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Tamiya M1A2 Abrams

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale plastic model armored tank kit
The Abrams tank seems to be a hot subject with kit manufacturers lately. Rye Field, Dragon, Meng, and Tamiya have recently come out with one Abrams or another in 1/35 scale.

What we were missing was an Abrams in 1/48 scale — until now.

Tightly packed in Tamiya’s box for the M1A2 are five trees of parts molded in tan plastic, all finely molded and flash-free. I was impressed at first glance: It was shocking to see that the antislip coating was molded into the parts, something the 1/35 scale molds lacked.

The instructions are a 10-page foldout booklet. They include a recommended tool guide, paint-color callout guide (Tamiya colors only), and a separate sheet with a brief history on the Abrams and a decal placement guide. The instructions are easy to follow and I did not notice any errors in them during the build.

The hull is the first major assembly. A metal bar is provided to add weight to the model. I am not sure what purpose it serves but it does give the small vehicle more heft. After installing it, I noticed that the bar is a little loose and rattles inside the hull. That’s not a big deal, though.

Pay close attention to the instructions in Step 4. This makes building the tracks much easier.

The turret is the next major assembly. Again, follow the instructions closely as there are several small parts to install. One thing to note: There are no clear parts; all the windows are depicted by decals, as is the CITV (Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer). I waited to install these decals until after I had painted the entire model and had a gloss coat down. This prevents damage during the build.

The decals in this kit were a big letdown. After applying them over a gloss coat, most of them silvered. They are also rather thick and flat in finish. I would recommend replacing them with an aftermarket set if you can.

I used Testors Model Master armor sand overall, with rubber black for the tracks, and lightly weathered the model using Tamiya Weathering Master pastels.

Parts count is relatively low at 172, so it doesn’t take forever to complete this — I spent slightly more than 15 hours at it, and it was a refreshing, simple build. It would be perfect for a beginner, and an experienced modeler should have fun, too. Highly recommended!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2018 issue.


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