Home > Reviews > Modern > Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale Modern AFV Series Kit No. 3562; M60A2 Starship

M60A2 Starship

Dragon, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale Modern AFV Series Kit No. 3562; M60A2 Starship
Scale: 1/35 scale
Media and Contents: 416 parts (375 in grey styrene, 24 clear styrene, 13 etched brass, 4 DS plastic)
Price: US$69.99 via Dragon USA Online
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: New mold kit of this long-sought version of the M60; choice of early aluminum or late steel wheels; optional hatches
Disadvantages: Some details do not match with the actual vehicle (kit shares M48 and M60 parts)
Recommendation: Recommended for all Cold War era US armor fans


For reasons that seemed like a good idea at the time, in the 1960s both the US and the Soviets got the bright idea that in the next war missile armed tanks would be the top “predator” on the battlefield and began to research those types of vehicles.

While the Soviets eventually decided this was not a good idea and instead opted for smoothbore guns that could fire a guided missile as an option, the US pursued the idea and created the Shillelagh missile system. Basically a 152mm (six inch) guided missile that was fired from a stubby launcher tube, this weapon was fitted to both the lightweight M551 Sheridan airmobile amphibious combat vehicle as a light tank and the main armament of the prototype MBT-70 next generation combat tank. When the latter did not pan out, instead a new turret and launcher were developed for the M60 main battle tank.

After testing as the M60A1E1 and M60A1E2 a production version was introduced as the M60A2 main battle tank. Fitted with a launcher for the Shillelagh, it had a reduced volume turret and new equipment to include a compressed air purge device (Closed Breech Scavenging System or CBSS) to remove the missile ejection propellant from the gun tube on launch. This was mounted in a bulge under the engine access doors at the rear of the hull. In 1966 production began and eventually 540 M60A2 tanks were built.

The production models fired the MGM-51C version of the Shillelagh as well as an HE-FRAG round and also a standard HEAT projectile. The tank could carry 33 rounds of conventional ammo and 13 missiles when fully stowed. An M85 12.7mm machine gun (identical to that used in the M60A1 and M60A3) was mounted in a new design cupola.

But in use the infrared tracker and radio command guidance system proved to be less than reliable and vulnerable to humidity and other weather phenomenon.

While it was deployed in battalion sets (production covered exactly 10 full strength battalions albeit not all were fielded) and starred in many exercises its weapons system was a headache for maintenance crews and with the arrival of the M1 most of them were withdrawn from service. Redundant chassis were then used for the M60 armored vehicle launched bridge as was evident from the CBSS bulge under many of those vehicles.

Over 40 years ago Tamiya released a kit of the M60A2, but in point of fact it was actually the M60A1E1 version with a bore evacuator and other differences from the production tank. It was also scaled to fit their overscale M60A1 hull and as a result was a terrible model to try and build; no matter what the modeler did it just did not look right.

Last year three kits of this vehicle were announced: Academy, Dragon, and AFV Club. The Academy one had a nice looking turret on their Tamiya hull clone so still kept the faults of the parent chassis, but the turret was a much better effort. The AFV Club kit has not been released yet, but now the Dragon effort has reached the market.

There have been some negative comments about this kit already published on the Internet, and while some are perfectly valid (as they come from former M60 tankers who were intimate with the subject) some are the usual whines. I will try to sort through them here.

The kit is a new mold product that does make use of some of the parts that DML created for their M48 and M103 kits, but only where the three tank lines share common parts. There are some misses on the new parts, such as the CBSS: it should be 38.4mm wide in scale but here it is only 32.5mm. The launcher tube is correct in length but a bit larger in diameter than it should be in scale.

One reviewer did note that the actual M60 hulls used only had a single fueling port on the right side and the kit comes with two so the one on the left should be removed (behind the turret race and in front of the engine deck). The drivers also come without the three cleanout holes which were common when the M60A2 went into service. Also note that the rear engine access doors (part D36) should have the fitting for the snorkel tube on them (U shaped notch on the right upper door section) as that was pretty standard for M60s by that time; the one in the kit does not.

The turret shapes are fairly close and the bustle rack comes with nicely done mesh from etched brass - 13 plates to be precise. A clear styrene vision block is provided for the commander’s cupola to make finishing it easier (tinting the inside with a clear paint such as Tamiya Smoke may be a good way to solve the clear transparency issue).

While DML is a past master at using its DS Plastic for many bits, oddly enough so far with their M48/M60/M103 kits they are stingy about providing the canvas mantlet covers for these vehicles. While many M60A2 are seen without the cover, by the time they were fully invested in service most of them had one for the main launcher assembly. Alas, one is not provided in the kit.

Construction of the model is pretty straightforward, but while both early aluminum and late steel wheels are offered in the kit (all with separate tires in grey styrene) only the aluminum ones were used on the A2s (the others found their way onto the later AVLBs on the same chassis).

The kit does provide the proper side-loading air cleaners but seems to be missing the later quick-release fitting for them, but this can be added from strip styrene.

Finishing directions are pretty sparse; two options are given, both in MERDEC Winter Verdant (dark green, field drab, black and sand) but with no bumper codes or unit ID. One vehicle has serial numbers and the other is named ACES WILD. One would have thought someone would have used the MASSTER finish in USAREUR with the olive drab, earth, black and red brown colors with either black or white stars and markings but that was not an option in this kit. A small sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.

Overall this is a bit of a disappointment as a bit better research would have made for a better kit with more finishing options. What is provided is not too bad, but it will take some work to make a first-class model from the kit. (And it is FAR better than the ancient Tamiya one which they keep re-releasing...) .


Sprue Layout:

A 2 M60 - hull bottom and top
B 60 M60 - fenders, fender braces, air cleaners, hull details
C 68x2 M60 - suspension, early and late road wheels, drivers, tires
D 66 M48 - suspension components, shocks, jounce stops, engine deck elements
E 4 DS plastic track, keepers
F 26 M60A2 - turret shell, hatches, details
F 46 M60A2 - turret cupola, bustle rack, gun, rear hull bulge
H 19 M60A2 - clear styrene
K 5 M48 - clear styrene
J 39 M48 - fenders, late hull fittings, searchlight
MA 13 M60A2 - etched brass