|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
In Europe, the US Army fielded only one battalion of heavy tanks, from January 1958, originally assigned to the 899th Armor, later redesignated the 2d Battalion, 33d Armor. The US Army heavy armor battalion, in contrast to other armor units, was organized into four tank companies, composed of six platoons each, of which each platoon contained three M103's, for a total of 18 tanks per company. Standard US Army armor battalions at the time had three companies per battalion, each with three five-tank platoons, with 17 tanks per company (two tanks were in headquarters platoon). The US Marine Corps assigned one M103 company to each of its 3 Marine tank battalions, including its Marine reserve units. The M103 was never used in combat.
While the US Army deactivated its heavy armor units with the reception of the new M60 series main battle tanks in 1963, the remaining M103s stayed within the US Marine Corps inventory until they began receiving the M60 series main battle tank. With the disappearance of the heavy tank from US forces came the full acceptance of the main battle tank in 1960 for the US Army, and 1973 for the US Marine Corps. Although the 21st century's M1 Abrams main battle tank utilizes the same caliber of main gun, 120mm, the M103's cannon was a rifled gun firing a separate-loading round, in which the projectile was loaded into the breech, followed by a cartridge case consisting of a brass case, primer, and propellant in a fixed unit. This separate-loading system necessitated the use of two loaders. The only part of the cartridge case consumed during firing was the propellant and a plastic cap on the end of the brass cartridge case. The spent brass cartridege case was ejected after firing. The M1 tank's 120mm main gun is a smooth bore firing a semi-caseless round, ejecting only a back cap of the original loaded round; the bulk of the M1's 120mm shell casing is consumed during firing.
Quite a few modelers have been waiting for this one and now it is here. Probably the most difficult part of the build will be painting the road wheels and return rollers, so break out the 5/0 brush and magnifiers for this one! Also, if you want a canvas covering on the mantlet, you'll have to make it as it is not included. As a side note, I'm often puzzled as to why this feature is rarely molded on US tank kits as it seems they all had it at one time or another.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can find yours at your local retailer.
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