Academy M981 FISTV

So this weekend I finally was able to attend a Phoenix AMPS meeting. During the meetings, the club also encourages working on a model to pass the time, so I started this one that I’ve had in my stash for awhile. Academy’s 1/35 M981 Fire Support Team Vehicle, aka FISTV. These things are extremely similar to the M901 ITVs that I served on once upon a time, although instead of TOW missiles, they are full of radios, a laser designator, observation gear, and other tools for the trade for artillery forward observers.

Anyways, here is the kit box

A photo of the real thing during Desert Shield/Desert Storm that I’ll be using for reference. Not many photos to be found of these things there.

and how much I assembled during the meeting

I’ll be taking this one slow for now, as I have several other higher priority projects to wrap up first.


I was stationed with an anti-Armor unit that had the M901A1s (E Co. 2-7th Inf. 24th ID (M)). I was lucky enough to find a vintage italeri model (the same model i built in 1994).

Not exactly the pinnacle of detail, but it’s decent enough.

Wish I could find one like that.

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Will you be fixing the cupola ?

How is the detail on the designator assembly in the kit?

I built a M981 using Verlinden’s conversion set. The designator assembly on that was abysmal. I ended up scratch building it…


Off to a good start. The Academy kit is pretty good. To me, the supposedly undersized cupola looks fine. Add some detail here and there, and it can come out great.

A tip: I used drinking straws with squares cut out of them for the guards around the rear antenna bases.

My M981 FISTV built using the Italeri M901, way before Academy’s was around, around '95 or so.


@SableLiger, I was in E Co. 3/10 Inf and E Co. 4/6 Inf, 5th ID (Mech) in the 80’s. I have built that same Italeri M901 long ago.

@Seanmcandrews, will I be fixing the cupola as in replacing it? No. It looks close enough for me.

@petbat, how does the designator area look? Very weak. They have something resembling a TOW day sight in there, but the vision flap for that is molded closed. I need to drill that out. No AN/TAS-4 thermal sight is provided for what I presume looks thru the upper opening. But I have no solid reference on what goes inside of there. I presume that it is something like this old beast? The size is about right…

Great work BTW on your scratch built Hammerhead.

@HeavyArty, I agree about the cupola, and thanks for the tips on drinking straws as the antenna base guards. I think that the kit has parts for those, but they will be much thicker of course. Nice work on your ITV to FISTV conversion.

@Stikpusher. We’ve chewed the same dirt at one time or another. :grin:


@HeavyArty do you have any dimensions for those antenna guards?

@Stikpusher if you want I can make some guards for you. Might look thinner than the kit guards albeit thicker than PE.

I’m not one to say no to an offer like that. I’ll check the kit and see what dimensions I can come up with.
Thanks Mikey

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I watch with interest…

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After a few months of sitting on the sidelines, I pulled this one back out and resumed construction. During the So.Cal. AMPS monthly Zoom meeting I was able to get a LOT more built on this track. I’m going to build this with the hammerhead in the stowed position.

I was able to get most of the basic construction completed, although the engine deck is not glued down, only fitted in p,ace for the moment. I want to build some sort of support base for a driver’s bust/torso since that’s the easiest way to place one in there. I have trimmed down the forward hammerhead support pads a bit too much since I took the photo, so I’ll need to go back and adjust those to get the proper stowed angle. Before I trimmed them, the front sat way too high. More to come soon…


Nice work, Stik, Ruck Onward! This is a nice build.

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Thanks Ski. Nothing fancy gonna happen with this one. Looking forward to reliving those days in the motor pool doing the indy link tracks… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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if you need some photos of the so called “hammer head” version let me know. I have one parked about a half hour south of me, but it’s the old version. Whenever the ground solidifies again that is!
I’m down there a couple times a month fishing.

Thanks Gary, but I’m good. There are a few good photo walkarounds on line between AFVDB and Prime Portal.

Coming along nicely. Great job so far.

Any possibility of getting some measurements of the cupola ? Width at base , diameter & height of hatch, etc. Anything would be helpful.

Thanks Gino! Now if I could find some crew figures in MOPP 2…

You could probably modify these guys into FISTers.