HMEE-1 (High Mobility Engineer Excavator)
Panda, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Andrew Judson
B a c k g r o u n d
Panda has been around for some time now and at first, admittedly, people were a little shy of them due to teething problems making them a difficult kit to build, but that was quickly fixed and they are now producing some very nice kits.
When I saw this one, it grabbed my attention right away. It was something different and a little refreshing. Although its military, it’s not bristling with weapons but is still a vital support vehicle.
The HMEE is an armoured backhoe loader designed for high speeds in order to deploy with military convoys, and also towing heavy loads. It is powered by a Cummins QSB 6.7 litre turbo charged, 4 stroke diesel motor, with a variable horsepower rating from 250 kw, to 550kw.
F i r s t L o o k
On opening the box, you are greeted with six sprues of tan coloured plastic, the lower and upper hull, and the front end of the vehicle, a total of 386 plastic parts.
There is also a sheet of photo-etch, four vinyl tyres with good detail, a decal sheet, a colour chart for one vehicle and lastly a 16 page instruction booklet with 17 assembly steps.
Looking at the construction, one can right away see that this kit has some detail. It starts with building the lower hull, including the power plant and drive line, and under belly armour. Then it moves on to the lower hull’s upper details such as fuel tanks, filters etc., and then onto the upper hull /driver’s station. This area is adequately detailed although one could add a figure and clutter. I’m sure these were fairly dirty vehicles when in the field.
Vinyl tyres aren't everyone's cup of tea but these ones look very good, with no sign of centreline seams.
Next, it goes on to the loader and the backhoe, which both appear very well done. There is no hydraulic piping, although this would be an easy addition to give it that extra touch of detail.
The last few stages are the adding the roof and a few more items like exhaust, roof top air conditioning unit and accessories.
A clear sprue is supplied for windows and light lenses.
For the paint colour you only have one choice - Desert Sand – although one could do this in NATO Green as well. Having no unit markings means that it is an option.
There are plenty of images on trusty old Google to see.
C o n c l u s i o n
So, what are my thoughts? I think this is a fantastic looking kit with good clean detail, and should build into a good representation of a HMEE-1.
Being Panda, take care when reading the instructions, and dry fit before gluing. Sometimes they have got the part numbers mixed around, not a major issue, though annoying, so just be wary of that.
I’m personally looking forward to building this one, so stay tuned folks.
Text by Andrew Judson