Modeling the M1 Abrams in 1/72nd Scale by Doug Chaltry
  email: dougc (at) 172shermans (d0t) com


This article has been sorely in need of an update for a very long time. The original version of the article began thus:

"A unique situation has developed over the past couple of years; something usually unheard of in the small-scale armor community. When a person desires to build a model of an M1 Abrams, he actually has a choice of kits to build. This situation is so uncommon, that I thought I would write a short article describing all of the available Abrams kits, and compare their respective strengths and weaknesses."

Even though we already had a decent selection of kits from which to choose, a great many new offerings have hit the market since I originally wrote this article, over 15 years ago. This is due, in part, to new manufacturers wanting to give their own take on the subject, as well as to the fact that the Abrams has been continuously upgraded over the years, so that new kits were needed to allow us to build the most modern versions of this tank.

The M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank comes in three basic versions, with some sub-variants:

M1 M1A1 M1A2





  TUSK I Upgrades TUSK I & II Upgrades

(There are probably even more sub-variants, but this article is getting convoluted enough.)

There are considerable differences between the three primary versions, and some smaller differences among the sub-variants, which should be represented on a scale model. These differences will be described below. I will not provide in-depth reviews of each available kit in this article, but rather give only overview comments for each kit, as well as several comparison scans of selected kit parts to illustrate key differences between them.

M1 Abrams
M1 Description

First entering service in 1980, the base model M1 Abrams was designed to be one of the most well-armed and armored tanks in the world at the time. Crew safety was paramount, which resulted in several specific design choices for armor protection and layout, such as the ammunition blast panels on the rear turret roof, and the use of Chobham armor (shared with the US by the UK). Armed with the 105mm cannon, it was intended almost from the very beginning to be up-armed once a suitable weapon could be developed.

Distinguishing features that identify the M1 include the 105mm gun (that's really all you need to ID it), as well as the layout of the ammunition blowout panels (three, irregularly shaped panels), the perforated rim on the rear sprocket wheel to prevent thrown tracks (often called "training wheels"), and the rear panel on the armored side skirts does not have the smoothly curved cutout seen on later models (can be seen on the boxart of the Hasegawa M1E1 below).

ESCI M1 Abrams, (Italeri Kit No. 7001; ESCI 8070; ESCI/Ertl 8307; AMT/Ertl 8637)

This was the first Abrams kit available on the market, originally under the ESCI label, now currently marketed by Italeri. Overall, it is a good kit, though with some errors. The dimensions are a little large (about 2.5mm too long and 1.5mm too wide, which makes the hull about 1/70th scale), but the detail on the kit parts is very good. The panel lines on the front portion of the turret roof are raised, representing the weld lines between armor plates, but are a bit too pronounced. This is the only base M1 kit with the driver's hatch molded open, but the periscope visors are molded solid. The turret storage bins and the tow cables are molded as separate pieces. The rearmost panel on the armored side skirts has the curved cutout that did not appear until the M1E1 and IPM1. There were some field modifications to this panel meant to alleviate the problem of mud buildup, but they weren't the smooth curve seen here, so this panel should be remade to be appropriate for an operational M1 (see Hasegawa M1 below).

My biggest complaint with this kit, shared with several of the kits below, is the way that ESCI molded each pair of bogie wheels as a single, double-wide wheel.

Granted, with the side skirts on, it is difficult to see this shortcut without picking up the model, but this feature limits the ability of modelers to make interesting dioramas with the side skirts removed, and contest judges in model shows are sure to notice.

Hasegawa M1 Abrams (Kit No. 31133/MT33)

Although this kit has a couple of minor problems, it is still a pretty good model. The hull dimensions are accurate. One figure is included, and he looks fairly decent. The driver's hatch is molded closed, but the periscope visors are open, as opposed to solid blocks, as on the ESCI kit. The weld lines on the turret roof are too prominent. The turret side storage bins are molded directly on the turret, as are the tow cables, so they're a bit lacking in definition. Spare track links are molded onto the storage racks on the turret sides. The wheels are the very poor "double-wide" type described in the ESCI kit above. The rear panels on the armored side skirts are shown on the boxtop as having the curved cutout of the later design. However, the kit parts are molded as a complete armored plate (as it should be with this version), but with a groove molded on the rear of the plate allowing modelers to make the cutout themselves, if desired. See the following scan:

You can refer to a full construction review of this kit for further details (which has not been updated since I've obtained new reference material and expanded my knowledge of this vehicle).

