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Dragon 1/72 scale M2A2 Bradley

Kit: No. 7226
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Dragon, Distributed by Dragon Models USA, 1315 John Reed Ct., City of Industry, CA 91745, 866-365-8721, www.dragonmodelsusa.com
Price: $8.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 161 parts (35 vinyl), decals
Pros: Highly detailed, nicely molded
Cons: Many small pieces, some minor fit problems
Open the box for Dragon's 1/72 scale M2A2 Bradley, and you may be surprised to find 161 pieces cleanly molded in medium-gray styrene and soft flexible vinyl. The kit represents a vehicle that served in Iraq in 2003.

Nicely illustrated instructions guide the builder through assembly, and the box top's color photo of an in-the-field Bradley makes a great painting, detailing, and weathering reference.

Kit assembly is straightforward. The turret rotates, and the 25mm Bushmaster main gun and its mantlet can be elevated and depressed. Although the driver's hatch and rear ramp have delicate operating hinges, you'll need to scratchbuild interior details, as none is included. The turret-mounted two-tube TOW missile launcher can be posed in folded-and-stowed or erected-for-firing positions.

Vinyl sleeves inside the Bradley's wheels make assembly of the drivetrain easier. You can paint the wheels separately, then press them onto the hull's suspension arms afterward. The vinyl tracks are beautifully detailed for this scale and look great on the model.

The full-size Bradley is covered with external detail, and it's nicely represented on Dragon's model. There are plenty of separate armor plates, and you'll need a good pair of tweezers to clean up and install these small, delicate parts. Most parts went together easily, but a few, such as the headlight housings, took quite a bit of filing and adjustment before they would attach properly.

I airbrushed my Bradley with Testor Model Master Acryl U.S. Army/Marines gulf sand, then picked out smaller details with a brush. Jim Mesko's M2/M3 Bradley in Action was a handy reference. An artist's oil wash added a little in-service weathering and helped accent the model's sharply molded surface detail. A vinyl parts tree includes tarps and external stowage, but I left these parts off.

Admittedly, for many years I haven't taken 1/72 scale armor seriously - older kits always seemed poorly detailed and a little toylike. But if Dragon's detail-packed Bradley is typical of the new wave of small-scale armor kits, I'll definitely change my position.

- Matthew Usher

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