Saturday, March 19

Read n' Reviewed: Abram's Squad #37 from Pla Editions...

New issues of Abrams Squad Magazine are always a chance for Paul Lee to put his feet up and have a good read, and maybe to be a little inspired too? See what he thought about the contents as he takes us through Issue #37 in his review...

Abrams Squad 37
Publisher: PLA Editions
ISSN 2340-1850
96 Pages
Format: A4 Portrait Softcover with colour pictures
Issue 37 of Abrams Squad has arrived for modern armour fans and starts off with an introduction by the editor reflecting on how the way we model is often a reflection of our personality, so a messy workbench is indicative of a modeller that doesn’t finish models and is therefore similarly messy in real life. While it may be true to an extent, I’m not sold on that idea. At the end of the day, this is a hobby after all, and while a messy workbench/ model room may result in an irate partner/wife (if you have one), I’m pretty sure your supervisor/boss will have much more drastic consequences for you if you decide to show them your [insert number] unfinished jobs on your jobs of doom “shelf”. Not that it really matters, we’re here for models, aren’t we?
As usual, we start off with the Commanders Display Unit, aka new releases section which features three kits, the Trumpeter BMD-4 Airborne Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Meng PLA ZTQ15 Light Tank, and Hobby Boss Leopard C2 Mexas with TWMP. The section also features some new paints and finishing products by Ammo, and some 3D printed Modern US Army antenna mast bases by ET Model to go on top of your US AFV
The first article we are given is a pure build review of Rye Field Model’s 1/35 Canadian Leopard 2A6M CAN. As you can see, the slat armour for this tank is provided in styrene and when compared to the picture of the real vehicle provided in the article, the slat armour is much too thick, and will be the biggest talking point of this model. However, PE is not necessarily a medium that is enjoyed by all, and there are those that do not want to spend another significant amount of money upgrading a kit that you just bought for an already significant amount of money. So if you are one of those, then the slat armour will be a bit on the chunky side. The simplest solution is to just leave the additional armour off, if you don’t mind the feeling of all those bits going to waste. The rest of the kit looks very nicely detailed, and features workable suspension and therefore workable tracks, but appears to lack the non-slip texture for the upper surfaces of the vehicle which the review doesn’t mention.
Next up we have Mauricio Mena’s vignette titled “Fury”, which is of an Abrams tank driving off a muddy surface onto a paved one. The author starts off with RFM’s M1A2 SEP V2 kit, and upgrades it with Spade Ace tracks, a variety of after-market, as well as aluminium duct tape for its malleability to simulate the fabric I-MILES bands which looks quite convincing after it is all painted up.
The author takes uses the Valkyrie Bulldozer Crew but replaces the heads with Hornet resin ones, and we are given a brief guide on how he painted the figures. The author then takes us through how he created the base, and makes a good point on creating an uneven surface for the unpaved section to add a bit more dynamism to the scene, which also makes good use of the Spade Ace tracks. I really do like the ultra-muddy effect the author was able to achieve with the Ammo and AK modelling products for the groundwork, and weathering on the vehicle.
Viacheslav Novozhilov takes us through his build of RPG Model’s Typhoon VDV, and upgrades it with Miniarm’s sagged wheel set, Quinta Studio’s interior 3D decals, and Microdesign’s Russian armed forces license plates. The author uses Quinta’s set but we don’t really get to see it in action because the only pictures we get of the interior is through the turret ring, which is a shame, but that is also my gripe about most vehicle interiors. However, with the doors posed closed and the windows tinted blue/green, the interior is pretty much invisible. The author takes us through the intense masking job required for the hard-edged desert camouflage and subtly weathers it resulting in a characteristic modern finish.
Somewhat ironically, Vincenzo Lanna’s vignette is called “No War” but depicts an Israeli Nagmachon APC driving over a rubbish bin, with some unhappy Palestinian boys throwing rocks at the vehicle. The author starts off with the Hobby Boss kit, and appears to build it OOB. The Nagmachon also features some slat armour, which the author doesn’t mention but it does appear to be a bit finer than the RFM offering earlier, however, it could also be a case of the author thinning it himself
The base of the vignette is POLIPAN insulating material and comprises of various after-market including Royal Model’s Goys Throwing Stones set and Garbage Container for this vignette. In particular, the Royal Model Concrete Separation Wall Elements are made of plaster and the author has done a great job with the “wall art” on the concrete blocks.
Modern Japanese armour is definitely a niche subject but not surprisingly popular in the Japanese market, and Kuniyuki Takeuchi has given us a very eye-catching JGSDF Type 90 with a worn looking winter camouflage. The author replaces the vinyl Tamiya tracks with Raupen movable tracks, spruces up some of the Tamiya details with the Passion Model PE set, a Barracuda camo net by Kamizukuri, and even a little bit of scratch building.
Echelon 2021 is a joint military drill led by Russia and includes forces from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikstan, under The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and features a variety of BMPs, BTRs, and T-72s in a desert environment.
Uwe Kern builds Takom’s Bergepanzer 2 kit, and shows us the various modifications he made to the kit such as making the crane workable, and just improving the detail in general. Unhappy with the end connectors Takom provides for the track links, the author trims the off and replaces them with ones from the Bronco Leopard 2 track set.
The dozer blade will always be one of the main focal points for any recovery/construction vehicle so we are shown how the author has achieved his finish for this well-worn area of the vehicle, as well as the weathering the vehicle in general. The author also populates the Bergepanzer with Valkyrie’s 70-80’s Bundeswehr tank crew and also gives us a brief introduction on the clothing worn by these crews. 
The 393rd Tank Battalion was the first unit to receive the new Leopard 2 A7V in September 2021, and we are given some shots of what looks like the presentation ceremony of these vehicles, with some text and pictures explaining the features of this new version which will help those inclined to come up with their own creations rather than wait for a kit to be released.
“The Coalition” is Paco Arévalo’s vignette of an FV432 meeting up with some allied troops on an Iraqi oil well during the first Gulf War. The author starts off with Takom’s kit of the FV432 and improves it with the detail set from Tetra Model Works, as well as some Fruilmodel tracks.
The groundwork and various elements including the oilwell otherwise known as the “Nodding Donkey” are all scratch built, and the figures are a mix of Valkyrie and Mantis Miniatures figures, with some Hornet heads swapped in.
To finish out this issue, we have a variety of US vehicles from Saber Junction 21, which is a training exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Centre in Bavaria, Germany. Apparently, this is the first time that the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) was used in large numbers, and for those like me that were unaware, the JLTV is the replacement for the iconic HMVV.
Modern armour fans, you know the deal. Another quality issue of Abrams Squad and highly recommended.

Paul Lee

Thanks to PLA Editions for sending this magazine to read and review.
w great publications are available from the Pla Website...