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First Day on the Job
Aussie Abrams

by David Jenkins

 

M1A1 Abrams in Australian Colours

 


Tamiya's 1/35 scale M1A1 Abrams is available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

A little while ago there was a posting on the Hyperscale Tank Talk Forum that raised the possibility of Australiaís next MBT being the US Abrams. Over the past twenty five years Australia has been served well by West German designed Leopard (AS1), but they are defiantly nearing the end of their working life. All this got me to thinking about current MBTís that might make the short list to replace the Leopard. I think there are three possibilities - M1A2 Abrams, Challenger 1 Mk3 and Leopard 2 A5; with Abrams is probably the most lightly choice.

 



All this is pure speculation, but the more I pondered the possibility the more enticing building an Abrams painted up in the current Aussie three colour camouflage became. There are no details of model or configuration so what follows is a fun stab in the dark! It might be fun to make all three just to see them in Aussie garb!

 

 

Construction

 

As there is no references to go by I chose Tamiyaís M1A1 Abrams Kit (item no. 35158) for ease of construction and a no-surprises quick build. As there are no clear modifications to make the kit was built strait from the box with no extras added. Plans and fit were as expected from a Tamiya kit and only took a few hours to complete.

The only issue is placement of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). On some US Army vehicles this large box is found hanging off the right hand rear of the tank. The US Marines have placed theirs in the storage basket on the turret rear significantly shorting the overall length of the vehicle. I think the Australian Army will choose the Marine option for the obvious vehicle handling advantages.

 

 

This raises a problem, the Tamiya kit only provides you with the APU for the right rear option. I was stumped until a friend came to the rescue by making me a resin replacement APU for the turret - huge thanks Russ!

 

 

Colours and Markings

 

Australian Army vehicles are painted in a hard edged three colour camouflage of green, tan and black. There are extensive reference photos on the ANZAC Steel website (Link on the Hyperscale home page) of Leopards and ASLAVís in this pattern. Something I learned along the way is that the ASLAVís are delivered in a factory applied base coat of tan. The green and black are then applied freehand to a centimetre specific set pattern by the army, so there is only very slight variation between vehicles. As General Dynamics makes both vehicles I assume that the Abrams will also be delivered in the same tan base coat.

 



The Leopards have an entirely different history arriving from Germany in standard West German Army green. The tanks remained this colour for a number of years before being repainted in a very flat green. Mud camouflage was applied by each crew during operations. During the 90ís a three colour camouflage was applied to combat vehicles and well just about everything else that moves for that matter! Although each pattern on the Leopards is simular in style there does seem to be quite a bit of variation. The Abrams is also quite a different shape to the Leopard so I adapted my favourite Leopard pattern to suit.

Colour choice became itís only little journey. I believe that the same colours are used throughout Australia yet there was great variation in the reference photos of Leopards operating in southern and northern Australia. The southern colours look very simular to Flat Earth (Tamiya XF - 52 Flat Earth), NATO Green (Tamiya XF - 67 NATO Green) and Flat Black (Tamiya XF - 1 Flat Black). Under the tropical light of the north the colours became decidedly brighter and in some cases almost fluro. I decided to meet somewhere in the middle and added some Tamiya XF - 15 Flesh to lighten the colours.

The Australian camouflage has quite a hard edge to it so I used the tried and true Blue-Tac method. The only tank recognition marking that was added was a white arrow head on the side. The mounting rails and basket that run right around the rear half of the turret of the Abrams will prove an interesting obstacle to the current tactical markings used on the Leopards.

I highly recommend looking at the articles and photo galleries on the ANZAC Steel Website (Link on the Hyperscale home page) as there are a wealth of information on the Australian fighting vehicles.


 

Weathering and Final Details

I chose to depict my Abrams as if it were on its first training session or manoeuvres. As they would be a brand new vehicle wear and tear was kept to a minimum.

 

 

A light dusting of Tamiya XF - 57 Buff was used to simulate dust and then a mixture of pastels calks were used where mud build up was heavier.

 

 

Conclusion

 

All in all this was a fun project. At least I can be cheeky and say that this has been my most accurate model to date and there are no references to prove me wrong just yet! Another interesting project would be the Leopard A5 with its angular turret, as it would look amazing in Aussie camouflage.

 



It will be interesting to see what eventually becomes Australiaís next MBT.



 

Summary

 

Kit: Tamiya M1A1 Abrams - Kit (No. 35158)

Airbrush: Model Master 50601 airbrush

Paints: Flat Earth (Tamiya XF - 52 Flat Earth + Tamiya XF - 15 Flesh)
Olive Drab (Tamiya XF - 62 Olive Drab + Tamiya XF - 15 Flesh)
Flat Black (Tamiya XF - 1 Flat Black)

References: ANZAC Steel Website

 


 

Additional Images

 

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by David Jenkins
Page Created 17 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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