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M1A1 Abrams 'Iraq 2003' Kit

Academy 1/35 M1A1 Abrams 'Iraq 2003' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2015 Manufacturer Academy
Subject M1A1 Abrams 'Iraq 2003' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13202 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details and options Cons Wrong track included
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $45.00

First Look

M1A1 Abrams 'Iraq 2003' Kit
M1A1 Abrams 'Iraq 2003' Kit
M1A1 Abrams 'Iraq 2003' 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.

Academy reissued their updated Abrams kit, this depicting the M1A1 as it was configured at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003. This kit pre-dates the various updates like the Abrams Integrated Management (AIM). The kit is molded in tan styrene and presented six parts trees plus upper and lower hull halves and two lengths of 'rubber band' (vinyl) track. You'll note that some of the parts aren't used in this version as they are remnants of the original 105mm M1 Abrams release. You cannot backdate this kit to the original M1 though as the drive sprockets have been updated and the 105mm gun.

Among the features and options:

  • Choice of Army or USMC type smoke dischargers
  • APU on rear turret basket
  • USMC 'dazzler' option
  • Positionable crew hatches
  • Positionable gunner's sight doors
  • Thermal IFF panels
  • Optional crew figure

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • M1A1, C Company, 1 Tank Battalion, USMC, Iraq, 2003
  • M1A1, B Company, 3 Tank Battalion, 66 Armored Regiment, US Army, Iraq, 2003

This kit does build up into a nice tank though a few notes to help:

  • The track provided is the wrong style but there is aftermarket track which is correct and looks better than rubber band-types anyway
  • The lower hull suffers from 'motoritis' (motorization holes) so you'll have to fill this in
  • The loader's hatch will require a little modification at the hinges to position closed

This kit will be an easy build with an experienced modeler and the options for Army versus USMC examples will make for some nice spares for future projects. Stay tuned as this beast will be going on the bench soon.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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