ARM: Review - AFV Club 1/35 scale M60A2 Starship MBT

Kit Review: AFV Club 1/35 scale Kit No. 35230; M60A2 Patton Main Battle Tan
k - Later Version; 770 parts (670 in olive drab stryene, 55 etched brass, 2
5 clear styrene, 14 black vinyl keepers, 2 black vinyl parts, 2 black vinyl
track runs, 1 turned aluminum gun barrel tube, 1 black nylon string); 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
For reasons that seemed like a good idea at the time, in the 1960s both the
US and the Soviets got the bright idea that in the next war missile armed
tanks would be the top ?predator? on the battlefield and be
gan to research those types of vehicles.
While the Soviets eventually decided this was not a good idea and instead
opted for smoothbore guns that could fire a guided missile as an option, th
e US pursued the idea and created the Shillelagh missile system. Basically
a 152mm (six inch) guided missile that was fired from a stubby launcher tub
e, this weapon was fitted to both the lightweight M551 Sheridan airmobile a
mphibious combat vehicle as a light tank and the main armament of the proto
type MBT-70 next generation combat tank. When the latter did not pan out, i
nstead a new turret and launcher were developed for the M60 main battle tan
k.
After testing as the M60A1E1 and M60A1E2 a production version was introduc
ed as the M60A2 main battle tank. Fitted with a launcher for the Shillelagh
, it had a reduced volume turret and new equipment to include a compressed
air purge device (Closed Breech Scavenging System or CBSS) to remove the mi
ssile ejection propellant from the gun tube on launch. This was mounted in
a bulge under the engine access doors at the rear of the hull. In 1966 prod
uction began and eventually 540 M60A2 tanks were built.
The production models fired the MGM-51C version of the Shillelagh as well
as an HE-FRAG round and also a standard HEAT projectile. The tank could car
ry 33 rounds of conventional ammo and 13 missiles when fully stowed. An M85
12.7mm machine gun (identical to that used in the M60A1 and M60A3) was mou
nted in a new design cupola.
But in use the infrared tracker and radio command guidance system proved t
o be less than reliable and vulnerable to humidity and other weather phenom
enon.
While it was deployed in battalion sets (production covered exactly 10 ful
l strength battalions albeit not all were fielded) and starred in many exer
cises its weapons system was a headache for maintenance crews and with the
arrival of the M1 most of them were withdrawn from service. Redundant chass
is were then used for the M60 armored vehicle launched bridge as was eviden
t from the CBSS bulge under many of those vehicles.
As many people have said, ?third time is the charm? - igno
ring the woeful Tamiya M60A2 kit from the late 1960s this is the third kit
of the M60A2 to appear in the past year. Previous efforts from Academy and
DML were better than the Tamiya one, but both had problem area and wound up
missing the mark. Now - as Goldilocks once said - we have one which appear
s to be ?just right?.
The AFV Club M60A1 was the best kit of the tank produced thus far, with th
e only negative comment is the fact that there is an overdone casting textu
re to the turret, hatches and hull but while not quite right I think most m
odelers will not worry about it very much. This kit retains most of those p
arts and adds about 200 new or changed ones.
The suspension is complete and all separate parts ? welded plates,
torsion bar mounts, torsion bars, and bump stops and shock absorbers are a
ll attached to the lower hull tub. The lower hull for this kit is slide mol
ded in one 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 come with pre-molded clean-out holes. Step 4 here now adds the
closed breech scavenging system (CBSS) and new tail light assemblies for t
he A2.
The driver?s compartment comes with basic fittings to include cont
rols and pedals. The driver?s viewer (parts C29/30 and F1) is separ
ate to the driver?s hatch and may be turned if desired. Note from t
he plethora of hole blanks on the underside of the glacis (part B1) many mo
re 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). Note that this kit uses two bespoke doors for the rear of the
engine compartment with the beveled covers over the CBSS assembly.
All four stowage bins come with separate lids and handles so they also can
be shown open.
While the kit per se comes with the original M48 style side-loading air cl
eaners, this one has the more accurate top loading ones. While it offers a
choice between armored and aluminum bodies, however it does not offer the v
ery late modification of an armored collar around each one. Each one consis
ts of eight parts. There are also two different designs of rear deck teleph
one boxes that attach to the rear of the hull. There is also an option for
either a grille section for the right rear engine access door or the wading
stack and its fitting.
The new turret starts assembly in Step 23 and is nicely done. The M84 mach
ine gun is better than the DML version and comes with a vinyl cover missing
from that kit. The commander?s cupola also come with a clear ring
for the vision section (N1/N4) and a hatch which may be left moveable.
The gun mounting is also quite detailed with clear lenses for the sighting
/guidance equipment and an optional cover for the main ones (L32). Note tha
t the vinyl mantlet cover is not installed until Step 39!)
The bustle rack is much different in its design and assembly than the DML
one and appears to be much more solid. Some complaints were noted on the in
ternet about the size of the openings in the mesh on the bustle when the te
st shots were shown, but the ones provided here are about the size of the D
ML ones. Also unlike the DML kit the model comes with tow cables and mounts
for the sides of the turret and a 5 gallon ?jerry? can. Th
e smoke grenade projectors also have caps for each tube.
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 (T8) 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!)
Only two finishing options are provided for this kit: an unassigned vehicl
e in MERDC winter verdant (forest green, field drab, FS30277 sand and black
); ?Aces Wild?, A Company 1-32 Armor 3rd Armored Division,
Germany (MERC summer verdant - forest green, light green, FS30277 sand and
black). A small sheet of decals is provided for the kit.
Overall if you want a good M60A2 this is the kit to use - alas, it came ou
t after I started an ESCI M60A1/DML M60A2 kit bash! Again kudos to AFV Club
for this kit!
Thanks to Tony Chin of Merit International for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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