February 2022

Thales Bushmaster

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Thales Australia Bushmaster PMV

5/7 Royal Australian Regiment, Iraq 2006.

Dragon 1/72 .

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The Bushmaster  Protected Mobility Vehicle was originally conceived in the early 1990s, intended for operations in the Australian Northern Territories. Based on a design from Australian firm Perry Engineering,  itself derived from an Irish design by Timoney Technologies, it featured 4WD, commonality of parts with the US FMTV vehicle series and a high level of protection for its occupants against small arms fire and mines. Able to carry 9 troops and their supplies or up to 3 days, it is fully air-conditioned and has a range of over 800 km at up to 100 km/h. It is also air-transportable by C-130.

A production contract was awarded to the former Australian Defence Industries (ADI), now Thales Australia. Over 800 vehicles have been built, seeing active combat service  in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. Bushmasters are used in various roles by the Australian forces (Army & Air Force), British Army and Royal Netherlands Army, as well as Fiji, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan and New Zealand.

Building the Dragon Bushmaster Kit:

Dragon’s vehicle kits are superbly engineered and seem to avoid most of the accuracy issues that afflict their aircraft kits.  This one is slightly simplified, reflecting Dragon’s original intention to release it as a pre-built die-cast model.  However it remains a very well detailed model and most of the compromises only affect the unseen interior; if the modeller wished to detail the troop-carrying compartment or leave the rear door open, then some removals and scratch building would be needed, but it would be entirely feasible.  

Assembly is very straightforward, and my only comment would be to take care when attaching the wire cutters above the windscreen and the side mirrors - it is not immediately obvious how these should be fitted and since the cutter mount also provides the mirror attachment, it is important.

So far as I can see, the kit detail matches photos of the real thing very well. A small set of decals are provided for 5/7RAR of the Australian Army, or 10 Airfield Defence Guards, RAAF, both with “must have” kangaroo motifs!.  

Thales Bushmaster (Escapade?)

Unidentified Unit - possibly British SF, Syria 2018.

Dragon 1/72 .

The UK MoD acquired a small batch of 24 Bushmasters in 2008, apparently for use by SF around Basra in Iraq.  Supposedly going under the code-name of Escapade, the vehicles were fitted with an enhanced armour package, bull bars for crossing barricades, mission specific comms,  ECM and anti-IED packages as well as a Thales CROWS remote weapon station equipped with a 50mm machine gun.  The vehicles were subsequently reported in Syria in 2017 although the user units (and possibly their nationality) is less clear.

Thales UK-built variants of the Bushmaster, including open-backed logistics vehicles and an ambulance are currently (2022) candidates for Package 2 of the British Army’s delayed Multi-Role-Vehicle -Protected (MRV-P)  programme.

Building the Dragon SAS Bushmaster Kit:

This kit contains an additional sprue to provide the RWS and the extra cabin armour.  Dragon list it as an “SAS Bushmaster”. Well, possibly, although the picture on the front of the box and the decals are actually for a trials & demo vehicle used in the UK.  

Pictures of Bushmasters in Syria are plentiful online and show a number of different configurations from that provided in the box, plus the suggestion that they are not all operated by UK forces.  I couldn’t find any pictures from Iraq.

Once again, it is an easy build. Some of the spare parts on the sprues also suggest another variant may appear sometime - I will probably build one of those too!