US Main Battle Tank M1A1 / A2 w/Full Interior
Ryefield Model, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Al Bowie
B a c k g r o u n d
When I first started into large scale armour kits in the early 1970s, Tamiya had two amazing kits in 1:24 scale of the Tiger and Centurion with internal detail. I was simply amazed by these kits and the detail they contained. Over succeeding years, a number of manufacturers have offered kits with interior detail such as AFV Club, Academy, MiniArt, Bronco, Nitto, Bandai Meng, Takom and others.
To that long list can now be added this masterpiece from relative newcomer Rye Field Model of the M1A1/A2 which has a very full and detailed interior including the engine and bay. This joins a large field of new tool M1A1/2 that have appeared over the last decade from the likes of Dragon, Meng, Academy and Tamiya. When compared to those early Tamiya kits with interiors, this kit just goes to show how far the industry has come where multimedia is now almost a standard as are workable individual tracks.
The M1A1 and M1A2 are the current mainstay of the US armour forces as well as those of Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
F i r s t L o o k
The kit represents a plain M1A1 or M1A2 without the frequently seen TUSK (Tank Urban Survival Kit) fittings of reactive armour, shields and remote weapon systems and could be a base for an Abrams from the first Gulf War up until the present day.
Detail is sharp and accuracy is high although the lower hull wheel station spacing is a little out. Unlike other new release kits of the Abrams, this one has a full interior for the turret, driver’s station and the engine compartment as well as workable individual tracks made up of 6 parts per link. RFM thoughtfully give you two jigs to speed up assembly of these tracks.
The kit box is packed when you open it and you realise this is not going to be a speed build! The instructions are printed on glossy A4 paper in a booklet of 28 pages. excellent, clearly labelled in coloured line exploded format. Paint colours are called out in the AMMO by MIG range and indicated throughout the assembly stage.
Construction starts with the 120mm gun tube and assembly which has a full detailed mantlet and breech. The gun tube is multi part but cylindrical and not divided longitudinally. This will result in easy clean up compared to traditional kit barrels. The loader’s M240 7.62 is nicely detailed with photo-etch and has a closed ammo can only but has an optical sight unit. The Commander’s .50 cal is multipart with separate cocking handle, barrel and feed cover. Again, this has a closed ammo can but a small section of the feed tray is depicted with rounds. Here we see the first option in the form of the M1A2 Commander’s cupola with a TUSK style shield arrangement for the .50 cal as seen on later vehicles.
A bustle extension is provided for the later models and upgraded vehicles and I really like the assembly of this, which will not require three sets of opposable thumbs and a helping hands to assemble. The engineering and moulding of this make it quite a simple construction with minimal (strong) parts.
We continue with the turret, which has the various options for different blow out panels and other features for the specific model. The instructions are very good at pointing out the different marks in different colours.
I am pleased to see the RFM toolmakers have not gone for maximum parts count in assemblies such as the racking etc. and accuracy and detail has not suffered. The turret interior basket follows and this is very busy and detailed with mesh panels surrounding it. Again, parts count is kept to a minimum with high detail. A full ammo load is included and the blast door is shown open. The various differences between the A1 and A2 are again accounted for. The APU and various stowage items such as cooler bins (Esky), Ammo boxes and jerry cans are included although the instructions do not tell you what most of these are.
The lower hull comes next, which is a one-piece tub with individual roadwheel arms connecting to internal torsion bars although these will not work unless you remove the keyed nub on each arm that sets the position and alignment for a flat surface.
Road wheels are correctly detailed and have separate clear hubs. The highly detailed driver’s position is next followed by the engine compartment and engine MUA, which could be displayed outside the vehicle with a little scratch building of connectors and cabling. The upper hull has all the correct differences between A1 and A2 versions and again these are well called out in the instructions. The idlers have the correct mud shuts and bolt detail with separate hubs. The mud scraper is also included.
Now comes the part I really hate and that is the tracks. In other RFM Abrams kits they give the choice of link and length or individual but this gives workable individual links which are superbly detailed with optional guide horns for T158 or T 158LL tracks. Two jigs are included and construction is quite straightforward.
The side skirts are multi-part and highly detailed with photo-etched strips. These finish the construction and you now have a very detailed and accurate M1A1 or M1A2 with an interior although you will struggle to see it through the smaller hatches.
Decals and marking guides are included for four vehicles although there are a number of markings that appear to be missing from the guide.
Decals are included for all the interior stencilling and placards:
C o n c l u s i o n
This is a fantastic kit and offers remarkable value for money at the price which is the same as competitors M1s with no interior. The only real issue is with the spacing and positioning of the road wheel stations but this is hard to notice unless you really know M1s. I highly recommend this kit. It has a lot of parts but the assembly is straightforward and it does not suffer from a myriad of fiddly little parts making up complex assemblies. The instructions are clear, large and easy to follow showing clearly the options as required for the different variants.
Thanks to Ryefield Model for the sample www.ryefield-model.com
Text by Al Bowie