by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
The German Bundeswehr went through a rebuilding and modernization in the mid 1950s. A Main Battle Tank was required as the Cold War spread and up to 3000 Main Battle Tanks were to be obtained. The M47 Patton had been acquired in limited numbers as a stop-gap tank in the new Bundeswehr. Looking for permanent Panzers the German Army conducted comparative trials between the U.S. M48 and the British Centurion. The M48 was selected as the Bundeswehr's new tank and this very much aligned with logistics related to a single type of tank in a fleet.
The M48A1 was fielded in late 1957 and saw a variety of reliability issues as the years progressed. This pushed the Germany Army to look at the M48A2C as an additional M48 variant. By 1960 the Germany Army were operating both the M48A1 and M48A2C. The M48A2C was quickly being adapted with standard German modifications to create the M48A2CG variant. These modifications include German style mirrors, smoke grenade dischargers, fender mounted reflectors/lights, convoy marker, the IR/white light searchlight on the mantlet, German radios, and modifications to the rear hull storage bin to mount the IR searchlight box.
As the Bundeswehr continued to develop in the late 1950s a necessity to provide Combat Engineer Armoured Engineer Vehicles (AEV) was identified but at the time there were no specifically produced specialty AEVs. The German Army first adapted the M47 Patton with the M6 dozer blade and this was refined as the M48A2CGs were introduced and the M8 dozer blades mounted on M48A2CG gun tanks were assigned to both Armoured Battalions and Armoured Combat Engineer Battalions. These M48 variants were known as the Pionierpanzer M48A2C (PiPz M48A2C). The PiPz M48A2C served within the Bundeswehr throughout the entire Cold War and was eventually replaced in frontline units in the late 1980s by the Pionierpanzer 2 Dachs. The PiPz M48A2Cs were still retained and moved to Reserve status. Over the years the PiPz M48A2Cs were modified by first removing the 90mm main gun. As the years progressed the coaxial machine gun was also removed. Shortly before retirement from storage depot stock in the early 1990s the cupola mounted .50 Cal was removed making the PiPz M48A2C void of any armament. This gradual removal of armament was likely two fold...the removal of the 90mm from German service and replaced by the L7 105mm and the requirements under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) for unilateral reductions of NATO and WARSAW Pact weapons.
The Conversion Kit
The PiPz M48A2C is a very unique Armoured Engineer Vehicle (AEV). Perfect Scale Modellbau has delivered a conversion to the 1/35 military modelling community to build the PiPz M48A2C.
PSM states the conversion is designed for the Revell-Germany M48A2C kit.
The conversion consists of 116 resin parts, 93 PE parts, and two lengths of copper cable.
The dozer blade assembles in the same manner as the PSM M48 dozer blade kit designed for the Dragon M48 kit. My review of the PSM M48 dozer blade kit will provide the information required for an inbox review for those components so there is no reason to repeat it here. I must say however that the front lower hull parts in the M8 dozer blade kit and in this PiPz M48 kit are different dimensionally and this would be a result of different hull sizes in the Dragon and Revell-Germany kits. So if you were considering using a Dragon M48 kit as the base you should be aware that the front hull dimensions are different and as such the PSM lower front hull part will not fit properly.
Step 1- Covers the assembly of the lower front hull and dozer blade. This requires cutting off a portion of the lower hull of the Revell-Germany kit and replacing it with the PSM resin part. Measure three times and cut once!
Step 2- The attachment of the Emergency Lifting Device cables to the back of the blade.
Step 3- The fitting and attachment of the hydraulic guards and components. This again requires planning, measuring, and adjustments to get all parts to fit properly.
In my review of the PSM dozer blade kit I noted that the rear sections of the armoured guards and housing assembly appear different in the kit from reference images of the set up on M48A3s. In this kit the armoured guard (Part 10) running directly into the housing assembly (Part 6) appears spot on when comparing it to images of German PiPz M48A2Cs.
Step 4- The assembly and attachment of the manual locking components to hold and release the blade from the carrying position.
Step 5- The positioning of the dozer blade in the carry locked or lowered position.
Step 6- The attachment of the extended headlights, guards, and German style front fender lights.
Step 7- The attachment of German standard modifications including the convoy light, rear reflectors, and rear lights. Note that the gun crutch was also removed on the PiPz M48A2C so PSM provides a PE mount to replace the kit parts. Hull mounted tow cable brackets are also provided in PE as a detail touch.
Step 8- The assembly of the IR/white light searchlight and attachment to the mantlet cover part. Unique curved PE parts form the mount for the searchlight. If the searchlight is mounted a cable will have to be added and run to the turret socket in front of the loader's hatch. The cable is not included in the kit.
Step 9- The assembly and attachment of the grenade dischargers on the turret sides. Also includes are PE blanking plates for the turret rangefinder blister holes.
Step 10- In this step the searchlight stowage box is attached to the turret rear. This requires the modification of the kit stowage bin. You will essentially be cutting out the middle section and putting new PE end pieces on it before positioning them on either side of the new bin. I would recommended studying the instructions, measuring where you need to make cuts a couple of times. In the end what you are doing is taking one large open bin and creating two smaller open bins on either side of the closed searchlight bin. In this step you will also be adding PE tie downs and resin antenna mounts.
Step 11- You are almost done and will be adding the left turret side rangefinder blanking plate, a foundry mark, PE tow cable brackets, an attachment for the top of the cupola, and plug for the .50 Cal port on the cupola, and a resin armoured cable cover/flag holder for in front of the loader's hatch.
There are no markings or painting references provided in the kit. With the large amount of decals available in Bundeswehr related kits on the market it should not be hard to cobble together markings for a PiPz M48A2C.
This looks like a great conversion to create a very unique Bundeswehr Armoured Engineer Vehicle that created a legacy of very powerful German designed AEVs. References of the PiPz M48A2CG are not abundant but images that can be found show the vehicles in solid Gelboliv paint and standard Bundeswehr tactical and unit markings on the turret sides and fenders. It would be excellent if PSM was able to offer the same lower front hull part for the standalone dozer blade part designed for the Dragon kit as the Dragon IDF Magach 1&2 (part included to builds a M48A2C) would likely be able to be used with these conversion parts to provide modellers options to use either the Revell-Germany base kit or the Dragon kit.
Build images of the PSM PiPz M48A2CG can be found on the PSM site.