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Julien

M1A2 Abrams SEP v2/TUSK I/TUSK II - 1:35 Academy

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M1A2 Abrams SEP v2/TUSK I/TUSK II

1:35 Academy

 

t1.JPG

 

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.

 

t2.JPG

 

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.

 

t3.JPG

 

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.

 

t4.JPG

 

t5.JPG

 

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.

 

t6.JPG

 

t7.JPG

 

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.

 

t8.JPG

 

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.

 

t9.JPG

 


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

 

t10.JPG

 

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
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.gif

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So what do you reckon this variant weighs in at?  :hmmm:

 

It's looking very substantial these days isn't it.  ;)

 

Pricy too.....I bet!  :wicked:

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Currently building this kit. Aside from a bit of frustration with the two hull pieces really locking together and being a pain to separate, all issues were of my own doing and it goes together well. Works especially well for building components without gluing them, so they can be painted more easily. I'm also defying the instructions a bit and blending elements of two versions, but I think it looks cooler :P So it's basically a hybrid of elements from the TUSK 1/II and the V2 instead of one variant.

 

I have discovered a strange thing, however. One of the photo etch pieces is never mentioned once in the instructions. From the look of it, it replaces one of the mesh-infused ballistic windows (on the loader's gun cupola), but is never mentioned as an optional part. Have I surmised that correctly?

 

Gaz

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