Matchbox M1 Abrams (Kit No. 40179)

Long out of production, this kit is a mixed bag. The hull is slightly under scale (about 1mm too short), and it is missing some details on the rear engine deck (hatches and lines). The driver's hatch is molded closed, and the periscope covers are solid blocks of plastic, instead of having open fronts. There are no tow cables provided for the turret sides. On the positive side of things, I prefer this turret to the previous two offerings because the details are a little more sharply molded. The weld lines are molded as recessed panel lines, which actually are not correct as the welds should be slightly raised, but once painted, I think these will look better than the prominently raised lines of the preceding kits. The storage boxes are molded as separate parts, and the smoke grenade launchers have protrusions coming out of a couple of the grenade cavities that are supposed to represent loaded launchers, but they don't look entirely correct. The wheels are again the "double-wide" type. The rear panels on the armored side skirts are shown on the boxtop as having the curved cutout of the later design. However, the kit parts are molded as a complete armored plate (as it should be with this version), but with a groove molded on the rear of the plate allowing the modeler to make the cutout themselves, if desired (see the scan above for the Hasegawa M1 - this kit does the same thing).

If I could pick only one M1 kit, it would probably not be this one. But despite that, it is still a decent model and if it is the only choice in your local shops, I wouldn't hesitate to build one.

M1E1 Description

The M1E1 was a prototype designation for a collection of improvements to the M1 that eventually led to the M1A1. The primary visual differences between the M1 and the M1E1 was the changeover to the 120mm cannon, and armor plates on the front faces of the turret and lower hull. The barrel of the 120mm gun was shorter and stouter than the 105mm cannon, and had a larger bore evacuator. The armor plates were used on the test-bed vehicles to simulate the weight of the additional armor in the production M1A1. The armor on the production version is incorporated into the armor "packaging" so the applique plates are not necessary.

Other changes included the addition of another storage bin on the turret side, and an added bustle rack on the turret rear. The rear panel on the armored side skirts was also modified to prevent mud buildup between the armor and the sprocket wheel. An NBC air filtration system was installed in the left hull sponson, replacing one of the sponson storage boxes under the side of the turret. There were many other improvements to the tank, but were mostly internal and wouldn't be visible on a small scale model.

Hasegawa M1E1 Abrams (Kit No. 31135/MT35)

This kit includes the hull and running gear of the earlier Hasegawa M1 kit, but with a new turret. The gun has been changed to the 120mm, but it is a little short, and the shape of the bore evacuator is not correct. The turret has been changed to reflect the elongated storage bins on the turret sides, the rear turret bustle rack, and altered ammunition bin blast panels (although I don't think these are correct - my references are contradictory). Perhaps early M1E1s had the older style of blast panels, but later vehicles had the new design represented here? Add-on armor plates are included for the front faces of the turret, but not the extra armor for the lower front hull. Aside from those changes, the remainder of this kit is the same as their early M1 kit. The main deficiency with this kit, besides still having the double-wide road wheels, is that the NBC air filter was not added to the left hull sponson.

IPM1 Description

In order to improve the performance of the M1 tank while waiting for problems with the early 120mm cannon to be solved, several of the modifications tested on the M1E1 tanks were incorporated into the M1 while still retaining the 105mm cannon. This version was designated IPM1, for "improved performance". Major changes were to the suspension and internal survivability features, which wouldn't be seen on a scale model. External changes that would be visible on a model include the addition of the rear turret bustle rack, smoke grenade storage boxes on the turret sides (as seen on the M1A1), the modified rear panel on the side skirts, and thickened armor on the turret face. This armor improvement is reflected in an elongated turret in front of the crew hatches. In 1/72nd scale, this is a little over 2mm difference in length of the turret (see scan in M1A1 Description below).

