Tamiya 1/35 M1A2 SEP Abrams TUSK II Kit First Look
|Date of Review||March 2013||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Subject||M1A2 SEP Abrams TUSK II||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||35326||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Interesting new variant||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$92.00|
The end of the Cold War meant new M1A2 production was halted at just 62 tanks, but 566 existing M1A1s were upgraded to M1A2 standard between 1994 and 2001. Upgrades continued after 201 with the M2A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) Version One, which was followed by SEP Version Two in 2008. The SEP program sought to digitize the Abrams with 2nd-generation electronics and included equipment such as color displays, digital terrain map system, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system, Enhanced Position/Location Reporting System (EPLRS), and improved Global Positioning System (GPS). These systems enabled the M1A2 SEP to connect to the battlefield network, obtain the latest information, and exploit it in combat more effectively.
During the Iraq occupation period following the 2003 Iraq War, the number of tank losses suffered by the U.S. military was surprisingly greater than that which was inflicted by the regular Iraqi Army. The M1A1/M1A2s protection scheme had heavy frontal armor on the top, sides, and rear of the turret and hull. These areas proved vulnerable to anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during operations in confined urban environments. Tank Urban Survival Kits (TUSK) were thus developed for the Abrams in response to these threats. The TUSK II was distinguished by the curved tiles of its Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles (ARAT) II armor, which were installed both on the turret sides and over the ARAT 1 on the skirts. Due to the nature of the TUSK kits, tanks in the field were often seen with different combinations of TUSK equipment. The underside of the hull has a new part reflecting the boat-hull-type supplemental armor protection against IEDs.
Included with this kit are 353 parts on 10 sprue trees with tan and clear parts. The standard one piece rubberized tracks are included with poly caps for the road wheels and plastic screen material Bustle storage rack assembly. Reactive armor for building either the TUSK 1 or TUSK II is included along with a commander and loader figure. All parts included in the kit appear to be a new tool for 2012 as indicated and each parts tree except for the lower main hull which retains its original tool date inside the hull of 1982. The M2 machine gun is perfectly rendered and it mounts above the main gun along with the sharply detailed spot light. Armor shields for the commander and loader are included and are crisply detailed. The reactive armor is well engineered for ease of assembly and no signs of sink marks can be found on any parts.
Three types of markings are included:
- 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade , 4th Infantry Division, Baghdad, July 2008
- 68th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Iraq
- 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Iraq
Assembly begins with the rear panel then lower hull assembly and then the upper hull, instructions guide you through the correct drill bit size and location as well as the correct color call outs using Tamiya paint. Lots of very small detail parts are included and because of the amount of parts included I would recommend this kit for advanced modelers.
Tamiya has done a great job to provide us with the most advanced Abrams tank model kit and this kit is a must for any fan of modern armor. I highly recommend this kit.