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M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Kit

Trumpeter 1/35 M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2015 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 1535 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Lots of options in this box Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $31.95

First Look

M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Kit
M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Kit
M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Kit
M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 Kit
M1A1/A2 Abrams 5 in 1 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.

Trumpeter released their M1A1/A2 kit a number of years ago but it remains on the market and this version is priced well below all of the other Abrams kits in this scale. I'm working on an Abrams special project and I though it worth looking at this kit to see how it stacks up against the other offerings on the market. What I've found so far is that nobody has produced the perfect kit though some have more challenges than others. While I'm going to attempt to build all of the current offerings as contemporary tanks documenting the corrections needed to get there, in each case it will take some combination of scratchbuilding and/or aftermarket products to bring these kits where they should be. Given the low MSRP of this kit (and even lower street prices), is this kit a contender? Let's take a look.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 14 parts trees plus the lower hull half. Unlike many other Trumpeter armor kits, this release doesn't make use of photo-etched parts so the while I have this kit rated at an experienced skill level, this is for the number of small parts used in the build rather than the use of multimedia materials. One thing that gets one's attention is the '5 in 1' options in the box. These represent the four vehicle variants that can be built from the parts options in this box. These include:

  • M1A1 (pre-AIM)
  • M1A2 (pre-SEP)
  • M1A1HA (heavy armor) (pre-AIM)
  • M1 Panther II

The kit provides two optional mine clearing systems as well:

  • Track-Width Mine Plow (TWMP)
  • Mine Roller

Among the features and options of this kit:

  • Choice of link and length or rubber band (vinyl) track (both are T158 type)
  • Optional rear-hull APU
  • Choice of Abrams turret or Panther II armored cover
  • Optional stowage basket APU (marked as tool box)
  • Choice of US Army or USMC smoke grenade launchers
  • Optional passive IR IFF panels (ODS and later)
  • Choice of commander cupola types
  • Optional blank adaptor for M2 machine gun
  • Optional main gun 'flash/bang' firing simulator
  • Choice of early Army or USMC exhaust deflectors
  • Optional USMC engine snorkels
  • Positionable driver, commander, and loader hatches
  • Positionable engine deck cover
  • Optional crew figures
  • Optional crew stowage

As I gathered the kits and materials for this project, I was trying to figure out how to contrast/compare the kits against M1A1/M1A2 in order to bring all of the kits up to contemporary standard. Much to my pleasant surprise, most of that work has already been done. Pavel at published an extensive and detailed comparison of the various M1A1/A2 kits as they would have appeared prior to receiving any AIM (M1A1) or SEP (M1A2) updates. You can look here for his great insights. All we'll be doing is working through each of the kits to bring them through the Vodnik corrections, then we'll address the various AIM and SEP updates as well.

In the case of the Trumpeter kit, you can see the Vodnik assessment as being good aside from the road wheels and some turret issues, but his evaluation was with an earlier release of the Trumpeter Abrams. We'll be seeing what changes may have been made as this kit is comprised essentially all of the parts from the various Abrams releases plus some new parts. At best we'll have a good Abrams with some work and at worst, we'll have lots of spare parts for about the same price as an aftermarket TWMP plow kit.

Stay tuned!