Book Review
Operation Iraqi Freedom, US Army, Abrams, Bradley & Stryker
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by: Jason Bobrowich [ LEOCMDR ]


In the modelling world having reference material, examples of modelling projects, options for finishing, and detailed lists of kits and aftermarket accessories are must haves for those modellers wanting to build accurate projects, improve their modelling skills, and utilize aftermarkets parts and the best kit available at the time.

This information can be generally found in a variety of locations and can take the modeller as much time as they want to invest into researching and developing project materials.

Wouldn’t it be nice if a single book included reference images, colour drawing plates, complete modelling projects on multiple projects, and a complete list of kits and aftermarket items for those projects?

If a reasonably priced book included reference articles for three modern AFVs and then provided colour plates for variations of those three modern AFVs and then provided complete builds of those three modern AFVs and then finished off with providing complete kit and aftermarket list for those three modern AFVs that would be a good thing, right?

Well, look no more! Authors Andy Renshaw and Ryan Harden in conjunction with SAM Publications has produced a comprehensive book including reference images, colour plates, detailed lists of kit and aftermarket products, and complete detailed builds of an M1A2 TUSK, M2A2 ERA Bradley, and a M1126 slat armoured Stryker.


This book is the first in a new series of “Armor Datafiles” from SAM Publications. The book focuses on the Abrams, the Bradley, and the Stryker. In a very welcome and well thought out approach the book provides the modeller with historical information on the vehicles, in action and walkaround reference images of the vehicles and variants, and multiple colour plate profiles of the vehicles depicted in different paint schemes over the course of OIF. The three vehicles are then built in individual modelling articles that explain in details the build of the kit, modifications and additions, painting, and the weathering process. To finish the book the modeller is provided with an extensive list of kits and aftermarket parts for the three vehicles.

The 127 page book is printed in soft cover in a 210 x 297 mm format. The reference images, build images, and colour profiles are all of a very good quality and will for sure assist the modeller in projects.

Many of the reference images are US Department of Defence images, however, an equal amount of images from members of the US Forces are provided to give the modeller a fresh look at the vehicles during OIF.


The book is set up in the following manner:

This provides an overview of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a glossary of terms used in the text of the book.

Chapter 1- The Abrams MBT:
Pages 8 – 21: Abrams Described- This provides a text description of the development, combat operations, and advancements made to the Abrams over the years leading up to the current use of the M1A2 SEP in Iraq. There are a variety of images provided and technical manual drawings of the Abrams including the loading sequence for the main gun. A complete breakdown of the Abrams variants is also included in this section.

Pages 22 – 26: Abrams Walkaround- Walkaround style images of M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams showing the ERA mounts and block details as well as turret stowage, powerpack, and a variety of other turret and hull components.

Pages 27 – 29: Colour Profiles- 6 x half page profiles of M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams deployed to Iraq between 1991 and 2008.

Pages 30 – 43: Abrams Model Build- Ryan Harden builds a M1A2 TUSK using the Tamiya M1A2 Abrams kit, the Legend Productions M1A1 (A2) Abrams TUSK Upgrade kit, Voyager PE slat armour, and an Eduard PE sets. The build provides the model with the integration and addition of the aftermarket sets, the application of the anti-slip surfaces, build tweaks, working with the PE parts, painting process, and aspects of the vehicle weathering. The build project provides the modeller with a variety of level of details that can be added to an Abrams project. The Abrams in the build is generic in nature and does not depict a specific vehicle.

Chapter 2- The Bradley IFV:
Pages 44 – 58: Bradley Described- The beginning of this chapter again describes through text the development of the Bradley Infantry fighting Vehicle from inception to current combat operations in Iraq. Both the M2 and M3 variants are described as well as the armament, the M6 Linebacker, and the BUSK (Bradley Urban Survivability Kit). The images provided the reader with a variety of looks at the Bradley variants while deployed in Iraq.

Pages 59 – 64: Bradley Walkaround- Walkaround style images of Bradleys deployed to Iraq including ERA and mounts, armament, turret and hull details.

Pages 65 – 67: Colour Profiles- 6 x half page colour profile drawings of Bradleys deployed to Iraq.

Pages 68 – 83: Bradley Model Build- Andy Renshaw uses the Academy M2A2 OIF Bradley kit, the Legend Productions M2A3 Conversion & ERA kit, Legend Productions M2A2 (A3) Bradley Detail Set, AFV Club Big Foot Tracks, and Eduard PE sets to build an up to date Iraq deployed M2A2 Bradley. As with the Abrams build the Bradley build is described with captioned images taking the modeller through the process of adding the anti-slip surfaces, detailing the base kit hull and turret, adding the PE parts, and preparing and mounting the resin aftermarket conversion parts. The painting process from priming to pre-shading to producing colour variations is described and shown very well. Weathering and the addition of kit stowage is provided in text captions and images to provide the modeller with ideas for their own project. Overall this is a very good project of an OIF Bradley and it is good to see that the author fully admits that further detailing could have been done around the rear of the TOW launcher in order to make it more realistic.

Chapter 3- The Stryker IFV:
Pages 84 – 99: Stryker Described- The final chapter begins with a description of the development of the Stryker family, the technical features of the powerpack, command, control, and targeting technology, armour protection, and mobility data. There are good descriptions of all of the Stryker family variants, a timeline of the Stryker deployment to Iraq, and information on the elusive CARC tan painted Strykers. The images are again a combination of Department of Defence images as well as privately provided images. The images provide the prospective modeller with a taste of the variety of modifications and upgrades to the armour packages on the variety of the Stryker variants.

