Academy 1/35 M60A2 'Starship' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||July 2015||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Kit Number||13296||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||New tooling, nice details||Cons||None|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$55.00|
In 1972, the US Army introduced a variant of the M60 main battle tank to compliment existing 105mm equipped M60A1 tank units. This new tank used the same chassis, but mounted a new lower-profile turret that housed the M48 152mm main gun that could fire larger caliber rounds at closer ranges than the M60A1 as well as the MGM-51 Shillelagh anti-tank missile through the tube. This new variant was designated M60A2 and nicknamed 'Starship' for the sophisticated electronics used inside. Of course the low-profile turret was offset by a large commanders cupola on top which assured the M60A2 was as visible on the battlefield as the M60A1.
The M60A2 didn't remain in front-line service very long as the fire control system suffered maintenance issues and the missile couldn't penetrate tanks with heavy armor that they faced across the Iron Curtain. The M60A2 was relegated to reserve units for a time and then had their distinctive turrets removed and either converted to M60A3 or AVLB bridgelayers.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Academy was going to release the first new-tooled M60A2 kit since the venerable (and questionable) Tamiya kit of old. On opening the box, I saw good news, bad news, and more good news. The good news is that this is not a copy of the Tamiya kit. The bad news is that this kit has the existing Academy M60 hull with the motorization holes. The good news is that in addition to the new-tooled turret, the kit also has a new-tooled rear which replaces the distinctive engine grill that was also used in the Tamiya kit with the correct configuration. More on this shortly.
The kit is molded in olive green styrene and presented on seven parts trees plus the upper and lower hull and one fret of photo-etched parts. You won't be using a number of these parts as Academy is reusing a few trees from their earlier M60 releases and updates some of these parts with new tooling as well as providing the new turret.
Among the features and options in this release:
- Lower hull features motorization hole plugs
- Nice road wheels and suspension detail
- Link and length track
- New rear engine grille section with cast-metal texturing
- Upper hull has movable driver's hatch and anti-slip surface texture in the right places
- New turret with anti-slip surface texture in the right places
- New xenon search light
- Choice of gun tube (with or without bore extractor)
- Gun is movable in elevation
- Positionable side hatches on the turret
- Detailed commander's cupola
- Distinctive rear-mounted smoke grenade launchers
- Detailed rear turret stowage racks with photo-etched grilles
I have wanted to build the Starship for many years but dreaded trying to make the Tamiya kit work. This kit is definitely a nice-looking model and will look awesome with MERDC paint and weathering on your contest shelf.
For a look at the MERDC color profiles and paint guides for the M60A2, check out our M60 Modelers Online Reference.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!