|KIT #:||RM 5011|
|NOTES:||Advantages: Extremely detailed, Esoteric subject of a mean looking vehicle, Some very valuable accessories in the kit. Disadvantages: A LOT of small parts, high part count, Line charges and MICLIC molded inside their bins|
With the development of the M1 Abrams series of MBT, the U.S. Army and the Marine Corp quickly found out the need of newer support vehicles to keep pace with the tank. Previously, all the support vehicles were based on the M60 hull, with the M113 providing infantry support. This left the Army in a quandary as the M60’s top speed was 35MPH (25MPH off-road) while M1 top speed is 45MPH (Governed. Crews who supposedly disabled their governors said the tank can go even faster. 35MPH off-road). This means new support vehicles needed to be developed. For infantry support, the new M2 Bradley was selected. However, other support vehicles that were based on the M1 hull were quickly dropped after 1992. That year saw the old USSR going “POOOOF” out of existence, sending the world into chaos as the Cold War ended. Among the many projects cancelled included an Armor Recovery Vehicle based on the M1 to replace the aging M88 (which was based on the M48 chassis and thus slow) and a vehicle known as the M1 CMV or Combat Mobility Vehicle.
The CMV was really a combat engineering vehicle designed to replace the one based on the M60. It would’ve been armed with various explosive line charges to detonate explosives, mines and other obstacles. The vehicle was also equipped with a folding crane similar to the M88 to recover disabled vehicles under fire and a plow to fill obstacles like anti-tank ditches etc. It was based on the M1 hull. However, it proved to be too expensive, too maintenance heavy and too complicated and in 2001, the project was finally dropped.
One armed unit however, persisted. That would be the Marine Corp. As can be imagined, the USMC absolutely needs a vehicle such as the CMV to clear out various obstacles, especially on the beach when they conduct amphibious assaults as nightmares such as Tarawa and Iwo Jima still persist in the Corp even to this day. In those days, without a good obstacle tackling and destroying armored vehicle against a heavily fortified and dug in Japanese, the losses among the Marine were sometimes nightmarishly high since these well-hidden enemies were sometimes rooted out by hand and man to man. The Marines always dreamed of a heavily armored vehicle, armed with explosives and other equipment that would simply pass through enemy fire and then rip apart a mine field or other obstacles, allowing the following armor and infantry to pass through. So to this end, they persisted in developing their own “CEV” or Combat Engineering Vehicle with their discretionary funds.
To save cost, the CMV was dumbed down. The first to go was the crane. The hull is still the M1, in this case, refurbished M1A1’s. The expensive, complicated and maintenance heavy CMV’s turret was gone, replaced by a heavily modified Abrams turret instead. This turret has one main feature, its main 120mm cannon was removed. Instead, the vehicle is armed with a remotely operated M2 .50-cal machine gun instead. The turret face was armored with extra ERA blocks. The original ammo storage bin was enlarged, now containing a Linear Demolition Charge System or LDCS, each equipped with two lines of Mine Clearing Line Charges or MICLIC (say Meik Lick). Each of these lines are the main mine and obstacle clearing devices. Each line contains some 1,750 pounds of C4 explosives in a flexible bag, stored under cover in the bins. To propel them forward, each is armed with a 5-inch rocket. When fired, the rocket will propel the line charge some 100 to 150 yards downward, where the vehicle, at a safe distance, can send an electrical charge to detonate it, clearing a path over 100 yards by 45 yards for other vehicles to follow. The turret also has rapid explosive removal systems to detonate IED’s from a safe distance (what look like a 40mm grenade launcher) and can be fitted if the need arises. It is also equipped with various antennas to jam cell phone signals, a favorite way for insurgents and terrorists to detonate IED’s. It’s also equipped with various vision devices for a 360 degrees view and to spot IED’s and other explosive devices.
At the hull front, the vehicle is equipped with a “High Lift System” HLS that can be either equipped with a Pearson Engineering Full-Width Mine Plow, FWMP or a heavy duty Combat Dozer Blade or CDB. To the rear, the vehicle is equipped with a lane marking system and other explosive contents. Overall, the vehicle carries 7000 pounds of explosives for mine clearing and other obstacle work. Two crews, a driver and a commander/operator crew the vehicle. It can also be remotely operated if the need arises in especially dangerous situations.
The first prototype was developed in 2002 and the vehicle became operational with the USMC in 2008. In 2009, at least two of the vehicles were sent to Afghanistan for its first combat during Operation Cobra Anger, the assault on the Taliban stronghold of Now Zad and then Marja. The surrounding areas were supposedly to be heavily fortified with minefields and obstacles, perfect targets for the new vehicle, now known as the M1 ABV, or Assault Breacher Vehicle.
