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Nick Newell
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Dragon’s ‘Black Label’ M103A2 Heavy Tank in 1/35th scale

October 6, 2016 · in Armor · · 12 ≡

It's been quite a while since finishing my last project and this, as the title says, is 's ‘Black Label' M103A2 Heavy Tank in 1/35th scale.

I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow account but I used the following additional items:

– Aber US Antenna with Brackets (ABR-25) x 2
– AFV Club's T97E2 Early workable tracks (AF35005)
– Asuka M2 Browning Machine Gun – Set B
– Legend Productions M103A2 Mantlet Set for Dragon #3549 kit (LF1308)

The kit's engineering is superb and the type of polystyrene Dragon use is extremely easy to work with. But the instructions are terrible, with errors and omissions, and there are a number of accuracy issues with the kit itself.

It's with the latter in mind that I must acknowledge the work of Jason Bobrowich from Canada whose build guided me through the finer points of the actual tank and helped me make a better model. A link to Jason's article on Armorama appears below. Having said that, if you're reading this Jason please forgive me as I didn't correct all the issues you identified but I did have a go at what I thought were the most obvious ones!

Talking of which, Dragon have made two major clangers.

The first is the length of the barrel which is considerably shorter than it should be. The second is the lack of a canvas mantlet cover which all A2's seem to have had.

To fix the barrel's length I sanded the tapered end of the kit's offering to match the rest of the barrel and used Legend Productions M103A mantlet cover.

The barrel's still not quite right, being a couple of millimeters short, but it's way better than the fantasy length Dragon came up with!

Following Jason's lead I made a myriad of small changes to the kit, one of which was to open up the six mud evacuation slots in the rear drive sprockets. Why kit manufacturers don't include this prominent feature of modern US tanks is a mystery.

I've always wanted to have a go at assembling single link tracks and I duly purchased the Bronco set which has around 800 parts. I started assembling them but after a couple of days I came to the conclusion that I had rocks in my head, as did my mate Peter (thanks for the encouragement!) so I surrendered and bought the AFV track set.

The AFV set has a lots of ‘bits' too but the links simply slot together and I had both runs assembled in the space of a morning.

The .50cal is an Asuka item.

If you've not used one believe me they're little gems, made up of 15 parts and with hollow barrels. However I confess I had to resort to my Optivisor to put it together!

For the Marine Corps green I airbrushed Testors #2129 ‘Russian Armour Green' followed by a heavy wash of Tamiya ‘NATO Black'. When the wash had dried overnight I diluted Tamiya X20A thinner with water and removed around 50% of the NATO Black. Then I applied a heavy wash of AK Interactive (AK3026) sand to give the model a well-used look. Finally I mixed Humbrol (103) green and flat white and dry brushed the high points.

The tank commander is a Tamiya figure from, I think, the first issue of their M1A1 Abrams. I suspect the uniform is not 100% correct for the early 1960's but it's the closest I could come up with. I added a scratch built microphone as Tamiya only provided a ‘stud' on the helmet!

So, did I enjoy the build? Yes, I did! Would I build another Dragon kit? Absolutely!

Jason Bobrowich's build article:

Greg Smith's M103A1 Walk Around:

Reader reactions:
6  Awesome

13 additional images. Click to enlarge.

12 responses

  1. Nick, she's a beauty! It's amazing how far aftermarket has come. That .50 is unbelievable, as is the gun mantlet. And I'm an airplane guy, mind you. Thanks for showing us this, I ordinarily don't get to see much armor, even when I was "in". That's what I get for being an office pogue! Hooah! Chairborne!

  2. Very nice! Like the weathering on it - looks natural but not over thick (at least to a non-armor guy!).

  3. Excellent beast of a tank.

  4. Thank you gentlemen, you're too kind!
    I only wish I could build a bit more quickly to reduce the stash...and make room for more kits!

  5. Did you enjoy the build? Yes, you did! That's the most important thing, along with ending up with an impressive looking model.

  6. Really nice model, Nick. I think your aftermarket additions are all justified. I would say though that all the work you've done on the kit in fact out-classes the figure. There are some nice resin figures out there worthy of a place on this model.

    Nice to see some quality armour here.

  7. What a great-lookin' build...especially on that after market stuff - wow. Those tracks musta been a pain, though.

  8. As ever, your attention to detail is great. Excellent work!

  9. Great build, Nick! This tank is one of the more interesting tanks from the US Arsenal. When I was stationed at Ft. Knox (1978-1983) I visited & photographed the M103 they had on display. It was a beast!

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