Dragon 1/72 M2A3 Bradley

KIT #: 7324
PRICE: $15.00 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: John Doerr
NOTES: A very nice kit, well molded and detailed at a reasonable price.  The kit has a hinged rear ramp but lacks an interior


The M2 owes it's genesis to the desire to have a vehicle in which infantry could fight  with out having to enter a Chemical, Biologic, Nuclear (CBR) contaminated battlefield.  Conceptually, the idea was to have the infantry remain in the vehicle and not risk bringing contaminates in and avoiding having to go through decontamination.  It was known as an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV).  As the world situation changed, so did the mission.  The Bradley evolved in to a fast fighting vehicle that could keep pace with M1 Abrams tank, with upgraded armor to protect the crew and and infantry with the ability to provide fire support and tank killing capability and has been redesignated as the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV)

 The M2 has been upgraded through its service life with improvements to armor and especially the electronics.  By the time of the Gulf War or Operation Desert Storm, (1991-1992)  the A2 version was in use featuring thermal sights, upgraded electronics and 30 mm laminate armor.  A3 upgrades were delivered beginning in 1998.  Perhaps the main visual  identifier of the A3 version is the Commander's Independent Viewer (CIV), a remotely operated monitor that frees the vehicle commander from exposing himself to scan the outside.  It is commonly called the doghouse by the troops and is located on the left outside of the turret.  Experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom has led to the addition of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) blocks on the exterior.

 1-5 Cav in Iraq

The 1st battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division was deployed to Camp Freedom, in Iraq in November 2006.  Alpha company was assigned to Ameriyah, an insurgent strong hold in western Baghdad.  My son was a private, later specialist,  SAW/M240 gunner.  He was a dismounted trooper or essentially infantry,  commonly called trunk monkeys, after the internet ads.   Initially, Alpha Company used Humvees for patrolling but as they began to display a vulnerability to Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) they upgraded to the M2A3, which had much better armor and brought along their own fire support.   They were not invulnerable as I know of two Bradleys from Alpha Company that were lost to IEDs. 

 One disconcerting thing I had learned  was that CBS reporter Lara Logan considered the 2nd platoon,  Alpha Company as “her” platoon, the men of the platoon regarded her as a real grunt.  No higher complement could be paid to a reporter.  The real issue was that watching the news was knowing that one of the grunts going house to house in combat could be my son and we were watching the very fighting he was involved in.  Unidentifiable under their gear any of the SAW gunners we saw might have been him.

 The vehicles were unmarked with the original markings painted over in gray paint.  The reason was that rather than every unit bringing over all their equipment, the vehicles remained and were handed down to each incoming unit.  Sometimes the vehicles were well maintained and others not, with the departing troops not wanting to put in the extra work knowing they would be handing over the equipment to a new unit.   1-5 Cav stayed for 15 months through the thick of the fighting in Baghdad, and sad to say Alpha Company returned in January 2008 minus a number of troopers.


The kit is a gem.  It contains enough pieces to build any M2A2/A3 actually used by the US Army.  It consists of 176 parts, three main pieces, five trees, and one each vinyl tree and PE fret.  A number of the parts are for the A2 version and not used.  One entire tree consists of the ERA blocks. I question the need for the PE in that most of the pieces are the turret ERA mounting brackets that disappear when the ERA blocks are added.  The molding is crisp, accurate and precise.  They even had the A3 GPS antenna that is mounted on the rear of the turret basket.   I had no fit issues at all in the build. 

 The instructions are comprised of nine steps.  Given the large number of parts involved the drawings are quite busy.  The instructions have to studied quite carefully as a number of parts are shown installed with call outs that seem to get lost in the busyness of the drawings. 

 I have to admit I am not an armor guy.  I have built some but I am not up to speed on all the details a real armor modeler would catch.  The vinyl tracks looked correct when compared to the photos and were much easier than individual links.  Another point was that most of the track was hidden behind the side skirts or under the road wheels.  The only really visible parts were the front and rear


For anyone wishing to convert the pristine M2 into a worn street fighting machine, the conversion is simple and requires only basic tools.  My son gave me some photos and also advised me on the changes necessary to convert the kit into one of Alpha company's M2A3s.  The conversion was simple.  Some of the ERA blocks on the forward hull needed to be removed to conform to the photos.  The deck mounted tools removed and the identification panels left off.  The build was straight forward except I decided to construct the full hull interior.  This was above and beyond my original plan and  I had a kit in the stash, an A2 version that featured a full interior, so I decided to add that as well. 

