Echelon Fine Decals: US Army's
3rd Infantry Division Operation Iraqi Freedom (T35013)
Fox Military Models: M1A2 Tanks in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003 (D 035009)
by Cookie Sewell
Echelon - left, Fox - right
Echelon Fine Decals 1/35 Scale Sheet No. T35013; US Army's 3rd Infantry
Division Operation Iraqi Freedom M1A1HA (Heavy Common) Abrams: Spearhead
of the 3-69 Armored Regiment; complete markings for six tanks; price $14.95
via Stevens International or one of their customer stores
Fox Military Models 1/35 Scale Sheet No, D 035009; M1A2 Tanks in Operation
Iraqi Freedom 2003; markings for seven tanks; price 1000 Yen (US distributor
It's rare to get two sheets of decals at the same time covering the same
subjects, but such is the case here. I've been waiting for this sort of
set for a long time, and here's why.
Right after the 9-11 attack on the USA, when many celebrities were not
sure what to do or how to react and before some of them decided to become
human shields, the American country music performers certainly did, and
dug right in with either reflective or aggressive songs that captured
the mood of most of the nation. Among the most aggressive ones was one
by singer Toby Keith that he wrote while making USO tours of bases in
Europe, and later, after Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, released
as a single.
Initially the song, which he was not sure about due to its really pugnacious
content, was only played for military audiences, who of course loved it
and cheered wildly. The song, titled "The Angry American", was
later subtitled "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue." It became
a huge hit with the military and the so-called "Red" states
and counties in the US, but horrified many of the "Blue" state
types and triggered the feud between Keith and the Dixie Chicks, who were
still a nominal country music act at the time.
When it was recommended that Keith sing the song at a 4th of July 2002
show, it was nixed by ABC anchor Peter Jennings, who thought it in bad
taste. Jennings never heard the end of the howls over his dismissive comments,
and Toby did not get to sing it on national TV that day.
Nevertheless, the song was wildly popular with the troops. It has a
stanza which goes "...you'll be sorry that you messed with the US
of A/for we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way..."
that was the catchphrase for the military and the line not to be crossed
by Jennings and company.
When Operation Iraqi Freedom came around eight months later, when the
3rd Infantry Division rolled into the gigantic Saddam stadium, one of
the lead elements was Charlie Company, 3-69 Armor. The 2nd Platoon of
that company had four tanks, as do all current US tank platoons: they
were CAMEL TOW (C21), COURTESY OF THE RED WHITE AND BLUE (C22), CATALYST
(C23), and CAN TANK R US (C24). They also had two mine plow tanks –
C-13 (C-1ORDER II) and C-33 (CHINCON), from 1st and 3rd platoons respectively.
C22 gained its moment of fame when it turned towards the gigantic statue
of Saddam on horseback, arms outstretched, and blew it to bits with a
single round. This for many folks was the second defining moment of Operation
Iraqi Freedom after the Marine Corps M88A2 and the statue in the center
While the M88A2 was always a bit nondescript, C22 was not, and I wanted
to do one up (I have four different M1A1 kits downstairs, only awaiting
markings.) When Peter Brown (who I thank for passing these sheets along
to me) gave me a heads up they were both available, he offered to send
them along and I cheerfully accepted.
The two sheets are, unfortunately, light years apart. The Fox sheet,
from a new company in Japan, is all in Japanese and only has two foolscap
drawings of the tanks with it that provide any sense of where the markings
go. Someone on the Internet recently stated that the Fox decals use a
special "disappearing" decal film that comes off when the decal
is totally dry, thus approximating dry transfers, but there is nothing
on this sheet to indicate it in English. It provides names, bumper codes,
tac markings, and some other trim for two of the 3/C/3-69 tanks, CAN TANK
R US and COURTESY, but little else and does not really show how to place
them. They do provide the barrel bands used for quick reference, but the
information is all in Japanese as well so one can only guess at the meanings.
They also claim to provide markings for 2-3 Cav, which I assume should
be an M1A2, as well as TF 3-5, TF 1-64, and T-4-64, but no information
at all on those tanks.
Overall I rate this as marginal at best, requiring the modeler to have
a lot of photos and a good idea of US markings. For the cost it will probably
ask on import, I can only rate it "Recommended with Reservations."
To their credit, Fox do offer sheets in 1/72 and 1/144 scale as well as
the 1/35 one.
The Echelon sheet, on the other hand, is incredible and one of the best
examples of a complete waterslide sheet going today. The sheet covers
six tanks with complete markings, including the APU, shipping data, CIP
panel data blocks, shipping bar code plates, as well as gener
and alphabet markings for modern US armor. The sheet has a large spread
sheet in the middle of the protective cover inside the package showing
which markings go on which tank, and where. It also covers stenciling
and component decal placement as well, and is nearly perfect (I am a stickler,
and C-13 and C-33 are 1st and 3rd platoon tanks, not 2nd Platoon, even
if attached for the moment! It's also 3-69 Armor Battalion, not regiment;
69th is the regiment of affiliation, but it is the 3rd battalion which
is the unit with 3rd Infantry Division. But then again, I quibble.)
Overall I rate this as "Highly Recommended" and the best OIF
waterslide sheet going, and must comment Lawrence Goh and his team, as
well as modelers Donald Busack and Rob Gronovius for their input to get
the sheet out.
Now all I gotta do is figure out which kit to start with – DML,
Tamiya, Trumpeter, or Italeri...