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M103A2 Heavy Tank

DML 1/35 M103A2 Heavy Tank Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2015 Manufacturer DML
Subject M103A2 Heavy Tank Scale 1/35
Kit Number 3549 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great details Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $82.95

First Look

M103A2 Heavy Tank
M103A2 Heavy Tank
M103A2 Heavy Tank
M103A2 Heavy Tank
M103A2 Heavy Tank

I remember the first time I saw the M103 tank, I initially mistook it for an M60 and when I was quized by one of my colleagues, I noted the rounded front hull and settled on a late variant of the M48 Patton. Of course I was wrong on both counts, but you can see that the M103 was a super-sized M48. The M103 was designed as a heavy tank to counter Soviet heavy tanks in service like the IS-3 Stalin tank. The main gun was the M58 120mm rifled cannon which required a two-part round (projectile and charge), which in turn required two loaders in the turret to feed the gun.

Where the M48 and M60 used four-man crews (commander, gunner, loader, driver), the M103 was a five-man crew with a second loader. At first blush, the tank does resemble the M48, but where the M48 and M60 have six road wheels and five return rollers on each side, the M103 is recognized with seven road wheels and six return rollers. The M103 is only a few inches wider than the M48 and M60, so to accommodate the extra man in the turret, the commander's position was located to the rear of the longer turret. The M103 was around 15 tons heavier than the M48 and M60, but it used a a similar drive train rated at 750 horsepower. This left the M103 underpowered and the US Army transitioned to the M60 and retired its M103s in the 1960s. The US Marine Corps kept their M103s in service for another decade. Neither service took their M103s into combat.

The kit consists of more than 460 highly detailed parts molded in light gray styrene and presented on eleven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and two runs of rubber tracks (molded in tan vinyl) are included.

Some key features of the kit are:

  • Modular engine deck design
  • Driver hatch is positionable though there is no interior detail
  • Commander's hatch is positionable but again, no detail inside
  • Very detailed suspension
  • Detailed hull exterior
  • M2 machine gun on commander's cupola
  • Markings are provided for two USMC examples circa 1970

When we did our first look at the DML M103A1 kit, there were already a series of reviews online discussing a number of inaccuracies in that release. The good news is that many of those bugs are not applicable to the M103A2 as the missing heat shield (for example) on the M103A1 wasn't used on the A2 as the exhaust had been re-routed to the rear of the vehicle as depicted in this kit. Two of the remaining bugs, the short gun barrel and the lack of the mantlet cover remain though I suspect these will be resolved in the aftermarket. Despite the bugs, this is a nice kit overall and is currently your only option for the M103 in 1/35 in styrene.

My sincere thanks to DML for this review sample!