The M103A2 with its massive 120 mm M58 gun, a huge amount of armour protection on the turret, plus the power pack improvements made by the USMC provided Marine Tankers with the heavy armour support needed to conduct infantry support and anti-armour missions. The M103A2 was used by the USMC between 1958 and 1974 when it was finally replaced by the M60A1.
Dragon Black Label released the M103A2 kit in November 2014. The majority of the accuracy issues previously identified in the M103A1 kit are still present in this kit. Other details, such as the mantlet cover are completely absent in the kit. As a modeller you have several options in relation to the mantlet. You can leave the bare mantlet as is. You can attempt to create your own mantlet cover with putty or other material. You can also look to Legend Productions for their M103A2 Mantlet Set.
While I was reviewing the M103A2 kit I proposed to Legend Productions that they consider creating a resin mantlet with PE details. Originally Legend Productions had considered a full detail set but soon realized there were too many issues to address overall in the kit. Legend Productions very quickly created an accurate mantlet set for the M103A2 kit to allow the modeller to at least address this accuracy issue.
The LF1308 M103A2 Mantlet Set consists of two resin pieces (mantlet and accordion dust cover) and nineteen PE parts (mantlet cover clamps). The set also includes one two sided colour page of instructions that provides you visual guidance as to how the kit must be modified to accept the mantlet and corrugated dust cover. The resin parts are a treat to the eye with excellent detail that accurately portrays the look of the rubberized mantlet cover and barrel dust cover.
Clean up is required on both parts as the casting blocks are sizeable.
This is not a trim and glue type of detail set. In order to use the resin mantlet the turret trunnions must be modified in order to accept the resin part. The instructions show where to trim and where to add a filler plate on either side of the gun trunnions. When I built my M103A2 I removed as much of the resin casting black material from inside the mantlet as possible to create a smooth surface with this edges.
Be very careful when trimming the turret face in order to not remove too much plastic. I would highly recommend referring to reference images continually so you know how the mantlet should sit in relation to the gun trunnion indents. The indents are a key landmark for both the trimming and the positioning of the mantlet. Once the mantlet positioning and trimming is completed then you must added the filler plates. These you must source yourself from styrene and trim and sand to blend them in.
During my build two attempts were made before getting the look of the turret trunnions I was happy with. I used Mr Surfacer to blend in the filler plates with the rest of the turret and to ensure the resin mantlet sat flush around its circumference. Again, using good reference material was key to completing this task. With the mantlet in place and the turret face reshaped including adding the trunnion indents I added the photo etched mantlet clamps. The clamps are well detailed and required the addition of a resin bolt on each one.
The resin corrugated dust cover is terrific in its casting detail. The low point is that it was designed for use with the kit barrel. Dragon inaccurately made their barrel too short and not thick enough at the base. In order to use the dust cover you must cut the barrel right at the beginning of the flared base. It is then just a matter of gluing the modified barrel to the dust cover and then gluing the dust cover base to the mantlet cover face. The dust cover has a slightly different angle on the bottom portion of the corrugated ribs. The instructions demonstrate the correct placement.
I attempted to modify the dust cover to accept the accurate RB Models metal barrel. It is impossible due to the thickness of the metal barrel.
There are very limited specific aftermarket parts for the Dragon M103A2 kit. Without going into details I suspect that given the identified issues in the M103A1 and M103A2 kits that aftermarket producers are not willing to invest time, energy, or money to create detailing and correction sets.
This massive heavy tank was a huge part of the USMC armoured legacy and truly spoke to the resolve of the USMC to create a powerful tank to support Marines during combat missions. While the only operational deployment was to Guantanamo Bay and no shots were ever fired in anger the M103A2 stood the test of time for the mission it was designed for and outperformed the M60 in many ways.
If you are to build this Heavy Tank kit the inexpensive Legend Productions Mantlet set will provide you a clear starting point for well detailed and accurate parts.
Highs: Excellent casting detail and accurate representation of the mantlet cover and barrel dust cover.Lows: A challenge to modify the turret in order to properly attach the mantlet. Not compatible with the metal RB Models barrel.Verdict: very well cast and detailed set to add a touch of accuracy to the M103A2 kit.
Our Thanks to Legend Productions USA! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.