In efforts to keep up with the information revolution, the US Army decided to improve upon the already powerful M1A2 with the development of the M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package). The new M1A2 SEP would have improved SMI, such as voice synthesis and a loader’s remote display (HTU), improved displays, which included terrain maps, flat color display panels and a video distribution system. The SEP also included an embedded GPS system, Task Force Xxi CC software and an Integrated Power/Cooling/Environmental System.
As with many of the new Dragon offerings once you open the box you are amazed at the number of crisply molded, highly detail parts included in the kit. This kit is no exception as it includes 18 light Grey sprues, one clear parts sprue, small photo etch fret, metal barrel, and a small amount of wire for the tow cables. Also included in this kit are the relatively new DS tracks, a sheet of MRE boxes, and two decal sheets with markings for 6 different tanks.
Assembly and Detail
The Assembly begins with you assembling the Wheels and sprockets. Details on the wheels are crisp and clean and as with the M1A1 AIM it includes clear center caps. All of the Suspension and lower hull parts appear to be the same as with the AIM and are likewise superbly detailed.
After completing the suspension and lower hull they have you attach the upper hull, which has a very nice rendition of the Anti-skid, and also the tracks, the only tracks that come with the kits are the new DS Tracks, they look finely detailed with a few raised pin marks, but the should be easily removed with a few swipes with the sanding stick. An interesting addition is that all of the track horns are molded separately and must be attached to the tracks; this appears that it might be a little tedious but in the long run I believe it will be worth the extra effort.
The next 4 steps have you adding details to the upper hull. Step 8 is the first step in which you have 2 choices, you can either build it with an UAAPU or with the Hawker Battery. The next step has you installing the Side skirts with are cleanly molded, and with the exception of T11 and T12, they are individually sectioned., which will give the modeller many options for a possible DIO Scene.
Step 10 is the assembly of the main gun, giving you the option of a plastic or metal barrel, only the Barrel itself is Metal and the rest of the parts are molded in Plastic. It also has a spring mechanism to recreate the recoil, We will see how useful this is during the future Build review.
Step 11 goes into building the new commanders copula which consists of 18 pieces and is superbly detailed. Steps 12-17 are the assembly of the turret and normal bustle rack. Step 18 is the assembly of the new bustle rack extension, which consists of 6 plastic parts and 2 photo etch parts, this is also another welcome addition. Steps 19 and 20 are the finishing touches. Overall the detail throughout is top notch and should assemble with very minor cleanup. Dragon has once again continued to raise the bar on their latest M1.
Decals are printed by Cartograph paper and have very good detail Markings are provided for 6 different M1A2’s and they are as follows:
1. “Heavens No, Hell Yeah” 1st Bn., 8th Cavalry Rgt., 1st Cavalry Div., Iraq 2004 (Overall Sand)
2. “Absolute Death” 3rd Bn., 67th Armored Rgt., 4th Infantry Div., Iraq 2003 (Overall Sand)
3. “Cowboys From Hell” 1st Bn., 8th Cavalry Rgt., 2nd BCT “BLACK JACK”, 1st Cavalry Div., Iraq 2004 (Overall Sand)
4. “Armor Ghetto” 3rd Bn., 67th Armored Rgt., 4th Infantry Div., Iraq 2003 (Overall Sand)
5. “The Hunter” 3rd Bn., 8th Cavalry Rgt., 3rd BCT “GREY WOLF”, 1st Cavalry Div., Iraq 2004 (Overall Sand)
6. “Unnamed” 1st Bn., 16th Cavalry Rgt., Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA 2002 (NATO)
Editors Note: Pawel Krupowicz has published a handy guide to fixing a minor production flaw with the Commander's Weapon Station (CWS or just cupola) and other assembly tips. http://vodnik.primeportal.net/pages/SEP/SEP.htm