Best M1 kit of any sort on the market;
amount of detail has to be seen close up to be believed; finally got the
right unit with the extended bustle rack!
A lot of parts!
Highly Recommended for all Abrams and
modern US armor fans
There are a number of M1A1 kits on the market, and over the years
there has been a large and vociferous following as to who makes the
best. The consensus (such as it is) was that the DML kits were the
most accurate but troublesome to clean up and assemble, as well as
had some niggling problems; the Tamiya one was easy to assemble but
tried to combine a dressed up XM1 hull with an M1A1 turret. Up until
now, the "solution" was to combine a Tamiya turret with a DML hull.
No more. This kit is as close to "one stop shopping" for an M1A1 as
you will get, and for the hard-core detail fans only needs the
addition of an engine and some more interior bits. Happily, DML even
planned for that as the entire rear engine bay may be opened up for
Compared to earlier DML M1 kits (#3534 M1 Panther II mine clearer
being the most recent, #3516 being the first one with a mine plow,
#3517 with a crew figure set, #3524 an M1A2, and #3533 an M1A1 OIF
USMC version) this kit has nothing of note in common with any of
them other than its subject. Based on "Sprue Bingo" this kit's
sprues start with the letter M and continue on through the rest of
the alphabet, thus divorcing themselves from the previous kits.
While those kits really aren't bad, this one is so much better that
it is no real comparison.
First off, the lower hull (WITH SPONSONS, Tamiya!) is "slide molded:
with even the lower brackets molded with the holes opened up in
them. The suspension matches late model Abrams vehicles, with no
"safety" rins for the drivers but the parts normally missed (such as
V28, the mud scraper) included. The front idler and first road wheel
station are interconnected to set track tension, but here consist of
a five part assembly vice one part or simply molded in place axles.
Note that there are holes to open up as you go, and DML calls them
out in the PREVIOUS step as fair warning.
The upper hull and turret shell come with no-slip tread molded in,
and while a bit heavy for some modelers is going to be fine for most
people; a light wash and drybrushing will bring out the texture.
Also all of the weld beads are include (suprise! they stand proud,
not "trenches!) and there are etched grilles for the air intakes on
the engine deck. Note there are two different driver's hatches, one
with a reinforced lip and one without.
Oddly enough the kit claims two different styles of "Magic Tracks"
but they are all in one bag. This is odd, but I am not sure of the
difference (bolt heads and pin ends is usually the reason) so you
will have to look sharp, as I see no difference whatsoever.
The rear plate of this model is a masterpiece of molding, as it
comes with 20 parts whereas the 25 year old Tamiya hull has but one.
Grilles are "see-through" and as noted may be posed open or closed.
The Chobam armor side plates come with a choice of open or closed
panels, as well as etched brass top trim strips and accurate
The turret is excellent, with the only odd choice of option a
frou-frou spring for "realistic recoil" that is pretty much a waste
of time. (If it compensated for the heavy aluminum barrel, that
would be a better use for it.) The M256 gun barrel has to be
assembled pretty much in the same manner as the real one, with the
bore evacuator slipped over the barrel and a "slide molded" MRS and
cap cemented on the end with ACC when that is in position. There is
a complete styrene barrel provided, however, for those who do not
like multimedia kits.
The simulated turret interior from the 3516/3517 series kits is
gone, and only the gun breech is provided for an interior component.
The very intricate commander's weapon station (used to be a cupola!)
is provided with a ring to permit traverse, and the loader's M240B
also comes with an etched brass base to the "rocker" mounting.
Side bins may be opened or closed, as can the extra smoke grenade
stowage bins. The rails and bustle rack were the main complaints
with the old kits, being nearly impossible to clean up and assemble;
this kit cuts them down to only three assemblies as well as etched
brass flooring vice the old mesh netting. Styrene or steel/etched
brass/styrene tow cables are provided for the turret sides. Also
included are two styles of blowoff plates, two different wind sensor
masts, two different styles of thermal sight housings, different
radio antenna combinations, and for the A Company 1-64 Armor, the
correct (!) auxiliary bustle racks that they were noted for during
Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The kit comes with a bunch of accessories, such as thermal ID
panels, front turret panels, five-gallon plastic water jugs, a tow
bar, MRE boxes, two Minigun ammo boxes, and even two final drive
drip pans (parts e2/e6) for the bustle rack. A city-fighting thermal
exhaust deflector is also provided.
A total of nine different vehicles may be modeled: M1A1HC "All Bout
Da Bones," A Co 1-64 Armor, 3ID Iraq 2003 (sand); M1A1D "Ancient
One", 1-68 Armor, 4ID Iraq 2003 (sand); M1A1 AIM 1-77 Armor, 1ID,
Germany 2003 (NATO tricolor); and six different vehicles from 1-4
CAV ("Quarterhorse"), 1ID, Iraq 2004 (B-21, B-22, B-23, B-24, B-42,
and B-43) (all in NATO tricolor.)
Overall this is a most impressive kit, and quite useful as it
permits any one of the current M1A1 tanks on active duty to be
modeled. Note that this kit made its debut at the 2006 IPMS USA
National Convention, August 2006.