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  1. M1A2 Abrams SEP v2/TUSK I/TUSK II 1:35 Academy The Abrams Main Battle Tank is the direct replacement to the M60, when it was realised that the venerable design was ill-suited to further modification. The new design entered limited service in 1980 and went on to become the main heavy tank in the Army and Marines branches of the American armed forces. It saw extensive action in the two Gulf Wars, where it cleaned up against older Soviet designs with minimal damage inflicted in a stand-up fight due to its composite armour. It was developed further with the AIM programme, which upgraded the battle management systems and returned the vehicles to factory fresh condition. The A2 was improved again, giving the commander his own sighting system as well as other system changes. The SEP (System Enhancement Package) received additional changes to its armour and systems, with a remote weapons station added later on. An auxiliary pwer unit was added to the tank in the rear turret basket to enable the tank to operate all its systems without having to have the main gas turbine engine running. With the involvement of the Abrams in urban combat during the Afghanistan campaign, it became clear that the tank was vulnerable in close-quarters combat, where the top of the tank was open to attack from small arms fire and RPGs could be used with relative ease. IEDs buried on roads or in buildings also disabled a number of tanks in practice, all of which led to the TUSK and improved TUSK II upgrade packages, which stands for Tank Urban Survival Kit. To counter IEDs an angled "keel" was added to the underside to deflect blast away from the hull, reactive armour blocks were added to the side skirts and turrets, and bullet-resistant glass cages were mounted around the crew hatches on the turrets to provide protection for the crew during urban transit or if they were called upon to use their weapons in combat. A combat telephone was also installed on the rear of the tank to allow communication between accompanying troops and the tank, as well as slat armour to protect the exhausts for the gas turbine engine, the blast from which was directed upwards by a deflector panel that could be attached to the grille to avoid frying troops behind. The TUSK II kit improved on the original TUSK with shaped charges incorporated into the ERA blocks on the sides of the tank, and additional shields for the crew when exposed. Both kits were field-installable, which reduced the cost and time spent out of the field. The Kit I must admit to thinking Academy would add parts to their existing Abrams to bring us this kit, bit NO this is a complete new tool kit from Academy. The kit arrives on nine sprues of sand coloured plastic, a clear sprue, a small sheet of photo-etch, a small sheet of masks; and two rubber tracks. The box is really packed with plastic and the main sprues are on the large size barely fitting into the reviewers photo booth. The moulding quality of all the parts is excellent. One word of caution is to read the extensive instructions (3 booklets) to follow the correct steps for the version you will be constructing as the instructions are not the clearest out there. Construction starts with the lower hull. Unlike some AFV kits this is not one part and has to be built up. The lower plate needs adding to the side parts with two internal stiffening bulkheads being added. Once the lower hill is complete the mounting points for the wheels need to be built up and added. Then seven pairs of road wheels each side are made up and added, along with two idler wheels and the two drive sprockets at the rear. Two return rollers each side are then added. Once the wheels are on the mounting brackets and supports for the side armour is added. If doing a TUSK then the under hull armour needs to be added last. To finish of the lower hull the rear section is made up and added. Construction then moves onto the upper hull. The drivers hatch is added along with some parts to the rear engine decking and sides. The front light clusters are also built up and added. Some of the PE parts are also added at this stage. The top deck can then be added to the lower hull. Next the side armour is built up, different parts being added depending on the version being built. Once complete they can be added to the main hull. The turret is the next major step. First the barrel is built up. Unlike conventional Tank kits the barrel is not two halves which the modeller has to try hard to assemble into a convincing barrel. Here there are three sections of tube which slot together, a much better idea in the opinion of this reviewer. Once the barrel is complete it can be added to the breach assembly. This is then added into the lower turret ring. The upper turret can then be added to complete the main assembly. Take care on which holes need to be opened up for the version you are building. The next construction stage is to make up the various guns / copulas etc which go on top of the turret. The TUSK version also features a M2 machine gun mounted on top of the main gun. The turret can be configured with crew served light weapons in protected turrets and the CROWS II remotely operated station. The up-armoured crew hatches are also supplied. Following completion of the turret of your choice the rear turret basket is added. All the mesh here is provided as photo-etch. The Basket mounted aux power unit is added (if for the right version). The side turret units are added along with any additional armour units your version carried. Decals Decals are provided for 9 examples; M1A2 SEP V2 - 2nd Infantry Division US Army, South Korea 2013. M1A2 SEP V2 - 2-7 Infantry, NATO Joint Training, Poland, Latvia & Estonia 2015. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 4th Infantry Division, 1-68 Armoured Regiment US Army, Iraq 2008. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - Combined Arms Battalion, 1-68 Armoured Regiment US Army, Iraq 2008. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 1st Cavalry Division, 2-7 Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 3rd Sqn, G troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 2nd Sqn, E troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 3rd Sqn, H troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk II- 1st Battalion. 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Div, US Army, Iraq 2008 Conclusion This is thoroughly modern tooling of the latest M1 Abrams. Included are all the modern Abrams upgrades and add ons and the modeller will need to study their references and the instructions to fit the correct set of parts for their kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  2. I started this last year before work and a Meng Cougar got in the way. I'd stuffed it to one side thinking that the Cougar would be finished within a few weeks. Oops! Six months down the line and I'm looking for all the bits. Might as well start with the sprue picture. At least it shows that I still have to find the side skirts, the Eduard brass and a gun barrel. Moving on here's the point I'd reached last year. There's a difference in the anti slip layers on the hull and turret. I'd just obtained Mig's antislip compound in a tube and started on the hull. Its much too course for modern armour and probably wouldn't look out of place on some of the older Russian gear. As a result of this I shifted to Mr. Shifter 500, painted it on, waited until it had dried a bit and then stippled it with a hard brush. Seems like a reasonable result for the moment. I read that some folks spray the stuff with their airbrush but I'd be worried I couldn't get the airbrush properly cleaned. Close up of the two effects: Here's a view of the work on the running gear so far: I'd chipped some of the tyres but its not easy to see as I didn't want to make it too extreme. I decided to go with the rubber tracks that came with the kit rather than investing in Fruils. I hope I don't regret that later. Going on the premise that the bulk of the track is hidden behind the skirts (if I can find them) and the quality of the Tamiya tracks I thought I'd give the Tamiya ones a go.
