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Echelon Fine Details United States Marine Corps Operation Iraqi Freedom M1A1HA (Heavy Common) Abrams: “Spearheading into Baghdad”(T35004)

by Frank De Sisto

Water-slide decals in 1/35 scale. Price: $14.50 USD, including shipping.

One of the pleasures of this hobby is seeing a fellow modeler (Larry Goh, who should be familiar to those who frequent the ML discussion groups) take such an interest in it that he takes matters into his own hands and produces a product that he would like to see available. So he goes ahead and not only does he produce the product, but in this case, he does an extraordinary job of it. It should also be noted that in a spirit of sharing, which one encounters in large doses in this hobby, visitors to this site, notably Andreas Elesky and Mike Mummey have contributed to the design of this sheet as well.

What first struck me when I received these samples was the excellent packaging. Typically, the product comes in a zip-lock bag. Atypically, the instructions are in full color and in the case of this sheet, include a few photographs of the actual vehicles for which markings are given. The instructions feature at least two full-color views of the vehicle to be marked, as well as thumbnail drawings that depict details such as the CIP panels, External Auxiliary Power Unit (EAPU) and the Missile Countermeasures Device (MCD), plus generic items seen on the tanks themselves.

The instructions themselves are clearly drawn and feature numbered call-outs for the individual markings, for which there are numbers adjacent to each design on the decal sheet. Most of the markings are black, with some labels having various greens as background. So registration is not an issue; suffice to say that where multiple layers are used, registration is excellent. Otherwise, the decals are cleanly printed, allowing for excellent detail on even the smallest items. Color saturation is excellent and the carrier film is minimal and extremely thin. This means that care will be needed when handling the designs, especially when laying them on the model’s surface. As they are printed in the US by Microscale, one would assume the setting and solvent solutions manufactured by them will be compatible with these decals.

There are sets of markings for six complete tanks, all of which have names on their gun tube’s bore evacuator. They are:
• “Big Pito/L’il Pito”.
• “4 Play”.
• “Kitten Rescue”.
• “Sinister Minister”, with kill scoreboard for the turret front.
• “Hard Lic Her”, with variations of a skull motif that was seen on the turret front.
• “Saddamizer”, featuring a reclining female figure in profile.

Each tank’s marking scheme is complete with the various chevrons and tick marks, as well as gun tube stripes, which denote their positions within a particular unit. Likewise, there are various code numbers and vehicle serial numbers, as well as bridge weight classification disks. Other stenciling such as gun tube inspection dates, labels for the CIP panels, EAPU and MCD stencils and shipping and GCE labels are included, as are generic numbers to enable the modeler to create registration numbers for other tanks.

Overall, this is an extraordinary product. The sheet is also excellent value for money, since the price includes world-wide air-mail postage. Its appeal is further enhanced by the “timeliness” of its subject. I eagerly await the advent of the newly-tooled DML Abrams kits, so that I can use these quality decals on what is hoped to be a quality Abrams kit.

Highly recommended.

Echelon Fine Details are available from retail and mail-order shops. Or direct through their web-site at: pachome1.pacific.net.sg/kriegsketten/, e-mail: kreigsketten@pacific.net.sg.