Barcode: 0 89195 83544 4
Case Pack: 20 pieces per master carton
Box Size: 9.6" x 15" x 2.8"
- Handrails on turret match those of original
- Newly designed M48A3 w/intricate detail
- Gun travel lock can be assembled either stowed or in use
- Authentic 90mm M41 gun and detailed .50 cal MG
- 3-directional slide-molded turret w/realistic cast texture and detail
- Loader's hatch and commander's cupola can be assembled open/closed
- Well-defined turret w/antenna and crisply molded stowage rack
- Tow cables included
- One-piece slide-molded upper and lower hulls w/delicate cast pattern and detail
- Rear hull w/authentic grill and tow pintles
- Cupola realistically represented, including clear-plastic periscope
- Trunnion for elevating 90mm M41 gun included
- Headlights w/subtle detail realistically produced
- Delicately detailed fenders w/toolboxes
- Fender edges w/delicate bolt heads molded in place
- Sprockets and road wheels assembled from multiple parts
- Suspension system formed from multiple parts
- Jerrycan finely produced
- Casting numbers molded on M48A3
- Hull rear w/authentic engine grille and hocks molded-on details
- Front vision ports including crystal clear parts
- Coincidence rangefinder mounted on turret side
- Detailed one-piece DS tracks
Dragon’s 1/35 scale WWII plastic kits are legendary worldwide in terms of the range’s scope, accuracy and technical quality. Dragon is now transferring that expertise to more modern subjects, and a first recipient is the famous M48 Patton medium tank. The M48 was a development of the M47, and it performed an interim role until the arrival of the M60 main battle tank. The M48 was the primary tank of the US Army & US Marine Corps (USMC) during the vicious Vietnam War. The new kit represents the M48A3 variant, which the army accepted into service in February 1963 and the USMC the following year.
M48A3s featured a new diesel engine and a range of features were apparent because all were converted from older variants. The USA would deploy more than 600 M48s to Vietnam, the first arriving in-country in 1965. They performed well in the infantry support role, but there were few tank-versus-tank clashes. Many M48A3s were later handed over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) when US troops began leaving the country.
It’s a COMPLETELY BRAND NEW item and it’s designed explicitly to portray a vehicle serving in the Vietnam War. This means the molds are all new, carefully based on detailed research of surviving original tanks. The designer has used different methods to reproduce the form of the M48A3, especially the curved shape of the cast turret that was not easy to reproduce. In the end, this accurately shaped turret even has subtle casting texture, including embossed casting numbers. The tank has been produced with modeling convenience in mind too, with such features as easy-fitting DS tracks. With Dragon’s knowhow and technological skills from its WWII range being applied to this more modern subject, this M48A3 sets high standards that exceed those of existing products.
Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Modern AFV Series Kit No. 3544; M48A3
Mod. B; 306 parts (289 in grey styrene, 12 clear styrene, 4 DS Plastic, 1 length
of twisted steel wire); pre-order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: first new kit of this popular tank in over 30 years; kit breakdown shows that many other variants will probably follow this kit; neatly done wheels
Disadvantages: Vietnam service tanks missing mantlet cover, no searchlight
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for any Vietnam or Israeli war fan and all US armor fans
When the M60 and M60A1 tanks entered service, the US Army still had a large number of M48 tanks in service and decided to upgrade them to match most of the capabilities of the newer vehicles. A testbed dubbed the M48A1E1 was built with the Continental AVDS-1790 diesel engine as well as adding the coincidence rangefinder from the M60 series in place of the older stereoscopic one. The new tank, other than its lack of the newer 105mm gun, was considered its near equal in most categories. The biggest one was nearly doubling the tank’s range to 300 miles on the highway (500 kilometers) from the older M48/A1/A2 gasoline engine.
When the tanks got to Vietnam they were found to have some serious problems. One of the worst was the poor visibility from the commander’s cupola and lack of room due to the use of the big M2HB machine gun in a tight space. The fenders and headlights also proved no match for jungle growth and were easily damaged. As a result, Bowen-McLaughlin-York modified 578 M48A3 tanks to “Model B” standards with new reinforced fenders and stronger headlight mounts and guards, a bulged commander’s hatch, and a riser block with eight large prisms in it for improved room and visibility. While it did not solve one endemic problem of the M48 series cupolas – 50 rounds for the M2 and link ejection jams – it did provide a much better environment for the commander. But many commanders preferred to have the .50 caliber gun mounted outside the cupola on a pintle mount.