There are no models marketed to us that are specifically the IPM1 version. To build one of these, you would need to kit-bash portions of an M1 and an M1A1 kit.

M1A1 Abrams
M1A1 Description

The M1A1 is armed with a 120mm gun as described above. The main visual difference between the 105mm and 120mm guns is the stouter barrel and larger bore evacuator on the 120mm.

There are a couple of turret improvements too. The ammunition bin blow-out panels (on the turret roof to the rear of the crew hatches) on the M1 were composed of three, irregularly-shaped panels; on the M1A1, the pattern was changed to two, larger square panels. The gunner's primary sight housing was modified with the doors recessed within the armored sight cover.

The storage boxes on the sides of the turret were enlarged on the M1A1, and there was also a large storage basket/bustle rack added to the rear of the turret. Another important change on the turret roof is the flat, circular mounting for the future thermal gunsight (to make its appearance with the M1A2) in front of the loader's hatch. As described in the IPM1 description above, the M1A1 turret is a little over 2mm longer than the M1 turret in this scale. See this diagram (M1A1 is black, M1 is red):

The main noticeable difference on the hull is the addition of two, small, engine access hatches towards the rear of the engine deck, one in each corner just to the inside of the fuel caps.

Also, the NBC air filtration system tested on the M1E1 was standardized, altering the appearance of the upper hull plates under the left side of the turret. There were many other changes between the two versions, but most of them were internal, and would not be visible on a scale model.

ESCI M1A1 Abrams (Kit No. 8072)

The first M1A1 Abrams kit to hit the shelves was again by ESCI, and it is now out-of-production. This is essentially the same kit as ESCI's base M1 kit, with a couple of changes. First of all, the 105mm gun was replaced with a 120mm gun, but the bore evacuator is not correctly shaped. The bustle rack on the rear of the turret is also included. Aside from these two alterations, the remainder of the kit is the same as the M1, which indicates several shortcomings. First and foremost, the turret was not lengthened. The storage bins on the turret sides are too small; there is no mounting plate for the thermal gunsight on the turret roof; the housing for the gunner's primary sight was not altered; and the ammunition bin blast panels have not been changed. Additionally, the two, small, engine access hatches were not added to the rear deck, nor was the NBC air filter change made to the left hull sponson.

I do not believe that this kit has yet been reissued by Italeri, which is probably a good thing considering its inadequacies.

M1A1(HA) Description

The HA in the title stands for Heavy Armor, which indicates that a layer of depleted uranium was added to the vehicle's armor package. This makes the Abrams one of the best armored tanks in the world. The Abrams' armor is composed of layers of various materials that are contained within a sort of a compartment on each armored facet of the turret and hull, so this change to Heavy Armor is not visible, and any of the M1A1 kits available to us could theoretically build into an HA vehicle.

Revell-AG M1A1(HA) Abrams (Kit No. 03112)

This kit was the first really good Abrams kit available of any version in this scale, though I admit that much of the initial shine on this kit has worn off, once Simon Barnes pointed out its size errors (at the bottom of the Dragon Abrams preview). The hull dimensions are a little large, about 1.5mm too wide and 2.5mm too long, but this would be noticeable only if sitting next to one of the other kits that are on the smaller side. But also, the turret is not shaped entirely correct. Although the overall length of the turret is close to correct, the turret roof is a little short, so that the front-facing armor plates are sloped too much. The overall effect is likely not too noticeable unless one is looking for it. The kit contains all the appropriate details for the A1 version of this tank. The ammunition bin blast panels are of the later style, which can also be seen on the M1A2.

There is some very delicate texturing on the turret roof and hull surface to represent the anti-skid coating applied to these surfaces. The panel lines on the turret appear to be recessed and once painted, will simply look like gaps between patches of the non-slip surface. All of the hull and turret details are very sharply molded. The turret MG's are much more detailed than those in all the previous kits, and all crew hatches are molded open (with open periscope visors). Most importantly, this was the first Abrams kit that has each bogie wheel molded separately. The kit comes with T156 track, which was later replaced on M1A1s with the T158. Until the appearance of the Tiger Models and Flyhawk Abrams (see below), this was the finest Abrams kits on the market, and still represents the best M1A1 kit we have available.

