D9R Armoured Bulldozer
Meng, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
The Caterpillar D9 is a large track-type tractor designed and manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. It is usually sold as a bulldozer equipped with a detachable large blade and a rear ripper attachment.
The size, durability, reliability, and low operating costs have made the D9 one of the most popular large track-type tractors in the world.
Caterpillar Inc. does not manufacture a military version of the D9 per se, but the attributes that make the D9 popular for major construction projects make it desirable for military applications as well, and in this role - with Israeli modifications and armour - it has been particularly effective for the Israel Defence Forces and also used by KBR in Iraq.
The D9N was the first military upgraded variant with additional crew cab protection, armoured windows and shutters, with an increase of 5.5 tons to the weight of the basic bulldozer.
The D9R was further upgraded with an armour suite that consists of an armoured cab with high visibility as well as protection for the fuel and oil tanks, hydraulics and the electrical systems.
In IDF service, yet further protection was added in the form of “Sulamot” slat armour to protect the bulldozer against rocket propelled grenade attacks. IDF engineers have ironically dubbed this powerful vehicle “Doobi” (Teddy Bear).
The US Army used D9 bulldozers to clear forests in the Vietnam War but after the war they were replaced with smaller and cheaper Caterpillar D7G bulldozers. D7G dozers are still very common in US combat engineering battalions, but there is a resurgent high demand to replace the lighter D7Gs with the newer and more heavily armoured D9s.*
F i r s t L o o k
Meng has hit the market with the first big 1:35 scale mainstream injection-moulded military bulldozer kit, and it is a beauty. Meng’s D9R features the revised cab and additional armour, but not the most recent Israeli slat armour. It can’t be long before we will see either Meng or the aftermarket fill this interesting space though.
Meng’s 1:35 scale D9R comprises 366 parts in dark yellow plastic, 270 parts in black plastic, 18 parts in clear 18 parts in tinted clear blue, a set of polythene caps and one length of flexible vinyl tube.
The main body and cab are provided as a flat pack on the sprues and build up with separate parts for the sides, front and rear.
The cab is well detailed inside and out, including a colourful decal for the instrument panel.
The driver’s door is hinged, allowing it to open after assembly and display the seats and controls inside. Meng has thoughtfully supplied duplicate clear parts for the armoured glass – one tinted blue and one totally clear – so you have a choice depending on your personal preferences. I think this is a really nice touch.
Hydraulic hoses are cut from the supplied vinyl tubing. Clear instructions are provided for the length and location of each hose.
The running gear will be fast to assemble but is very well detailed. The tracks should not take too long either. Although there are five parts per link, there are only 43 links per side.
The big dozer blade and its associated hydraulic arms are very well detailed. If you are careful with assembly, taking care to avoid excessive glue, the ripper and the big spade should be moveable when the model is finished.
C o n c l u s i o n
Meng’s D9R is a pretty spectacular model of a very striking battlefield vehicle. Detail is excellent and engineering is thoughtful. This will be an impressively big model when finished too. Despite its large size, it should be a fairly straightforward build for armour modellers with a few kits under their belts.
Thanks to Meng Models for the sample www.meng-model.com
Text and Images by Brett Green