detailed but it is necessary to paint it in this stage because it will be very difficult later on. I used H155 Artillery Green followed by H150 Medium Green and a MIG Dark Wash. Bolts are highlighted using a Karisma pencil.

The fuel hose trolleys are next to be fixed into the interior. Problems arise here as the instructions do mention they have to be fixed but they forget to show where exactly. The same kind of problems rises when the tubing and piping must be fixed. It is rather easy to build a pipe unit but from the moment these must be fixed to the part with the counter you will see that part of your work is done wrong and doesn’t fit.

The fuel hose trolleys have heave resin blocks underneath. In a first attempt I managed to cut off half of them (and it looked good when in place) but it proved that they were way too thick and I needed to remove them and sand them again. The correct emplacement of the trolleys was not clear and I needed to use the new front panel and new doors to get it right. It is so shown that the trolley drums are not positioned completely free but instead partially hidden to the left or the right. It is therefore preferable to check them constantly with pictures of the real thing.

After spending a lot of time again comparing and adjusting parts, I managed to obtain a fairly good result. The complicated piping will not allow you to do some detail painting unless you paint each and every phase of the construction step by step.

The kit also provides two lights above each door and a set of two gauges and their support hanging from the roof. I incorrectly thought that those gauges were lights as well and had started adding some electric wiring. Pictures however showed these were gauges probably showing the pressure on some of the tubing and so the wires installed were not a mistake at all.

The fuel meter also receives some attention. Pictures showed black figures on a white background and so I painted the areas white and added some figures from the spares box. Pictures found later on showed there have been meters with black background and white figures.

The many different valves in the pumping system are opened manually by means of handles. These handles do not come with the kit and I made them from pieces of left over PE bend into shape. They are partially painted green and orange. Small and subtle but it adds that different touch.

The trolleys are painted in two shades of green. The fuel pipes are painted Vallejo Dark Rubber followed by Light Rubber. They are accentuated with MIG Dark Wash and dusted with MIG Desert Sand. Their supports are detailed referring to pictures and receive some scratches and a bit of rust using Vallejo Dark Rust and Light Rust. The instructions suggest representing the end of the fuel hoses using metal wire or stretched sprue. I used pieces of a fuel hose from a (Dragon ?) kit representing German soldiers fuelling up a tank. Their black plastic hoses are ideal for this purpose. I used some heat to make them bend in a more natural way because they need to receive the tanking pistols at their ends and those pistols normally weight a couple of pounds.

HEMTTFixing the rear wall to the unit needed adjusting of parts. The Pro Art kit provides two new resin rear doors but doesn’t provide any details as to their exact emplacement except the fact that you need to build hinges from metal wire. The doors open to the top and so must use hinges fixed on top of the doors and rear wall directly underneath the rear lights. I had encountered Precision Metals and bought some metal rods. They proved to be excellent building material for the door opening pumps using rods of 0,3 and 1 mm thickness. The rear wall has supports for these pumps but the new doors don’t and they needed to be constructed from left over PE.

Once installed, they are painted black and chrome.

A small piece of plastic card representing the door locks is added in the interior of the doors. Two hatches can be found at the sides of the pumping unit. Their panel lines are scratched a bit deeper and they each receive tree bolts. I also added a piece of PE (1cm x 0,9 cm) from an Aber anti-slip metal plate on the top of the unit above the rear lights.

The ladder was re-installed very carefully. Many pictures of the real thing were of great help as they showed that the different kit parts in fact formed one part in reality; i.e. the part on the roof is directly connected with the ladder on the rear wall. Only the lower part of the ladder could be retracted and can be fixed in optional position.

Mud guards and their supports are installed at the end.

The truck

Now that the front and rear parts of the truck are finished we can start detailing the centre part. The Pro Art Models set PAU-35002 offers a lot of resin parts that will replace or ameliorate those from the kit. The instructions are given in stages

The Winch

The Italeri kit provides a winch on the right side of the truck about mid-way of the main fuel tank and in front of the mudguards of the rear wheels. This winch comes as a cable roll and its support. The Pro Art Models set brings a lot of detailing, the support is more detailed and they didn’t forget the opening trough which the cable has to run; something not provided by Italeri. The cable drum is also more detailed and there is a towing eye. Reference pictures show there are trucks with and without winch fitted to the right side. Those with winch show that the tow eye does not simply rest on the cable drum but that it passes through an opening and is secured to the main chassis beam.

I also noted that all trucks, with or without winch, had a storage box fixed underneath the winch. Nor Italeri nor Pro Art Models thought of that and I scratch build this box from plastic card.

The Pro Art Models winch is build as by the instructions with the exception that the towing eye is cut off from the cable drum. All is painted Tamiya Nato Green. Using this colour may sound strange but my intention is to build a truck that served with the US Army in Germany and so has the green base colour. The tow cable is painted black and will be detailed later on.

