Monday, March 2

Read'n Review: Pla Editions' Modelling the Abrams Vol.1

Pla Editions latest “Special” edition has gone from the Fennek book we looked at a little while ago, to the namesake of their magazine as a subject. This book – No #I in a series of two is called “Modelling the Abrams” and you can guess what the book is about. We take a look in today’s review…
Modelling the Abrams Vol.1
Pla Editions
125 pages, softcover A4 Portrait
Colour Pictures throughout
All Texts in English
Price: 25€ from Pla Editions directly or their Distributors Worldwide

When you run a magazine that features all modern warfare weapons and armoured fighting vehicles and you call it “Abrams Squad”  you think that maybe you might consider doing a special on this one tank that is probably the most prominent amongst all tanks in the world right now*.

*I say arguably people...

Well Pla Editions is taking this good advice (not mine) and making just that – a special soft covered book in A4 of 125 pages that not only centres on six different builds of this tank but also a lot of photo reference and accompanying info on making this vehicle come to life….

..In fact they are making two books about this tank – and today we are have read and now reviewing the just released volume I in this two-parter. 
This book is broken up into eight main chapters. Two parts of the book being reference on the Abrams and the other six parts being builds by some very good modellers. In fact it is twenty five pages into the book before we look a t a model. A lot of homework and reference is in these parts of the book.

The first of these sections id four pages of text and pictures of Damon Burke and the rest of his crew in their own Abrams in the Gulf War.
This is a really good section, because not only does Damon tell us about the war and his experiences in his Abrams but also of the things he sees on models of the Abrams which should and shouldn’t be on the models you make. To have first-hand knowledge like this in a modeller’s sensibility make for some great reading.

The next eighteen pages of the book take us right though the history of the Abrams Main Battle Tank. The evolution and conceptualization of this tank is told through pretty straight forward small sections on each of the variants as they were developed through the factory prototypes right through to the TUSK II variants we see nowadays on the proving ranges. 
This section list the differences in variants and evolution in a very handy and easy to read roadmap though the development. Foreign uses of the type are also listed. There are some nice pictures to illustrate what the authors are talking about and this section certainly made be better understand this tank and what changed and when. No doubt I would need to go back to it to make sure of a fact but the proof would be quick and easy to find in this section.

Then we get onto “hot plastic” with John Murphy’s build of one of the first Abrams to come off the production line. His story “The first of the Breech: M1 in REFORGER” features an Abrams on the firing range in West Germany in the 80’s. This features a very clean looking green Abrams in almost initial condition. The article is top and tailed by great pictures of reference relating to this vehicle which is also repeated throughout the book.
It is nice to see a build that uses not just one brand of paints. John Murpy’s Abrams is seen with minimal wear and some clever painting that makes the most out of a clean body and a new(ish) tank. The build is presented in a loosely laid out step by step (SBS) style of build that is easy to follow. The groundwork explanation and the several helpful tips through the article (all of them) are a great little bonus and grab your attention.
Ricardo Merino and Jose Luis Lopez team up for the next article – called “One shot, One Hit, One Kill: M1A1HA in ODS” this article features an Abrams in the First Gulf War where the Abrams had it’s first real test under fire. Again we are served lots of picture and textual reference in order to best model your own kit of the same thing.
After we learn the proper way to add the missing ingredients of the anti-slip texture to the Tamiya kit these guys add a voyager set and a lot of skill to the mix to make their mine plow which is added to with a lot of scratched extras. The Grey/dark grey base under the desert sand paintjob came out all right as well. About the only thing I would have added was a commander to interact with the Iraqi who kneels in submission in the diorama.
Next we get all sweet with Lukasz Orczyc-Musialek’s model titled “The picture for my Girlfriend: M1A1 AIM in Kosovo” in which this Abrams is seen in NATO camouflage (with helpful notations on this scheme of course in the article.) this dragon kit made me look twice when I saw Lukasz’ undercoat colours!
A very nice paint and earth job was done on this model and it was topped off with some interesting choices for groundwork in the form of smartly scratch built rock barriers and aftermarket accessories that added just enough variety to the scene.
Next is the “Tal Afar Peace Keeper: M1A2 SEP1 in OIF” which features an Abrams by Chris Jerrett. Although far more modern with newer gear than some of the earlier tanks in this book this Dragon kit of the M1A2 SEP1 is seen in a dio explained by the author as a tense situation in Iraq in 2005 – before the improved TUSK 2 armour these tanks were mean but not invincible and as Chris conveys just this and I like the way this article was written.
Several pictures of these tanks in this timeframe are included in the article. The piece then goes into a few pages of build which includes all of the parts laid out and then a good step by step process of paint and modulation and then weathering to achieve the final effect which is added to by a single figure. It is a very nicely finished model with a great many colour nuances incorporated into the hull.
Anthony Guarderas is next with his Abrams model build called “Path of Destruction: ABV in Afghanistan.” The ABV was the Assault Breacher Vehicle and it was used to clear obstacles and mines in combat. This one was used in Afghanistan by the US Marines. This was the one with the long cable lined with explosives shot forward into a suspected minefield and then detonated whilst the mine plow on the front dealt with any remaining. Heaps of pictures are presented to show this and further get the modelling blood pumping.
The kit itself is a Dragon kit combined with a DEF Models ABV accessory kit. This makes up into a very tough (but not with a gun tough) looking Abrams in desert tan. The DEF Models kit looks like a very nice addition to the piece and the bad ass looking plough on this turretless high and explosive reaction armoured tank makes it look like a great subject. I enjoyed finding out more about not only this vehicle and the process of making it in plastic.
Now we are talking! Pere Pla is up lastly with a very nice “Aussie Abrams: M1A1 AIM in Australia” which I can almost see in my mind after getting to grips with an Aussie Abrams on the weekend at an airshow I was at.
I can say that Pere has captured not only the colours but the unique colours of the dirt and scratches they leave on these tanks. A helpful tutorial in working with resin is included as well as some great pictures of Aussie Abrams driving through someone’s paddocks ruining everything they bump into which are a hoot. I really like the baked on dirt Pere has added and the two figures which I am not sure what they are looking at – maybe on the lookout for “Drop Bears”?
Well that is it from Volume I. This book is very similar to the Fennek book we looked at but it improves on that book in size, reference and number of builds. The models here are great, there are no advertisements in this book which often happen in crossovers and the historical way that we look at these vehicles in a timeline add to your understanding. That and the reference at the start and trough the book which is directly tied to what you are looking at make this a great book for all modellers.

Roll on Volume II!

Adam Norenberg
You can get yours from Pla Editions website directly Thanks to them for sending this to read and review.