Dragon M1A1 Abrams (Kit No. 7215)

Dragon's M1A1 Abrams kit borders on the line between a toy and a scale model. Many of the kit parts are intended for use on Dragon's pre-built Abrams model, and has some design peculiarities and is over-simplified in its construction. The lower hull has a bulge on the belly to accommodate a motor (not included in this kit), and the wheels are intended to be movable so that the toy tank could actually drive on its treads. Of course it is easy enough to bypass these moving parts, but you may want to affix the model to a vegetated base so that the belly can remain hidden.

On the positive side of things, the kit is very accurate to 1/72nd scale and has abundant detail, though it is molded a bit soft. All hatches are molded open, and the wheels are molded as separate parts. The tracks are a very detailed but flexible vinyl, which should look nice when painted, assuming they don't fold in the middle where they wrap around the sprockets. They are the T158 style, which was seen on late M1A1s. Two designs of the ammunition blow-out panels are included, one for the M1A1 and one for the later M1A2. The turret has very realistic weld lines etched into the surface, but there are very large locator holes on the sides for the storage bins and other items mounted there. The storage racks on the turret sides and rear are not very realistic.

This same kit has been released with a Mine Plow (Kit No. 7213).

Trumpeter M1A1 Abrams MBT (Kit No. 07276)

The kit pictured here is the M1A1 with Mine Clearing Blade System (Kit No. 07277), which has the complete M1A1 kit along with the mine plow. All the comments here are equally applicable to Trumpeter's standard M1A1 kit (no. 07276) and the M1A1 with Mine Roller (Kit No. 07278).

Trumpeter's Abrams are pretty much the same as your typical Trumpeter kit: pretty decent, though not exceptional. All of the details are correct. It has the proper turret shape, the hull is just a hair large, about 1mm too big in both length and width; the NBC system is correctly depicted, etc. I really have no complaints about the kit's accuracy. But the molding quality is only average; while not as sharp or cleanly-molded as the Revell kit, it can stand up to comparison with Dragon and the others. The turret looked a little strange at first glance until I figured out why: there are no weld lines depicted on the turret roof, nor any sort of anti-slip coating, so the flat armored plates look completely bare.

Wheels are molded correctly, while the tracks are a soft vinyl T-158 style. They are nicely detailed and assuming they glue and paint well, will look pretty good. My major disappointment with this kit is that all of the crew hatches are molded closed. Even the turret hatches. This is the only kit in this entire line-up that has the turret hatches molded closed. Something to keep in mind if you want to place crewmen in your hatches. However, on the plus side, the Trumpeter Abrams kits (all of them), are the only kits in this comparison that include the deep wading stacks used on the M1A1(HC).

M1A1(HC) Description

The "HC" in M1A1(HC) stands for "Heavy Common", and is the version of the M1A1(HA) that was built for the US Marine Corps. This version includes deep water fording equipment and other changes specific for the USMC role, such as water-proofing etc. I am trying to determine if there are visual differences for this version that would be discernable on a scale model (other than the wading stacks), but I don't believe there are. Note that the only kits in this line-up that include wading stacks are the two Trumpeter kits (M1A1 and M1A2).

M1A1(SA) Description

The "SA" in M1A1(SA) stands for "Situational Awareness", and incorporates improvements to the vehicle's power train, armor package, CWS, electronics, communications and sighting equipment. I am trying to determine of any of the improved gunsights (such as on the Stabilized CWS) result in visual differences that would be seen on a scale model, but I am uncertain. The infantry telephone box and driver's rearview camera are mounted on the right side of the rear hull, as seen on the Tiger Models M1A2 TUSK kit below. This version of the Abrams has been exported to a number of countries. No models are currently marketed as specifically M1A1(SA).

