by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
Bags filled with earth been used by armies to provide extra protection since the beginning of time. Extra layers of earth can add a significant level of protection against gunfire, and later, anti-tank rocket fire. With the introduction of the shaped charge anti-tank rocket in WWII, adding sandbags to the outside of armored vehicles was used as an effective extra level of defense against them. In Vietnam, the Soviet RPG-2 (B-40) anti-tank rocket was used against US armored vehicles. As a defense, again, sandbags were used.
Legend provide another great resin set for adding detail and some variety to the new Dragon 1/35 M48A3 series of tanks from the Vietnam War. This set provides the sandbag armor for the turret and front glacis plate of the tank, along with an externally-mounted .50 cal M2 Browning MG and its mount. It was common to mount the .50 cal outside the commanderís cupola to give him a better field of fire and more flexibility as opposed to being closed down inside the tank. The pieces includes 4 large resin sections of preformed sandbags for the turret (front, 2 sides, and rear), 1 smaller preformed sandbag piece for the front glacis, 6 pieces of track (4 double track sections, 2 single), 7 parts for the .50 cal and mount, a length of ammo belt for the MG, 4 sections of rod to replace any track pins that may have broken off, and a small instruction page that shows the MG assembly and where to place the track links.
Each sandbag section is molded to conform to the shape of the turret and major sub-assemblies on it. They are molded to interlace together where two pieces meet, forming a very neat seam along them. The molded sandbags also include track sections molded onto the bottom of each side piece. The left side also has an integrally molded fuel can, while the right side has an integrally molded 40mm ammo can. These will make it interesting and break up the monotony of the sandbags a bit. The glacis plate pieces looks as though it will only fit onto the Dragon M48A3 MOD B kit (3544) by the way it conforms to the headlights. I donít think it will fit on the M48A3 kit (3546) due to the different shaped light clusters. The sandbag sections are very well molded with crisp details and very nice definition. The .50 cal MG and its mount are also finely molded with good details. They will look good on top of the cupola.
The set doesnít really have any instructions that show how to place the sandbag sections, but none are really needed. The only issue is that there are no instructions that tell you what parts need to be left off as you are building the tank to allow the resin pieces to sit properly on it. On the turret, the following pieces need to be left off: lift rings (G15 x2, G16), side rails (G1, G2), sight covers (H7 x 2), loaderís hatch hold-down (G8), MG restrictor bar (G23), cupola sight (H5), gunnerís periscope (G11, G14, H3), cupola-mounted .50 cal barrel (F19), the 2 water cans (G12, G13, G21, G22), and cut off the cable connector bump for the searchlight. On the front glacis, leave off the lift rings (C9 x2) and the fire extinguisher pull housing (D10).
This set is very nice and only requires minimal clean-up after removing the pour blocks. This will add extra detail and interest to your M48A3 model. Dragon has another winner with this set. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Vietnam armor.