It quickly proved itself to be a valuable equipment when dealing with the threat of IED, minefields and obstacles able to destroying or plowing through these things with relative ease while escorting an armor column. In February 2010, several of these beasts found themselves hard at work blasting and plowing through various minefields surrounding Marja as the allied forces made their final push into the Taliban stronghold, marking various safe lanes to allow them to pass through. During this operation, the vehicle, now termed “The Shredder”, after the main villain in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons and comics and also for its insatiable ability to simply shred through obstacles, found itself doing some psychological warfare where commanders ordered them to fire and detonate its MICLIC lines for some local “shock and awe”. As it turned out, this was highly effective due to the vehicle’s prowess. At least one occasion, intercepted Taliban transmissions shown one enemy commander screaming into the mic when a Shredder showed up, “Get out! The BIG BOOM is coming!” After December 2009, five more vehicles were sent to Afghanistan as it soon proved troops can’t get enough of them to do some dirty work and there wasn’t enough to satisfy demand. Just how valuable and versatile these thing are were shown through a video during the march to Marja where a column of Marine vehicles, including Buffalos MRAP, tanks and other armored carriers were traveling up a berm with steep sides. In the middle, the Taliban threw some debris, including thick trees and other wreckage and made an impassable obstacle several dozen meters long to block the way. Normally, the column would have to wait for either a M9 Armored Combat Earthmover or an armored D9R bulldozer to come up since they move far slower and then even more time for them to bulldoze the obstacle away. This time however, the ABV took lead and gave a graphic demonstration why the troops call it “The Shredder”! At a safe distance, it raised one of its MICLIC and fired it onto the top of the obstacle. Then with a huge flash and loud BOOM, the 1750 pounds of C4 blew the obstacle to pieces and apart. The Shredder then lowered its mine plow to push away any remaining debris. What would have taken hours to clean up now was done in minutes!
After the operation, firm orders started to pour in. The USMC ordered 52 vehicles and even the Army saw the value of The Shredder and ordered 187. A far cry from the 443 order for the CMV but still prove these vehicles are badly needed. Currently, in the Army, six vehicles are given to an engineering battalion. Four of them are equipped with the full width mine plow, and two equipped with the dozer blades. These things are now showing up anywhere where there are deep obstacles, including six that were sent to the Korean Peninsula near the DMZ, ready and willing to “shred” through the minefields there and breach other obstacles to allow armor movement into North Korea if that order arrives. It also received a new and permanent nomenclature, the M1150 ABV.
Hoo boy, I got “Abrams-nitis”! This is the third Abram related kit that I got. However, this vehicle had interested me ever since I first heard about it in 2009. Yes, it lacks the 120mm cannon, but the rest, the big front mine plow, the scale like ERA blocks on the turret, the raised LDCS bins made it look like some sort hydra monster ready to strike. When Rye Field Model, a new Hong Kong company announced they will make one at 1/35, I got excited, and didn’t get it until now…….
Well, I got my excuses, the first big one is that darn 1/16 King Tiger that took me two years to build. The second is I got too many other projects to keep me busy and the third is the price. When it was first launched it was between $80-$100…Too expensive. That is, until early this year. Amazon had a company that had it for $65……Time to jump!
Hoo Boy! What is it with me and kits that has over 1000 parts…Well, not 1000 since this time, the tracks are link and length, rather than the single piece tracks with six pieces for each that Rye Field used earlier. But still, there are enough parts to fill a box that although the same length and width as any other armor kits, but is over twice as deep!
The reason why is simple, it needs them! The kit can be broken down to three major subassemblies, the turret, the hull and the mine plow and each one requires a major amount of parts to complete. The turret has detailed ERA blocks, hatches and various vision sensors and anti-IED devices with the massive LDCS device. However, the MICLIC are molded in…That might not sit well with some people. The hull contains all the running gears and tracks from the previous Rye Field M1 kits. Again, the tracks are now link and length. The plow is the full length mine plow. The combat dozer blade is not included. Hope an aftermarket company can make one.
Assembly starts out odd enough, with the turret and the associated ERA blocks. The various vision devices and the commander cupola are assembled, with a multipart assembly M2 gun mount. Then various accessories such as smoke dischargers, spare track links and spare wheels are made. The tow cables uses a length of copper wire so break out the super glue.