M1A2 Abrams
M1A2 Description

According to Glen Broman in Abrams Main Battle Tank M1A1 and M1A2, the technological improvements of the M1A2 over the M1A1 are of the same magnitude as the differences between the M1 and the earlier M60A1. The M1A2 is arguably the most sophisticated and deadly MBT in the world today. There are three main visual differences between the M1A1 and the M1A2; most of the other improvements are internal. First is the addition of the CITV - Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer in front of the loader's hatch, which is a tall, armored housing for the thermal gunsight. Second is the Commander's Weapon Station (CWS), which has improved vision devices, a differently-shaped commander's hatch, and a simplified mount for the .50 cal MG. The third external difference is the change to a different style of track (from T156 to T158), on which the shoe shape is different than that seen on the earlier tanks (this type of track is also seen on late M1A1's). Also, the APU (auxiliary Power unit) is present on all M1A2s, whereas it is only occasionally seen on M1A1s. This APU is the box-like structure located in the left side of the turret bustle rack.

Galaxy M1A2 Abrams (Kit No. 205)

This kit was the first model sold to us labeled as an M1A2, but it is completely inaccurate. This kit is apparently a copy of the Hasegawa M1 kit. Not copied as in "making a mold directly from the other kit," but rather, it seems as though the Hasegawa kit was used as a pattern to make the masters for this kit. All of the details are the same, the dimensions are the same, even some of the parts layout on the sprues are the same. The only thing that Galaxy did to try to make this look like an A2 version, was they added a poor CITV housing in front of the loader's hatch. Additionally, the molding is very low quality, the details are soft, the decals/stickers are worthless, the wheels are very poor, and the tracks are a soft vinyl that in no way resemble Abrams tracks, and also eat away at any styrene that they touch. Thankfully, I think that this kit is long out of production.

Revell-AG M1A2 Abrams (Kit No. 03146)

Revell's M1A2 kit is almost the same kit as their M1A1, but includes a few additional parts for the M1A2 version, such as the CWS and CITV. This results in an mostly accurate M1A2, but with the same size discrepancy as their M1A1 and incorrect tracks. This kit should have T158 tracks.

One could actually build an M1A1 from this kit, as all of the necessary parts are included.

Dragon M1A2 Abrams (Kit No. 7516)

Dragon's M1A2 kit is almost the same kit as their M1A1, but some of the spare parts that were not used in the M1A1 kit are used here (such as the later blow-out panel design), and a few additional parts are included for the CWS and a very poorly shaped CITV. This results in an accurate M1A2, but with the same deficiencies in design and molding as their M1A1.

Trumpeter M1A2 Abrams MBT (Kit No. 07279)

All of my comments for Trumpeter's M1A1 apply here as well. There just truly isn't anything remarkable about this kit. All of the pertinent M1A2 details and modifications are included. The M1A2 parts are on an additional sprue and all of the M1A1 parts are included as well, so one could build either version from this kit. Bottom line is that if you have no intention of modeling a tank with open hatches, you will do perfectly fine with these Trumpeter kits. Fully accurate and with adequate details, but with only average molding quality.

M1A2 SEP Description

The "SEP" in M1A2(SEP) stands for "System Enhancement Program". There was a version 1 SEP that incorporated a number of improvements, and currently the v.2 SEP is replacing the v.1. As with most of these upgrade packages, the SEP incorporates improvements to the vehicle's power train, armor package, electronics, communications and sighting equipment. An obvious visual difference from earlier versions is the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS).

Flyhawk M1A2 SEP Main Battle Tank (Kit No. 3300)

If you want to build only one Abrams model, look no further than this kit from Flyhawk. Writing about this kit is an exercise in coming up with new superlatives to describe it. Many of you may be familiar with Flyhawk's earlier releases, and you know what to expect here. Not only is this far and away the best Abrams kit available to us, it is one of the finest small scale tank models ever produced. According to my references, it is perfectly accurate in scale and details. Molding quality is second-to-none with a level of detail that needs to be seen to be believed. If I had to find anything to criticize (which I guess I do, so you know I'm not just simply in love with this kit), Flyhawk took a shortcut with the tracks by molding the track runs complete, but in two halves (inner and outer). While it is still pretty amazing how much detail they were able to accomplish given such a molding shortcut, it should be pointed out that replacing these tracks with some resin aftermarket parts will result in even greater track detail.

