M48A2GA2 (or M48A2, or M48A2C, or M48A5)

Kit #03170 Preview by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Vehicle History For The Modeler
The M48 was a standard Cold War battle tank developed in the United States during the 1950’s and it replaced the M47 Patton tank. The M48 served with the US Army, US Marines and with many NATO forces and other allies. More so than many tanks, it underwent a number of upgrades, beginning with a 90-mm gun similar to that in the M26, M46 and M47, it ended up with the British 105-mm gun also used in the late Centurion, the M60 Patton, and the Leopard 1 tanks.

When I saw this kit in the catalog I thought: “That is nice box art, I have not built an M48 yet and this’ll be a nice alternative to my old ESCI M48 kit, Revell makes great stuff and their M60 kit is certainly better than the old ESCI M60!” Well, now I know this is a re-box of the old ESCI kit which I already own several of, just with new markings and new instructions. If I’d only asked or did an online search I could have known that before I ordered?! Oye.

A look At The Box Art. What’s Supposed To Be Inside.
I love studying the box art, it is the first thing that attracts our eyes, it tells us visually what vehicle it is, and can be a valuable guide to assembly, markings and painting. In Revell’s very attractive box art we see the rounded cast turret and cast hull glacis. On the turret is the commander’s cupola with a German MG3 machine gun (an MG42 of WW2 fame chambered for the 7.62-mm NATO round). The gun mantlet is what I understand a German upgrade for the tank’s 105-mm gun. The bulge around the gun barrel about 1/3 way forward of the mantlet is the bore evacuator.

Around the turret are a handrail and four smoke projectors. Above the handrail is a bulge that is part of the main gun’s stereoscopic range finder. Above the gun mantlet is a spotlight (searchlight).

The upper hull is level with the mudguards to help attain a low profile. There are headlight guard frames around each light. The three periscopes for the central driver are visible. There is no hull machine gun nor a co-driver position, a first for an American produced tank since the M4 medium.

There are six paired rubber-tired roadwheels attached to a torsion bar suspension. The sprocket wheel in the rear and idler in the bow. We see three rubber-tired and paired return rollers; later M48’s have five return rollers; the kit gives us a choice of three or five return rollers per side. The sprocket wheel is reminiscent of the M4 Sherman sprocket wheel; the track is similar to the live chevron pattern T84 rubber-block track used by the M4A3E8 Sherman tank.

The Patton tank is painted in all olive green color and with German Bundeswehr markings.

The Kit Parts
Since this is the same kit as released by ESCI many years ago why not just refer the curious to the ESCI kit reviews ? Because Revell Germany decided to combine all the parts from the three ESCI releases into one box with options to build up to six different M48s which Revell calls Version A, B, C, D, E, or Version F. We have choices of versions with the diesel or petrol (gasoline) engine, with the 90-mm or two types of 105-mm gun barrel, or with one of three styles of commander cupola.

There are about 161 olive colored, injection molded, styrene plastic parts, including 44 link & length track parts. Depending on what M48 variant you model you will have a dozen or more parts left over. (The ESCI kit will have fewer parts.)

This scan shows the olive colored Revell M48 upper and lower hull parts next to the light tan plastic parts of the turret and track from the ESCI Ertl release of this kit. The hull parts appear very well molded and look accurate for an M48 tank. The driver’s and loader’s hatches are unfortunately molded closed.

The cast hull front and turret could use some cast texture, but do not overdo it. The cast boat-shaped lower hull is interesting and perhaps unique. The rounded bottom and rounded nose I have heard referred to as a “boat shaped hull”. The lower hull is similar to that of the M60 Patton but not the same.

The track is good for the time the kits was released in 2012, but it does not compare well with the new Revell M60 tracks. My assessment is that the tracks have too large a gap between the links, they are too thin, and they lack guide teeth. These tracks and the wheels are significant weak links to this former ESCI M48 kit and the ESCI M60 kits. When assembling keep in mind that this is "live" track so should have little to no sag.

The turret looks about the right shape. It is a shame the turret loader's hatches are molded shut.
Above are the three small sprues within the kit in order to model the six different M48s, four M48 variants, outlined in the kit instructions.

