|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The M3 Bradley CFV is very similar to the M2 Bradley IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and is fielded with the same powerful two-man 25mm Bushmaster Cannon turret with the coaxial 7.62mm machine gun. It only varies from the M2 in a few subtle ways and by role. The M3 is classified as an armored reconnaissance and scout vehicle and does away with the firing ports found in the M2 series. The M3 also carries more TOW missiles as well as more ammunition for its 25mm and 7.62mm guns.
The Bradley family as a whole was originally intended to support the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), but ended up replacing it altogether. Today, the Bradley is fielded in conjunction with the M1 Abrams series of main battle tanks and often accompanies infantry squads into combat. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Bradleys and their powerful 25mm cannon / TOW anti-tank missile combination destroyed more enemy tanks than the M1 Abrams. Only three Bradleys were lost to enemy fire, however, at least 17 were lost to friendly fire. Improvements to the Bradley family have included enhanced identification features, as well as anti-tank missile countermeasures (for first generation wire-guided missiles only) and improved armor protection in the form of ERA.
The M3A3 model of the Bradley uses enhanced information and communication equipment, a central processing unit, and information displays for the vehicle commander and squad leader. The M3A3 is compatible with the inter-vehicular communication system of the M1A2 Abrams tank and AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter. The commander has an independent thermal viewer and a new integrated sight unit called the Improved Bradley Acquisition System (IBAS), which allows automatic gun adjustments, automatic boresighting, and tracking of dual targets. The roof is reinforced with titanium armor. Many M3A3s were converted from M3A2s.
This is the first Orochi kit I have seen so I am not sure if they are affiliated with one of the bigger brands in China or not. I do know that they have an upgrade kit that adds a metal barrel and a lot of photo etch at an increased price. This is the standard boxing.
The molding on the parts is excellent and there are a lot of them. The kit comes with individual track links and unlike many others, these are very much snap in place links, so no need for a link guide during assembly. All of the road wheels, idler and sprocket use polycaps for attachment, which is great. I suppose one could even have the tracks move if one wanted, but it will make installation of the tracks that much easier. There are separate suspension bits to attach to the hull.
The upper hull already has the armor shields molded in place so the builder only needs to attach the reactive components. The rear entry way into the vehicle has a separate door, but there is no interior to see so no need to leave it open. There is a full array of pioneer tools as well as the usual viewports and such to attach to the upper hull. A small photo etch fret covers screen and a few other small bits.
The turret has considerable number of view ports, these being individual items so there is a relatively large clear sprue. There is no interior to the turret so the gun has no breech. There are quite a few sensors atop the turret and those will take a while to attach. A TOW launcher is also included and one can mold this with the forward plate open or closed. Same goes for the large box-like roof sensor.
Instructions are in a book form and very nicely drawn. It uses Tamiya paint references and there are used throughout the build. Markings are for one vehicle from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. There is no external painting guide so I'm assuming that a desert sand color would be appropriate.
TFor the modern AFV builder, this one looks to be a real beauty. It has tons of detail, seems to be quite accurate and will not set you back a bundle, even at retail. I find it interesting that all modern US AFV kits seem to be in desert camo. Guess we no longer figure the Russians will attack us via northwestern Europe.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com
for the preview kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop
or on-line retailer.
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