Pages 100 – 104: Stryker Walkaround- 19 walkaround images of the Stryker are provided for the modeller. Strangely the variant shown is the M1135 NBCRV (Nuclear Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle). This seems like a very odd variant to provide walkaround images for in relation to Iraq deployed Strykers. The walkaround images unlike the Abrams or Bradley do not show an Iraq deployed vehicle and there is no slat armour fitted to the Stryker. The Stryker appears in pristine condition and as a trade off to seeing an operationally deployed vehicle the modeller will get a clean and clear view of the details.

Pages 105 - 107: Colour Profiles-Six half page colour plate profile drawings of M1126 Strykers are provided. The first two vehicles are shown without the slat armour mounted with captions to indicate that the operational vehicle would have the slat armour package mounted. The other four colour profiles show M1126s with the slat armour fitted. There are no markings visible and all six of the Strykers essentially look the same. It would have been wise of the authors to have included several variants of the Stryker in the colour profiles to catch the reader’s eye.

Pages 108 – 121: Stryker Model Build- Andy Renshaw tackles a build of an M1126 Stryker fitted with slat armour as deployed to Iraq. The build uses the AFV Club M1126 kit as well as the Legend Productions M1126 Stryker Stowage set and US AFV ECM antenna set, the Voyager Model M1126 PE set, Blast Models resin Stryker detail parts, and the Griffon Model Stryker slat armour set. The build focuses on the additional details and aftermarket parts added to the base Stryker kit. This very effectively includes the addition of the anti-slip surfaces, the addition of the aftermarket parts, and a very in depth look at assembling and mounting the delicate PE slat armour package. The painting from primer to post shading is explained and demonstrated with images very well. The weathering process involving washes, dry brushing, pigments, and clear coats provides the modeller with a systematic approach to the weathering process.

Appendix 1- IEDs – An Overview:
This brief sub-chapter provides the modeller with generic information on the construction and use of IED or roadside bombs used in Iraq against coalition forces. Several images are provided that show the devastating effect of IED detonations on a Stryker, HMMWV, Cougar 6x6 MRAP, and for some unknown reason a Canadian Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle in Afghanistan.

Appendix II- Kitography:
I was very pleasantly surprised to see four full pages dedicated to listing all of the kits and aftermarket parts available for the Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker at the time of the book development. It is an impressive list with each kit or set listed by manufacturer, scale, reference #, description, and notes relating to which base kit the aftermarket set is designed for. This is an very valuable resource and will save modellers not up to date with all of the kits and aftermarket parts a great deal of effort and allow them to seek out the kits and sets they want for their project very quickly.


Overall this book is a great approach that should leave the modeller wondering why this has not been done before with other books. Kudos to SAM Publications for producing this book and hopefully we will see further books of similar modern content in the future.

The book provides modellers with reference material, model builds to follow or to adapt techniques from, and a very detailed immediate reference to a large amount of kits and aftermarket items.

When I first saw the cover of this book I thought it was just another historical and technical account of these three vehicles. The cover of the book does nothing to indicate that the content is the equivalent to approximately thirteen standard modelling magazine articles. This is a very good deal for the price of the book.

If you are interested in building an Abrams, Bradley, or Stryker and are looking for information on the vehicles, a modelling guide to building one, and a list of all the parts and kits you can use for your project then this is the book for you.
Highs: A value for the price given the large scope of information provided to the modeller in the book content. Excellent modelling projects to inspire all levels of modeller.
Lows: The Stryker walkaround images limited to a non-deployed vehicle and the Stryker colour profiles appear almost identical to each other.
Verdict: Great approach to providing the modeller with a “one stop” book on modelling the Abrams, Bradley, or Stryker.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ADF 01
  Suggested Retail: £19.99
  PUBLISHED: Jun 01, 2010
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to SAM Publications!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jason Bobrowich (LeoCmdr)

Copyright ©2021 text by Jason Bobrowich [ LEOCMDR ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks very much. On the SAM Publications site they list Kalmach Books as the North American distributor. Squadron carries SAM Publication books...I would expect it is just a matter of time before they get them in stock.
JUN 04, 2010 - 04:58 AM
all, spruebrothers has it in stock.. Link to item they currently have 25...they had 36 or so last week..this is the second shipment they have gone through. Im not sure who else is stocking it. Greatmodels maybe? glad you all like it...the ODS one is going to be even better. Thanks for a good review and the comments.. its good solid reviews like this that I need to continue to improve upon the titles and content. Thanks again everybody!
JUN 04, 2010 - 05:06 AM
I ordered mine from Great Models and will get it today. I'm excited to say the least.
JUN 04, 2010 - 06:17 AM
Thank you for the review - it was very helpful information for me. I probably would have missed this book (I admit sheepishly) if not for the review. What a cool idea. I'm looking forward to getting one, and hoping future issues like this are on the horizon.
JUN 04, 2010 - 07:25 AM
Thanks for reviewing this Jason, excellent as usual And thanks to Andy and Ryan for putting this book together. I had the opportunity to take a quick look through it and am very impressed, to say the least. Great work all around!
JUN 04, 2010 - 10:35 AM
I think from the way Osprey's offerings have gone lately, they have shifted away from fine scale modeling in general. From the direction they've taken in the last few years, the primary demographic seems to be miniature wargamers, this being clearest in that Osprey has their own rules set out and just recently entered into partnership with another organization to publish theirs.
JUN 04, 2010 - 10:59 AM
I think this is a great concept. I thought of Osprey too, and how they didn't really cover much in the way of modern subjects. SAM seems to have taken this idea one step further with the inclusion of 1:1 pics; there's a lot of potential for future titles. Nice review Jason.
JUL 10, 2010 - 04:56 PM
Thanks Graeme....I have been in touch with SAM about a possible Canadian focused release.
JUL 11, 2010 - 02:36 PM
Bill; I ordered mine from Todd
JUL 11, 2010 - 03:24 PM

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