The Fourth release in the Dragon Bradley series and the one that I have been waiting for the longest. So what do we get?? all four Bradley's share the same hull (bottom and top) the first two sprues, the wheels and to some degree the tracks but more about that later. The M2A2 with ERA is currently in operation in Iraq and there are plenty of pictures on the net to help when making this kit.The Dragon Bradley's are later versions of this vehicle than the Revell kit, with the Dragon kits having the newer tracks and the fluted barrel for the gun, there is also a slightly different layout for the turret armour, the Revell kit would be alright for a period of up to and including Desert Storm in 1990 and shortly thereafter, the Dragon kits range from the Modifications since Desert Storm up until present day
The Hull has a similar breakdown as the Revell Bradley, with the exception that the Dragon lower hull is a single piece with suspension arms moulded in place. Although Dragon go on about slide moulding, it is in fact nothing new and has been around for years, but all credit to dragon for now taking it to new heights and using it in ways not thought of before. The upper hull is similar to the Revell hull with notable exceptions, mainly the great big screw hole in the front plate. However there are other more subtle differences, noticeable amongst these is the open drivers hatch, the radiator covers next to the driver show the correct mesh pattern and the exhaust louvers have the actual exhaust missing (it is included in the kit though) The rear troop hatch is separate with the option of the M2 or the M3 hatches to fit.
The two main sprues, which are common to all kits, contains most of the parts to be fitted, including two gun barrels, one fluted and one not, which although a little fat can be used to replace the Revell barrel with the incorrect muzzle brake. Also on these sprues are the two side plates and the front plate(which hides the screw hole) plus all the other add on armour and parts for the turret.
In the M2A2 with ERA and the 2004 version, there is an extra sprue that contain the parts to bring the Bradley up to date with the latest modifications, these include new front armour plate which doesn't have the old redundant fittings for the swim barrier, new lower hull frontal armour of a single plate instead of the two plates on earlier models, a new drivers hatch and attachment for the latest version are included as are the two rubberized holders for the side armour.Also included is a new lower turret half with the new 7.62mm ammunition box holders around the rear turret bin
The M2A2 and the 2004 versions include a new turret top with the new flatter gunners hatch, the add on armour and gun mountings are included on the first two sprues, One of the problems with the kit lies with the turret, well not so much the turret but the gun mantlet armour, As with all Bradley kits including our bigger brethren in 1/35th scale, all manufacturers have cast the mantlet armour as a single piece, whereas in fact it is made of three pieces with only a very small section elevating with the gun as can be seen below, although it is not totally correct as the lower portion should move as well.
The ERA is provided in seven pieces, four of which are for the turret, the mounting brackets for the turret ERA are provided as PE parts, Although the Era has all the nuts and bolts in position they are slightly heavy but other than filing them all of and replacing every single one with something smaller and thinner, you will have to live with it, however that said once painted they are not so noticeable.
The wheel sprue has all the wheels and return rollers, it also includes the later type sprockets, My only moan about the wheels is the fact that you have to insert a rubber grommet inside the wheels, these then push on to the lower hull, this makes for a somewhat loose fitting, with the DS styrene you can use normal cement to help, but with the old vinyl type super glue must be used although not always with the best results.
The PE fret has all the mounting points for the Turret ERA, plus the latch for the armoured cover on the tow launcher and a new drivers hatch latch !
The tracks in the ERA version are made from DS styrene, these are certainly and improvement over the original vinyl type, both are the same and nicely detailed and have the "big foot" pads. To get a good fit with the DS tracks you could do with cutting 1 link out, this makes a nice snug fit without pulling on the suspension, this can be done easily with the DS styrene which can be glued back together with a simple butt joint and still be strong enough to pull round the wheels.
Markings are provided for 4 vehicles in Iraq
The kit measures out to 1/72nd scale, with the exception of the wheels I really like these kits especially with the DS styrene tracks.
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M2 M3 Bradley in Action by Jim Mesko Squadron/Signal Publications
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Jane's Armour and Artillery 1990-91 11th Edition by Christopher F Foss
Jane's Tanks and Combat Vehicles Recognition guide Second Edition by Christopher F Foss