Reference pictures also show that two pipes run from the winch to the chassis. I added them making them run under the big chassis beam only to show they are there because I have no idea where exactly they run to. It is better that they are shown rather than been left away.

The towing eye is fixed onto a piece of guitar string that makes a good representation of the turned metal strings of a tow cable. The kit provides a small plate on the chassis beam onto which a tow ring is fixed. This plate unfortunately is located too far aft and so it is cut off very carefully and repositioned closer to the winch. The ring is replaced by a metal one on which the resin tow eye is glued.

The storage box is made from plastic card and Evergreen profiles; the hinges are made from aluminium foil.

Box and cylinders

The next part that needs replacing is a box structure with two air tanks fixed underneath. Both air tanks must be connected by a fine metal strip. Pictures show that a pipe protrudes between the air tanks and the underside of the box. A piece of metal rod fixed between those parts solves that problem.

Both air tanks receive pipe work running towards the chassis.


The kit’s exhaust is replaced by three resin parts. The protective grille makes place for its resin counterpart but not before over 50 holes are drilled out and cleaned up.

The air filter

The new air filter also comes in three resin parts. You only need to keep one plastic rod from the kit or replace it by metal wire. Use you photo references and take good care because you easily make a mistake regarding alignment. Do not underestimate this part, it looks simple and easy but the parts are easily wronly positioned

Container, box and switch

A big container in a more detailed box like structure must be positioned next to the big air filter. This container has a pipe running on top of it. A small switchbox is located to the left of this container and some wiring runs to the engine compartment. This container is probably a hydraulic fluid container and so the pipe must be connected to another one running to the chassis interior.

The plastic part bridging both chassis beams between the engine compartment and the main tank must be glued in place again. A big box is glued on top.

Vehicle fuel tank and air tank

The vehicle’s fuel tank and another compressed air tank, both located on the same side but underneath the chassis, are replaced. Both parts receive some piping.

Compressed air tanks for the brakes

Each truck axle receives two compressed air tanks for the brakes. There are no plastic counterparts for them in the Italeri kit and they are really a major improvement. Unfortunately, it is still necessary to add two hoses to each air tank that run to the front (for the rear axles) or to the rear (for the front ones). They also need a plastic rod connecting them to the axle or to the drum brake.

I am no mechanic and so I asked a friend for help regarding the hoses running up front and rear. It seems that they make part of two separated circuits being the normal brake system and the hand brake system. They don’t run to the same main air tank but are separated. The front brakes run to one air tank, the rear ones to another. The hand brake is connected to the biggest one.

A first test turned out wrong but I went on with a bit of ingeniousity. I said before that I didn’t want perfection but only show that there is « something” representing the brake system. I therefore added some pieces of plastic strip with some holes drilled out where the brake lines should enter. This way, it was possible to give the brake lines a grip from where they could run to their individual cylinders.

Another, different, type of cylinder must be fixed on the outer sides of each chassis beam, located between the front wheels. They are not so visible on pictures and they are not represented in the Italeri kit. Their position between the front wheels makes me suppose they are destined to provide air to the front wheels but it’s use stays unclear. Each cylinder must receive some pipes represented using metal wire

Spare wheel and crane

HEMTTThe spare wheel is mounted on top on the truck at the right hand side of the engine compartment. The Italeri wheel is exchanged for a Real Models Good Year tyre. These wheels are finely detailed but unfortunately my example had some resin overflow on the inside of the wheel rim. It was impossible to remove it with a scalpel and so it was sanded away with a Dremel. Both wheel supports are cleaned up and re-used. One of them receives two cylinders on the outer side; those of the kit are replaced by their resin counterparts. Wiring is represented by metal wire. Pictures show that the lower part of the outer cylinder is protected by a metal grid but none of the two kits provides this. The spares box brought help again and a grid was plied to shape and glued.

The Italeri kit provides a vertical rod on which the crane should be build. This crane is used mainly for loading and unloading of the spare wheel. When comparing pictures with the parts provided by Pro Art one can see that the resin part is not long enough. I therefore made a new crane arm with the help of Evergreen profiles and the new resin cable guiding wheels. The cable is represented by copper wire that, according to the pictures, will be winded around the spare wheel and attached by his own hook. A canvas belt made from thin lead runs from the wheel rim to the right side of the truck.

The main fuel tank

HEMTTThe main fuel tank needs cleaning up, some filling and sanding. The lids covering the general refuelling points located on top of the tank are replaced by their resin counterparts. Two pipes from the Italeri kit, probably air vents, are drilled and replaced. Pipes on the bottom side of the tank are cleaned up and replaced.

