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M1A1 Abrams Kit

Italeri 1/35 M1A1 Abrams Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2015 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject M1A1 Abrams Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6438 Primary Media Styrene/Resin
Pros Nice detail, simple build Cons No updates for Gulf War configurations
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $64.99

First Look

M1A1 Abrams Kit
M1A1 Abrams Kit
M1A1 Abrams Kit

The M1 Abrams entered service in 1980 as the US Army's new main battle tank to replace the M60 series. Over time, the M1 evolved from its original 105mm M68 L/52 main gun in common with the earlier M60A1/A3 to the Rheinmetall 120mm smoothbore M256A1 L/44 gun also used by the Leopard 2 tank. In addition to its advanced armor protection and fire control system, the Abrams was the first to employ a gas turbine engine for propulsion in place of the conventional diesel engines used by nearly all other modern tanks. This combination made the Abrams a very agile and formidable weapon system on the battlefield. Since its introduction, the Abrams has been remanufactured into newer and more capable configurations including the M1A1 which introduced the 120mm gun and the M1A1 AIM (Abrams Integrated Management) which modernizes the tank with improved sensors and digital situational awareness. The M1A1 continues as the main battle tank of the US Marine Corps.

Italeri produced this M1A1 Abrams in 1/35 scale some time back and has been reissued periodically. I thought it time for a look at one. I confess that I thought this kit was a reboxed ESCI kit with some new resin parts. After looking at the two kits, it is clear that any resemblence this kit has to the ESCI tooling is coincidental. This kit captures the details of the standard U.S. Army issue M1A1 as it appeared before going to Desert Shield/Storm. This kit is molded in tan styrene and presented on four parts trees plus a group of resin parts.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • No motorization holes in lower hull
  • T158 link and length track
  • Correct details on hulls and turret
  • Choice of APU on rear turret basket or rear of hull
  • Positionable crew hatches
  • Detailed driver's crew station in resin
  • Some details provided inside of turret
  • Positionable engine deck hatches and rear engine doors
  • Detailed engine and transmission
  • Detailed battery compartment

This kit has lots of potential. If you have an M88 ARV kit handy, this would make a nice diorama or vignette depicting an engine change in the field. That resin engine will look great whether it is in the engine compartment or next to the tank. While this kit depicts the tank as it would look between 1985 and 1990, there are aftermarket updates out there to add the various details to bring the tank up to date including TUSK I and TUSK II armor kits.

As I recall, this kit originally had a breathtaking MSRP of over $100 USD when it was first released but that is now down to around $65 USD with street prices even lower. The kit has also been released without the resin set but there is some nice potential here if you consider this an aftermarket resin set that comes with a free kit. If you can't find one at your favorite hobby shop, tell them that Hobbico does have this kit in stock or stop by Tower Hobbies online to get it directly from the distributor.

My sincere thanks to Hobbico for this review sample!

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