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K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit

Academy 1/35 K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2017 Manufacturer Academy
Subject K2 Black Panther ROK Army Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13511 Primary Media Styrene, photo-etch
Pros Easy construction, nice detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $65.00

First Look

K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit
K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit
K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit
K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit
K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit
K2 Black Panther ROK Army Kit

In the mid-1990s, the South Korean government issued a requirement for a new main battle tank that incorporated the latest technologies to offset the technically inferior but numerically superior North Korean army. They had previously developed the K1 series of tanks a decade earlier which was patterned after the M1 Abrams main battle tank but powered by a diesel engine. The K2 improves on the K1 series while seeking fully indigenous subsystems to allow for potential export of the tank without the need for outside permissions. The K2 features a number of innovative capabilities including a higher caliber 120mm main gun, integrated command and control capabilities, and advanced sensors to increase the potential for one shot, one kill. The K2 also has an advanced suspension system which can be optimized for a variety of operating conditions and the capability of indirect fire with specialized guided rounds. With a crew of three, the tank utilizes an autoloading system that can support 10 rounds per minute.

Here is Academy's latest new-tool subject, the K2 Black Panther as configured in the Republic of Korea Army service. The kit is molded in tan styrene and presented on nine parts trees plus 11 trees molded in black, one fret of photo-etched parts, and one set of dye-cut colored lenses for the sensors. You can see some of the design influences of the M1 with the main hull, though the turret appears more like a Merkava influence. In any case, neither the Merkava nor the Abrams have the advanced sensors and automation of the K2. Unlike many current tank kits, construction of this kit starts with the turret. Among the features and options:

  • Nice details and stowage containers on the turret exterior
  • Turret rack on the rear is finely molded plus photo-etched rack bottoms
  • Fording tower container provided on right rear of turret rack
  • Smoke grenade launchers are nicely rendered under armor
  • Racks of ERA blocks are provided on the 'softer' spots on the turret
  • Main gun is molded in sections but not in halves
  • Main hull is molded as bottom, sides, and rear but includes interior bulkheads for strength and alignment
  • Optional rear engine grille overlay
  • Nice roadwheel and suspension details
  • Suspension posed in normal 'up' position, kneeling, lowered, or other settings will have to be done on your own
  • Assembly of track is interesting (see below)
  • Side skirts with ERA blocks provided

Decals and color profiles are provided for two unidentified examples. Each have a basic two-color green/brown camouflage with variations of tan/black US Army MERDC disruption bands. There are many good photos of different K2 tanks online for other examples.

The T158 track (same as the Abrams) is an interesting engineering design. Each link is molded without the track pads, so these can be painted separately and assembled, but according to the instructions, the track pads are the only parts you'll need to glue. The guide teeth are slotted to link two track links together and hinge pin caps are used on either side to hold the links together. You snap all of the track links together and mount them to the road wheels and sprockets. While the instructions maintain that glue is not required, I would carefully apply cement to those caps once the tracks are in place.

This is another nice kit from Academy and you can see that they have some national pride in the design and molding of this model. If you want a good read, you can find more information on the K2 Black Panther tank online and see just how advanced this new tank is and where it is going in the future.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this sample!