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Built Review
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135
M1A2 Tusk 1/Tusk 2
M1A2 Meng Tusk 1/Tusk2
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by: Andrew Leeth [ ROTTENFUHRER ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The new Meng M1A2 Tusk 1/Tusk 2 kit recently released, is one of several new kits depicting the U.S. Army’s “Tank Urban Survivability Kit” or TUSK created to improve crew survivability in urban environments. Due to the unpredictability and confines of urban warfare the modifications made to the venerable M1 enhanced crew protection while exposed on the top of the turret and while engaged in antipersonnel operations. In addition reactive armor blocks were installed on the sides of the vehicle as standoff protection against shoulder fired antitank weapons. Vehicle protection is further bolstered by additional armor on the bottom of the chassis designed to reduce the effects of IED’s or Improvised Explosive Devices.

The sprues provided allow the modeler to choose either the Tusk version 1 or 2 for the build. The Tusk 1 variant had more traditional square ERA blocks while the Tusk 2 had rounded blocks both on the side skirts and the turret giving the tank an entirely different look altogether. For this review I choose to build the kit as the Tusk 1 variant because I prefer this look over the rather radical curved armor on the Tusk 2 although this is personal preference of course.

The Build

Steps 1-6
This first group of steps consists of construction of the road wheels and drive sprockets and attaching various suspension parts to the lower hull. The road wheels were simple to remove and clean up, due to only two sprue gate attachment points per wheel. There was no mold line to remove like on so many Tamiya kits which is very welcome in my book! I also thought it interesting that the sprue gates for the drive sprockets were on the diagonal making it a very easy task to remove by aligning my sprue cutters parallel to this angle requiring little to no clean up.

This was followed by installing the working torsion bars which were attached without issue but were very snug fitting perhaps some filing here might have made them easier to install. The suspension in this kit is completely workable and while some modelers may find this useful for certain applications in a diorama I must admit that I find it somewhat gimmicky.

I would also like to mention that there was a bit of flash present on this kit especially on smaller parts and seemingly without any kind of consistency. It is odd that a kit so new and from a premium manufacturer like Meng would contain defects such as this on a new tooling.

Each road wheel and the drive sprocket is attached with a poly cap and therefore easily removable and workable.
Step 6 requires installation of the wheels and tow hooks and the add on lower armor plate, all went smoothly except the armor plate. The plate on my sample had a significant mold line to remove that would be visible and had a gap after installation that was required to be filled.

Steps 7-11
Steps 7-11 involves first prepping the Upper Hull by drilling a number of 1.0 mm holes and attaching parts to its surface. I would first like to state that the anti-skid texture on this kit is first class and some of the best I have seen. It is crisply rendered on the turret upper surfaces and the rear deck of the upper hull.

Step 8 required the first installation of PE in the form of engine grills and I found the PE supplied with the kit to be on the thin side and easy to warp and bend if care was not applied. CA glue seeped through the grills creating marks that I have yet to find a way to remove without dissolving all of the glue and inadvertently removing the grills.

The fit of the upper and lower hull was near flawless requiring no filling or clamping.

Step 11 consisted of attaching the additional battery hatch on the rear of the upper hull this required some putty to fill a gap, but this could have been my fault because in an earlier step the instructions required you to cut away “notches” to accommodate this for installation. The modeler must take care here to prevent fit issues.

Steps 12-14
Steps 12-14 consist of attaching rear hull parts and the assembly of the side skirts. There was no issue here and I found the side skirts to be festooned with detail.

The engine exhaust grills were installed on the aft portion of the hull and are superbly detailed in a multi part assembly and can be made to be workable if the modeler chooses. The odd thing here however was the multitude of conical shaped ejector pin marks on the back side of the vanes of these exhaust grills. Once again I found this unusual and disappointing for a premium kit at a premium price point.

Step 15 (Tracks)
This is for me was where the kit was really lacking and that was in track assembly and its provided “jig”. First off each link of track consists of 6 parts and while this is not entirely unusual or difficult it would be time consuming for most. Meng has provided a jig for the assembly of the tracks that holds 12 tracks pads in place (in theory) while the bi-pin track links are then inserted into slots on each pad. Then the modeler is to snap a second set of pads on top of this sandwiching as it were the entire arrangement together. The only glue required for this operation is to attach the guide horns which that are installed 6 at a time. The issue here is the jig Meng supplied with the kit is all but useless. The lower set of pads doesn’t stay in place as you apply pressure to snap the link assembly together they go everywhere….. I made a number of attempts to make this work and even tried to assemble them without the jig and because of my frustration and time constraints choose a simpler option of a set of one piece tracks from the Tamiya Tusk kit. Workable tracks are nice but honestly since the side skirts hide the vast majority of the detail and the workability I don’t see the point here. I realize however that some modelers may prefer this and I hope they have a better time at it than I did.

Steps 16-20
Step 16 consists of attaching the side skirts but I might suggest holding off until the wheels and vehicle sides were painted.

Steps 18- 20 involve assembling the gun trunnion and barrel assembly and while very detailed was a two piece clam shell arrangement. I had no difficulty in removing the seam but in my opinion there is no reason why this part cannot be slide molded as one piece. One must take care in sanding the seam off of the barrel because there is a considerable amount of fine detail on the barrel. I suggest using a flex-i-file or similar flexible sander for this task.

Steps 21-24
These steps are mostly turret assembly and attaching turret accessories like the gunners sight housing or “dog house” assorted boxes and some of the rear turret bustles. There was no issue with these assemblies and the detail is impressive. Meng has done an excellent job of layering the detail here step by step.

