Panda-Hobby 1/35 M1 IP Abrams MBT Kit First Look
|Date of Review||August 2018||Manufacturer||Panda-Hobby|
|Subject||M1 IP Abrams MBT||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||35038||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Nice details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$49.95|
The M1 IP (Improved Performance) was an incremental upgrade to the basic M1 Abrams. Introduced into production in 1984, the IP provided a number of upgrades, most visible of which was the so-called 'long turret' which incorporated thicker frontal armor. The M1 IP remained briefly in production during 1984 with almost 900 examples built before the production line transitioned to the M1A1, which incorporated additional features including the 120mm smoothbore main gun.
Late last year, Panda Hobby released their M1 Abrams, which represented the initial production variant of the Abrams family. You can read more about that kit here, and see our build of the kit here. Here is their next installment of the type, the M1 IP. This is the first production kit of this variant in this scale. Molded in tan styrene, this kit is presented on seven parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus upper and lower hull, one tree of clear parts, and one fret of photo-etched details. as before, the kit has a very simple layout. Aside from the individual track links, this kit doesn't suffer from numerous tiny parts.
Among the kit's features and options:
- New-tool 'long turret'
- Photo-etched mesh for rear bustle rack
- Wheel hubs are molded separately from the rubber tires
- Drive sprocket features the original track retainer ring
- T156 tracks interconnect with guide teeth and end caps
- Photo-etched screens for rear vents/turbine exhaust
- Photo-etched screens for engine deck
- Clear periscopes
- Positionable crew hatches
- Optional loads for smoke grenade launchers
- Positionable gunner sight doors
- Machine guns on commander and loader hatches
One of the criticisms of the T156 track in the early M1 and M1A1 kits is the erroneous placement of the guide horns in the middle of the track links instead of between them. This kit has essentially four-piece track links - one track link, two end connectors and one center guide tooth connector. The connectors link up to the next track link and you can snap together a track run and tack everything together (carefully) with liquid cement once you've mounted the track to the road wheels/sprockets/rollers. I look forward to trying this technique out.
Decals are provided for two examples:
- M1 IP, 4th Bn/2nd Bde/3rd AD, 1987 Canadian Army Trophy, Bill the Cat artwork on turret
- M1 IP, 3rd BN/32nd Armor/1st CAV, NTC, 1987
The kit does have a few minor glitches that the AMS modeler will want to address:
- I don't know if it is a mold release problem or what happened, but the .50 caliber gun barrel doesn't look right and should be replaced. There are many aftermarket options available.
- The fuel filler cap on the left rear is rotated 90 degrees. This will require a bit of modification to reshape the cap and add lift tabs. Check your references. This took little time to fix in my build review (link above).
- The main gun barrel isn't round when test-fitted and looks a little short. Since this is the first early Abrams that has been on the market in well over a decade, there are no aftermarket options yet, but you can do some scratchbuilding using the details on the kit barrel added to an aftermarket M60A3 barrel to get there (again, check your references)
- The track links are T156 on the outside and T158 on the inside surfaces. You can find T156 track in the aftermarket.
To date, nobody has produced the perfect kit, and this kit is no exception, but the bugs are minor and can be addressed by the experienced modeler.
I was really impressed with the track link assembly of this kit. When I built the Panda M1, I also built the Academy M1A2 side-by-side. The tracks built-up as nice or nicer in the Panda kit versus the Academy kit, and unlike the Academy tracks, the assembled Panda tracks not only fit the Panda M1 nicely, they also fit the Academy kit as well.
Aside from the minor glitches mentioned above, this kit is a great build and the glitches themselves were easily addressed. Grab one of these for your own scale garrison!
My sincere thanks to Panda-Hobby for the review sample.