At left is Sprue-C to make version D, which is a German Kampfpanzer M48A2GA2 tank. The Kampfpanzer M48A2GA2 is an upgraded M48 with a 105-mm L7 cannon with MG3 cupola machine gun from the Leopard 1. The 105-mm gun barrel (part C77) has a thermal sleeve around it, the mantlet is angular shaped and the commander’s cupola is a German production. The cupola hatch appears similar to what I have seen on the Leopard 1 tank.

In the center is Sprue-D containing the parts for Revell’s version-F to create an American M48A5: an M48 up-gunned with a 105-mm M68 (a.k.a. L7) gun, of which about 2000 were converted. This 105-mm gun (part D72) has no thermal sleeve. The M1 cupola mounted machine gun on this sprue (part 68) is not used but appears to be an American M60. The M48A5 uses either the cupola (Urdan cupola?) included on this Sprue-D for a Norwegian M48 A5, or uses the M1 50-calibre machine gun M1 turret/cupola from Sprue A for an Israeli M48A5.
The two rectangular boxes (parts D74 and D75) are engine air filters for the diesel engine M48A5 tank, versions E and F in Revell’s kit. The gun mantlet (part A53) is textured to represent a canvas weather cover. There are small smoke discharger parts (C79 and C85) for use with the Greek M48A2C and the German M48A2GA2 versions.

At the far right is Sprue A which includes the 90-mm main gun (part A51 & 52) and the small machine gun cupola that came with the production M48 tanks. The 90-mm gun barrel and other parts here are for the M48A2 and the M48A2C variants. The gun has a distinctive T-shape muzzle brake. The gun mantlet (part A53) has no simulated canvas cover molded on.

Assembly Instructions
Revell includes 4 1/2 pages of black & white exploded-view instructions in 35 steps, not including pages showing markings and multi-language warnings and symbols.

The assembly instructions are clear and come with a parts diagram. In step-4 we can make out the solid one-piece roadwheel and idler wheel. This can be improved by filing a groove in the center of the tire face to simulate two, paired, wheels.

There is an option of three return rollers per side or five, depending on the version of M48 we chose to build.

Another page of the Revell instructions show assembly of the three variants in main guns and gun mantlets (parts A53, C92 and D69).

Improved over the original ESCI instructions, Revell's instructions give us six helpful 5- or 3-view plan drawings showing camouflage schemes and markings. By the way, Magach 3 appears to be an Israeli designation for the M48A5.

The water-slide decal sheet provides sharp colorful markings for a German M48A2GA2, German M48A2, Greek M48A2C, US Army M48A2C, Israeli M48A5 and Norwegian M48A5. Oddly, the M48A2 is supposed to have a petrol engine so the rear of this kit may not be accurate for a production M48A2, if that is important to you.

For comparison, ESCI's old instructions for this kit are much more basic and with markings for just one, unidentified, Patton tank.

Overall this is a great kit despite the issues with the track and wheels. Using channel styrene we can replicate track teeth. A narrow file and good jig can make consistent grooves in the roadwheel tires. As there are six different variants of the M48 with this kit, decide ahead and be careful on what parts you use.

This kit models the diesel engine Patton with the rear and engine deck like on the M60 Patton. It cannot therefore be used to model an M48, or M48A1 Patton variant, which had a petrol engine and engine decks and rear similar to the M46 and M47. Many of the early M48s were upgraded to the diesel engine and accompanying features.

Revell has significantly improved the instructions and the decal markings over the old ESCI release of this kit. I love the additional parts to build at least four different and historically important variants of the M48 Patton in 1/72.

We have a good M46 by Trumpeter, and M48 by ESCI (Revell) and good M60s by ESCI and Revell, but when will someone release a good M47 Patton in 1/72? Hey, there were 8000 produced, way more than the Tiger and Panther!

Reference pictures
I took the photos below of an M48A5 Patton located near the Augusta Armory and airport in Augusta, Maine; a former Maine National Guard tank I presume. These should help you all in detailing your Revell and ESCI M48 kit.

The top reference photo below shows the forward right side of the turret and driver area. There is a single, triangular shaped driver hatch with a rotatable periscope that is centrally located; no co-driver as was in the M47 and M4 tanks. There are also three periscopes pointed forward and off to the sides. In this photo all the periscopes are lowered into the vehicle and the covers down. There is a crew heater exhaust pipe coming from the driver's roof.

