ESCI M60 Series

These were some of the last kits released by ESCI before they went defunct. Only released in the ESCI/Ertl 8300 series, they all include the hard plastic, link-and-length tracks typical of that series.

M60A1 (#8315)

This is the base version of the M60, and all the following kits are based on it. Well, it's not exactly the base version of the M60, because the actual "M60" is the base model. But for the operational M60's, the A1 version was the backbone. (For those of you interested, the standard M60 actually more closely resembled a cross between an M60 and an M48.)

Sprue 1 Sprue 2 Sprue 3 Tracks

Overall, this isn't one of the best kits ESCI produced, but it certainly isn't bad. The detail seems a little "soft" and could be a bit more crisp, with sharper edges, etc. But it is abundant, and very accurate as far as I can tell. Although it was one of ESCI's last kits, it still exhibits some old characters, such as all the hatches are closed, and no figures are included.

Although the tracks are hard plastic, the insides are smooth, with no track teeth present. It should be easy, but very time consuming, to add them all by scratch. The rubber track blocks are nicely done, but there are quite a few ejection pin marks which will need to be filled. Note that many of the early M60A1's had the M48-style of track, which had chevrons molded onto the rubber blocks. These tracks can be obtained from an unused M48 kit, if desired.

The wheels are the weakest part of the kit, with each pair molded as a single, double-wide wheel, which was a common shortcut taken by many companies until the new Revell AG kits hit the shelves. The hub detail is pretty good, however. One way to fix the wheels is to carve a groove down the center of the wheel, which you can see that I did in the scan below. But this is very time consuming. Should I do them all like that? Is it possible to make a mold of the wheel I modified, and cast replica's? Would it be easier to simply cut the wheels in half, sand off a portion of the center, and then glue them back together with a spacer in the middle? I did this for the M1 Abrams I built, and it worked well, but the hubs on these M60 wheels are so deep, than I don't think that will work. Basically, I have no idea how to best procede from here. Notice that the return rollers also need the same treatment.

The decals are very well done, thin and with a nice matte finish. Luckily, they are a single color, so registration is not a problem. Unfortunately, there is only one marking option, which is sort of cheap, considering the widespread use of this vehicle around the world. Wouldn't it be cool of some decal manufacturer was to release a set of M60 decals for both US and foreign users?

M60A2 (#8316)

The A2 version had the same hull as the A1, but with a completely different turret and gun. This version was designed to fire the Shellilagh missile, and wasn't a great success. This kit contains the same parts as the A1 version, but with a new sprue of turret parts.

M60A2 Turret

The new parts to this kit exhibit pretty much the same quality as the previous kit. Once again, all the hatches are molded shut. The decals are also just as well done, but once again, markings for only one vehicle are provided.

M60A3 (#8317)

The M60A3 was externally very similar to the A1. The only external differences are the thermal sleeve on the cannon, a wind sensor on the rear turret bustle rack, and an armored shield on a the right side rangefinder. The kit includes a new gun barrel (actually, it includes both the smooth barrel and one with the thermal sleeve), but no wind sensor is included, and no provision is made for the armored rangefinder cover. This cover would likely be hard to see in this scale anyway, and the wind sensor can easily be replicated with some plastic rod.

The kit is identical to the M60A1 kit, with the addition of the new barrel. In the scan for Sprue 3, both barrels are shown, but for the M60A1 kit, only the smooth barrel is included.

Decals are again for only a single vehicle. This time, there are a couple of two-color markings, which if you look closely, you can see are not printed in register (the "17" is not centered in the white field). Good thing ESCI stuck with single color markings for the other kits.

M60 Blazer (#8318)

The final M60 kit represents the Israeli version with reactive armor blocks. The ERA (explosive reactive armor) blocks represent the early Blazer style. Their newest tanks use an improved style of ERA called Magach.

M60 Blazer Sprue

This kit is the same as the M60A3 kit (with two gun barrels), plus an additional sprue of parts for the unique modifications made to the tank by the IDF. These include the ERA blocks, an improved commander's cupola, and three machineguns. The .50cal is very good, but the two 7.62mm guns are poor, and should be greatly improved or replaced entirely. The decals are simple and well-printed.

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