ARM: Review - AFV Club 1/35 scale M60A1 Main Battle Tank

Kit Review: AFV Club 1/35 scale Kit No. 35060; M60A1 Patton Main Battle Tan k; 639 parts (555 in olive drab styrene, 43 etched brass, 18 clear styrene, 14 black vinyl keepers, 4 black vinyl parts, 2 black vinyl track runs, 1 t urned aluminum gun barrel tube, 1 black nylon string, 1 steel spring); reta il price US$79.95

Advantages: best kit of this subject to date; many different options withi n the kit; separate engine deck hatches and stowage bin lids

Disadvantages: nothing major noted other than wealth of very tiny parts

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all US and M60 fans

In the late 1950s the US Army was searching for a more modern tank to form its battle fleet and to replace the M48 series. They tried a new line of t anks with the T95 but this tank never seemed to provide a satisfactory alte rnative, so an updated version of the M48 tank was then considered.

There were three primary things the Army sought for this tank: the AVDS-17

90 diesel engine to reduce fire risks and increase range; the new British 1 05mm L7A1 main gun to replace the 90mm series weapons; and the use of silic eous core armor plate on the glacis and parts of the turret. While the firs t two items were relatively easy to achieve, the latter one ran into cost a nd production issues and was dropped. While a new "long nose" turret from t he T95 program was preferred, the original turret adopted to field the new tank, now dubbed M60, was a modified version of the M48 series turret with a bubble in the back to permit use of the new gun and larger ammunition.

The first M60 series tanks were delivered in 1960 but had problems. The ne w M85 machine gun did not work properly so the first 300 tanks were fitted with an external mount on the cupola and an M2HB machine gun on a flexible mount. All had the lightweight aluminum wheels which the Army had wanted to reduce unsprung weight. After 2,205 M60 tanks were delivered, the first M6

0A1 tanks with the "long nose" turrets began coming off the production line in 1962.

Also fitted to the M60A1 were six shock absorbers - the M60 had not used t hem and tended to pitch badly (these were apparently retrofitted). The M60A

1 had thicker armor protection than the M60 (which is why they were soon re classified as Standard B and given to the reserves) but the first productio n lots were noted as having two shot traps under the front edges of the tur ret. This was corrected by thickening up the lower "cheeks" of the turret a nd the support for the upper turret race.

The M60A1 and its later version, the M60A3, remained in production for ove r 20 years and were constantly upgraded with new sights, electronics, air c leaners, and finally a switch back to M48 style steel road wheels. Note tha t basically all US Army tanks from the M26 to the M1 can use the same road wheels - as a point of fact, the ex-ranges M26A1 tank on display in front o f the 3AD Headquarters in Frankfurt in 1988 had been restored with aluminum M60 road wheels.

The first 1/35 scale M60A1 kit to be released was one from Tamiya in late

1970 - while a good kit for that time, it suffered from "motoritis" and a l ack of precise scale proportions, bad tracks, and awful wheels with massive external caps to hold them in place. But this kit continued in production over the years and is still re-released from time to time, and was used for a new M60A3 kit in 1987 and an M60A1 RISE Passive tank with ERA in 1992. B ut they still use the same original hull and most of the original parts les s the turret.

Academy cloned the M60A1 kit early in its career and also later released t he USMC M60A1 RISE Passive tank with ERA in Desert Storm trim. It was only slightly better than the original.

In the early 1990s ESCI of all companies released a new kit of an M60A1 Bl azer equipped tank in IDF service which also included most of the parts for a US M60A1 tank. At the time of its release it was both the best ESCI kit ever and the best M60A1 kit. It came with "link and length" tracks and was close to scale in its measurements.

Last year AFV Club finally began to release its highly anticipated M60 ser ies which they had previewed at AMPS 2013 in Atlanta. In brief, the wait ha s been worth it as it is a truly spectacular kit. While they call it the "M

60A1 Patton" this tank never received a formal name in US service.