  3. Well, I've decided to try a WIP of my new M1A2 SEP TUSK (or Abrams Acronyms ). So far I've assembled components for the lower hull, minus the wheels, some components on the upper hull and turret, the reactive armour on the skirts, and the main gun. I then masked off the appropriate areas and gave it a coat of Rust-Oluem Terracotta effect for the anti-slip coating. Came out better than expected, but I think I'll need to lay some primer over it soon since the little grains in the paint seem to flake off fairly easy. Anyway, here's some pics of my work so far. That's all I've got for now
  4. US Army M1A2 SEP MBT TUSK I/II (E35-192) 1:35 ET Model The Tusk I/II from Tamiya is a beautiful kit in its own right, but, once again ET Models have found areas where it can be improved. It’s not as extensive as their Merkava sets, but there are still two large sheets, three medium sheets and eleven small sheets of relief etched brass, along with two lengths of metal wire, one small resin part, two metal aerial springs and a slab of thick clear ABS plastic. The set comes in two of the standard ET packaging of poly bags stapled together onto the card header. The main sheets are taped onto black card, whilst the smaller sheets are contained in a zip lock poly bag, as are the metal and resin parts. The instructions of twelve sides of A4 green paper. These are very clear and well laid out, particularly with reference to where the sub assemblies are fitted to the kit shown in a line diagram. They will still require careful reading before starting to assemble the etched parts, as some of the kit parts need to be altered or removed before these can be added. Plastic or brass rod of various diameters will also be required to use as directed. ET Models have also used various thicknesses of brass for the sheets, so that the small items, such as straps will be easier to fold while items such as the reactive armour brackets and thicker and therefore stronger to hold the weight of the kit parts that are attached to them. The first task is to build up three ammunition boxes for the M2 50 cal and M240 7.62mm machine guns and two further boxes for what looks like 40mm grenades, for the smoke launchers on either side of the turret. This last box is the trickiest in that the internal holders for the rounds have to be rolled into shape before fitting into the box and an internal division fitted around them. Of course if the box is to be modelled closed the holders won’t need to be used. The gunners hatch receives internal sight details and an external ring which covers the gap between the hatch and the turret armour. A large gun ring is then fitted around the completed hatch. On the forward end of the left hand turret storage box a new shelf and support brackets is fitted along with the associated straps for one of the ammunition boxes. The machine guns are detailed nest, with the commanders weapon being fitted with new barrel handle, perforated barrel hand hold, front and rear sights, cocking handle, parts of which need to be made out of plastic rod, ammunition box cradle into which one of the previously made boxes is fitted, a length of ammunition belt and two locking pins with chains attached to hold the gun to the mounting. The 7.62mm M240 is fitted onto a new pintle mounting and ring slide, perforated barrel fittings, rear sight, ammunition box cradle and ammunition belt. The M2 fitted near the front of the turret over the main gun also receives new barrel fittings, front and rear sights, a complete mounting with the pins and chains to hold the gun on, cocking handle, rear firing handles, and ammunition cradle, box and belt. The turret is then fitted with new brackets and supports to the rear, while the stowage baskets are fitted with new perforated floors, ID panels, new jerry can shelves and a new cable reel. The refrigeration unit is fitted with a new top box and several handles. On the turret sides near the front the smoke discharges are fitted with new support brackets as are the spare 40mm ammunition boxes just in front of them. Also on the turret sides the new brackets and supports for the kits reactive armour pieces are attached. Above the mantle cover another small flap is fitted to cover the gap and new flash suppressor for the co-axial machine gun is rolled to shape and fitted into position. There are several new handles fitted to the drivers hatch and other fittings, including the chains for the fuel caps, around the hull. On the rear deck all the engine hatch mesh is replaced with brass parts and the rear hull is fitted with angled exhaust plates, ID plate support bracket, and telephone box, which is a small kit on its own. The side skirts are fitted with new front and rear mudguards, whilst to the rear a new skirt piece is fitted to the rear. The front and rear angled shields for the hull reactive armour are fitted once the kit parts have been attached. Finally the armoured sections that make up the commanders and loaders protection screens and assembled. Each screen section s folded to shape and fitted with pieces of the ABS sheet, the templates for each screen is contained on the instruction sheet. The sheet is 1.5mm thick so represents well the armoured glass fitted to the screens. If you’re not confident with cutting the sheet, then the clear parts in the kit could most probably be made to fit. Engine & Turret Rack Grilles, (EA35-093). If you think this is all too much and you only want to add a little extra something to your build then ET Models have also released a small set containing just the perforated grilles for the engine deck and the floors of the turret baskets. Conclusion This is an amazing set that provides so much extra detail that it’s difficult to describe it all. ET Models certainly give the modeller their monies worth. Some may say why bother when the kit is already so good, but you can’t get the scale thickness of metal or the finesse of detail in most styrene parts no matter how good the manufacturer. If you want a highly detailed model in your collection this is the only way to go, especially as ET Models haven’t replaced kit parts that don’t need replacing which can be a concern with other manufacturers. I can’t recommend this set highly enough and will certainly be using it when my Tamiya Abrams gets on to the work bench. Review Sample courtesy of