Review: 1/35 M1A2 SEP Abrams (Dragon 3536)
The M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank is the number one tank in the US. The M1A1 did its job more than well in the first war against Iraq in 1991. This upgraded A2 version offers the tank-commander an independent thermal view and the ability to fire very rapid at a secondary target. It also has a second generation depleted uranium armor. SEP stands for System Enhancement Package. This is a third generation depleted uranium package and other components with a graphite coating.
When I first saw this kit I just had to have it. It has an M1A2 Sep driving somewhere in Iraq (probably) with the Commander and loader sticking out of the turret on the front. One the side of the box it shows the paint-options, some decals, photo-etch and the included stickers. The other side like the underside of the box shows the parts from the CAD-drawings like Dragon likes to show on the box art-posters. This looked very attractive to me, so it had to come home with me. When you open the box you are amazed by the number of sprue’s. Like many other kits from Dragon, once you pull everything out you better be careful on how it goes back in otherwise you can’t get everything back.
This great kit contains:
- Instruction sheet
- Correction sheet
- Lower hull
- 16 light grey sprues
- 1 clear parts sprue
- 2 DS-tracks
- A plastic case with metal parts a spring and a barrel
- Stickers for turret
- Meals boxes (need to be cut out and folded)
- 1 Photo-etch fret
- Metal wire
Instruction sheet: This oblong instruction sheet might look familiar from other Dragon kits. It has the boxart on the front and the sprue layout with the parts that you don’t use marked in blue. The instructions steps look crowded so you’ll need to pay good attention! A beginner could easily get lost in there. The instructions consists of 20 steps and 6 different markings which we will discuss later on.
Correction sheet: A little piece of paper that shows some corrections for step 8 and 15.
Lower hull: A big piece of plastic with some nice detail and welding-seams on it.
Sprue A, B, C, D, E, F: All sprues are double except sprue B which is a tow-bar. The rest are different small pieces like smoke-dischargers, fuel and water jerry cans, oil pan and ammo boxes.
Sprue G: Two beautifully cast machineguns and ammo.
Sprue M: This sprue contains the upper and the lower part of the turret as well as some smaller pieces. The upper turret has an anti slip coating and welding seams that look really nice and save the work of adding your own anti slip coating!
Sprue N: Lot’s of small parts. The main gun, gun breach, fume extractor and others.
Sprue O: Parts for the bustle rack. Nice and thin
Sprue P, Q: Contains only a few smaller parts used in this kit.
Sprue S: Clear parts. These look nice and clear, the periscope for the drivers hatch even has wipers.
Sprue T: Upper hull and skirt parts. The hull parts also contain the anti slip coating and the skirts look like the can be positioned open as well!
Sprue U: Some upperhull parts, drivers hatch, and engine exhaust parts.
Sprue V: This kit contains two of these sprues, it holds the suspension, wheels/sprockets and some smaller parts.
Sprue W(1): Some turret and bustle rack parts.
Sprue W(2): Four small sprues with guidance teeth for the DS-tracks.
Sprue X: Mostly parts for the commanders hatch.
DS tracks: Some people absolutely live for tracklinks or Friuls but the truth is that these DS-tracks do look very good. They come in a bag separated in two, one for each track. They are folded up to save room. Now here comes the clever part, Dragon put to round pieces of plastic on the bending point so they won’t be folded completely.
Metal parts: Some small parts for different usage, but what stands out most is the guntube and the spring which is there to simulate recoil. I am a big fan of one piece barrels so this is a great feature if you ask me!
Stickers: Actually this is the first time I encounter such a thing in a model kit. These are the panels on the front of the turret and on the rear of the bustle rack. They look nice at first look but I am curious about how it will look on the model once it is finished.
Mealboxes: A nice touch from Dragon. Cut it out, fold and glue and you have some stuff to give your Abrams a fuller look.
Photo etch: Probably a bit thicker then you might know from some aftermarket companies, but not too thick that you can’t handle it. Big pieces for the bustle rack and different grills. Some smaller pieces for different purposes.
Metal wire: For tow cables.
Decals: Printed by cartograf so I think they will handle quite good. Not too much film and not too thick. The decals provide for 6 different options.
- Option 1: 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry division, Iraq 2004
- Option 2: 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry, Iraq 2003
- Option 3: 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT “Black Jack”, 1st Cavalry Division, Iraq 2004
- Option 4: 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Iraq 2003
- Option 5: 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3th BCT “Grey Wolf”, 1st Cavalry division, Iraq 2004
- Option 6: 1st Battalion, 16th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Knox, Kentucky USA 2002
This is a great kit, there is anti slip coating, there are a lot of options ( for instance the ‘Taxi’ sign on one of the options ), the cool barrel-markings, the molding is great, high level of detail all around, there is metal, there is photo etch and for a lot of these metal and PE options there is also a plastic part there if you don’t wish to use PE or metal. I saw just a little flash on some parts but the majority of parts are just very crisp. There aren’t much molding seams to be found. This is the most complete M1A2 kits out there. Too bad it doesn’t have TUSK 1 or 2 included and if you do want this, you have to buy aftermarket stuff.
The only downsides I noticed are the instructions which are too crowded and the fact that the guidance teeths need to be glued onto the tracks one by one. So this kit absolutely gets a high score. The two (minor) disadvantages can’t keep someone from building something very cool out of this Dragon kit.