About 55 years ago Monogram released a kit of the then-new M48A2 tank with a set of figures and “working” features. While a great kit for the time, it was eventually overtaken by its age. Just over 30 years ago Tamiya came out with a kit of the M48A3 Model B tank as used in Vietnam, and it proved a very popular kit. But as modelers gained sophistication – and great references like the Hunnicutt book “Patton: A History of the American Main Battle Tank” – it was seen to have a lot of flaws. Worst among them was the fact that Tamiya had measured down an empty M48, and with more than 9,000 pounds taken off its suspension it sat about 4" too high, which unfortunately Tamiya faithfully replicated. It was also “motorized” so its hull was compromised with numerous slots and screw holes for that equipment. A clone of this kit was also offered for a while by Academy.
In 2013 two new kits were announced, one from AFV Club and one from DML; the latter is first to the market. DML’s kit shows a great deal of planning for other variants, and as it sits now it can be produced as an early M48A3, an M48A2 or M48A2C, or an M48A5 with little changes needed other than a new sprue or two. Based on the rear engine deck hull side fittings, it also appears that an M48 and M48A1 will also follow.
The kit appears to have taken a lot of comments by modelers into account, and looks to have used some pretty good research. Recent comments about the height of the turret seem to find the Tamiya turret a bit suspect, and this one measures 25.3 mm from lower edge to flat roof. The shapes compare favorably with those in the Hunnicutt book, and all details for the basic Model B tank are present. The riser block is a single clear molding but will need some tinting to more accurately represent those on the actual tank. However, for reasons best known to DML they have left off the VVS-2 searchlight assembly (but did mold the power feed to the roof of the turret). The basic mounts are in place but are missing the ball fittings.
Also an oddity is why, considering their great use of DS Plastic parts with other kits, DML did not provide the mantlet with its canvas cover and gun tube boot as found on nearly all of the Vietnam era tanks. Of all major manufacturers, DML could have done this and pleased all of the modelers eagerly awaiting this kit. As it is, either they will have to await a later version of the kit or go to the after-market boys for a replacement.
The turret comes with the early model T-shaped muzzle brake. This is not wrong, but later tanks adopted a slightly Y-shaped one due to problems with “Beehive” flechette rounds tending to cause the muzzle brake to shatter.
The bustle rack is the basic model and comes in five parts, all of which are suitably thin and scale. Ditto for the hand rails on the sides of the turret.
The hull comes in two halves with all other components having to be attached to them such as the engine deck, stern plate, and fenders. The fenders have part of the edge of the turret race molded to them; the M48A5 will need holes in them so it will be interesting to see what DML does when it gets to that tank. Due to the breakdown of parts an A2 will be easy for them to accomplish as the replacement side louvers without air cleaner feed should be a drop-fit from a new sprue. The kit comes with the correct “side load” air cleaners for this variant.
The suspension is by far the most involved part of the kit. The road wheels each consist of a tire/rim and a center section, so they git a much better “lip” at the outer edge of the wheel. Surprisingly the drivers are solid and do not come with the cleanout holes found in nearly all of the tanks built. The suspension units consist of a hull mount, jounce stop, two-piece shock absorber and road wheel arm. The arms appear a bit fragile.
The tracks are neatly done in DS Plastic and happily include three links of overlap for connection, which makes it easier to shorten them for attachment if too long or too loose.
No technical assistance credit is provided.
Oddly again, four finishing options are given but none are given any color! The only color cited is FS34102 green which is wrong for Vietnam era tanks, as most of them were in FS24087 semigloss or FS14087 gloss olive drab. Markings are provided for: Unidentified Unit, 1965 (tiger mouth, USA 9B8215, “Wild One 4"); Unidentified Unit, 1965 (USA 09A38468); Unidentified Unit, 1965 (USA 9A 9997, weight marking, white stars); B Company, 3rd Tank Battalion, USMC, Vietnam 1965 (B33, but a number jungle is provided for A, B or C Company tanks). A sheet of Cartograf decals provides the markings. Considering the fact this was the most common US tank in Vietnam (other than the early M48A2 deployment with the Marines) this is something of a disappointing selection.
