U.S. Main Battle Tank M1A2 Abrams
Tamiya 1/48th Scale
Conceived at the height of the Cold War and receiving its baptism of fire in the sands of Southwest Asia in 1991, the M1 Abrams main battle tank has become the icon of modern American armored warfare. With production models rolling off of the assembly line since 1980, the M1 has evolved to meet the rigors of its combat environments.
Unarguably fulfilling its intended role during the 1991 Gulf War and then during Operation Iraqi Freedom over a decade later, the M1 set the world standard for performance and lethality in tank-on-tank engagements. As the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan grew more prolonged, the M1 and her crews faced primary threats in the form of rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Numerous improvements were developed and deployed to improve crew survivability and operational effectiveness.
This latest incarnation from Tamiya is the first in 1/48th scale and depicts the M1A2 variant as deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
An eagerly awaited addition to Tamiya's outstanding 1/48th scale stable of military vehicles, this Abrams certainly does not disappoint. Molded in a light sand styrene, the quality of molding and fidelity of detail is consistent with Tamiya's superb quality. Parts count appears to be significantly more than some of the WWII armor kits in the series, but still relatively modest for such a large and detail-intense subject. Notable features include a single-piece main gun barrel, metal hull weights to add heft to the finished model, link-and-length tracks, and markings for two tanks -- which veterans of Tamiya's 1/35 M1A2 will immediately recognize.
The box is packed with superbly-molded parts.
Upper hull and turret feature anti-skid texture, and the side armor skirts are thin and well-proportioned.
A close-up of the turret shows the fine and robust detail found throughout the kit.
Road wheels and link-and-length tracks are delicately detailed and present nicely when finished.
Bustles, gun barrel, rear grille, and a host of other details are finely molded and represent well in 1/48th scale.
Instructions and finishing guides are typical Tamiya - clear, accurate, logical in sequence, and easy to follow.
The build went as expected - quick with nearly perfect fit of all parts, with minimal filling and fiddling. The following series of photos and narrative walks through the build as I approached it. Most steps were followed sequentially, with the exception of construction of the running gear, which was started early and integrated towards the end of the assembly sequence to facilitate painting of lower and upper hull subassemblies and minimize masking.
Step 1 - Simple lower hull assembly with included steel weight -- a little Tamiya Putty required fore and aft on hull to hide seams.
Step 2 - Road wheels and drive sprockets -- it was helpful to paint the road wheel halves prior to assembly.
--- Steps 3 - 5 Were deferred until upper and lower hull subassemblies were painted ---
Step 6 - Upper hull details - headlights, brush guards, and driver viewports all crisply detailed and fitting perfectly.
Step 7 - Well-proportioned side skirt armor fits perfectly.
--- Step 8 was deferred until subassemblies were painted and running gear was installed ---
Step 9 - Holes drilled in turret sides to accommodate tow cable locating pins.
Step 10 - Great feature: Polycaps on the main gun barrel trunnion to allow and hold elevation and depression of the barrel.
Step 11 - Assembly of upper and lower turret halves and the mantlet.
Step 12 - Installing main and coaxial guns and side cargo bins.
Step 13 - Assembly of rangefinder and commander's independent thermal viewer (CITV).
Step 14 - Left side bustle rack and tow cable installed. Bustle rails nicely proportioned for scale.
Step 15 - Right side accessories and counterweight installed.
Step 16 - Rear bustle rack assembly - great, precise fit!
Step 17 - Rear bustle rack and antennae mount installation - spot on.
Step 18 - APU assembly and installation.
Step 19 - Cupola and machine gun assembly.
Step 20 - Final turret detail installation.
Once the subassemblies were completed, they were primed with a generic primer from a rattle can to highlight defects and provide "tooth" for subsequent layers of acrylic paint.
After the primer dried, Ammo by Mig NATO Brown was applied as a preshade coat.
Immediately following application of the preshade coat, Ammo by Mig US Army/USMC Modern Desert Sand was applied slightly thinned,
then horizontal areas were modulated with the same color with a few drops of white added.
Step 3 - Road wheels and drive sprockets installed. Well-toleranced fit of road wheels kept everything aligned and provided clean foundation for tracks.
Step 4 - Link-and-length tracks added - running gear complete -- simple easy to keep aligned during assembly.
Step 5 - Hull rear bulkhead added - ready to assemble upper and lower hull subassemblies.
Step 8 - Upper and lower hull subassemblies combined and turret-ready. A smidgen of putty was needed to soften the seam between the upper hull and glacis plate.
Step 21a - Basic assembly complete - sans machine guns, markings, and weathering.
Markings Applied - Decals settled down well on top of a cured layer of Future, which was spot-applied in decal areas. Testors Acryl Flat was applied over decals to blend with overall matte finish.
Filter and Dark Washes - Ammo's Ochre for Desert Camo Filter and Mig's Brown Wash provided the initial volley of weathering effects.
Dust Washes and Effects using Ammo's Dust Effects softened the stark brown pinwashes and non-skid texture contrast.
Pigments Applied - A mixture of lighter desert sand selections from multiple sources provided the desired effect.
Details added and light lenses painted - Whip antennae made from 0.015" brass wire and taillights painted with Vallejo Acrylic Chrome base and Tamiya Clear Red.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders. Level of detail, superb fit and engineering, modest part count, and excellent instructions continued to reinforce Tamiya's dominance in the 1/48 armor market segment. Any fan of modern armor looking for a straightforward and relatively quick build is bound to love this latest M1A2 Abrams from Tamiya.
Thanks goes out to Tamiya USA for this review kit.
Reviewed by Dave Koukol
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