Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale Modern AFV Series Kit No. 3562 ; M60A2 Starship; 416 parts (375 in grey styrene, 24 clear styrene, 13 etch ed brass, 4 DS plastic); price US$69.99 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: new mold kit of this long-sought version of the M60; choice of early aluminum or late steel wheels; optional hatches
Disadvantages: some details do not match with the actual vehicle (kit share s M48 and M60 parts)
Recommendation: for all Cold War era US armor fans
For reasons that seemed like a good idea at the time, in the 1960s both th e 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 began 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.
Over 40 years ago Tamiya released a kit of the M60A2, but in point of fact it was actually the M60A1E1 version with a bore evacuator and other differ ences from the production tank. It was also scaled to fit their overscale M60A1 hull and as a result was a terrible model to try and build; no matter what the modeler did it just did not look right.
Last year three kits of this vehicle were announced: Academy, Dragon, and AFV Club. The Academy one had a nice looking turret on their Tamiya hull cl one so still kept the faults of the parent chassis, but the turret was a mu ch better effort. The AFV Club kit has not been released yet, but now the D ragon effort has reached the market.
There have been some negative comments about this kit already published on the Internet, and while some are perfectly valid (as they come from former M60 tankers who were intimate with the subject) some are the usual whines. I will try to sort through them here.
The kit is a new mold product that does make use of some of the parts that DML created for their M48 and M103 kits, but only where the three tank lin es share common parts. There are some misses on the new parts, such as the CBSS: it should be 38.4mm wide in scale but here it is only 32.5mm. The lau ncher tube is correct in length but a bit larger in diameter than it should be in scale.
One reviewer did note that the actual M60 hulls used only had a single fue ling port on the right side and the kit comes with two so the one on the le ft should be removed (behind the turret race and in front of the engine dec k). The drivers also come without the three cleanout holes which were commo n when the M60A2 went into service. Also note that the rear engine access d oors (part D36) should have the fitting for the snorkel tube on them (U sha ped notch on the right upper door section) as that was pretty standard for M60s by that time; the one in the kit does not.
The turret shapes are fairly close and the bustle rack comes with nicely d one mesh from etched brass - 13 plates to be precise. A clear styrene visio n block is provided for the commander's cupola to make finishing it easier (tinting the inside with a clear paint such as Tamiya Smoke may be a good w ay to solve the clear transparency issue). While DML is a past master at using its DS Plastic for many bits, oddly en ough so far with their M48/M60/M103 kits they are stingy about providing th e canvas mantlet covers for these vehicles. While many M60A2 are seen witho ut the cover, by the time they were fully invested in service most of them had one for the main launcher assembly. Alas, one is not provided in the ki t.
Construction of the model is pretty straightforward, but while both early aluminum and late steel wheels are offered in the kit (all with separate ti res in grey styrene) only the aluminum ones were used on the A2s (the other s found their way onto the later AVLBs on the same chassis).
The kit does provide the proper side-loading air cleaners but seems to be missing the later quick-release fitting for them, but this can be added fr om strip styrene.
Finishing directions are pretty sparse; two options are given, both in MER DEC Winter Verdant (dark green, field drab, black and sand) but with no bum per codes or unit ID. One vehicle has serial numbers and the other is named ACES WILD. One would have thought someone would have used the MASSTER fini sh in USAREUR with the olive drab, earth, black and red brown colors with e ither black or white stars and markings but that was not an option in this kit. A small sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall this is a bit of a disappointment as a bit better research would h ave made for a better kit with more finishing options. What is provided is not too bad, but it will take some work to make a first-class model from th e kit. (And it is FAR better than the ancient Tamiya one which they keep re