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Academy M1A2 Abrams

Academy’s all-new M1A2 uses no parts from the company’s older Abrams kits. Parts provide for one of three versions: M1A2 SEP V2, M1A2 Tusk, and M1A2 Tusk II.
The tan plastic parts feature excellent detail, including beautiful nonskid texture on the hull and turret. A few ejector-pin and sink marks in visible areas need to be addressed. A small PE fret provides mesh for the turret baskets and CIPs for the turret. A large clear sprue provides all of the periscopes, lights, armored glass, and wheel hubs. Academy even includes pre-cut masks for the clear parts. Nice!

The instructions are spread over four booklets and a color painting guide. This approach left me jumping from place to place more than usual, but Academy’s done a great job of making clear which parts go with each version. The decals provide markings for six vehicles.

The hull builds from several panels; the fit was good, but I ended up with a small gap where the right side meets the front. Had I noticed the gap before the glue dried, I probably could have eliminated it with clamping.

I added the suspension but left the wheels and tracks off for painting. For alignment, I waited until the side armor was finished to install the brackets.

The rubbery single-part tracks are flexible, but the detail is a tad soft. The method of joining the tracks is unique. One styrene link, split in half, traps the ends. I was dubious, but it worked well.

The side armor panels went together quickly. Unfortunately, after attaching all of the TUSK II reactive armor plates, I discovered the raised rectangular patches on the back sides should be black. I left the side armor off for painting.

The three slide-molded tubular sections of the main gun had faint mold seams that I scraped off.

Step 21 shows the holes that need to be opened for optional turret equipment, but only the top of the turret is shown. It would have been easier to follow from underneath. The PE mesh for the turret basket fit perfectly. I held the hatches, turret sensors, guns, and gun shields for easier painting.

The desert camo is painted with Tamiya acrylics and Humbrol enamel washes.

I applied Bare-Metal Foil to the periscopes and sensors’ parts and painted them with a mix of Tamiya clear red and clear orange to replicate the color-shifting coating used on the real thing.

The one-piece tracks and single-color camouflage made for a quick build; I spent about 24 hours on it. The finished model matches published dimensions and details.

My only concern was the multiple instruction books. Like most modelers, I jump from subassembly to subassembly as parts dry, so I was constantly shuffling through the instructions looking for the next step.

Academy’s Abrams balances good detail and ease of assembly. Intermediate modelers should have no problems.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2016 issue.


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