M1A2 Abrams
Operation Iraqi Freedom
1/35 Scale - Kit No.35269
First Look by Terry Ashley

Following their previous releases of the M2A2 Bradley ODS IFV Kit No.35264, M113A2 Desert Version Kit No.35265 and M1046 Humvee TOW Missile Carrier Kit No.35267 with updates for OIF Tamiya have now done the same with their M1 Abrams with the release of this M1A2 kit.

While the M1A2 missed the initial action in Iraq it has been fully committed since with both with US Army and USMC units.

The Kit:
The kit is labelled M1A2 Abrams but in fact it contains alternate parts to build an M1A2, an Army M1A1HA or a USMC M1A1HA with markings for OIF and Kosovo vehicles included which is a bit of a bonus.

The kit Consists of 259 parts in the usual Tamiya light beige plastic and a 180mm x 51mm piece a white plastic card, a 70mm x 39mm sheet of clear card, a large sheet of mesh, the poly caps for attaching the wheels, a small clear sprue (G), two lengths of vinyl track plus the decal sheet and of course the instruction sheet. Also included is another 62 parts on sprue V and W from the Modern US Military Equipment Set Kit No.35266.

The parts are moulded to the usual high standard from Tamiya with no flash and only some very minor pin parks on parts with detail on both sides but mostly the only cleanup needed is to remove the fine moulding seam from the parts.
As the kit is based on their previous M1A1 kits (35156/35158) there are a number of parts not used in this kit notably from sprue B while there are new sprues D and F with new parts. To Tamiya’s credit some of the older parts have had makeovers with additional weld seams and parts added to the original sprues but some are still the same as on the earlier kits.

The Hull/Running gear:
The lower hull is straight from the earlier kits with fixed axles and also fittings to add and electric motor, no doubt for the 1/35 RC series while the upper hull is also included without modification from the earlier kits which means there is still no non-slip panels included as well as the inner left side engine intake being flat instead of raised to meet the top of the panel between the two intakes.
The road wheels and drive sprockets are again from the earlier kits but included are two new outer drive sprocket parts with the new pattern tooth ring but still no lightening holes while the track return rollers have been altered to the current configuration.
On the rear hull exhaust panel is the square snorkel fitting as seen on USMC vehicles but no snorkel equipment as well as new tail light assemblies with cut-outs for the wiring.

The Turret:
This is where most of the changes happen with the upper and lower turret halves being included on the new sprue F indicative of the number of changes from the earlier turret although the non-slip panels are still not on the new turret either.
There are considerably more weld seams around the front of the turret and under the rear turret bustle although the additional armour reinforcing strips along the lower rear and under the bustle aren’t there. The new gun mantlet has refinements with additional weld seams along the front join as well as the longer top panel with rear hinged section; the earlier mantlet is still included on sprue B so watch you use the right one.

On the turret top is a new “hole” for the alternate Commander’s cupolas as well as armoured covers over the cable ducting behind the loader’s hatch. On the rear blast panels there are alternate parts for the A2 or A1HA layouts as well as alternate flat plate cover for the CITV (Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer) mounting as well as a multi-part CITV unit or MCD (Missile countermeasures device) as fitted to USMC vehicles. The details on both these assemblies are very good with bolt head and other details included, there is also the no step/radiation warning data included on the decal sheet for the top of the CITV unit.

The large APU for the rear turret rack also has very nice details included and there are the alternate smoke grenade launchers for the Army and USMC type plus new grenade boxes for the turret sides with additional details.
The new A2 Commander’s cupola is a very detailed assembly which included the rotation teeth around the lower sections plus the top hatch in three parts with separate inner securing handle while there is a new .50cal MG which is better detailed that that in the earlier kits with the new rear handles.

The 120mm barrel gets a new muzzle section with a separate superbly detailed muzzle reference device for the top; this is a huge improvement over the previous kits where this was included with the barrel and was very basic and the wrong angle.
New side storage boxes are also provided as well as new framework for the turret storage racks with the rear rack also getting additional details along to bottom although you still get the standard Tamiya mesh for the bottom of the rear rack.
The plastic card included is for the turret front CIP panels and the sizes are given in the instructions for you to cut this from the sheet.

Finally there is the two CIP panels for the turret sides and one full and a half figure both wearing the new style body armour, the detail on the figures is basic but passable with good facial features and should come up okay with careful painting. The instructions give basic painting guides for the Desert and Woodland cam schemes and there is plenty of additional storage equipment on the two sprues included form the Modern US Military Equipment Set.

Update: For some reason I completely missed a small clear sprue lurking in the bottom of the box, this has clear parts for the headlight and taillight lenses, the front panel/sight of CITV and for the laser rangefinder apertures as well as a couple of clear water bottles.


The tracks:
These are in the new “soft” vinyl material now standard from Tamiya and include very nice details on both the inside and outside of the tracks; the only minor problem being some six pour marks on the insides but these should be easy to cut off with a sharp blade due to soft material used.


The sheet is vintage Tamiya in that the printing is well done but the carrier film is still on the thickish side with markings for five vehicles.

  1. M1A2 of 2nd Platoon, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Iraq, April 2003. Overall desert sand cam.
  2. M1A2 of 4th Platoon, F Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Iraq, April 2003. Overall desert sand cam.
  3. M1A1HA of 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), Iraq, April 2003. Euro 1 three colour cam scheme.
  4. M1A1HA of 2nd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Marine Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Iraq, April 2003. Euro 1 three colour cam scheme.
  5. M1A1HA of 2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), Kosovo, 1999. Euro 1 three colour cam scheme.

The instructions have multiple view drawings showing the decal placement and cam scheme on the vehicles plus detailed explanations during construction of the different fittings (Commander’s cupola, APU, CITV, or MCD) applicable to each vehicle so you have to make a choice fairly early as to which vehicle you are modelling.


Sprue Images
Click on thumbnail for larger view
images will open in a new window


Tamiya have made a real effort to get all the changes for the current configurations right but still left a few things untouched such as the non-slip panels on the hull but the turret changes and details are excellent. The inclusion of three alternate vehicle configurations is also a real bonus but of course there are still areas that need attention with scope for added detailing but overall the kit should be well received.

This only leaves the AAAVP7A1 left for Tamiya to give an OIF makeover; time will tell if they go ahead with this?


Kit courtesy of my Credit Card and the excellent service from Rainbow Ten.

Page created 22 December 2003
Updated 24 December 2003

Click Browsers BACK button to return to list
Home / Reviews / Vehicle Reviews / Tamiya