Steps 25-30
These last 5 assemblies will carry the build through to completion with the exception of some final accessories which I choose to omit for ease of painting in the future. Most of these steps are the assembly of the incredibly intricately detailed commander’s cupola and gun station. With all of the armored glass and Browning M2 machine gun this is an impressive assembly. Some parts are very small here and care must be taken when removing them from the sprue. Step 30 guides you through the loaders 7.62 X 51 mm machine gun and similar armored glass blocks as on the commanders’ station but not as elaborate. This step ends the basic construction of the kit. It was at this stage that I also decided to attach the side skirts and in short they were problematic. Getting the surfaces to properly align and mate up was very difficult, more so than it should have been.

Conclusion

At the time of me writing this article there are now three new M1A2 Sep TUSK kits that have been released in the last few months. This kit builds into an incredibly detailed model and I think many folks will be pleased with the end result. That being stated however, this is my first Meng kit and I must say I was somewhat disappointed. Considering their premium position in the market a considerable amount of parts had significant flash and ejector pin marks requiring removal. In my humble opinion this is a huge let down because of what we expect in a model of this price. There were also a few fit issues causing significant delays in construction while trying to manipulate parts to align. These issues combined with the horrible tracks leads me to assume that perhaps this kit was rushed to the shelves in an attempt to be the first on the market.


SUMMARY
Highs: Superb layered detail and fantastic fidelity of the parts with top notch engineering.
Lows: Horrible tracks, considerable flash and ejector pin marks for such a new kit.
Verdict: A solid offering from Premium maker Meng but not without significant flaws.
Percentage Rating
75%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: TS-026
  Suggested Retail: $88.99
  Related Link: Link to manufacturer
  PUBLISHED: Aug 25, 2016
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 75.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.90%

Our Thanks to Meng Model!
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.
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About Andrew Leeth (RottenFuhrer)
FROM: TEXAS, UNITED STATES

I have returned to modelling after almost 20 years. I served in the U.S. Army as a Fire Support Team member with 4/82 FA and later 42nd Bde FA. I am a representative in the field for a large home appliance manufacturer and have worked in this industry for more than 20 years.

Copyright ©2017 text by Andrew Leeth [ ROTTENFUHRER ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

the hong-kong-based tiger company produce one in 1/72nd.
AUG 25, 2016 - 09:12 AM
That's good for the modellers that build in 1/72nd scale. There may be some 1/72nd builders that weren't aware of that...
AUG 26, 2016 - 07:58 AM
I believe Tiger Model is either owned or a subsidiary of Rye Field Model.
AUG 28, 2016 - 09:02 AM
I think so too..Dragon is the best choice. Now if only we can incorporate the details of TUSK I and II onto the Dragon kit. That would be nice.
SEP 22, 2016 - 03:28 PM
I'm in the midst of building the Meng Tusk kit now and have the chasis almost done. I liked the kit supplied tracks and didn't have any issues with them, other than the parts being small. It was my first workable tracks, so the novelty level was high for me. The kit supplied jig worked fine. What helped, for me at least, was applying a small amount of Tamiya thin cement in the two small holes on the pads so that the pads stayed together. I just had to make sure that the glue didn't get on the "stick" portion of the tracks so that the track was workable. Most of my kits are Tamiya, so I'm more use to the rubber band types. It would have been nice if Meng had supplied two sets of tracks (workable and rubber band). I have a Trumpeter M1 Panther II kit and that kit comes with both types of tracks. Overall, I like the Meng kit very much. I was very disappointed with my Dragon M1A2 SEP V2 kit. Yes, it has a lot of details, but mine came with a warped hull. I have read comments from other people who received a warped hull like I did, AFTER I purchased my kit. I used some evergreen plastic to make it as straight as possible, but it still had a bit of a wobble. I bought the Dragon kit at a LHS for about $90 and I feel ripped off (by Dragon). I'm almost finished with that model and while I am very pleased with the level of detail, the warped hull really put me off.
FEB 05, 2017 - 12:31 PM
That was your first mistake. You can find Dragon, and pretty much any other manufacturer, for about half that from Asian and on-line vendors. Local hobby shops are great for supplies, but crazy on their kit prices. I never buy kits at them unless they are on deep discount sales. I want to support them, but not at crazy prices like that. As to the Meng kit, it is pretty nice. I prefer indi-link track over rubber bands myself, so I like that aspect of it. I think indi-links give a better impression of actual tracks since the blocks themselves don't bend like rubber band tracks do. Indi-links are usually much better detailed as well.
FEB 06, 2017 - 02:36 AM
I'm like you to Gino about spending that much on my kits. I guess I am one of the lucky ones that my LHS gives a "MILITARY" discount. If it wasn't for the discount, a majority of my kits would be bought on line. As for Bill buying the Dragon SEP V2 kit for $90, I would have opted for the Academy kit. It is as detailed as the Dragon kit, comes with rubber band tracks and is almost half the price.
FEB 06, 2017 - 06:30 PM
I got mine at one of the local modelling shows in the Netherlands discounted for 50 Euro. That was the only reason I got this one.
SEP 01, 2017 - 12:50 AM
On the tracks: The jig works for me. Perhaps I had enough practice with the one for the Leopard 1 as that uses the same system. I think making the complete tracks is going to take about 10 hours in total but I do like the detail on these and it takes my mind of work (I'm building this one in my lunch break).
SEP 01, 2017 - 12:53 AM
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