EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Dragon’s re-released 1/72 M2A2 Bradley AFV with Explosive Reactive Armour is a superb option for military modellers who favour smaller scales. CHRIS CLIFFORD gives it a thorough inspection.

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Military vehicles in 1/35 scale are often marvellous for the detail they often incorporate, but can be problematic if you’re short on display space. A happy medium lies in some of the better 1/72 armour kits, such as Dragon’s re-released M2A2 Bradley with ERA. If this acronym is unfamiliar to you, it describes a self-protection system comprising steel plates/tiles, with high explosive sandwiched in between. These tiles are attached to the more vulnerable areas of an armoured fighting vehicle (AFV), and they explode when contacted by a projectile  ̶  such as a high-explosive/armour-piercing round, or a rocket-propelled grenade... therefore countering the hostile blast.

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Above: A wealth of detail is already moulded on the turret, but there’s more to add. Note that the large moulding stubs must be removed, and very carefully.

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Above: This Bradley boxing has ODS (Operation Desert Storm) upgrades, including the rear turret stowage bustle.

Dragon’s 1/72 Bradley (kit 7415) first appeared in 2004, and successive boxings have portrayed different sub-types and equipment fits… and one even provided an interior. The defining characteristic of this M2A2 is its ERA, but the kit as a whole is absolutely packed with fine detail, and it’s astonishing how much refinement is present on a small kit. Also provided are M2A2 ODS (Operation Desert Storm) additions, such as different stowage facilities.

Starting with the upper hull part, this is festooned with integrally moulded tools and super-fine mesh/bar screens, but the moulding attachment gate is very thick and only a razor saw will remove this safely without damaging the component. The turret unit that attaches to this is very busy indeed (also with a thick moulding gate), featuring separate ERA with photo-etched brass brackets, a semi-circular stowage bustle, TOW missile launcher (which can be posed in travel or firing positions), smoke grenade launchers and of course the cannon.

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Above:  The array of Explosive Reactive Armour tiles to be attached to the glacis plate.

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Above: The one-piece lower hull unit, which will look much busier once the well-detailed running gear is attached.

The blocks of ERA for the glacis and hull sides are beautifully moulded items, with fine bolts, and the rear plate with access door is also impressive, sporting a moulded tow cable with mounting brackets, and deft little door hinges. Dragon has also attempted to portray the fluting on the gun barrel and this is a partially successful effort, as it is difficult to discern.

With five styrene runners – one carrying individual wheels, drive sprockets, idlers and return rollers  – a separate hull and its upper, and turret, the entire package offers just as many parts as some 1/35 kits. The tracks are of the ‘rubber band’ variety but are well moulded and will look convincing once painted and weathered. Another superb inclusion is that of excellent infantry rucksacks and a tarpaulin roll in soft styrene, to give your Bradley that business-like appearance.

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Above:  There's a high standard of moulding on the vehicle's rear area. Check out the tow cable in its brackets... superb.

A tiny decal sheet provides vehicle numbers, and there are four colour schemes with a mix of camouflage and desert sand. The US Army units, all based in Iraq, are:

•    1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Tikrit, 2004
•    2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Baghdad, 2004
•    1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Balad, 2004
•    1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, Samarra, 2003

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

Above: The refined upper hull has many features in place but some, such as the tools, will demand deft painting.

If you’re looking to make the leap to 1/72 armour subjects, or you currently build in this scale and are looking for a new project, this Bradley ticks all the boxes and should be hugely satisfying. In the UK, Dragon products are imported by The Hobby Company: www.hobbyco.net

See below for more visuals...

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION

EXPLOSIVE PROTECTION