KIT: Dragon 1/35 M1A2 SEP
KIT #: 3536
PRICE: $42.50 SRP
DECALS: six options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes metal and photo etch parts.


The M1 Abrams main battle tank is the principal combat tank of the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps, with three main versions being deployed starting in 1980: the M1, M1A1, and M1A2. The latest versions of the M1A2 have a new armor and electronics package. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and commander of the Army's 37th Armored Regiment.

The M1 Abrams replaced the M60 Patton in U.S. service, as well as the M48A5. It did, however, serve alongside the M60A3, which had entered service just two years before the M1 (in 1978), for over a decade.

The M1 Abrams was designed by Chrysler Defense (in 1979, General Dynamics Land Systems Division purchased Chrysler Defense Division) and is currently produced by General Dynamics Corporation in Lima, Ohio, and first entered US Army service in 1980. An improved version of the M1, the M1A1, was introduced in 1985. The M1A1 has the M256 120 mm smoothbore cannon developed by Rheinmetall AG of Germany for the Leopard 2, improved armor, and a CBRN protection system. The M1A2 is a further improvement of the M1A1 with a commander's thermal viewer and weapon station, position navigation equipment, digital data bus and a radio interface unit.

Further upgrades include depleted uranium armor for all variants, a system overhaul that returns all A1s to like-new condition (M1A1 AIM), a digital enhancement package for the A1 (M1A1D), a commonality program to standardize parts between the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps (M1A1HC) and an electronic upgrade for the A2 (M1A2 SEP).

During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and for Bosnia, some M1A1s were modified with armor upgrades. The M1 can be equipped with mine plow and mine roller attachments if needed. The M1 chassis also serves as a basis for the Grizzly combat engineering vehicle and the M104 Wolverine heavy assault bridge.

M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package)  is the subject of this kit. It is provided with upgraded 3rd generation depleted uranium encased armor with graphite coding and upgraded electronics (240 new build, 300 M1A2s upgraded to M1A2SEP).

Over 8,800 M1 and M1A1 tanks have been produced at a cost of $2,350,000$4,300,000 per unit, depending on the variant.


There is a reason that Dragon is considered the premier armor kit maker and the 730 parts in this kit are testament to that. Dragon spends considerable time listening to comments from modelers and often incorporates changes based on that feedback. This kit is no different with a long list of parts that are new or newly redone like retooled vapor compression system, new bustle rack extension, new tooled commander's cupola, new design front fenders, functioning tow bar assembly, new VCSU conduits, newly detailed blow off panels and much more.

Cramming all those parts into even this large box is difficult, but they are all there. A set of the excellent one-piece tracks are included. I used these on a smaller scale vehicle and found they not only glue well, but will hold any paint you put on them without flaking off. Good thing as the guide teeth are separate parts that need to be added. The kit includes a machined aluminum barrel (in several sections) with recoil spring and a few other metal bits, all superbly done. A photo etch fret for screening and some other smaller details is includes as well as a section of braided wire for the tow cable. Slide mold technology is used as well that offers scale openings for guns and more accurately molded parts. The detailing is really well done as you can see by this close-up image of a section of the engine cover.

Inspection of the myriad of single sprue packaged parts showed a super clean molding with no flash, sink areas and few ejector pin marks. Most, if not all of those will be invisible to the completed model.

Instructions are superb and provide all of the colors needed (in Gunze references). All of the optional positions of the various bits and pieces are clearly called out during the build process, allowing for your model to have the greatest detail possible. There are markings for six vehicles, five of them from units operating in Iraq during 2003-2004 (most with names) and so painted in overall sand. The sixth option is from the 1/16 regiment at Fort Knox in 2002 and in the European scheme. The various decal sheets included have the unit and ID markings for the tank you are going to build


Overall, this is a most impressive kit and one that will not only provide many hours of enjoyable construction, but will also result in the most detailed kit of this tank that is available. It is one that you can buy with assurity that you are getting the best.


August 2007

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