Overall, however, there is far more to cheer about this kit than to carp upon, and the fact that a series are apparently in planning bodes well for modern armor fans.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Manufacturer: Dragon Models
Material: Styrene & Etched Brass
Serial Number: 3544
The M48 Patton medium tank. The M48 was a development of the M47, and it performed an interim role until the arrival of the M60 main battle tank. The M48 was the primary tank of the US Army & US Marine Corps (USMC) during the vicious Vietnam War. The new kit represents the M48A3 variant, which the army accepted into service in February 1963 and the USMC the following year.
M48A3s featured a new diesel engine and a range of features were apparent because
all were converted from older variants. The USA would deploy more than 600 M48s
to Vietnam, the first arriving in-country in 1965. They performed well in the
infantry support role, but there were few tank-versus-tank clashes. Many M48A3s
were later handed over to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) when US
troops began leaving the country.
The Kit Contents
It almost seems that this is the first all new kit from Dragon for quite a while? It can't be...can it? I'd have to go through all the various recent releases to find out for sure. Anyhow...this one is. All new that is. It's a model representing the vehicle as it would have appeared during the Vietnam War. The kit consists of a number of light grey styrene sprues, a small transparent one, two vinyl poly caps, wire tow cable, decal sheet, two runs of vinyl tracks, and no photo etch. Seriously. I can't remember the last time I received a 1/35th scale Dragon kit without even a tiny PE fret. Been a while. Still...that's sort of good depending on how you look at it. It could mean that they don't include PE just for the sake of it. Good design that. Confidence in their product.
The instructions run to six sides...which mean it shouldn't be that complicated a build. I've had much longer sets of instructions from Dragon. The parts, as you would imagine...and as you can see below...are beautifully moulded. Absolutely no ejector pin marks, no flash, and the turret and hull exhibit a great cast texture, including various casting numbers where they're supposed to be. Construction is straightforward, beginning with the assembly of the running gear and suspension onto the lower and upper hull parts. Both the drive sprockets and idler wheels are constructed from multiple parts, the return rollers being fixed to the upper hull, and the suspension units being fitted to the lower hull, and then upper and lower hulls being joined. The tracks included in the kit are of the Dragon DS-100 vinyl type and can be cemented with ordinary styrene cement.
The engine deck is highly detailed and is constructed from fitting various separate panels onto the shell of the upper hull. As a result of this none of the various hatches can be made to open of course. The fenders are also supplied as separate parts too.
As with the upper hull, the turret is moulded with cast texture, consisting of a slide moulded shell onto which all the various are fixed. There's no internal detail as such, although the hatches are all supplied as separate parts and so can be displayed open as long as you intend putting a crew member or two in place to obscure the inside. The cupola is constructed from multiple parts, including transparent parts for the periscopes. Although the included .50 cal consists of just the barrel, and therefore nothing would be visible with the hatch opened. The same can be said of the main M1 gun, the barrel of which is supplied as one moulding, with a separate part for the end to represent the brake. No breech whatsoever.
There are four marking schemes illustrated on the instruction sheet, three of which are of unidentified vehicles in 1965, se below for full details.
Many thanks to Dragon models for the sample.
DR3544: U.S. M48A3 Mod. B
1/35 injection plastic kit with photo etch and decals
The M48 Patton was a widely used medium tank with the US Army and Marines during the Vietnam War, and continued in service with the US after the war.. It was also used by many of the US's allies, including West Germany and Turkey; with a few still in service. It was originally intended as an interim design until the M60 main battle tank was introduced, however improvements greatly increased it capability.
