There are, generally speaking, two types of reference image sets available for modelers. The first type is the “walk-around” image collection, which gives the modeler a detailed, exhaustive look at one specific vehicle from all angles, with plenty of close-up pictures of specific details. Walk-arounds come in handy when adding extra detail or correcting shortcomings in a kit.
The second type of collection, an “in action” reference, has images of the vehicle in actual use. These collections generally don't have an exhaustive set of images of any one specific vehicle, but are invaluable for those seeking to model a vehicle in a given time and location, as well as modelers interested in replicating stowage or weathering for a particular conflict. MilitaryMuseum.com has a line of image CDs that fall squarely into the “in action” category of reference collections. This review covers number 25 in the series, their Abrams CD library.
The Military Museum M1 & M1A1 CD contains 680 reference images and 28 index files. The pictures are organized in two folders; one for the index files and another one for the actual image files themselves. Each image is labeled with a file number, the Abrams variant pictured, a short description of the location, and a year (for example “833 USMC M1A1, Fallujah 05APR2004”). The index files are a handy way of browsing through the collection or scanning for a specific image you need. There is no additional content or text on the CD. The CD comes in a slim jewel case with a color cover (see image), and was mailed in a well-padded envelope.
Pictures of the XM-1, M1, M1IP, and M1A1 variants in a variety of different locations and time periods are contained in this CD. The images are dated from 1979 to 2005 and cover Army as well as USMC tanks (no foreign-owned Abrams are included). The locations range from Ft. Knox, to Germany, Korea, Kuwait, Egypt, and Iraq. As a bonus, there are other vehicles that appear in several of the pictures alongside the tanks, including M88s, Humvees, and M2s.
The CD has pictures of Abrams tanks in a large variety of situations, including in field exercises, being loaded and unloaded, undergoing maintenance, and in combat. This is a big plus and makes the collection very usable, as you can almost guarantee that you will find useful pictures for your specific build somewhere on the CD. The images range from stand-back pictures to close-ups of specific parts of the tank (road wheels, muzzle, rear lights, etc.). I recognize a few of the images as ones that I have seen online before, but the majority of these pictures are new to me, another big plus.
This CD's biggest flaw is the relatively low resolution of the images. All the files are around 640 by 480 pixels in size, making them too small to pick out details in the stand-back shots. Since the images only take up 61 MB of the 700 MB available on the CD, MilitaryMuseum could have included much larger images with ease. It's a pity, frankly, as the usability of several very interesting Iraq war pictures is definitely reduced by the low resolution.
I also found some of the labels to be incorrect. For example, the labels make no distinction between the M1 and M1IP; all M1 and IP tanks are labeled as “M1.” In a similar vein, several of the Iraq war pictures claim to depict “USMC M1A2” tanks, but these are clearly Marine Corps A1s (the Marines do not have any A2 variants).
Overall, this CD is a useful addition to any modern armor reference library, but its utility is limited by the low resolution of the images. Had the resolution been higher, say 1024x768 or more, this CD would be a must-buy.
Review sample CD provided courtesy of MilitaryMuseum.com.
Highs: Wide variety of "in action" shots, unique images, wide range of Army & Marine tanks, handy index files, informative naming system.Lows: Comparatively low image resolution, some images incorrectly labeled.Verdict: A useful addition to a modern armor fan's reference collection that is somewhat hampered by the relatively low resolution of the images.