Revell 1/72 M1A2 Abrams Kit Build Review
By John Kelley
|Date of Review
|Good detail and fit
|Little detail in hatches and no crew figures
The M1A2 is the latest version of the M1 tank. It is characterized by a new Commanders Weapons Station and auxiliary power unit and, most important, the Commanders Independent Thermal Site. The latest version of this tank includes the Software Enhancement Programs, Loaders Hatch Armor, a .050 cal. mounted above the main gun, and Explosive Reactive Armor attached to the side skirts.
I began by assembling the four piece lower hull first. To aid in assembly and reduce seams, I sanded the edges flat. After this, I completed steps 2 and 3 and found that the drive sprocket is perfectly aligned and allows the tracks to sit straight and flat. Next, I assembled the tracks. These are finely molded and accurate representations of the T-156 track. If you want to change them to the T-158 track, it is a simple job of removing the Chevron cleats and replacing it with squares of .020 x .080 strip styrene. You don't have to do the entire track, only those faces that you can see. Make sure you check your references for this. The tracks assembled without any problems. There were no ejector pin marks on the faces and everything fit together extremely well. I did find that length section Part 16 was one link too long for the right side. I simply bent the link so that the bottom of it was attached to the last road wheel. After I was done, I had three links left over.
If you've never built a small scale tank with plastic track, this is a good one to start off with as it is very easy and has no vices. Before I attached the upper hull to the lower hull, I added a strip of styrene to Part 17 right below the location tabs. I then added a piece of .020 strip on top of this between the location tabs. This allowed more gluing surface for the upper hull to attach to the lower hull. While it may not be necessary, I think it helps a little.
Before finishing the hull, I filled a groove that runs across the front plate of Part 1. I've never seen this groove on any Abrams tank, so it needs to be eliminated. I also took the time to drill out the tow hooks on Parts 1 and 17, the lift rings on the exhaust vents, the front of the light guards, as well as the main gun and COAX. This is the only deviation to a straight out-of-the-box model I did.
After completing the lower hull, I began assembly of the turret. I glued Parts 27 and 25 together. I found a gap at the bottom of the turret which was visible even after the turret is attached to the hull. I filled this with putty and sanded smooth. On the very front of the turret, there are two small triangles on each side of the gun mantlet. Part 25 overhangs these and gives an unrealistic look to the model. I simply took a file and sanded it smooth so that it looks like one piece and not two.
After adding stowage boxes, I then added the side rails Parts 31 and 32. I then began assembly of the turret bustle rack. Take care when assembling this because Part 34 fits into two location holes in the top of the turret. If you push Part 34 all the way in, it will be lower than the side rails and will cause the turret to hang up on the rear hull when you rotate the turret. I know because I did it on my first Abrams tank. My preference is to assemble Parts 33, 34 and 35 together, let dry and then attach to the turret making sure that the rails on 35 line-up with 31 and 32. At this point, I added the final details and started the painting of the model.
Colors and Markings
The tracks and rubber tires were brushed painted Tamiya XF-63 German Grey. After going through several forums looking for the correct color for OIF Tanks, I found one that recommended Modelmaster Sand 4720. I have to say that compared to the photos I have, this really is an excellent match. I then applied Modelmaster Gloss Coat and applied a wash of German Grey to accent the details and the crevices. After this, I dry brushed with the Sand. I then applied the decals which went on with no problem. After the decals dried, I then applied Modelmaster Flat Coat.
The machine gun ammo boxes were painted Olive Drab just to give the model a little color. The center exhaust grill was painted Flat Black, dry brushed with German Grey and then dry brushed in the center with a combination of Red Brown and Clear Orange. This area of the exhaust is very hot and tends to rust the metal. The headlights were painted Silver, the marker lights were painted Tamiya X-26 Clear Orange, the tail light lenses were base coated with Silver and then X-27 Clear Red was applied over that.
All of the tank optics were painted Flat Black. I then gloss coated the lights and the optics. The machine guns were painted Gun Metal and Sand. Unfortunately, I forgot to make a cut in the handles of the M240 machine gun so they appear as one piece instead of two.
There is no two ways about it, this was a fun build. The fit was excellent, the tracks were easy to apply and overall, I just enjoyed making this kit. I really liked the extra stowage that Revell of Germany gives you. It is a shame that this model is currently out of production. I hope that Revell will reconsider and re-release this at a future time. If you get a chance to buy this kit, I would highly recommend doing so.