What it provides is the mid-production M60A1 with the thickened turret arm or, a choice of either steel or aluminum road wheels, and a wealth of optio nal details. The engine deck access grilles are all separate parts, there i s a choice of escape hatch, the main gun is provided complete, and black vi nyl flexible covers are included for the mantlet and main gun sleeve.

Probably the only negative comment is the fact that there is an overdone c asting texture to the turret, hatches and hull but while not quite right I think most modelers will not worry about it very much. It is not as severe as the recent Revell Germany M48A2 kits as a comparison.

The suspension is complete and all separate parts - welded plates, torsion bar mounts, torsion bars, and bump stops and shock absorbers are all attac hed to the lower hull tub. The lower hull for this kit is slide molded in o ne piece and very neatly done.

The first seven steps cover the suspension, and while it only shows the al uminum road wheels being used you can swap them out for the cast steel ones ; these even come with a separate "lip" ring for accuracy. Drivers also com e with pre-molded clean-out holes.

The driver's compartment comes with basic fittings to include controls and pedals. The driver's viewer (parts C29/30 and F1) is separate to the drive r's hatch and may be turned if desired. Note from the plethora of hole blan ks on the underside of the glacis (part B1) many more versions are forecast !

Details are typical of AFV Club kit; for example, the external fire exting uisher controls consist of four parts (B13 x 2, B8 and E72).

The entire engine deck is composed of no less than 34 parts with separate sections, lift rings and hinges; however there is no engine or interior det ail (I suspect a companion Hobby Fan resin set will be offered!) The rear grilles are separate and even show casting numbers (as to all parts that re quire them).

All four stowage bins come with separate lids and handles so they also can be shown open.

As it is the mid-production version of the tank, it comes with the origina l M48 style side-loading air cleaners. Each one consists of eight parts. Th ere are also two different designs of rear deck telephone boxes that attach to the rear of the hull. There is also an option for either a grille secti on for the right rear engine access door or the wading stack and its fittin g.

Somewhere along the line the "Mickey Mouse" feature of a recoil spring has returned and must be fitted to the recoil mount during assembly of the gun breech. Oh well...

The main gun either has a solid styrene mantlet fitted (A4) or the flexibl e black vinyl one (T2) with accordion sleeve (T5) and the searchlight mount s attached. The turret basket comes with a complete etched brass floor and back mesh set. The entire assembly is very petite and care must be taken du ring assembly to not break the styrene parts.

The commander's cupola comes with two shells - one solid, one clear - so y ou have a choice of either masking off the ports or simply using a preferre d method to indicate clear parts (I prefer sections of old 35mm photo film header) instead. There is also a black vinyl cover (T4) for the commander's machine gun.

The searchlight also is a far cry from the older Tamiya ones and consists of 18 parts and a solid clear lens. A black vinyl power cable (T3) is provi ded for hookup.

The kit comes with black vinyl track runs; the directions do not indicate one way or the other if they are gluable or require ACC cements. These may be replaced with any of the excellent AFV Club single link track sets such as AF35005 (T107 track) or AF35010 (T142) tracks. While the T107 is theoret ically for just the M88, it is close enough to the actual T97E2 track to wo rk perfectly.

A large number of modelers and researchers contributed to this kit: Brent Sauer, Chris Hughes, Kurt Laughlin, Jason Liu, Jonathan Bernstein, Robert G oldman, Robert Skipper, Scott Taylor and Thomas Hartwig. (This also guarant ees more variants to come!)

Five different finishing options are provided: Austrian Army (olive drab,

224 with unit markings); IDF, Sinai 1973 (sand, 817878 with turret markings ); HQ50, 3-33 Armor 3rd US Armored Division 1977 (USAREUR scheme, black mar kings); B66, 4-69 Armor, 8th ID (tricolor scheme of sand, black and dark gr een with black stars and white markings); USMC (MERDC Winter Verdant scheme , black markings). For some reason all canvas is shown in white on the pain ting guides but is more of a field drab/khaki shade in real life. A nicely done decal sheet covers all of these variants.

Overall this is one of the best things for armor modelers who like modern and US armor in a long time - kudos to AFV Club for this kit!

Thanks to Tony Chin of Merit International for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell

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