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Andreas' Armour Pages

DRAGON M1A1HA „Baghdad 2003“

The kit is based on the old Abrams kits by DML. It depicts ‘Maniaco’ a vehicle of the USMC 1st tank battalion.
DML added three new sprues and some PE to the old kit but did not perform any retooling.
The new sprues contain new duffel bags and other crew gear items, a new additional turret rack and the MCD, plus PE for the turret mesh. Another addition is carton board for the new MRE rations. The new crew gear looks very good and needs almost no rework, which would be hard to do anyway as it is made of some kind of soft plastic.
At a first glance the additional turret rack looks good, but on second sight it becomes obvious that DML made just too many simplifications, so it will not be a practical item. Sadly enough this means that the nicely done PE cannot be used, too.
This leaves you with the nicely done new crew gear and MRE boxes only … too little for a new kit of this price I’d say.
I started the assembly with step 1 as proposed. Already at this early stage I noticed that the EAPU needs to be reworked, or better the whole EAPU should be replaced, either with the resin part by LEGENDS, or with the EAPU from the new TAMIYA kit. The DML offering is underscale and grossly simplified. I was lucky enough to get a resin copy from a friend from the US.

I drilled holes in the towing hook attachments of part # A24. The towing catch A7 is not useable at all. I replaced it with a part from an old ESCI kit.
Parts # A9 and # A10 are attachments for the early style EAPU carried on the tanks’ right hand side back plate. I replaced them with newly made ones. DML made the armoured covers for the backlights as separate parts. They were thinned from the inside, and I added a cutout to the top half of the right hand side cover.
Next, I added a new square box on the right hand side, between the grill section and the backlight. It is an intercom box attached to a number of M1’s during OIF.
Below the grill section I added a lip and above it two lifting eyes, made from wire and plastic card.
I did not assemble the kits’ interior parts, as they are not visible after completion anyway. Thus the lower hull was finished pretty fast. The road wheels’ suspension arms are cast to the hull so the only rework was removing the excessive flash. I drilled lighting holes in the sprockets.
The upper hull construction started with the addition of the emergency pull handle on the left hand side of the hull. The grab-handle # A11 on the glacis needs to be moved forward a section. I replaced it with brass wire. Another addition is a catch in front of the filler cap on the right hand side of the drivers’ hatch. The drivers’ hatch itself received clear, coloured plastic material for vision blocks.
All Abrams kits fenders’ need rework. I added wire for the spring mechanism. The newer M1’s carry fenders with a stamped X on the fenders front end. DML has not reproduced this. However I did not engrave these as some tanks still carry the old style fenders.
I really liked the cover photo with the bend fender, so I replaced the left fender with a copy made from lead foil. After I attached it, it was carefully bend and crushed. I really like the effect.
The attachments for the towing hooks at the lower front end need to be drilled open, too. The engraved weld seam on the lower front is grossly overdone, so I filled it with putty and sanded it smooth.
I decided to add the tracks only after the final completion of the hull, and I could install the side armour skirts already at this stage. This however showed that the upper hull was bend out of shape and some rework was involved in correcting this.
The skirts were detailed with plastic strip on the top and U-profiles on the front end.

I didn’t use the turret interior either. The main halves B1 and B2 fit together very poorly, I needed to use a lot of putty and sanding to close all gaps. I added trays to the turret baskets F54/ F55 front ends and four handles made from wire to the top. The turret top was enhanced by the addition of the EAPU connector and the rework of the wiring cover behind the loaders’ hatch. The EAPU connector is a copy of the ITALERI kit part. The ends of the wiring cover were detailed with small roofs right above the smoke dischargers.
The CWS was improved by drilling out the two holes on the right and left side, plus I added new lifting rings to it. I added a little wiring to the .50 Cal.
The MCD is not the DML but the TAMIYA part, this is more detailed. Parts # F36 and # F48 are a mystery and I did not use them. The loaders’ hatch received a closure, a handle and a block that is used to secure it in open position.
The towing cables were reworked by carefully sanding away all cast on parts. I replaced the hooks for the towing cables on the turret by small wire bend into L-shape. I actually used staples I cut to size. The deflector ‘nose’ in front of the cables needs to be reworked. They are oversized. The turret basket is rather fragile so I replaced most of its parts with brass wire. Part # F14 is separated horizontally, which is rather unlucky. It needed some substantial sanding. Only after I had the basket finished I noticed that parts # F37/ F38 are undersized, too. They need to be placed more outwards. By doing this the complete basket structure went out of line and I had to rework it again.

The new additional basket is only a far cry from anything actually used so I decided not to use it at all, but to build a new one made from plastic material.
I did not use the nicely done 120mm main gun provided by DML but purchased an aluminium barrel from BARREL DEPOT. It looks even better. However, when using the DML parts you need to rework the muzzle reference system. The tubing F40 is underscale and needs to be replaced.
Finally I tried to assemble the tracks. However after unsuccessfully trying for hours to get rid of the flash and ejection marks, I gave up and used a set from a TRUMPETER kit. It actually falls together like it should and has far less flash. Luckily TRUMPETER provides two sets of tracks with their kits. However you need to check the alignment and separation closely.
I finally painted the kit with MODEL MASTER US Army/ Marines Sand #2136 and added a wash with thinned black and several sessions of dry brushing with HUMBROL 147.
Most of the crew gear I used is from the new TAMIYA set. The tarp is made from lead foil and all attachment strips are made with adhesive tape.
I named the kit ‘Animal’ as I build this for a campaign of Armorama. I didn’t want to show a specific but a typical OIF vehicle.

VERLINDEN Warmachines No.6
CONCORD PUBLICATIONS – Walter Böhm – M1A1/A2 Abrams – ISBN 962-361-638-4
SQUADRON/ SIGNAL Publications – M1 Abrams in action – ISBN 0-89747-222-5

Copyright © 2000 by Andreas Hüger. All rights reserved. Reproduction without written consent is not permitted.