The rest of the assembly will finish the LDCS, with their molded on MICLIC’s. Again, may not sit well with some people but they should look good with a good coat of paint and weathering. Here a choice needs to be made since the hydraulic jacks on the container lids are not designed to be operable. Rather, two parts, N95 and N96 are for closed covers while N93 and N94 are for open.
Assembly of the hull is next. You need to open some holes right off the bat so don’t forget it. The running gears still have the torsion bars from the previous kits, which are now redundant since the tracks are now link and length. A sprue from the TUSK kit is also there since the TUSK bottom armor piece is on this beast. The sprue also contains the side ERA blocks for the TUSK. Heard a rumor The Shredder’s next upgrade may exchange out the regular skirts with these so keep them handy! Again, drill out some holes for the upper hull.
Assembly of the upper hull starts with various accessories, including the driver hatch. Read the instruction carefully as the M1A2 hatch is also included. Just remember all Shredders are modified from surplus M1A1 hulls and that hull contains a different older driver hatch.
One of the smaller subassemblies are the automatic lane marker dispensers. Again, a choice needs to be made with parts N66, the hydraulic jack that raises the marker pods into “drop” position while N49 is for the “stowed” position. The hull assembly concludes with the tracks and armor side skirts. Keep the skirts off for easy painting though.
The kit concludes with the massive maw like full width mine plow. This covers the rest of the pages since it’s a very complex assembly. A lot of small parts here so becareful not to feed the carpet monster. Also read the instructions carefully as many parts do not need glue if you want them to move. Again, its complex so study each diagram very carefully. Just how complex? The final two pages has color diagrams to show how to successfully and correctly attach this massive equipment. Finally, bring the three major assemblies together to complete the kit!
Three “markings” are provided. One in overall desert sand, one in overall NATO green, the other a mix of vehicle in NATO green but mine plow in sand. Notice the markings are in quotations because although there is a decal sheet, it’s mainly for stencils and warning signs. All three vehicles are unmarked and “clean” so no one can identify which unit they’re from.
Ohh, before the conclusion, just a note. Since the kit borrow heavily from Rye Field line of Abrams kits, this kit does offer some really good surprises. This includes the two oil drip pans that are now given to all Abram crews. These two pans are missing from the Academy M1 TUSK kit so you can easily steal these two items for that. Also, an accessories sprue “O” is offered since the .50 cal machine gun is used for the commander cupola so Rye Field decided to throw the whole thing in! This is very welcome as this sprue contains four 40mm ammo cans (almost always grabbed by many Abrams crews due to their size and ability to seal off against the weather), a water cooler, two Styrofoam storage boxes, and two jerry cans. These can be used to great effect for any other American armored vehicles….All except, it seems, this thing. From trolling the web, all the pictures and videos show The Shredder being very clean. No accessories dangle outside, unlike the vehicle it is based on. Every single operational Abrams that I’ve seen usually are stuffed to the brim with filled bustle racks and the top of the rear turret filled with boxes and duffle bags. A video with an interview with a Shredder driver told the tale why. He stated in no small terms that even at a safe distance, and safe being relative here when you detonate 1750lbs worth of C4, that even buttoned up inside the vehicle, with the big plow raised as an ad hoc blast shield, you could still easily feel the shockwave and overpressure rolling through you! I can imagine quite a bit if the crew DARE to hang any accessories on this thing….One little MICLIC explosion later the crew probably couldn’t find anything left! The only accessories that I saw are two little backpacks, hung directly behind the turret, well away from the blast front. This is why the vehicle has three massive tool boxes at the rear of the vehicle. All the pioneer and maintenance tools are hidden in there along with the crew’s personal gears (and why you can give the two oil drip pans to another Abrams kit. They are probably hidden in here too!). It’s also why I guess these vehicles are so clean. Except the running gears, the rest of the vehicle are virtually dust free. Why? A video showed clearly when a MICLIC explosion literally turned a Shredder into a ball of sand and dust when the shockwave gave it a free “sonic shower!” So heavy weathering should be kept to the lower hull only.
The other big surprise is the clear sprue. Now, all the clear pieces for every single Abrams version, the A1, A2 and the TUSK are included so you will have plenty of clear leftovers for other projects. The surprise is the bottom row. The entire row contains nothing but water bottles (both 1L and 2L versions) and various soda bottles (don’t think the crews are allowed to drink alcohol in a combat situation) to the point they are good for two or three projects. So yes, you can certainly keep and use these items for any other American armor models.
Talk about another big kit! This is a monster! It looks like a monster and operate like one too! With its mine plow raised, it looks like a freaking behemoth from any of the Final Fantasy games coming at you! Safe to say, I’m about to clear my work bench for this thing! Hope I can get it done soon!
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