This same tank has also been released with the mine clearing blade system (kit No. 3301).

TUSK Upgrade Description

TUSK stands for Tank Urban Survival Kit. This upgrade incorporates add-ons specifically aimed at increasing tank and crew protection in an urban environment. There are TUSK I and TUSK II packages, with a TUSK III currently under development. The improvements are numerous and unlike many of the prior Abrams upgrades, are quite obvious on a scale model. Most obvious are the stand-off armor, additional coaxial .50cal machinegun, and protective armored shields for the commander and loader weapon stations.

TUSK I can be applied to both M1A1s and M1A2s, though the specific installed modules of the kits will vary. TUSK II is mounted only on M1A2s.

Tiger Model M1A2 SEP TUSK II Abrams (Kit No. 9601)

This is the newest Abrams kit to be released, and if it wasn't for the impossibly well done Flyhawk model, this Tiger Models kit would be a solid contender for best Abrams available. I have to say that the molding quality and sharpness of detail is not to the highest caliber (i.e., it's not as good as Flyhawk), but it is still perfectly acceptable, better than most of the other available kits except Revell. Like Flyhawk, this kit is highly accurate and extremely well detailed. One thing I don't like is that the panel weld lines on the turret roof are very prominent. I think the most impressive thing about this kit is that modeling the TUSK II upgrade package in small scale was a very ambitious undertaking, and Tiger accomplished it very well.

A couple of things to note, like almost every other Abrams kit marketed (though not all), shortcuts were taken with the running gear. In this case, the tracks' upper and lower track runs were molded onto the wheels. Again like the Flyhawk kit, the amount of detail accomplished in spite of this shortcut is impressive, (considering that the front and rear portions of the tracks that wrap around the idler and sprocket wheels are the only portion of the tracks that will be visible anyway), although aftermarket tracks would be even more impressive yet.

The other thing is that even though the TUSK II upgrade was applied over the top of the TUSK I upgrade, due to the way Tiger molded the parts in this kit, one cannot build a TUSK I tank with this kit without having to scratchbuild much of the armor.


In this section I will show some comparison scans for a few of the more prominent kit components, such as hull and turret. I cannot do an all-in-one, side by side scan due to the large number of kits we have available, but I tried to be consistent in the individual scans as far as size and proportions of the images are concerned.

Regarding the kit measurements, it is difficult to judge precise accuracy for several reasons. First, Some of the measurements are possible to make only after kit construction. I have had to calculate some dimensions for the unbuilt kit parts through extrapolation from other measurements on vehicle drawings. Additionally, I don't have any decent scale plans for this tank. Very little is available on-line, and the published reference books that I have checked show only generalized drawings and specifications. I've combined these numbers with the drawing that Simon Barnes provided in the Dragon Abrams preview article, and have come to the following conclusions:

  • The Flyhawk, Galaxy, Hasegawa and Tiger Models hulls are almost perfectly scaled. They vary from each other by less than 1mm in any given dimension.
  • Revell and ESCI are approximately 2.5mm too long and 1.5mm too wide.
  • Matchbox is approximately 1mm too short, but with the correct width.
  • Dragon has the correct length but is approximately 1mm too wide.

So as you can see, as far as hull size is concerned, all of the available kits are very close to one another, and would be perfectly compatible for use together in a diorama, just so long as you don't park them next to each other.

The "Wheel Base" measurement in the table below is measured from the center of the axels of the front and rear roadwheels. The measurement in 1/72nd should be 63.5mm.

