Kit Review: DML 1/72 scale Armor Pro Series Kit No. 7333; M3A2 ODS Bradley w/ERA; , 172 parts (129 in grey styrene, 22 DS tan plastic, 16 etched brass, 5 clear styrene); price US $13.95
Advantages: state-of-the-art version of the Cavalry (recon) version of the Bradley family
Disadvantages: some parts simplified, e.g. tools molded in place, one or two bad seams may be hard to align, commander's windows may be hard to install
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for small-scale modern American fans
When the US Army went into Iraq in 2003, not much thought was given to the postwar activities. Unfortunately not only were the Iraqi diehards fairly inventive, once Al-Qaeda got into the act things got much worse.
One problem with Al-Qaeda when the hype is taken away is that one of their functions is to provide "Dirtbags R Us" training to any group of Islamic terrorists. Based on results from Chechnya and activities against the Israelis by Hamas and Hezbollah, they taught a great deal on how to use the humble RPG-7 rocket launcher to its greatest effect. Shooting Bradleys in the side was guaranteed to cause damage or even total destruction and unfortunately the terrorists in Iraq got very good at this. It took some time before the US Army reluctantly admitted this fact and began to retrofit its vehicles with suitable protection.
The M1A1 and M1A2 were fitted with the TUSK urban survival kit, and the Bradley - which in its A2 version had been designed to mount an explosive reactive armor fit - were soon upgraded. Also, based on Israeli experience with snipers, the commander received a bulletproof glass enclosure to allow him to sit head out of the hatch with a higher chance of survival.
This works, and a simple check of the internet shows vehicles like this in action. One fo the better ones shows a sniper firing on a Bradley with seeming immunity due to being higher than an escorting M1A1 could shoot. The Bradley, under fire, backs up and with the missile launcher elevating tells the sniper his time has come - which it did seconds later with a big fireball. So, it works.
DML has now released a kit of the upgraded A2 version of the Bradley (externally M2 and M3 Bradleys are nearly impossible to tell apart by other than bumper codes) and it is a nicely done job. The ERA blocks are molded in groups, which is fine unless the modeler wants to show one that has been engaged and the single blocks have detonated.
The kit is the same basic ODS Bradley kit which came out in June2004, but it was a pretty nice kit then and still is. It comes with a box literally filled with parts. In this scale, it does provide a great deal of options: all wheels roll, the rear ramp operates, and the gun can be made to move up or down. The latter comes at a price, as it requires using the aerial gunsight connector arm and other sight arm (parts E2 and E4) made out of DS plastic now, so one end may have to be left loose.
The hatches and missile launcher box are poseable but not moveable. Also this version comes with thermal ID panels and etched brass mounts for some of the ERA assemblies. These are the bases (meaning if desired the boxes may be left off) as well as the frames for the commander's bulletproof glass shield. Five tiny sections of clear styrene (pre-cut) are provided for installation in the frame. Note that you may have to sand or scrape off some of the surface detail to get a good fit with the styrene ERA assemblies on the hull sides and glacis.
Only one marking option is given - bumper codes for C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (attached to 3rd Infantry Division), Tall Afar 2005. Note that it shows a reddish color for the outside of the various ports and viewers, which is an attempt to replicate the anti-laser coating featured on many of them today.
Overall, it is a nice kit and covers a very busy modern US vehicle.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.