It is interesting how I can think that a certain model is a pretty good kit, until it gets compared to one that is better. Case in point: the ESCI M60A3. While I am not saying that the ESCI kit is bad by any means, I was just surprised at how much of an improvement was possible to a kit that I used to think was really well done. I guess that's what having 15-20 years of refinement can do to a model. Suffice it to say that this new M60 kit from Revell far surpasses the old ESCI kit in almost every way. I imagine we will soon be seeing brass and resin detail and conversion sets for this kit from a variety of manufacturers.
When I was first looking over the sprues, one of my first thoughts was that Revell really missed an opportunity to give us modelers some options, that being the ability to build either an M60A3, or its older brother the M60A1. The only external differences between the two versions is the thrermal shroud on the gun barrel, an armored cover on the right side stereoscopic sight, and the weather sensor on the bustle rack. Had Revell included two gun barrels, one with the thermal shroud, one without, it would be simple matter to convert the tank. But they didn't. However . . . I then noticed that the parts that make this kit unique to the A3 version, specifically the gun, sensor, and gunsight (and some other details), are grouped together on a separate branch of the sprue and labeled "M60A3". The remainder of the sprues are labled simply as "M60". So, does this mean that Revell will eventually release additional versions of the M60? Let's hope so.
Some specifics about the model: the two turret hatches are open, but the driver's hatch is molded shut. All the wheels are separate (fixing a major flaw in the ESCI kit), and although the torsion bars are "keyed" to insert correctly into the hull, they could easily be modified so that we can alter the sit of specific wheels to replicate travel over uneven ground. The tracks are amazingly well detailed, and most of the smaller hull details are molded separate from the hull. I was lookning to see how the pioneer tools were treated, but I can't find any! Apparently all the tools for this vehicle were stowed in the fender storage bins. I guess one area of improvement I could point out would be to provide open storage bins (wishful thinking?). The cloth texture on the two gun mantlets is extremely well done.
One legitimate complaint I do have, however, is the two-part gun barrel. I understand that molding the gun barrel solid gives the opportunity for sinkholes to form in the thick portions, but generally, those are easier to fix than the seam running down the length of the barrel when it's molded in two halves, as it is here. If this barrel was smooth from the mantlet to the bore, it would be easy to clean up, but with all the steps and edges involved in it, cleaning it will be a chore.
Markings are provided for three vehicles: one Egyptian during the 1999 Bright Star Exercise, one Greek 2003, and one US Army at the Combat Maneuver Training Center at Hohenfels, in 1995. The decals are very well printed.
This is a model that is just crying for aftermarket decal makers to release sets of numerous marking options. Although not to the same scale as the T-54/55, this tank saw a broad export market, and there should be dozens of marking opportunities out there.
Thank you very much to Revell AG for providing the review sample.