When Dragon Models
released their M1A1 Abrams and M1A2 Sep Abrams modern armour fans were clamouring to get their hands on at least one and many cases many of them. Dragon Models
has recently released an M1A2 SEP V2 Abrams which has also attracted a lot of interest, but does this release live up to the previous two offerings excluding the much earlier HA version.
Dragon styrene tracks
16 grey sprues
2 clear sprues
1 photo etched fret
7 pre-shaped wire parts
1 decal sheet
1 self adhesive decal sheet
A look over the contents indicates that this is basically parts from the two earlier releases from Dragon Models
with the addition of some new parts covering the changes. As is usual with Dragon Models
the parts are cleanly moulded with no issues beyond those easily remedied with basic modelling skills. My only complaint at this point is the failure of Dragon Models
to include the turned metal barrel from the previous releases.
Lower Hull and Suspension
All of the parts in this area are from the earlier releases and so I believe accurate as I have never seen or heard of any complaint about these areas. The suspension is not workable, but I believe RB Models released a set to provide this option if that aspect is desired. Some nice touches here are the clear hubs, this is accurate and allows the crews to quickly and easily check the fluid levels, from memory it was always suggested that some of Tamiya’s smoke paint was run across the interior to give the look of fluid being present. Having built this area of the model three times to date I cannot recall having any issues with placement of parts or following of the instructions. One thing you may wish to consider is that I was informed that the mud scrappers for the drive wheels would not be present and should only be replicated on earlier M1A1 Abrams, but again not all; Check your reference if building a specific vehicle.
The upper hull also looks to be the same as earlier releases, but the engine deck has been simplified from a parts count point of view; in earlier releases the multi-part rear deck did gain a reputation of being a big to fit. The photo etched grill option at the rear left hand side is not clearly explained, i seem to recall that plastic part T6 and photo etch part MA6 is the correct option (Gino or any of the tankers lurking please jump in if I have made an error here). There are a number of holes that need to be opened up on the upper hull and Dragon Models
has not provided a drill bit size for this, in the belief that most modellers have a pin drill and bits insert the blunt end into the guide hole and then adjust up or down as required. The sprung clamps that holds down the front mud flaps is an area of previous models that made me swear first time around, I suggest you forget the small metal loops supplied by Dragon Models
and instead drill the locating holes and make a loop using suitably sized fuse wire, you can then add a touch of CA glue from the underside of the track guard and when set trim it back. The exhaust grills at the rear of the model are particularly well represented, but take care when removing them as they are easily damaged. A nice touch that I believe is new is the inclusion of rear light guards which I cannot recall seeing before.
There are two options for assembly at the rear of this model listed as UAAPU and Hawker battery, I am afraid my knowledge fails me in this area as to which is the most suitable option to follow.
The tracks have been supplied as the Dragon Styrene type with separate injection moulded guide horns, this does result in a realistic look and is the same method used in the previous SEP release. I am aware that dragon styrene has not proved as popular as Dragon Models
may have hoped, even though these are a step up from vinyl rubber tracks. If you cannot live with these Bronco Models has released a suitable set of workable injection moulded tracks.
Track Hanging Guards
The side track guards are supplied as several pieces as included with the previous SEP version of the Abrams. Dragon Models
has included the photo etched details from that kit also that lifts the finished look to a high standard. With a small amount of work these can be shown open in some cases and removed in others so that a tank being worked on can be well represented.
As mentioned before Dragon Models
has not supplied the turned aluminium barrel with this product and instead the plastic option is your only choice. DON’T DISPAIR this is not the end of the world as Dragon Models
has made this part to be assembled front to rear or rear to front as opposed to sticking two halves together, yes this is a more involved assembly step, but it is easier to clean up and looks much better. Dragon Models
has also supplied a breach for the main gun, but as this cannot be seen on the finished model all it really provides is a bit of a counter balance for the barrel.
The turret on this model is also to my knowledge accurate in both shape and size and from experience fits together very well. The new ballistic protection for the loaders weapon station looks good. The machine gun and ammunition box look accurate, it is also good to see Dragon Models
supply decals for the ammunition box. I did observe somewhere that part N27 in step 15 MUST NOT BE ADDED
as the correct part is A7 and is added in stage 27. The bustle racks are well represented as they were in the previous SEP release. It is also worth noting how accurately the grenade launchers have been replicated, especially so when it comes to how they attach to the turret. The commander’s crows II weapons system looks accurate to me and as it has passed muster with some of our more discerning members so who am I to complain. Something I observed included with the model but not mentioned are two ammunition belts that are very well replicated. I also like the anti-slip texture that is replicated where needed throughout the model.
Instructions and Finishing Options
As with all Dragon Models
instruction booklets there are issues and so I cannot over emphasize the need to check carefully through the instructions before letting glue near any parts. For the most part the instructions covering this model do not seem to have too many issues. The decals are very nice having clear lines and very little excess film wherever possible. There are three finishing options supplied with this model which are;
2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, South Korea
1st Battalion, 72nd Armoured Regiment, 2 Infantry Division, South Korea
2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Germany
With some of the disappointments from Dragon Models
we have seen of late it is good to see Dragon Models
back on top of their game with this release. I admit there are some parts from the previous M1A2 Sep release I would have liked to see included with this release, such as the metal barrel option, but this release is by no measure a weak model and it should be well received by modellers of all skill levels with an interest in modern armour. As with many Dragon Models
offerings take care with the instructions and both think and look ahead for possible pitfalls.
Donald R. Wolozanski’s M1A2SEP Comparison Build Tamiya / Dragon