The continued ability of the Israeli defence force (IDF) to deploy and improve upon existing and in many cases obsolete pieces of armour has already been well documented. Soviet and American types have all been upgraded beyond all recognition, often long after the country of origin had stopped using them in frontline service. The U.S M60 is a good case in point with the IDF putting in place a series of modifications to the defensive armament, main gun, engine, tracks and fire control systems.
kit represents the Magach 6B Gal Batash, deployed in the 1980’s. Some notable features of this vehicle include modified sloped turret sides and mantlet. While the tracks were sourced from the newly introduced and indigenously designed Merkava tank that had just gone into service with the Israeli Defence Force. With a continued series of upgrades throughout the 1980’s and 90’s the type was gradually replaced in front line service by the Merkava with the last ones being retired from regular units in 2006.
Upon opening the sturdy box with an impressive picture of the subject on the front cover, you are confronted by a box brimming with beige/sand brown plastic! Academy
has obviously heavily upgraded their existing M60 kit and some unused parts are carried over, but even with this in mind you get a lot of plastic for your money. The sprue and parts are as follows:
- Road wheels sprue
- Suspension and figure sprue
- Engine cover, fixtures and fittings sprue ( some parts not used)
- Side skirt and spare tracks sprue
- Replacement turret, hatches and armour sprue
- Main gun and stowage sprue
- Drive sprocket sprue
- Armour plate sprue
- Instruction Sheet
- Painting/decal placement sheet
- 2 Rubber band style tracks
- 1 Length of nylon cord for tow rope.
- 1 decal sheet
First thing that struck me was the size of the hull casting, once finished, by its shear size alone it should be an imposing model. The surface detail is very nicely implemented with the engine cover and distinctive rear vent (one of the few recognisable features from the M60!) being especially well represented. Plenty of stowage items are also supplied including supply boxes with a very convincing wood pattern moulded into the styrene and various sizes of Jerry cans to give that fully laden look present on many IDF subjects. Guide marks and a detailed diagram in the instructions are included to help locate all the extra fixtures and armour present in the kit and the rivet and panel detail looks good if maybe slightly over scale, especially compared with the new turret detail.
The older origins of this kit are evident by the fact that the lower hull casting has fittings for a motor and battery, the inclusion of a several detailed armour plates for the underside covers up most of the unwanted holes in the casting, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a little more work with plasticard and filler would need to be done to erase all traces of the kits motorised origins and to avoid any unrealistic gaps around the suspension.
The turret parts are very impressive, containing the slopped sides and mantlet cover along with dedicated parts for the passive armour plates and the crew hatches. Smaller items such as the mortar and machine gun brackets are very intricately detailed as well as the crew hatches and ammo rack. The prominent smoke dispensers mounted either side of the main gun have been especially nicely moulded. The complex main gun barrel comes complete with the thermal sleeve fitted to later models and the various clamps to hold this in place are also present, I should imagine that some degree of care would have to be taken when assembling this to preserve this detail. The numerous Machine guns have also been well moulded, with the barrels well represented. Out of the box there is lots of detail included but maybe some photo etch details wouldn’t have gone amiss here to represent some of the smaller fixtures and fittings. It has been noted that there is some issue with the modified turret snagging on the engine deck. A plastic shim should be inserted under the turret ring in order for the assembly to move freely.
The turret hatches can be displayed in either the open or closed position, a figure is supplied to add some sense of scale. There is no real interior detail to speak of and unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any aftermarket sets available so the tank commander figure effectively plugs the gap! The other figure supplied in the kit is for the U.S M60, but with a bit of work could be used as another crew member.
The suspension is well moulded with the road wheels being supplied with poly caps to allow some degree of movement when fitting the tracks. The rubber band style tracks are a good representation of the real thing, however due to the nature of their manufacture; they do not have the space between the links seen on the Magach itself. Obviously aftermarket individual links are the answer, but maybe the inclusion of some link and length style tracks would have been a welcome compromise between the two to achieve a realistic appearance.
The instructions themselves are clearly laid out with a great deal of space between construction steps to make things easier. As I mentioned before, a very useful guide is included to indicate where the hull needs to be cut and drilled in order to accommodate the extensive modifications to the Basic kit parts. A list of parts at the bag of the instruction sheet also clearly shows what parts are not required for this build; the only noticeable omission is any history of the vehicle which is often a good point of reference as well as interesting from a historical perspective. The paint guide is also printed in black and white, which is no big deal considering the tank itself is painted in one colour, however the build pics on the side of the box look really good so it would have been great to see some large scale prints of this well finished example to act as inspiration!
The supplied decals such as they are, consist of the vehicle registration plate, some unit markings and a marker for the barrel. They look well printed and would really stand out on this single colour vehicle.
has produced a well detailed kit of this heavily modified version of the M60. There are a few reminders of the kits origins but a whole raft of new parts should produce a convincing conversion to the IDF spec tank. Some of the hull surface detail shows up the age of the basis of the kit and the nylon tow rope is also a bit of a give away, but the well rendered passive armour and turret detail more than makes up for this.