A Complete M60A1

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Ever wanted more in a tank model? Like maybe the insides? This has been solved for several armor kits by after market products and new kit makers, but not on the M60A1. My relationship with this tank started in 1981 when I was assigned to the U. S. Marines 1st Tank Battalion in Camp Pendleton California. While I was there the M60A1 RISE Passive tanks we had went through a couple of different upgrades. The aluminum side loading air cleaners were replaced by armored top loading ones. The steel road wheels were replaced by aluminum and later back to steel. The smoke grenade launchers were new to the tank. Searchlights were taken off all but two tanks in a five tank platoon, only the platoon commander and platoon sergeants tanks retained them by 1983. So you can tell that modeling any tank with a long service life accurately gets tricky. My model represents Bravo one-two (B company, 1st platoon, 2nd tank) circa 1982. When attempting to represent an accurate model references are an absolute necessity. My references for this tank were the TM 9-2350-257-10-1 Operatorís manual for the TANK, COMBAT, FULL-TRACKED, 105-MM GUN, M60A1 (RISE PASSIVE) dated July 1980 and pictures of the tank. Once references were on hand it was time to acquire the model and the necessary parts to build the interior.

I had an A.E.F. Designs M60 engine and compartment along with a 1/35 ESCI M60A3 TTS in my stash. Back dating the M60A3 to the M60A1 is a simple fix on the outside of the tank, the major differences were on the inside. I purchased the M60A1 aluminum barrel with mud guard from the Barrel Depot and the kit came with the unplugged left range finder eye necessary for the transformation. Next came the acquisition of styrene in several different shapes and sizes from Evergreen Scale Models. Where to start and planning the build was the next step.

hull details
I decided to start with the hull and work my way up. I cut out the area on the upper hull to allow for the turret basket and correct placement of everything in the lower hull. I corrected the escape hatch that is under the drivers seat. The kitís hatch is round with bolts and looks more like an access plate than an escape hatch. The correct shape is a rectangle with rounded corners. I then scribed the inside of the hatch and added the locking mechanism and handles.

The driverís compartment with the ammo racks on both sides was built and placed in the hull while constantly checking for fit with the top of the hull. Then I installed the engine compartment after trimming the wall between the engine and turret, to allow for detail on the other side.

Once the batteries, floor detail, and wall separating the engine compartment were done, the upper hull was glued to the lower hull. The armor plate and grill doors were then cut off and the engine put in place. The engine required trimming on the front and bottom in order to fit properly into the hull. The blowers, exhaust, and intakes from the kit were discarded and scratch built ones used in their place. Aluminum foil was used as the exhaust shielding and linkages for steering, shifting, and braking the tank were added to the transmission.

turret interior
I started work on the turret basket with the idea of placing LED lights inside to allow more detail to be seen after the model was completed. The LEDís are 3mm square, emit a blue-ish white light. and are placed on the turret roof in the exact place that the real lights are. These are powered by a watch battery and switch hidden in the stowage boxes that are on the turret floor. In addition to this the 7.62mm, .50 cal deck boxes, battery access door, 3 round rack, and stand up ready rack make up the rest of the turret floor. The lower portion of the turret had to be cut out and a black zip tie was used to represent the gear teeth for the turret. The turretís shell rack, stowage rack, and radios were placed on this. The radios are the RT-524 and R-442 from Verlinden.

At this point in the construction the size of everything in the turret had to be correct or something would not fit. The turret floor was mated to the lower turret and the rest of the turret details began to fall into place. After studying photos and the TM for each item in the turret, I built each item one at a time and placed it into the turret. The stand-up ready rack with the loader's gas particulate hose attached, loader's seat over the turret lock, and fire extinguisher in itís holder on the turret floor. The gunnerís compartment was also detailed with traversing controls, hydraulic reservoir, ballistic computer, gas particulate hose to the left of the gunnerís seat, azimuth indicator, periscope with both day and passive night sights, switches for turret power, and main gun stabilization system. The tank commanderís position has the traversing gearbox with TCís override on top, radios behind him, gas particulate hose next to his seat, and the folding TCís seat with adjustment handle and fold up foot rest.

The upper turret contains the main gun breech with the gunnerís 105D sight on the right, a M60E2 coaxial machine gun with brass catch bag under it and range finder running along the turret roof. The loader's side has his communications box, loaderís periscope stowage and 7.62mm ready ammo stowage with M-16 holder brackets, asbestos mitten holder, and flashlight holder on it.

The lower cupola was modified using a plastic channel piece to allow the cupola to turn without hitting the range finder. The right side of the turret contains both the gunner's and TCís communications boxes with the TCís having the radio channel selector unit under it. Cables were made with solder and one of the LEDs is located between the TCís hatch and the loaderís. Searchlight controls, grenade launcher controls, cupola traversing handle, binocular stowage bin, and flashlight holder fill out the rest of the turret wall.

