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Paul A H

US Tank Transporter w/ Abrams Tank - 1:72

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US Tank Transporter w/ Abrams Tank

1:72 Takom

 

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The Oshkosh M1070, coupled to the DRS Technologies M1000 semi-trailer, us the primary means by which the US Army moves its M1 Abrams main battle tank, as well as various self-propelled artillery and other heavy equipment, by road. Powered by either a huge 12 litre Detroit Diesel unit or an even huger 18 litre Caterpillar engine, the M1070 can exceed 50mph and has a range of almost 450 miles, thanks chiefly to its huge 947 litre fuel capacity. The vehicle has been a hit for Oshkosh, with almost 3,000 examples rolling off the production line, many of which have been exported to international customers such as Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UK. The M1000 trailer, produced by Leonardo DRS, was originally developed as a private venture but has been just as successful as the M1070, with over 2600 examples ordered. Both tractor and trailer are air-transportable if you happen to have access to the C-5 Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster. 

 

The M1 Abrams is, of course, the current Main Battle Tank employed by the armed forces of the USA. Named after General Creighton Abrams, Commander of US forces in Vietnam, the Abrams entered service with the US Army in 1980, gradually replacing the M60 MBT. Since then over 9000 examples of the gas turbine-powered tank have been produced and it is now in service with the armed forces of Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as the US. The M1A2 variant is an upgrade over the original M1A1, with enhanced targeting and armour capabilities. The Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK) is a field-installable armour upgrade that incorporates various elements such as Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA), developed in response to experience acquired during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

 

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Takom, a name more often associated with huge 1:16 scale tanks (and less huge 1:35 scale ones), have now released a handful of 1:72 scale kits. Last time around we reviewed their V2 rocket and Hanomag tractor/trailer combo. This month we've been fortunate enough to receive another tractor/trailer combo, albeit from a completely different era. The M1070 and M1000 have previously been released by Takom along with an armoured bulldozer. The Abrams was previously released by Tiger Model back in 2015. It was well-received then, not least because it was the first TUSK Abrams to be produced in braille scale. Inside the box are eight frames of grey plastic, two small clear frames, a couple of small frets of photo etched parts, decals and a dauntingly large mound of rubber tyres, most of which are for the M1000 trailer. Each item is packed in its own bag for protection. Two instruction manuals are provided; one for the tractor and trailer and a separate one for the MBT. The quality of moulding is clean and crisp and looks good to me.

 

Construction starts with the M1070. The ladder chassis is provided as a separate part, along with the cab body. To this you have to add the suspension and drive train components, all of which are made up from several different parts. It is immediately apparent that the kit is orientated towards detail rather than speed of assembly! Each wheel is moulded in two parts, but the tyres are moulded from a rubber-like material, which will speed up painting and construction considerably. The cab includes full interior details, such as crew seats, a dashboard and steering wheel. The doors are moulded from clear plastic, which will make painting them a bit more tricky, but will at least save having to glue tiny clear parts in place. The winch system behind the cab also starts off with a separate, slide moulded base, onto which various plastic and photo etched parts are added. A ladder and a few other bits and bobs and the huge tractor is complete. 

 

The M1000 trailer is comparatively simple when compared to the M1070 tractor, but with 40 wheels and tyres to paint and assemble, construction will be an exercise in endurance. Each of the 40 wheels is made up of two parts, and for every four wheels there is an axle/suspension unit, also made up of two parts. The mechanism that links tractor to trailer is a relatively simple part and holds two spare wheels for the trailer. The loading ramps can be finished in lowered or raised position, depending on your preference.

 

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Next up is Abrams, which I guess is semi-optional if you happen to have another vehicle that you wish to display on the trailer. Interestingly, this part of the kit feels like a partial re-box as there are separate Tiger Model-branded instructions supplied and even the plastic bags used to protect the sprues are different. Construction starts with the fearsome 120mm main gun and turret. A prodigious amount of parts make up this sub-assembly, with lots of extra bits for the TUSK II equipment and photo etched detail for the turret baskets. Clear parts are provided for the commander's cupola and the various electro-optical sights, as well as the two armoured shields that protect the crew when using the 7.62mm machine guns. Turning to the running gear and lower hull, Tiger Model have opted for a variation of the modern method of recreating the tracks and road wheels, with the outer road wheels moulded onto the lower tracks, while the inner road wheels and return rollers are moulded onto the upper tracks. This approach only works because the side skirts and ERA completely cover what would otherwise be very obvious chunky plastic tabs that hold the whole thing together. 

 

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The painting and marking guide shows two different schemes for the tractor and trailer:

  • The first is an example used during Operation Iraqi Freedom, based at Camp Buehing, Kuwait, in April 2003. It is painted in overall FS33446 (desert tan);
  • The second vehicle is painted in the standard NATO Green/Brown/Black scheme and it from the Theatre Logistics Support Centre Europe, 21st Theatre Sustainment Command, Baumholder, Germany, 2011.

A separate painting diagram is provided for the Abrams, but it only shows a single example painted with Tamiya XF-59. Weirdly, the instructions for the M1070 and M1000 use Ammo colour references instead!

 

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Conclusion

 

Bringing three high-quality models together in a set like this is always a welcome move, and with the large, plain white packaging it really does feel a cut above your average kit. Each of the models is very detailed, particularly for the scale, and have no problem standing up to scrutiny. As a trio, they have the potential to spark the imagination of modellers keen on dioramas, although the temptation to ditch the trailer and have the M1070 hauling an ICM MiG-25RB out of the desert, as per the famous photograph, is almost overwhelming. Highly recommended. 

 

Review sample courtesy of

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