US M2A1 Tank

Kit #: 80/88 Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Any modeler who is enamored with the Sherman tank should be thrilled to get a model of this AFV. Ninety four of the M2A1 medium tank were produced beginning in December 1940 and it is the forerunner of the US Army M3 Medium tank which in turn is the forerunner of the M4 Sherman Medium tank. We can see this heritage in the suspension and track that looks essentially the same as that on the M3. Certain aspects of the engine deck are also the same.
My references state that the M2 series of medium tanks were never sent into combat since as soon as they came off the production line officials realized they were obsolete or obsolescent at best against Axis tanks they were expected to encounter.

  • Looking at the box art to see what should be inside, we see an accurate line drawing of the M2A1 tank. No markings or painting guide is shown.
  • Starting at the top is an octagonal flat-sided turret with visors on each side. There is no commander’s cupola. The main weapon is a 37-mm gun with exterior mantlet with no coaxial machine gun. The turret reminds me strongly of the initial M3 Light tank turret.
  • The superstructure (upper hull) is the truly unique part of this tank, composed of many flat plates riveted together. There are four barbettes, one at each corner, with four 30-cal. Machine guns poking out. There are two side hatches similar to the M3 Medium tank.
  • The suspension looks like that on the M3, with open 5-spoke roadwheels and a fancy-style sprocket wheel.

  • The kit consists of about 21 light amber, cast resin parts. Quality of the molding and detail I think is decent but not up to MarS, MR Models or Retrokit quality and detail; the rivet detail for example is hard to see and there are numerous small air bubbles such as in the mudguards. Clean-up should not be too difficult with a fine saw and sanding stick.
  • At top and bottom of this scan are the track and VVSS suspension, all cast together as one piece. I feel that MGM did the suspension well except for the sprocket. The center of the sprocket is molded solid from one side to the other rather than as two sprocket wheels with a spacer, like we have with the M3 Lee and M4 Sherman sprocket wheels. This is the nature of molding the suspension with track all as one part. The 6-spoke roadwheels are molded solid rather than open. The M2A1 is supposed to have open 5-spoke roadwheels like the M3 Medium tank has. For a fine display model you may wish to replace parts or the whole suspension and track with plastic pieces from an M3 or M4 kit.
  • At upper right are the external mufflers which mount vertically on the rear plate. Below the mufflers is the pour block that held the 37-mm gun barrel before it broke off into two pieces. Several of the machine gun barrels are missing from their pour plug but these can easily be replaced with plastic rod.µ
  • At bottom right is the turret and open turret hatch so we can insert a commander half-figure.
  • In the overhead view of the hull we see the odd unique shape to the front, and the four machine gun barbettes. The engine deck appears similar to that of the M3 Medium tank. On each side of the turret are rectangular hatches.

  • Instead of the typical exploded-view line drawing assembly instructions MGM gives us 5-view set of photos of the assembled but unpainted model. Fortunately the kit is simple enough to assemble that these photos and references photos can be adequate to build the model. Remember to study your reference photos and to dry fit before gluing!
  • In my reference photos the commander’s hatch lays flat atop the turret roof not up at 80 degrees from the roof. Also in my references photos the four hull machine guns are directed more fore and aft rather than pointing out 45 degrees. I don’t think the barbette drums rotated to give a 150 degree or so arc of fire, but I could be mistaken.


  • I find this a nice model kit and the only model of the M2 Medium tank in 1/72 I have found. Quality of the model is good.
  • To build a good display or contest model you could replace the suspension with parts from the Mirage M3 Lee or Grant kit, or use the aftermarket M3 style VVSS bogies for 1/72 scale M3 and early M4 models (Early Gear Set MT 72077, from Modell Trans). Keep in mind you have to use flat block T-41 type of track.

Armored Thunderbolt: The U.S. Army Sherman in World War II, by Steven Zaloga, Stackpole Books (2008) ISBN 978-0-8117-0424-3

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Article Last Updated: 09 January 2013