The Commanderís cupola is actually a mini turret with sights, traversing mechanisms, an M-85 .50 cal machine gun, .50 cal ammo rack, and vision blocks. I decided to drill out the vision blocks and use Krystal Klear on them later. The TCís periscope with day and passive night sight with M-85 elevating handle on its left are in the center with the .50 cal. feed tray made from a zip tie to its left. The periscopeís outside cover lifting handle is on the right of the night sight (green sight). This was mounted to the lower cupola half that shows the traversing handle and range finder.

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About the Author

About Don Franklin (gunnytank)

USMC retired 1979-2001. I was an 0351(Anti-tank/assualtman), 1811 M60A1 Tankcrewman, 5963/79 Tactical Data Systems Tech. Now work for the FAA as a NAVAIDS/COMM tech. Modeling semi seriously since 1995. I mainly do 1/35 USA armor and 1/72 scale USMC aircraft.


Amazing! Jeff
SEP 11, 2007 - 03:19 AM
Wow, man...simply outstanding! A real "Pro" job! Congratulations! This should be used as a "master" to be copied and sold for all us other schlubs out there who have empty M-60 models just crying to be "full-filled" like this one! AMAZING!!!
SEP 14, 2007 - 02:09 AM
Karl, My sentiments exactly. Gunny's work is a real inspiration. Consider me a longtime fellow shlub! In researching an M60a3 interior build, I'm finding a few aftermarket bits and pieces to get started, like the site I identified above. That kit has a nice breechblock, gun tube, gun shield, plus fire control system pieces. I'm using Revell's M60a3 kit as a starting point- I hope to fix the main gun to the lower turret so I can show off more with the upper turret removed. I'm also looking into casting the turret in transparent plastic! Even with the Operator's Manual and a cache of photos from my tanking days, this baby is going to take a lot of time and effort. But I do not care! Wayne
SEP 16, 2007 - 05:49 AM
Wayne, If you need any help or advice I'll be glad to share what worked and didn't work for me. As far as mounting the breech to the lower hull, I found that pretty hard to do since the gun mantle for the most part is attached to the top. If you could remove the top of the turret from just aft of the hatches to just behind the gunners periscope, then you could get a real good look inside and not have to mees with to much inside. The range finder on the M60A3 only goes half way acrossed the top and can be glued to the bottom of the removal roof. What do you think? Don
SEP 16, 2007 - 03:34 PM
Wayne, One more thing I forgot. I have some other pictures of the stuff I built in the turret the weren't in the article. if you want I can try to email them to you. Don
SEP 16, 2007 - 03:37 PM
Gunny, I found that VERY GENTLE sanding in the mantle opening formed by upper and lower turret pieces creates enough tolerance in the upper and lower turret pieces for the gun mantle-to-lower turret fix. I plan to put tiny "L" shaped brackets to secure the main gun and mantlet to the lower turret piece. These will be hidden by the trunnion, lower turret "chin" and main gun structure so that the upper turret can be lifted off to show off the main gun, shield, M240 and coax cradle, telescope, etc. But the above will come later on after completion of the turret platform with loader's station and gunner's station. Maybe the rangefinder will have to stay where it is in the upper turret shell. As you so ably demonstrate, everything has to be fitted beforehand for a good fit. I thought about cutting the upper turret shell just aft of the rangefinder, but I am strangely hesitant. Maybe an easily-removed commander's cupola is the answer since its removal will show the rangefinder and gunner's station. Thank you for your kind offer to share pics. As you can see, everyone is raving about your terrific build and I certainly would be thrilled to see more pics. My e-mail address: [email protected] comcast. net. Wayne
SEP 18, 2007 - 10:29 AM
That about covers it! need the bowdown emoticon for that one! holy smokes!
SEP 18, 2007 - 10:42 AM
Wayne, I sent you some pics but my msn is acting up and I don't know if they went through. Did you get the email? Don
SEP 20, 2007 - 02:59 AM
Gunny, Thank you for sending the amazing pics. Felt like jumping into the gunner's seat, doing a zero compression check with the Cadillacs and running "Z" patterns through the infinity window! Gunner-Sabot-Tank-(Identified! ) Fire! On The Way! TARGET! CEASE FIRE!
SEP 20, 2007 - 10:47 AM
Ok, I'm about a year behind on this one but have been offsite for a while for the most part so I'm just now catching up. Saw this one today and have to say out-frigging-standing! Nice to see a couple of fellow 1st Tank BN brothers here and even better to see one giving this old girl the love she deserves. That's been one thing I've always wanted to see done, a full interior for the A1 because I sure as hell can't scratch build. lol Awesome work!
JUL 07, 2008 - 04:02 AM