Kit Hull Turret Wheel Base (63.5mm) Tracks Notes
Dragon M1A1 & M1A2 63.0 T158 Very toy-like kit with molding shortcuts and soft details. Hull is approximately 1mm too wide. Both Dragon kits include these same two parts with optional detail parts to differentiate between the M1A1 and M1A2.
ESCI M1 & M1A1 63.5 T156 A little on the large side, with double-wide road wheels. Hull is approximately 2.5mm too long and 1.5mm too wide. Both ESCI kits include these same two parts, with the turret being correct only for the M1, and not the M1A1.
Flyhawk M1A2 N/A T158 One of the best kits available. Very accurate and detailed. Overall accurate dimensions.
Galaxy M1A2 62.0 NA One of the worst kits available, being a poor copy of the Hasegawa M1 kit. Inaccurate details and poorly made. Overall accurate dimensions.
Hasegawa M1 62.5 T156 Comes with double-wide road wheels. Overall accurate dimensions. The turret shown here is actually the Galaxy kit part because that kit directly copied the Hasegawa kit. The only difference is the Hasegawa kit does not have the poor CITV housing pictured here. Since I have already built my Hasegawa M1, I had to use this scan in its stead.
Hasegawa M1E1 62.5 T156 Comes with double-wide road wheels. Overall accurate dimensions.
Matchbox M1 62.5 T156 Comes with double-wide road wheels. Approximately 1mm too short.
Revell M1A1 64.5 T156 Very nice kit, but a bit over-scale. Hull is approximately 2.5mm too long and 1.5mm too wide. The hull is the same as Revell's M1A2 kit, hence showing the same scan.
Revell M1A2 64.5 T156 Very nice kit, but a bit over-scale. Hull is approximately 2.5mm too long and 1.5mm too wide. Should have T-158 tracks.
Tiger Model M1A2 63.2 T158 One of the best kits available. Very accurate and detailed, though not molded quite as sharply as the Flyhawk kit. Overall accurate dimensions.
Trumpeter M1A1 & M1A2 63.5 T158 The Trumpeter M1A1 and M1A2 have the same hull and turret parts. The hull is just a hair big, about 1mm too large in both dimensions. Although there is an opening for the tank commander's hatch, the hatch cover is molded in the closed position, integral with the CWS.

I have not measured the gun barrels because the amount of the barrels that are recessed into the armored gun housing is variable between kits. But I've included a side-by-side scan here so that you can at least see a comparison of the kit parts to judge level of detail and general barrel dimensions against each other. Suffice it to say that the Flyhawk barrel is the standard against which the other 120mm barrels should be compared. Also, those kits that require you to glue on the tip of the barrel to the main barrel segment, well, that was not at all fun, and the results in all cases were disappointing.

105mm Gun

120mm Gun

Aftermarket Accessories

There are a number of items available from the aftermarket industry that can go a long way to improving most of the kits described in this article.

