Dragon 1/35 M60A2 'Starship'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The M60 Series is a second-generation main battle tank (MBT) introduced in December 1960. It was widely used by the U.S. and its Cold War allies, especially those in NATO, and remains in service throughout the world today despite being superseded by the M1 Abrams. Egypt is currently the largest operator with 1,700 upgraded M60A3s, Turkey is second with more than 900 upgraded units in service, and Israel is third with over 700 units of Israeli variants.
The M60 traces its roots to the late WWII-era M26 Pershing heavy tank from which the M48 was developed. In 1957, plans were laid in the US for a tank with a 105 mm main gun and a redesigned hull offering better armor protection.
The resulting M60 series largely resembles the M48 it was based on, but has significant differences. The M60 mounted a bore evacuated 105 mm main gun, compared with the M48's 90 mm, had a hull with a straight front slope where as the M48's hull was rounded, had three support rollers per side to the M48's five, and had road wheels constructed from aluminum rather than steel.
The improved design incorporated a Continental V-12 750 hp air-cooled, twin-turbocharged diesel engine, extending operational range to over 300 miles (480 km) while reducing both refueling and servicing. Power was transmitted to a final drive through a cross drive transmission, a combined transmission, differential, steering, and braking unit.
The hull of the M60 was a single piece steel casting divided into three compartments, with the driver in front, fighting compartment in the middle and engine at the rear. The driver looked through three M27 day periscopes, one of which could be replaced by a night vision periscope. Initially, the M60 had essentially the same turret shape as the M48, but this was subsequently replaced with a distinctive "needlenose" design that minimized frontal cross-section to enemy fire.
The M60 was the last U.S. main battle tank to utilize homogeneous steel armor for protection. It was also the last to feature the M60 machine gun and an escape hatch under the hull.
Originally designated the M68, the new vehicle was put into production in 1959, reclassified as the M60, and entered service in 1960. Over 15,000 M60s (all variants) were constructed.
In 1963, the M60 was upgraded to the M60A1. This new variant, which stayed in production until 1980, featured a larger, better-shaped turret and improvements to the armor protection and shock absorbers. The M60A1 was also equipped with a stabilization system for the main gun. However, the M60A1 was still not able to fire on the move, as the system only kept the gun pointed in the same general direction while the tank was traveling cross country. It did however enable the coaxial machine gun to be brought to bear while moving.
The M60A2 was intended as a stop-gap solution until the projected replacement by the MBT-70. The M60A2, nicknamed the "Starship" due to its "Space Age" technology, featured an entirely new low-profile turret with a commander's machine-gun cupola on top, giving the commander a good view and field of fire while under armor but spoiling the low profile. It featured a 152 mm (6.0 in) main gun similar to that of the M551 Sheridan light tank, which fired conventional rounds as well as the MGM-51 Shillelagh anti-tank missile system. The fitting of a CBSS (closed breech scavenger system), which used pressurized air to clear the breech after each shot, solved the problem of unburnt propellant from the main gun rounds fouling the barrel and pre-detonating subsequent rounds. The M60A2 proved a disappointment, though technical advancements would pave the way for future tanks; the MBT-70, which relied on much of this technology as it was used in the M60A2, never advanced beyond prototype stage. The Shillelagh/M60A2 system was phased out from active units by 1981, and the turrets scrapped. Most of the M60A2 tanks were rebuilt as M60A3, or the hulls converted to armored vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) vehicles.[
Those who have built any of Dragon's recent M-48 Patton kits will find a lot of this one to be quite familiar. Not identical, but familiar. The nicely molded suspension and rear decking attach the same way and while there are a few holes to fill, and some bits to remove, the instructions are quite clear on what needs to be modified.
This one seems to have more storage boxes on the fenders than the M-48 I built a while back. The big difference on this kit is the turret. I'm not sure if Dragon has done an M551 in the past, but this is the turret that you get with this kit. It is also the user of most of the photo etch These items fit into frames that are attached around the rear of the turret. I'm assuming these are for stowage, and photo etch is the perfect material for these items. There is a small turret on the turret which I assume is for the tank commander and it holds what appears to be the sensor for the missile. The kit also includes a large searchlight for the left side of the turret. The gun has no breech as there is no interior detailing at all, though the commander's hatch can be posed open if you wish to install a figure. There is also a hatch on the side of the turret which I assume is either for the loader or for someone to manually operate the searchlight. Included are a set of Dragon's great DS tracks. I like them as they take the tediousness out of assembling individual links, are easy to glue and paint.
Instructions are nicely done as usual with all the information you require to modify the bits to do this version. Markings are for two vehicles from unidentified units. I found the painting information to be a bit odd as they call for one of the external colors to be sky and that cannot be right. These look like the usual green/black/brown scheme worn by tanks in Europe. The small decal sheet is nicely done.
Another nice tank
kit for those who like US armor. Despite the fact that it was a bit of a bust,
it was an important tank that served for many years.
Another nice tank kit for those who like US armor. Despite the fact that it was a bit of a bust, it was an important tank that served for many years.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. This one is available now.
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