A large fuel hose container located on the right side of the tank is replaced by a resin one. Take care not to damage its (very fragile) supports because you will need to replace them by scratch. Pictures show that this container was retained by metal struts but nothing of this can be found on the Pro Art or Italeri instructions. These struts are represented by five rings on the container that do not match the real ones. I rebuild them using metal wire.

Side lights are located at the front of both sides. They are detailed adding an electric wire from copper wire running from the light to the bottom side of the tank.

The tyres

HEMTTThe Italeri kit tyres are changed for Good Year tyres from Real Model. They are superbly detailed but need to be drilled out at the rear if you want to adjust them to the kit’s axles. The places where they have been connected with their blocks are cleaned up and used as base for the tyre, the flat surface providing more stability to the truck.

They are painted Revell matt black. Some MIG Black Smoke is added to the tyre sides followed by MIG Gulf War Sand. This pigment is inserted into the tyre treads and brushed out again. This way, the deeper parts are highlighted without having the impression they are filled with sand. The truck will be shown on a sand base.


Putting all subassemblies together unfortunately isn’t without encountering some problems. The use of the Pro Art sets brings along some alterations to the general fit on the bottom side of the cab and the pumping station. It is therefore necessary to do some adjustments so that all is subassemblies are aligned.

Nor the main tank nor the pumping station is directly fixed to the main chassis beams and they need to receive new supports if the kit ones are not good enough. The cab is fixed to four supports and needs to receive two other supports running from the chassis beams to the bottom side of the cab. Once all subassemblies aligned and glued to the chassis and the cab painted, the front protection grid and towing eyes can be put in place again.


HEMTTAs mentioned before, I want to paint the truck as used during operation “Desert Storm”. It served with US Forces in Germany and was hastily transferred to the Gulf, still dressed in his original NATO 3-tone camouflage colours. He has been repainted on arrival. My model is a recuperation that was hand painted in a thick layer of paint. He can take profit from its dark green underside. Many pictures show that these trucks were not dismantled before being repainted and that the old paint was simply overspread. I can therefore retain the old main green colour and even leave it as is on the bottom side, at least the parts between the main two chassis beams. Desert conditions are very bad for paint and it degrades very quickly. I opted for the new modular painting technique using Tamiya Sand as base, Tamiya Buff as lighter colour and Humbrol 121 for the top. The rest of the degradation will be applied by brush.

A first weathering is the application of MIG Brown Wash in and around all hollow and protruding parts. Each part of the truck is treated like this refering to pictures of the original. The truck being repainted on arrival means that there is almost no rust visible. The rust still left will be located around the parts used on a regular baselike the winch and its cable, hinges and locks.

The trucks decals have been lost during its rebuild but pictures show that trucks used in the Gulf often didn’t carry tactical signs. A large V painted on each door is often the only marking.

The diorama

It’s a big truck that will be presented with the driver’ door and both rear panels open. This way all details especially the ones in the pumping station will be shown. He will be presented on real Qatari sand glued to a wooden base plate.


HEMTTRepairing a recuperated kit and updating it with the use of new parts brings along more work than if you start from a new kit. Having recuperated an entire collection does offer me the option of bringing life back to some of them, amongst which this Oshkosh HEMTT fuel tanker. Having bought the superb detail sets from Pro Art Models and Real Model allowed me to super detail this kit without forgetting that each set can be regarded as a kit on its own because their build demands quite some time and effort.

I wouldn’t recommend buying the Pro Art Models cab set if you have no intention of presenting the truck with its doors open. The best detailed parts are the seat’s chassis but they are not visible when the doors stay closed.

Regarding the petrol pumping station I have only one word: fantastic! Despite the fact that the building plan is not always that detailed and precise, one can build a very nice and detailed unit. Only the addition of some handles and a good paint job can do more justice to it.

The truck’s detail set is also very good but I must say that Italeri didn’t do that bad their selves. I don’t understand why Italeri neglected the brake drums as well as the air cylinders between the main chassis beams and between the front wheels

HEMTTThe Pro Art Models set adds quite some detail and new parts and is therefore highly recommended. Researching information and pictures of the real thing also took a lot of time but we are lucky enough to find these on the Internet. Restoring this truck will have taken me about 5 modelling months but I think I can say that the result is well worth it. We may not forget that we represent only one model but that we have a kit of the pumping station, one of the cab and another of the truck itself. Three detail kits and an original bring out the total score of four kits in five months and that is not that bad.

In the meantime we started calling the truck “Oshie” ; sounds more sympatic than HEMTT. Club members reacted positively when he was presented and his first public debut at the «Flanders Modelling Contest Hoboken 06/03/10” earned him a “Highly Commended” (silver) in its category “military vehicles – conversions”

Not that bad for a kit that almost ended his life in a garbage bin. To be continued?

Keep ‘m building



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