Manufacturer Name Item # Medium Notes Links
Eduard M1A1/A2 Abrams Detail Set 22055 PE Brass Designed for Dragon kits, but likely useful for other Abrams kits as well. Out of production.  
ExtraTech M1A1(HA) Abrams Detail Set 72001 PE Brass Designed for Revell kit, but likely useful for other Abrams kits as well. Out of production. Preview
ExtraTech M1A1 Abrams w/Mine Plow Detail Set 72083 PE Brass Designed for Dragon kit. Out of production.  
Hauler M1A1(HA) Abrams Detail Set 72057 PE Brass Same set as ExtraTech, re-released under new label.  
PART M1A1 Abrams Detail Set 72014 PE Brass Designed for Revell kit, but likely useful for other Abrams kits as well. Preview
PART M1A1 Abrams Mine Plow Set 72015 PE Brass Designed for Revell kit, but likely useful for other Abrams kits as well.  
PART M1A1 Abrams Detail Set 72125 PE Brass Designed for Dragon kit, but likely useful for other Abrams kits as well.  
ACE Mine Plow M60 for M1 Abrams 001 PE Brass Out of production.  
Armory M1 Abrams tracks with drive wheels - early 7334a Resin Resin T156 track and sprocket wheels, with photoetched wheel rims ("training wheels").  
Armory M1 Abrams tracks with drive wheels - mid 7334b Resin Resin sprocket wheels and T158 track with solid guideteeth.  
Armory M1 Abrams tracks with drive wheels - late 7334c Resin Resin sprocket wheels and T158 track with hollow guideteeth.  
OKB Grigorov M1 Abrams tracks T156 72237 Resin Comes with sprocket wheels.  
OKB Grigorov M1 Abrams tracks T158 72238 Resin Comes with sprocket wheels.  
OKB Grigorov M1 Abrams tracks T158L 72239 Resin Comes with sprocket wheels. Tracks have hollow guideteeth.  
OKB Grigorov M1 Abrams tracks T158 w/ice cleats 72240 Resin Comes with sprocket wheels.  
OKB Grigorov Wheels for M1 Abrams, late 72241 Resin    
CMK/Planet M1A1 Abrams Iraq War Equipment Set 72064 Resin Resin stowage of all sorts, plus IFF panels. Meant for Revell kit, but could be used on any Abrams model. Preview
CMK/Planet M1A Abrams Engine Set 72042 Resin Complete engine bay with engine. Designed for Hasegawa kit. Looks like open engine access hatches are included. Not sure what is meant by "M1A" in the title.  
Black Dog M1A1 Abrams Iraq War Accessory Set 72003 Resin Resin stowage items to hang from, and pile on top of, the turret.  
Legend Productions M1 Tank Stowage Set 7207 Resin Resin stowage items to hang from, and pile on top of, the turret. Artwork shows an M1A2.  
Modelltrans M1A2 Abrams TUSK I 72154 Resin Conversion set designed for Dragon kit, but perhaps can be used on other kits as well.  
Cromwell Models Abrams Twin 35mm AGDS Turret 72010 Resin Fictitious anti-aircraft version of the Abrams. Was explored in the 1980s but never developed.  
DYMOK72 105mm L7/M68 Gun Barrel 72061 Aluminum Turned aluminum gun barrel with smooth bore evacuator.  
Schatton 120mm NATO Standard Munitions 72037 Brass Twelve rounds of three types of ammunition in turned brass.  
Archer Fine Transfers OIF Barrel Art for Abrams Tanks 72190 Transfers Dry transfers. Slogans for 15 tanks.  
Archer Fine Transfers M1A1 Abrams in Iraq (OIF) - USMC 72191 Transfers Dry transfers. Markings for two vehicles.  
Archer Fine Transfers Abrams in Iraq (OIF) - 1ID/TF1-64 72192 Transfers Dry transfers. Markings for three vehicles.  
Archer Fine Transfers USMC M1A1 Abrams in Iraq (OIF) 72193 Transfers Dry transfers. Markings for one vehicle.  
Archer Fine Transfers USMC M1A1 Abrams in Iraq (OIF) 72194 Transfers Dry transfers. Markings for one vehicle.  

Ummm... not sure what else to say here. Flyhawk is by far the best, and Galaxy is by far the worst. Everyone else is in between. That's about it.

Well, OK, I'll try to summarize some other considerations:

  • If you want to put crew figures in your turret hatches, you cannot do so with Trumpeter.
  • If you want to build a diorama with the armored side skirts off, showing the wheels and/or tracks, Revell is your best choice (unless you want to do a lot of surgery), or buy aftermarket tracks and use with Flyhawk.
  • If you want the deep wading stacks, only Trumpeter has them.
  • If you want a quick and easy build, Dragon is for you.
  • Building an IPM1? You need an M1 hull with an M1A1 turret (suitably modified with 105mm gun and other details). I am going to attempt this with an ESCI hull and Dragon M1A1 turret.

References used:

  • Warmachines No. 6 - M1-M1IP-M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank, by Francois Verlinden, Willy Peeters and Patrick J. Cooney;
  • New Vanguard No. 2 - M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 1982-1992, by Steve Zaloga and Peter Sarson;
  • Museum Ordnance Special No. 9 - Abrams Main Battle Tank M1A1 and M1A2, by Glen Broman;
  • Concord Mini Color 7502 - M1A1/A2 Abrams, by Walter Böhm;
  • Abrams - A History of the American Main Battle Tank Vol. 2, by R. Hunnicutt;
  • Tankograd 3009 - M1A1-M1A2 SEP Abrams TUSK, by Carl Schulze;
  • Squadron 2026 - M1 Abrams in Action, by Jim Mesko

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Article Last Updated:
29 March 2018

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