One of the most major improvements was the American M48A3 program which saw over 1,000 existing tanks upgraded with a diesel engine with the first tanks delivered in early 1943. The new engine greatly increased their combat range over the previous petrol (gasoline) engine, and reduced their risk of the tank catching fire when hit (this was a significant problem with petrol Pattons). The M48A3 Mod. B was fitted with a G-305 riser for the commander's cupola to improve visibility, several internal improvements, and in many cases reinforced fenders and headlamp guards.
This all new kit from Dragon represents an M48A3 Mod. B as fielded in Vietnam. This is the first modern tooling of the M48 Patton series in 1/35 scale and represents a very significant improvement in accuracy and finesse over older releases from past decades. This kit addresses the known shortcomings of those older kits.
The kit is in the Smart Kit format and has over 200 parts. It benefits from the use of slide-molding and one-piece Dragon Styrene tracks. Features such as the casting texture on the turret, engine deck vents and the torsion suspension show an attention to detail. The gatefold instructions have 14 steps of clearly presented line drawings. Test fitting of key parts is favorable and the few injection marks will be well hidden on your completed kit. The tow cable is made with twisted metal.
The main turret shell is a single piece that is slide molded with realistic casting surface texture and an integrated casting number. This large hemispherical piece is an impressive example of modern tooling. The 90mm M1 tank gun has the T shaped muzzle deflector (separate part) and can elevate..
The commander's hatch is detailed with a separate clear plastic ring for the vision blocks on the cupola riser. The enclosed cupola itself is made from eight parts with the main piece being quite complex and detailed. The 0.50 MG can elevate and has detailed vent indentations, the cupola can rotate and the commander's hatch be modeled open or closed.
The rear stowage frame is made from 5 parts and tooled so the parts will align without undue fuss. The frame is the earlier open design. Separate parts provide numerous other details such as lifting points, clear plastic periscope and separate guard, range finders, turret interrupt bar, hatches with separate handles, US army jerry can (4 parts), and antennae rod. This kit does not include a search light or canvas mantel cover seen in many photos (and box art).
The crisp tooling and well considered parts break down of the hull is what most impressed me about this kit. The hull is based around the large slide molded upper and lower hull parts. Both feature realistic casting texture.
The M48A3 had a new raised engine deck to accomodate the diesel engine and larger fuel tank. The upper hull has a flat base for the engine deck. The engine deck parts sit on this base and hint that earlier version of the M48 may be planned. The engine deck itself is made from several parts with detail for the louvers, bolt heads etc. Another single part depicts all the louvers on the hull rear.
The side fenders are each one long piece with a fair amount of integrated detail such as support brackets. Separate parts provide the fender extensions and other fittings such as tool boxes.
The torsion bar suspension is nicely detailed with plenty of interest for modellers. Each road wheel is made from four parts including a separate tyre and these are fitted in pairs onto detailed mounts and arms. The drive sprockets are detailed with four parts for each sprocket and two for their mounting. This kit has five return rollers (some Pattons had 3) and no rear tension adjusting idler which is a combination often seen in references.
The tracks are the glueable one-piece Dragon Styrene (DS) type and have detail on both faces as well as crisp accurate guide horns.
A medium sized decal sheet by Cartograf has markings for four tanks which are profiled on the instruction sheet with 3 views each. All tanks have solid olive drab and are dated 1965 which is during the Vietnam War.
The first one is the Patton in the box art with the red and white mouth and eyes on the glacis. Other white markings include 'HACR-X' on the glacis, 'Wild One 4' on the barrel tube, and registration markings for "US ARMY 9B6215'.
The second tank also has white markings being 'US ARMY 09A38468' and a small stenciled notice on the front.
The third tank also has white 'US ARMY 9A 9997', 52 on a yellow circle, and five white stars..
The last tank is from 3rd Marine Tank Battalion and has a USMC registration and a generic set of letter and number decals for A, B and C companies.
Also included are generic registration numbers and prefixes.
Dragon's Patton M48A3 Mod B is a significant new release, and particularly pleasing news for modelers interested in Vietnam and/or modern US armor. The kit is a totally new subject with crisp new tooling done to today's standards. Out of the box, this kit should be enjoyable to build and will represent a Patton typical of many deployed in Vietnam. I am definitely looking forward to any future releases in this series. Definitely recommended.