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M2A2 with ERA

DML 1/72 M2A2 with ERA Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2006 Manufacturer DML
Subject M2A2 with ERA Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7298 Primary Media 173 parts (142 in grey styrene, 20 in DS plastic, 11 etched brass)
Pros First kit in any scale with the reactive armor array; multiple parts permit any of several subvariants of Bradley to be built from this kit Cons Another variant may confuse some buyers
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $11.95

First Look

More than 15 years ago the Army gave consideration to mounting explosive reactive armor – ERA – on the Bradley series of armored infantry fighting vehicles for self-protection. The Israelis had demonstrated its effectiveness as well as the Soviets had adopted "Kontakt" protection – which they dubbed "dynamic protection" – for their own armored vehicles. But even though the M2A2 and M3A2 Bradley fighting vehicles went into production, proving themselves on Operation Desert Storm, the decision to actually produce the suites of armor was deferred.

Fast forward to Operation Iraqi Freedom, where for the first time US forces came up against massive numbers of hand-held antitank weapons used at point-blank range. The results were a few knocked out M1A1 Abrams tanks as well as many Bradleys and lighter vehicles knocked out. Due to the problems with catastrophic explosions in a Bradley (the inside of the rear of the vehicle carries a great deal of 25mm, 7.62mm and TOW ammunition, plus fuel) the US Army finally decided to field its ERA protection for use in Iraq.

The armor is quite effective, and prevents penetration of the interior of the vehicle or at least minimizes it to prevent injuries to crew members as well as denotation of stowed ammunition. For those not familiar with reactive armor, it uses an explosion and moving steel plates to deform the jet of molten metal formed by a cumulative effects warhead (HEAT) to prevent it forming correctly and penetrating the armor protection of a vehicle. Based on the vehicle and the munition, it can be up to 100% effective.

DML has now offered the latest version of the M2A2 with a reactive armor fit. This is an improved version of their earlier M2A2 ODS kit (number 7247) and provides more parts and better rendering. While they have simplified the array down to only seven parts, due to close fits and the conformal fit of the boxes on the actual vehicle this really isn't objectionable, and does prevent the modeler from having to mount 90 or so boxes of around 2 x 2 mm.

The model can be built as either a straight M2A2 ODS (upgraded M2A2 with lessons learned from Desert Storm) or an M2A2 with ERA. Different parts and components are provided for each one, so you will have to pay close attention to the very busy direction sheet.

This kit is one of the few where you do have to use the etched brass, as the mounts are provided for the turret ERA array and no styrene alternative comes with the kit.

No interior is provided, but four of the six hatches may be positioned either open or shut (driver's, commander's, missile reload, and rear access ramp.)

Tracks are DS plastic as are the keepers for the wheels, the mud flaps, and the antiaircraft sight mount and arm on the turret roof.

Cartograf decals are provided along with four recommended schemes: 1-18 Infantry, 1st ID, Tikrit 2004; 2-7 Infantry, 3rd ID, Baghdad 2004; 1-26 Infantry, 1st ID, Balad 2004; and 1-8 Infantry, 4th ID, Samarrah, 2003.

Overall this is a very nice kit with more options, but it may provide confusing to some modelers due to the plethora of other Bradley kits DML has offered. That would be a shame, as this is the best of the bunch.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.