by: Pete Becerra [ ]
During the summer of 1990, Iraq, one of the world’s largest armies invaded the small country of Kuwait. On 2 August 1990, 35 nations, led by the United States, responded to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait. President George H.W. Bush deployed U.S. forces into Saudi Arabia for the allied build up against Iraq and the defence of Saudi Arabia. This was the largest military alliance since WWII and was called Desert Shield. From 2 August 1990 to 17 January 1991 troops poured into the country of Saudi Arabia. On 17 January 1991, allied forces began its air attack against the army of Iraq. Operation Desert Shield was now changed to Operation Desert Storm. On 24 February 1991, allied forces began its ground attack. On 28 February 1991, coalition forces declared a cease fire against the Iraqi Army, exactly 100 hours after the ground war started.
The M1 Abrams, named after General Creighton Abrams and the United States 3rd generation main battle tank, entered service in 1980. Loaded with a 105 mm rifled barrel, 2x 7.62mm machine guns, one being coaxial and the other for the loaders position, and 1 .50 Cal M2 machine gun for the track commander, it leads America’s forces into the 20th century. During 1986 and 1992 the Abrams got a reboot with a 120mm smoothbore gun and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defence) protection system and dubbed the M1A1 Abrams. 1848M1A1 Abrams deployed to Saudi Arabia. 23 M1A1 Abrams were damaged or destroyed during the war.
I am not sure if this kit is the 2nd or 3rd Abrams release because at the same time, Rye Filed Models released this kit and its M1A1/A2 Abrams kit with full interior. Never the less this is one of Rye Field Models releases in its line of Abrams kit, this time a M1A1 Abrams from Operation Desert Storm, 1991. I recently did the review/build feature on their M1A2 SEP Abrams TUSK I/ TUSK II/ M1A1 TUSK kit. So rather than go through all the ins and outs of the kit again, you can just refer to the article here: M1A1 TUSK Build http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=features&file=view&artid=7254. The only major deference in the two kits are going to be the different “dog house” (gunner sight) cover, blow off panels, and tracks.
A couple of key points to know about the kit:
Ken Piniak, call sign tankerken6011 was correct about the tank commanders hatch cloth strap. It is not supposed to be there. It was a MWO (Modified Work Order) that came later on in the years.
Pay very close attention to the direction of the track pads. If looking at the front of the tank, the pads on the track should form the “V”. I don’t know how I managed it or what I was doing, but I placed the right track on backwards. It was brought to my attention by some tankers during that time frame, that some track pads, as much as 8, have been put on backwards, but not a whole track.
Last thing is how you load your tank with gear. Since Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom started and the model manufacturers are producing kits from these wars, modelers have gone back and tried to reproduce models of vehicles from Operation Desert Storm with the aftermarket gear kits from the these two most recent wars. The final part of this article will cover the correct and in-correct gear and equipment used in Operation Desert Storm/Shield.
I have provided a few Power Point slides that show the difference in gear and equipment found during Operation Desert Shield/Storm compared to today and Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. One slide shows what NOT to use in the newest Tamiya Modern U.S. Military Equipment Set #35266, which I see most modellers use for modern U.S. vehicles.
Two of the most obvious things I have seen wrong on models from the Desert Storm era are the use of today’s MRE boxes and body armor on the crew members.
In the late 1900’s/ early 2000’s, the box changed from a smaller rectangular shaped box to a larger squarer box. Also changed was the color of the MRE package itself. It went from a dark brown package to a more pinkish/tan package.
The body armor that the crew members wore during Desert Storm was different from today. Still seen on crew members today and then there was the Body Armor, Fragmentation Protective, Undergarment Combat Vehicle Crewman’s. The PASGT or “flak vest” was used from the 1980’s up until the early 2000’s when the IBA (Interceptor Body Armor) took over and now the IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest.)
Other equipment as in ruck sacks, helmets, sleeping bags, and web gear is covered in the slide I have provided.
Lastly is the uniform that was worn during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I haven’t really seen too much of a time frame mix up in uniforms for crew members on models in this area, but some get confused on all the different uniforms that the U.S. Military has worn during that conflict and now. Based on personal experience, accounts from other Veterans, and internet research, the DCU (desert camouflage/ 3 color uniform was worn both in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was rarely seen during the 1990/1991 conflict and only seen at the beginning of the Iraqi Freedom conflict. Mostly seen on tank crew members during Desert Storm/Shield was the BDU (Battle Dress/ Woodland Camo Uniform), DBDU (Desert Battle Dress/ 6 color “chocolate chip” Uniform), or the CVC NOMEX Combat Vehicle Coveralls OD Green. Today, you see the NOMEX coveralls in OD Green, Tan, and in the Universal Camouflage Pattern. As for everyday uniform, the Universal Camouflage Pattern (ACU pattern) is still being used, but is being replaced with the OCP (Operational Camouflage Pattern) as we speak and the Universal Pattern will no longer be able to be worn in September 2019.
Even though I had a very small part in the R & D of the Dragon M1A1 AIM kit and for a while there I said there was no other kit that can compare, I’m starting to think differently with the recent releases from Rye Field Models. Having built their first Abrams release, this release and currently working on the release with full interior, I think RFM is giving these other model companies a run for their money. Once again, RFM has made our jaws drop to the floor and widen our eyes with their announcement of their upcoming release of the U.S. Army and Marines M1 Assault Breacher Vehicle in plastic. Even though RFM’s line up is kept just to the WWII Tiger I tank and M1A1/A2 Abrams tank right now, they’re a company to look out for. So is noted as what RFM did modelers sent feedback about the directions for their kits and soon posted correction on their Face Book page.