Dragon 1/35 M48A3 Patton

KIT #: 3546
PRICE: $64.00 MSRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Smart Kit


The M48 Patton is a medium tank that was designed in the United States. It was the third and final tank to be officially named after General George S. Patton, commander of the U.S. Third Army during World War II and one of the earliest American advocates for the use of tanks in battle It was a further development of the M47 Patton tank. The M48 Patton served as an interim tank in U.S. service until replaced by the U.S. Army's first main battle tank (MBT), the M60. The M48 served as the U.S. Army and Marine Corps's primary battle tank during the Vietnam War. It was widely used by U.S. Cold War allies, especially other NATO countries.

The M48 Patton tank was designed to replace the previous M47 Pattons and M4 Shermans. Although largely resembling the M47, the M48 Patton was a completely new tank design. Some M48A5 models served well into the 1980s with American forces, and many various M48 Patton models remain in service in other countries. The M48 was the last U.S. tank to mount the 90 mm tank gun, with the last model, the M48A5, being upgraded to carry the new standard weapon of the M60, the 105mm gun.

The Turkish Army is the largest operator of the modernized M48 MBT, with more than 1,400 M48s in its inventory (around 1,000 have been phased out/in storage or modified to ARVs.

In February 1963, the US Army accepted its first of 600 M48 Patton tanks that had been converted to M48A3's, and by 1964, the US Marine Corps had received 419 Patton tanks. The A3 model introduced the diesel engine, countering the earlier versions' characteristic of catching fire. These Pattons were to be deployed to battle in Vietnam. Because all M48A3 tanks were conversions from earlier models, many characteristics varied among individual examples of this type. M48A3 tanks could have either 3 or 5 support rollers on each side and might have either the early or later type headlight assemblies. These tanks were often equipped with search lights. 


The kit is unlike others that Dragon has done as the total parts count is only about 200 bits, pretty low when you consider the 7-800 part panzers that they have done in the past. The kit comes with Dragon's excellent DS tracks so no worries about a mass of individual track links. It also does not include any photo etch, something else that is a bit different from the usual. The only metal is in the tow cable. As you can see from the box illustration, this is one of the tanks with the five return rollers. The kit also includes several new items such as a search light, proper fenders for this variant and a DS mantlet cover to properly simulate the canvas cover many of these wore. Since these covers rotted quickly in Vietnam, they were often removed on tanks in that theater.

Here is a full list from Dragon's PR folks:

●Newly tooled search light, different fenders from earlier kit, and DS mantlet cover.
●Travel lock can be assembled stand up or down
●Authentic 90mm M1 gun and detailed 0.50 cal MG molded
●3-directional slide-molded structure w/realistic detail
●Commander's hatch and turret can be assembled open/closed
●Lever provided for stabilizing the 90mm M1 gun
●Subtle headlights realistically produced
●Well-defined turret w/crisp antenna and fences
●Towing cable included
●Cupola realistically exhibited w/crystal clear vision port
●Handles and rail are on turret as original
●Side fences of fender w/delicate screw head molded on
●Front visions ports exhibited w/crystal clear parts
●Spotlights present w/crystal clear parts
●Realistically reproduced engine grill w/molded on details
●Casting number molded on M48A3
●One-piece slide-molded upper and lower hull w/delicate detail
●Jerry can finely produced
●Suspension system formed with different parts
●Engine deck produced w/excellent details
●Hull rear w/authentic engine grille and hooks
●Sprockets and road wheels assembled with multiple parts
●Detailed one-piece DS tracks

There are decals for five vehicles all in olive drab and all operating in Vietnam. Three of them are from the 1st Marine Tank Battalion, one in Hue City during 1968 and the other two in DaNang during 1969/1970. The other two are army from the 69th Armor at Bong Song in 1968 and the 34th Armor during Operation Cedar Falls in 1967.  I have darkened the decal sheet image so that the white parts are easier to see.


Having built the earlier kit I can tell you that this is a real sweetie. It goes together well with few problems, and thanks to the relatively small parts count, it will not have you losing interest a third of the way through attaching p.e. or assembling individual track links because there aren't any!



June 2014

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours at your local retailer.

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