Inside the standard sized box with a rather nice painting of a Bradley, we find all the sprues and decals neatly packed while the instructions and tracks are loose within the box. None of the parts were damaged or broken free from the sprues.
A new upper hull has been provided with most of the side armor slide molded in place. The detail is quite crisp and looks good with the latest attachment points for the upper to lower armor. However, the lower armor is not the spaced armor seen in the TM illustrations and vehicle photos. It is molded solid as seen in the photo. Many of the nuances of the M2A2 ODS have been captured as can be seen in the detail kit part photos and extra nuts and bolts have been provided on Sprue G. These will come in handy as the bolt patterns are not a perfect match to photos.
The anti-skid texture must be added and the engine hatch is a separate piece. The hinges need their loops added and would have to be modified if an engine is to be shown. Real Model has an engine set for the Bradley. However, the engine/transmission out of the Tamiya Marder II IFV may be used with a little work.
I found three types of side armor combinations with two different upper and two different lower armor configurations. The type depicted in the kit is mostly correct (a few bolts are off) and is seen on both the early and late lower armor mounts. The kit depicts the later mounts. As stated, the lower armor should be two plates spaced out with washers. The other configuration seen has, near the top edge, two larger bolts flanking the center bolts which are now smaller.
The lower hull is noteworthy in that the suspension is staggered as it should be for a torsion bar system. Sadly, the idler mounts are not so the left side needs to be moved further back. This explains why the left idler guard is larger than the right. As one can see in the photo of the lower hull, the motorization holes are still there and need to be filled. The roadwheel arms are different lengths while they should all be the same. The shape is nowhere near accurate and the shock absorbers are still missing. Also missing are the lower hull armor at the front, weld seams, and the two drains. These are easily added though.
These weld beads should be 1.25 inch (3.175cm) wide and be located 5 inches (12.7cm) in from the sides. On the model, they were done with 0.03” (0.8mm) stretched sprue softened with liquid cement. The anti-mine armor on the real vehicle is 0.375 inch (0.95cm) thick and spaced off the lower hull by the same amount and fastened to the lower hull with 1 inch (2.54cm) bolts with 1.5 inch (3.81cm) washers. To replicate this, I used 0.010 inch styrene sheet with spacers cut from the same material. Bolts were shaved off the left over side armor (from the M2 kit). See the included illustrations from the TM for dimensions and orientation.
The two new sprues are F and G which include new hatches, CIPs, lower glacis armor, engine bay hatch, separate hand holds for the side armor, new headlights, new fluted barrel, new engine exhaust, extra roadwheels and drive sprocket ring for stowage, new ammunition boxes, and new drive sprockets. One of the close up photos show how a sliding pin has been used to open the bore of the cannon and a slide mold to create the top of the ammo boxes. However, also note the seams which need to be removed from these parts. Another photo shows a close up of the sprocket wheel and one can appreciate that Academy has added the five open areas but the drive sprocket dish is still too shallow.
The tracks are vinyl and of the same pattern as their previous releases. This is unfortunate as it will likely make the modeler buy an aftermarket set since most of the Bradleys in OIF are sporting the Big Foot tracks. Friulmodel and Blast Models offer these tracks. I will probably go with Blast Models set for the AA7V RAMS since It also includes the idler wheels, roadwheels with fine details, shock absorbers, new roadwheel arms and mounts along with a correct sprocket.
The turret has new items added, such as armor and the fit is generally good. Taking time to eliminate a little flash will ensure that a lot of filler will not be needed. The bustle rack has been updated and I drilled out all 117 holes so that they are visible from underneath the bustle.
A visit to Vodnik’s site (see references used list) reveals all the work needed to get the Tamiya kit up to snuff. Fortunately, this kit has many of the corrections already in place but a lot of work still awaits the modeler suffering from Advanced Modeler’s Syndrome (AMS). Correcting annoyances such as the undersized drive housings, wrong angle for the gear housings on the sides (easy fix), as well as the others already mentioned, will provide many hours of styrene therapy.
The gear housings are not really underscale but are not proud enough. Adding a piece of 0.04 inch plastic brings them out to the correct height. Terry’s review has a photo of the latest lower front armor compared to the kit’s rendition and the top row of bolts seems to be low. Actually, the locations are correctly measured off the bottom but the complete piece is too tall. This makes me wonder of the angle is too steep and should be shallower. See the sketch provided by Pete Becerra measured off the real vehicle.
I found the fit of most of the parts to be acceptable but others, like the rear plate hinged, to be grossly over scale and inaccurate. When locating the rear 5 inch drain located 8.75 inches form the back and 13.5 inches in from the right side, I saw that the hinges were interfering and the tie down bars were missing. The hinges had to be cut down a bit as they forced the door out breaking the seal.
The rather bland markings included are for "Crackshot" with the 3rd Plt, C Co, 1-64th AR, 3ID and the second is ‘73’ of the 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 3rd Brigade, 3rd ID. The decals are thin but glossy. No other markings, such as bumper codes are included. Photos of both vehicles can be found in the Thunder Run book listed below.
I was hoping for a better kit, but building it will be fun for me. It is recommended for those who want an easier starting point for their OIF Bradley.
My sincerest thanks go to MRC, Academy’s US distributor, for the review sample.
Recommendations and Acknowledgements
I would like to thank the following for responding to my inquiries about the Bradley, Pawel Krupowicz, Gino P. Quintiliani, Chris Mrosko, and Pete Becerra. Illustrations from the Technical Manuals are from declassified documents, approved for public release by the Department of the Army (US) and distribution is unlimited. The reader is further advised to look at the reviews submitted by others such as Frank DeSisto’s at Missing Lynx’s Time on Target forum, Cookie Sewell’s at Missing Lynx, and Terry Ashley’s at PMMS. The first two are text only but contain information not found in the others and Terry’s review is up to his usual standards with plenty of photographs.
TM 55-2350-252-14 Transport Guidance Technical Manual Bradley Fighting Vehicle System (BFVS) Infantry, M2, M2A1, and M2A2, Cavalry, M3, M3A1, and M3A2 Headquarters, Department of the Army, November 1992
Bradley, Fighting Vehicle M2A1, M3A1, M2, M3, and Proposed Variants by Ed Gilbert and Allan Swan published by Full Detail M2/M3 Bradley in Action by Jim Mesko published by Squadron Signal Publications 1992
Bradley, A History of American Fighting and Support Vehicles by Richard P. Hunnicutt published by Presidio Press 1999
Thunder Run, The US 3rd Infantry Division’s Drive to Baghdad by Robert W. Burik & Eric R Olson, published by Concord Publications 2005On the Web
http://vodnik2.republika.pl/pages/m2a2/m2a2-p1.htm This is Pawel’s excellent article on improving Tamiya’s M2A2 ODS
http://www.primeportal.net Superb photo coverage of the Bradley in OIFOther Reviews
Frank DeSisto’s on Missing-Lynx’s Time on Target forum:
M2A2 Bradley OIF
Cookie Sewell’s on Missing-Lynx:
Terry Ashley’s review on PMMS: