book Abrams in detail
U.S. Army main battle tank M1A1 AIM
Present Vehicle Line No.18
Ralph Zwilling
Wings & Wheels Publications.
Published by RAK, Czech Republic.
ISBN 80-86416-66-35

72 pages all in colour.

Review by Terry Ashley

This latest volume from Wings & Wheels Publications deals specifically with the Abrams M1A1 AIM which is the program to rebuild older M1A1 tanks back to "as new" condition as well as incorporating other advanced systems used in later Abrams tanks. The AIM is used by the U.S.Army and just recently the first deliveries were made to the ADF (Australian Defence Force) but only a brief mention is made of this with the book concentrating on vehicles in U.S. Army service.

The 72 page book has the usual card cover with all colour photos and the full English text is a little more extensive than previous books in the series that gives a detailed account of the development of the Abrams MBT as well as the AIM program with the first 5 pages split about 50/50 text and general overall photos of the vehicles covered in the book.

The next 16 pages deals with the AIM during its OIF deployment with the continuation of the technical description plus numerous all around semi-close up shots of the vehicles during OIF with the most notable feature being they still retain the three colour NATO cam schemes with an adornment of personal markings such as vehicle names on the barrel fume extractors which is common on Abrams in Iraq/Afghanistan. There are also shots of the vehicles on exercise in Germany in both summer and winter snow conditions for some good overall shots.

This is followed by 17 pages of close-up Turret detail shots covering every conceivable details such as the hatches, roof details, rear mounted APU/EAPU as well as rear storage rack filled with various items of equipment.
There are also details of the mantlet/gun mounting, the smoke grenade discharges and the CIP panels carried on the turret sides for an excellent overall coverage of the turret details.

A further 4 pages are devoted to the turret mounted weapons with close-up shots from various angles of the Loader's M240B 7.62mm machine gun and the M2 cal.50 HB machine gun mounted on the Commander's cupola, this particular example is fitted with the blank-firing adaptor (BFA) used during training.

Next comes 12 pages covering the hull details with extensive close-up coverage of the suspension showing the drive sprockets, road wheels, idlers and axles with the side skirts swung open for some excellent close-ups. Other items such as the head lights, fuel filler caps and the rear engine compartment grills again with various shots from different angles and 2 pages of driver's compartment shots looking in through the open hatch as well as the driver's hatch itself.

The next 10 pages have a series of excellent overhead shots of the engine deck with most access hatches open followed by 5 pages with close-ups of the Lycoming turbine engine outside of the vehicle including a couple of shots of the M88 that did the job. To top this section off a further 3 pages are devoted to shots looking inside the empty engine bay providing excellent details for anyone wanting to do an engine change diorama.

This next 4 pages has a few all-round and detailed close-ups of the Mine Clearing Blades (MCB) showing the blades and vehicle mountings with another 3 pages detailing the Mine Clearing Rollers (MCR) with shots from various angles to show the details nicely.

The final 3 pages covers the crews wearing the standard NOMEX overall and Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) for some good shots of these uniforms.

This is an another excellent photo reference on the M1A1 AIM variant of the Abrams family which is just the reference for the recent Dragon kit of the M1A1 AIM (kit #3535).

There is plenty of detailed close-up shots of just about every external feature with the coverage of the engine bay being quite useful but the only other internal detail shown other than the engine bay is that seen through the open driver's hatch.

Highly recommended 8/10.

Sample Pages
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Thanks to František of Wings & Wheels Publications for the review book.

Page created December 19, 2007