The M1A1/2 Abrams main battle tank is manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). The first M1 tank was produced in 1978, the M1A1 in 1985 and the M1A2 in 1986. The first M1 Abrams battle tanks were delivered to the US Army in 1980. In all 3,273 M1 tanks were produced for the US Army, 4,796 M1A1 tanks were built for the US Army, 221 for the US Marines and 880 co-produced with Egypt.
Approximately 77 M1A2 tanks were built for the US Army, 315 for Saudi Arabia and 218 for Kuwait. For the M1A2 upgrade programme, more than 600 M1 Abrams tanks were upgraded to M1A2 configuration at the Lima Army tank plant between 1996 and 2001. Deliveries began in 1998.
When I wanted to add a piece of modern armor to my 1/35 scale shelf, it wasn’t hard to go for the all American Abrams M1-A2 Main Battle Tank. I stopped by my local hobby shop and grabbed the firts 1/35 scale Abrams M1A2 that peeked thru the shelf. That kit happened to be the 1/35 Abrams M1A1 from Academy models. As many of you visiting this site for a while, you might noticed that I’m very flexible with my model kits demands.
Not that I’ll give high praises to any chunk of plastic I happen to open. But well, we shouldn’t take every model kit out there for granted either. When I took off the plastic wrapping from the Academy Abrams, I quickly noticed thru the bag that there was something wrong with the upper hull. Altough I didn’t have built any other version of the Abrams M1A2 model kit to compare it with, I do collect die-cast tanks in 1/72, 1/35 and 1/32 scale from Dragon, 21st Century Toys and Unimax to compared it with.
I’m not a rivet counter, but it was evident that the Academy M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank was rather small. Small by +/- 3/8” and in scale, that’s quite a bit. Remember what I said about supporting your local hobby shop not too long ago? I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of a return. My local hobby shop was more than happy to receive it back; for $6 more I was able to get Tamiya’s version. Opening Tamiya’s Abrams at the hobby shop, confirmed that indeed there is a small difference in size in the Academy kit.
Upon opening Tamiya’s Abrams M1A2, you are greeted by a very crisp and well pressed model kit. It contains alternate parts to build an M1A2, an Army M1A1HA or a USMC M1A1HA with markings for OIF and Kosovo. The poly cap system is a pleasure to work with. Even with the rubber tracks, there is no need to stretch them bacause we can leave the main sprocket to the last and stretching the included tracks is minimum. Gluing the tracks in my case is a 3 steps procedure. First with a coarse Squadron sanding stick, I sand the area where the glue will be on. This will open some pores on the rubber and the CA glue will bond a lot better and stronger. Once the CA glue is dry, then I seal the joint carefully with my soldering iron.
The rest of the hull comprehends a lot of parts with the fit you should expect from Tamiya models. As it is common with a lot of Tamiya armor models, many details are molded on. The molded on details are well executed on this kit. The kit comes with the proper parts for an Abrams M1A1 as I mentioned above. In the box you will find 2 figures, 1 complete and a 1/35 scale commander torso. To spice it up a bit, the photo etched grilles from the Tamiya were added. Some stowage came with the kit including bags and ammo boxes and more was added from an accesory kit also from Tamiya.
Decals are well printed but the carrier film is a little bit thick *in my opinion*
- M1A2 of 2nd Platoon, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Iraq, April 2003. Overall desert sand camouflage.
- M1A2 of 4th Platoon, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Iraq, April 2003. Overall desert sand camouflage.
- M1A1HA of 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), Iraq, April 2003.
- M1A1HA of 2nd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Marine Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Iraq, April 2003.
- M1A1HA of 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), Kosovo, 1999.