M1A1 Abrams "Iraq 2003"

Academy Kit #13202
1/35 Scale
First Look Review by Terry Ashley

Academy have followed most other companies and “updated” their older kits for Iraq versions with the release of this M1A1 Abrams Iraq 2003 kit.

The kit has 328 parts in light beige plastic but only 284 are used on this kit with the rest being consigned to the spares box, there is also a small sheet of clear plastic for the periscopes and sight optics plus the decal sheet, a sheet of mesh for the turret storage racks and a length of twine for the steel tow ropes. As well as the original parts there is a large sprue J with the updated and new parts for this latest kit.

Like others the kit is a mixture of old and new and in some instances the very old; the most notable “feature” is the inclusion of the original T156 rubber chevron tracks. I have not seen any photographs of Abrams operating in Iraq with this early track but it can easily be replaced with the excellent AFV Club T158 “Bigfoot” track set #35032 or by “borrowing” track from any other current Abrams kits. The other left over is the turret which has the dimensions of the original M1 turret and therefore is about 5mm (1/4in) too short at the front for the M1A1.

But on the plus side there are newly designed drive sprockets with the outer wheel in two parts with the cut-out holes included so when you fit the parts together the lightening holes are there, but when fitting the new outer sprocket to the old inner part the drive teeth don’t line up and to fix this you have to cut off the locating notch and line the teeth up by eye. Although the shape of the outer tooth disc is that from the M1A2 and not the M1A1, I have seen a few photos of the A1 with this style of disc fitted and the inner hub detail is very well done due to the two halves of the outer sprocket.

Drive sprockets with lightening holes after assembly

The lower hull is the original still with cut-outs for motorisation and final drive hull plugs and fixed axles with the wheels held in place by poly caps trapped between the two road wheels. At the rear is the original engine louver panel with a couple of new parts such as the additional louver below the centre section and the mountings for the USMC snorkel device although no snorkel parts are provided.

On the upper hull there are still the old M1 style intake grills on the upper left hand side but the side mounted NBC unit is provided along with separate head lights and correct style guards and clear inserts for the driver’s hatch optics but there are no non-skid panels on the hull surfaces.

The turret as mentioned is too small for the M1A1 but does include the commander’s panoramic sight mounting and correct style blow out panels at the rear as well as optional Army or Marine style smoke grenade clusters. Also included is the Marine “Dazzler” box fitted on the panoramic sight mounting and rear turret rack APU made up of multiple parts for good detail definition. There is also the additional square storage rack attached to the back of the standard turret rack often seen on M1s in Iraq plus new gunner’s sight box, multi-part gun mantlet and 120mm M256 cannon in the usual two halves with separate muzzle tip and muzzle reference system as well as a separate mantlet gun collar for good definition. The tube for the co-ax M240 MG is slightly hollowed out with the ribbing included as well as CIP panels for the turret sides. There are also no non-skid panels on the turret surfaces that are included on some other contemporary models these days.

Also included on sprue J is a selection of accessories such as two types of jerry/water cans, 20mm ammo boxes new .50 cal and M240 MGs for the turret which are slight improvements on the original and four spare track links each for both T156 and T158 tracks.


The decal sheet has markings for two vehicles;
1. U.S.Marine, “Warpig” C Company, 1st Tank Battalion, Iraq, March 2003
2. U.S.Army, B Company, 3rd Tank Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, Iraq, 2003


Overall this kit is a disappointment due the old T156 tracks and undersized turret and lack of details such as non-skid surfaces but the new drive sprockets are nicely done plus some optional parts for US Army or Marine vehicles and the added accessories could come in useful.

Sprue images
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Abrams Main Battle Tank
M1A1 and M1A2

Museum Ordnance Special #9
Darlington Productions Inc.
Mini Color Series #7502
Concord Publications
ISBN 962-361-638-4
M1 Abrams
Main Battle Tank
Osprey New Vanguard 2
ISBN: 185532 283 8
Abrams Company
Europa Militaria No.28
The Crosswood Press Ltd.
ISBN 1 86126 285 X

Thanks again to the guys at Rainbow Ten for their excellent service.

Page created 9 November 2004

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