On the turret the mantlet is weather-sealed with a cloth cover and accordion-like seal around the barrel of the 105-mm gun. There is what I believe is the tubular gunsight opening visible protruding through the mantlet. The gun barrel bore evacuator is visible at the right side of the photo. There is no searchlight mounted.

The 2nd photo shows the curved boat shaped hull and nose with a towing attachment similar to the one I've seen on late M4 Shermans. Though a display vehicle the headlights and the metal guards are still attached, one light is white while the other is black glass (though in artwork this black colored lens is portrayed as red colored). In both photos note the little tabs holding the cloth mantlet cover to the cast steel turret.

At far right we can see a worn rubber track block with a faint chevron tread pattern. The rusted end connector is reminiscent of the M4 Sherman's track. This chevron pattern I have also seen on the M47 Patton and early M60s. (The standard M60 Patton tank used a hexagonal shaped rubber block.)

The M48's tracks wheels and suspension are very similar to that in the M47 and M60 tanks. The sprocket drive wheel in the photo below is reminiscent of the M4 Sherman sprocket, but the M48 has a second set of non-toothed wheels that look to act as guides for the track horns. The track teeth look more like a set of small horns rather than the more typical tooth shaped. These track horns are missing on the Revell/ESCI M48 so if you replicate them this is what you want them to look like.

The roadwheels and return rollers look similar to those used on the M26, M46 and M47. The M60 roadwheels had small triangular ribs, or spokes, around the rims. The roadwheels are paired with a gap for the track horns, a feature not present in the ESCI/Revell M48 roadwheels.

This photo above shows the shock absorbers used on the forward two torsion bars and the last roadwheel's torsion bar. At left we see a lifting ring attached to the boat-shaped lower hull; this ring is simulated on the kit hull.

The turret roof looking forward and the low profile Urdan cupola which was developed in Israel and also adopted on US M48s. I see three closed periscopes on the cupola. This cupola is what is included on Sprue-D of the Revell M48 kit. At left is the oval, bean-shaped loader's hatch with the hatch lock on the turret roof (lower left corner of photo). The 105-mm gun barrel is visible at top center.

A look at the turret roof, with the ventilation dome in the foreground. This turret is pretty much the same as on the initial M60 Patton tank, before they switched to the larger, longer turret of the M60A1 and M60A3 Pattons.

The loader's hatch grab handle we can simulate with fine wire on the kit turret.

Two photos looking to the rear of the M48A5 showing the turret roof and sides, parts of the fender storage boxes and the diesel engine air cleaner boxes. If you cannot see the engine deck to tell it is a diesel engine M48A3 or M48A5, look for the rectangular air cleaner boxes on the mudguards.
The two turret hatches are visible, as is the turret side handrail, and the two bulges for the glass lenses of the coincidence rangefinder. (Bulges and a rangefinder similar to this are seen on the PzKpfw V Panther Ausf. F tank and the M47 and M60 tanks.). We can see the turret ventilation dome in the rear center of the photo.
On the top photo we see the loader's periscope, and behind it the mount for the commander's machine gun. On the bottom photo we see the Gerrycan storage rack on the lower side of the turret.

The rear view shows the turret storage rack (basket) which looks pretty close to that in the ESCI/Revell kit. Below the basket we see the two short tow cables that wrap from the sides around the rear; these two cables are not offered in the kit. I think ESCI got the rear pretty accurate in their kit. It is interesting to me how the mudguard side curves over to meet the rear of the hull; this is different from how the kit models the rear mudguards and I've seen the rear fender here portrayed differently on other variants of the M48.

The distinct engine exhaust grating is visible and is essentially the same as on the M60 Patton and the late, diesel-engine M47M. Here is a good view of the rubber block track with chevron pattern tread

Other References

  • THE M47 AND M48 PATTON TANKS, New Vanguard 31, by Steve Zaloga & Lim Laurier. Osprey Publishing Ltd. (1999).
  • Tank Battles of the Mid-East Wars, Volumes 1 1948-1973 (1996) and Volume 2 1973 to the Present (1998), by Steven Zaloga. Concord Publications Co.
  • Armor In Vietnam, A Pictorial History, by Jim Mesko, Squadron Signal Publications Inc. (1982)
  • M48 Patton in Action - Armor No. 22, Squadron/Signal Publications (1984) ISBN-10: 0897471652, ISBN-13: 978-0897471657
  • Pattonmania website
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Article Last Updated: 03 March 2013