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ET Model Abrams M1A2 SEP TUSK II Update Set


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Abrams M1A2 SEP TUSK II Update Set

by ET Model

#E35161 designed for DML kit #3536

$92.99 from LuckyModel


This is the first of a number of reviews I will be doing of ET Model products here on LSM. For those not familiar, ET Model specialise in armour upgrades in 1/35 scale, primarily in photo-etch metal (PE), but also extending to the use of resin and other media. They cover both WWII and modern armour. In terms of quality, they are up there certainly with Eduard and perhaps Aber for some items. They are also considerably cheaper than their European counterparts. At present they do not cover aircraft, but this may change in the future.



The set in all its glory [all built up pics courtesy ET Model]


If you are 'into' the Abrams, you'll know far more than I could tell you here, but suffice to say that 'TUSK' stands for Tank Urban Survival Kit; and  these TUSK upgrades came about as a result of US experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This upgrade set is for the DML Abrams kit#3536. It is certainly one of their more ambitious sets and, at $92.99, one of their more expensive. However, the price should be put into context when we consider that it contains a monster 20 - yes, twenty - PE frets, as well as resin, clear injection mould plastic and finally perspex-type parts.




The set is so large that it demands a box rather than the usual slip with card backing we usually see. The box is pretty sturdy and keeps everything nice and safe, although I did have one issue with the contents, but this was not due to poor packaging.








The only problem I had was with fret #G: hopefully I can describe this correctly, but it seems that the fret is actually too short for the parts it contains, and as a result 'buckled up' somewhat. Take a look at the pictures below, and you should see what I mean:




Luckily, as soon as I snipped the the two large panels which run the length of the tank off the fret (parts #G11 and G#12), the tension was released. The parts were slightly bowed, but I managed to get them back into shape very easily. So if you buy this set, don't be too put off if you see this. I have alerted ET Model, and hopefully this problem will be resolved in future production runs.




The majority of the set - some 10 frets - are used in the construction of the additional armour protection 'blocks' that run along each side of the tank. Working my through the nine page instruction booklet, each of these blocks has something like 15 parts, and the whole sub-assembly has to be repeated 28 times. Annealing PE parts is always recommended, but here it will be essential in order to help you recreate the curve of the outer block 'shield' (part #O1). On fret H there is a slot marked as 'part' #H10, which is a template for the requisite shape of the curve; a nice touch, but I wonder how easy to use in practice?




There is a lot more to this set though: the turret has multiple upgrades and additions, including resin machine guns, and gun shields which are composite PE and perspex. It is a nice touch that some parts are notable thicker PE than others, reflecting their actual size in real life.




The detail on the PE parts is excellent, but there are some things that I would have liked to see done differently: I am not a fan of having to cut the armoured glass (perspex) to shape myself - why not give us regular clear plastic? Templates are given, but to cut these pieces accurately will be challenging by hand I would have thought. The other thing is that whilst the resin 0.50cal body is pretty decent, the barrel cannot match the latest turned brass offerings, so if you've blown $90+ on this set, chances are you'll be a perfectionist and will want to buy another barrel.




As you can see from the above picture, this set cover pretty much the whole tank. The other part I should mention is #H1, which is a massive plate added to the underside of the tank. Whilst most of the other parts should fit other Abrams kits around (Tamiya?), this part will probably only work with the DML kit given its nature.



If you are wondering what the TUSK II set looks like in practice...




In the following post I will show the instructions in full, because at present ET Model do not post their instructions online (take a bow, Eduard). The short shot fret which caused bowing of two parts was disappointing, and having to cut the perspex to shape is not the ideal solution in my view. But to sum up I will state the obvious: this is a very comprehensive upgrade set, but not one suitable for beginners. I would go further and suggest that only those who are very confident with PE are likely to be able to pull this set off and do it justice. For the less adventurous, I believe there are resin alternatives offered by other companies. That being said, I think this set has the greater potential by far.


Highly recommended; not for beginners.


With sincere thanks to ET Model for the review sample.


Nicholas Mayhew









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