After two decal sets for US Marine Corps tanks released earlier, Echelon Fine Details from Singapore now added a set of decals with markings for US Army M1A1 Abrams tanks participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom to their product list. The set T35013 contains markings for 6 tanks, all from C Company, 3rd Battalion, 69 Armored Regiment of 3rd Infantry Division. We get markings for all four tanks from 2nd platoon, plus markings for two mine plow equipped Abramses from 1st and 3rd platoons. All six tanks were painted in overall desert tan.
In a resealable plastic bag we get a single decal sheet (approx. 120mm x 190mm) and A4 size instructions folded in half. Instructions are printed in full color and include three photos of one of featured tanks. Decal placement diagrams are very clear and detailed. Decals themselves are flawlessly printed. Most of very fine stencils are legible. There is very little color on the decal sheet and no multicolor markings, so there is no problem with color register.
Six tanks featured on decal sheet are:
1. "C - 1ORDER II"
- 3rd gun tank, 1st Platoon, C Company
- this tank had the mine plow attached and decals for the plow, including red eyes and teeth, are also provided
- 3rd gun tank, 3rd Platoon, C Company
- this tank was also equipped with the mine plow
3. "CAMEL TOW"
- 1st gun tank, 2nd Platoon, C Company
4. "COURTESY OF RED, WHITE & BLUE"
- 2nd gun tank, 2nd Platoon, C Company
- it was a tan painted tank, but part of the gun barrel was forest green
- 3rd gun tank, 2nd Platoon, C Company
6. "CAN TANK R US"
- 4th gun tank, 2nd Platoon, C Company
There is enough markings provided in the set to equip six models. All common markings are repeated at least six time on the sheet. There are some markings provided which may not actually be needed - namely weight discs for the top front hull. In the instructions we find information that these markings were provided, but it is not clear whether featured tanks indeed carried such markings, so it is up to the modeler to decide to use them or not.
Similarly to previous Abrams decal sets released by Echelon, here we also get a lot of generic stencils and labels, typical to Abrams tanks. Included are stencils for External Auxiliary Power Units (EAPU) and Combat Identification Panel frames. There is a number of LOGMARS shipping labels provided, plus barrel exercised date stencils and "lift here" markers. We also get a number of stencils for "inactive" back side of CIPs, including "THIS SIDE OFF" stencils. These were not included on previous Echelon decals and are a very welcome addition, as on most tanks CIPs were "switched off" after the main fighting of the conflict has ended. This is done by putting panels in their frames backwards, thus showing mentioned stencils. These useful stencils can be used for any CIP equipped model, not just Abrams tanks. These additional CIP stencils (decals number 60 and 61) are not mentioned in instructions, so modelers need to find some reference photos to use them properly.
At the bottom of the sheet we get a number of generic stencils in two sizes, which can be used to create various "bumper numbers". Provided are also three sand colored rectangles to be used as background for bumper numbers on green or NATO camouflaged vehicles.
I found a few photos of some of featured tanks and it seems that markings on the decal sheet are very accurate, with one minor exception. The stencils for mine plow blades are not correct. On the decal we read "PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF BLADE"... Come on! This is a military vehicle - no one would put "please" on any stencil on it. Correct text should be "CAUTION: STAND CLEAR OF BLADE". It seems that decal maker noticed that there is something wrong with these stencils as an additional pair of these markings is provided on the very bottom of the decal sheet and the word "please" is omitted on them. The word "caution" is however missing.
I also noticed that it is not quite clearly indicated in instructions that mine plows attached to two tanks featured in the set were painted in forest green color. Plow blades are shown in pale green color in instructions, but it may not be obvious for some modelers that all other plow parts should also be green, not tan as the rest of the tank.
Some time ago Lawrence Goh of Echelon asked modelers in Missing-Lynx discussion forum to try to decipher the name of the first featured tank using a single available photo, which unfortunately was not very clear and tank name was hardly legible on it. As far as I remember there were several ideas presented, but no definitive answer. I don't know whether Larry has found some reliable source later, which confirmed that the name was indeed "C - 1ORDER II", or is it just his guess.
Just as their previous sets, also these Echelon decals were printed by Microscale, so I don't expect any problems with applying them. The decal film is very thin and applied sparingly around actual markings. I strongly suggest using Microscale's own Set and Sol decal setting solutions with these decals for best results.
New decal sheet from Echelon is another excellent product in their catalogue. After two great decal sets for USMC tanks, we received a set of equally well done US Army Abrams markings. Abundance of additional stencils and markings make this decal set even better value. Highly recommended!
By the way, on the instruction sheet is a double catalogue number printed - aside from T35013 number, there is also a T72013 number, what shows that Echelon consider releasing this decal set also in 1/72 scale.
Many thanks to Lawrence Goh of Echelon Fine Details for the review sample.
For the list of resellers and distributors visit Echelon web site