Construction started with the new interior.  The pirated interior featured the earlier individual seats but the A3 version had bench seats along the rear sides, as well as the jump seat to the left rear of the turret basket.  Also the assistant driver's seat was retained but the seat back was left folded down.

 The interior was surprisingly easy as most of the parts required, at most, minor trimming to fit.  Plastic sheeting was trimmed and installed to cover some unused mounting holes.  The in progress photos were emailed to my son for comments and advice.  The interior was painted light green with Tamiya acrylics, a mix of  XF-71 cockpit green XF-2 White.  The seat covers were painted with Tamiya XF-27 black green.  The interior was given a light wash of black then dusted with light brown ground pastel to enhance the dusty effect.   Also the driver's periscopes were added to the inside of the hatch because they would be visible when the hatch was opened.  They were constructed out of simple strips of plastic and painted olive drab

 Following the construction of the interior, the first step was to take the full forward hull ERA assembly and mark out which blocks need to be removed.  The ERA blocks do not sit flush but are on spacers above the hull armor.  Dragon caught this and there are mounting bracket spacers under the front piece.  Following highlighting, the blocks were removed with a razor saw and the filed smooth.  The tools molded to the rear deck of the hull were scraped off with an Exacto knife and the hull sanded smooth.  And that was all that was necessary beyond not adding the identification panels.

 The rest was strictly OOB.  I just followed the instructions with occasional stops for painting along the way. The road wheels, drive sprockets and idlers were assembled and paint as was the lower hull as the first steps.  The rubber tires of the road wheels were painted Tamiya XF-63, German gray

 Following that the side skirts, turret and upper hull were assembled and each set aside for painting.  After painting and weathering of the OOB turret, the last details need added.    The urban Bradleys were fitted with metal deflector hoops on the top of the turret.  The Baghdad power lines are festooned over the street and quite low, so the deflectors were installed to prevent the wires from snagging on the turret and to protect the commander if he chose to ride in the open.  The three whip antennas were made from stretched sprue.  After the hull was completely assembled and weathered, the turret was installed as the final assembly. 

 An oval wooden base had been purchased and was stained.  The top was given a coat of Elmer’s glue and local soil was was sifted through a fine mesh strainer unto the surface.  The track bottoms were given a coat of white glue also and set in place


The Bradleys were painted in one color, overall sand.  I chose Model Master enamel FS33722, Modern Desert Sand in the spray can.  The entire vehicle was sprayed, including the tracks.  The rubber pads on the tracks were given a coat of Tamiya XF-63.   The radiator outlet was given a wash of black to add depth.  The Baghdad Bradleys carried no markings and the locations where they had been were brushed with Tamiya XF-19 sky gray.  The power line defectors and whip antenna were natural metal, so Model master Metalizer steel was brushed on.  Photos showed the vehicles to be dusty and worn but not muddy or conspicuously dirty.  Tracks, drive sprockets, road wheels and idlers were given a light wash of “rust”. 

 The finale was to grind a mix of dark gray, brown and tan pastel chalks and sprinkle it liberally on the top of the hull and turret.  A ˝ inch soft, long bristle brush was used to work the dust into all the nooks and crannies and rub it into the surface.  The excess was swept down the sides and into the tracks and wheels, as well as dusting the exposed front and rear tracks.  The final step was to simple blow off any remaining pastel dust. 

 The model was being built, not only as a tribute to my son but also as an entry at BuffCon 28, hosted by IPMS Niagara Frontier, on April 10. 


Bradley Fighting Vehicle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Fighting_Vehicle

Bradley M2 / M3 Tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicles, USA :  http://www.army-technology.com/projects/bradley/

 M2 and M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems (BFVS): http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/iraq-map-aor_040400.htm

 Inside the Surge: 1-5 Cavalry in Ameriyah: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/10/inside-the-surge-15-cavalry-in/

 M2/M3 Bradley at War: Michael Green and James D. Brown; Zenith Press, 2007  

 Egon W. Doerr, personal communication

 John Doerr

April 2011

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