Book Review
M1 Abrams
M1 Abrams the US Main Battle Tank in American and Foreign Service 1981-2019
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series and is on this occasion looks at the M1 Abrams the US Main Battle Tank in American and Foreign Service 1981-2019. This book as with all of the titles in this series are I feel an attempt to offer the modeller a combination package covering both reference on the vehicles and a look at the models available to replicate the M1 Abrams as a scale model.

The following portion of the introduction is from the Pen and Sword website:
Since its introduction in 1981, at the height of the Cold War, the Abrams main battle tank has been one of the most visible and iconic symbols of American military power, and it is the fascinating subject of this heavily illustrated historical and modelling guide in the TankCraft series by David Grummitt.

Designed to meet head-on the massed tank forces of the Warsaw Pact, its combat debut in fact came in a different scenario in 1991 during the First Gulf War. Since then it has served in the peace-keeping role in the former Yugoslavia and seen combat in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. It has gone through a series of modifications and modernizations that see it set to remain the backbone of the US Army until at least 2050.

As well as charting the development and combat history of the vehicle, the book is illustrated throughout with colour photos and specially commissioned colour profiles. Seven different models, covering the service history of the Abrams, are featured, as is a modellers' guide to the existing kits and accessories in all the popular scales.


This offering from Pen and Sword is authored by David Grummitt who is also the editor of Military Modelcraft International and so has a great grounding in the military model aspect where this title is concerned. This is a soft backed book with a good card cover protecting 64 pages of semi gloss paper. The contents of this title are laid out as follows:

American Tank Development during the Cold War
Abrams Development and Technical Specifications
The Cold War
Camouflage and Markings
Model Showcase
First Gulf War
Keeping the Peace
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Abrams Today
Abrams in Foreign Service
Further Reading

This book does not start with the usual introduction instead diving straight in with the Abrams predecessor the M48 and M60. The content on these tanks is very concise as you would expect, but does cover the M60 into the 1990ís and their end of days. David Grummitt then starts with the story of the Abrams and I really like how he has tackled this portion of the title as it starts with the general decision on the design of a new tank and what it needed to have, even cost per unit is mentioned here. The author then breaks down the development of the Abrams covering each change and highlighting the changes for the reader and by mentioning the time window the modeller out there has a better idea of what they can use for which period of development.

The author then moves onto the roles the Abrams performed from the Cold War through to the 2nd war in Iraq. I found the restrictions on space that the author faced restricted his ability to really cover these roles to my satisfaction, but I do give him credit for the amount of information he was able to provide. My pet hate with these titles raised its head here and the section is broken up with the insertion of the segments showing the colour prints and the modelling section; this is not a major issue it is just that I prefer to read a book as a whole and page jumps irritate me. The section covering the Abrams in Foreign Service is a nice section of the book as it provided information that I did not know in terms of just who is using the Abrams. I knew that Australia had taken on the Abrams and I am very pleased to see the Aussie Abrams featured here. I also knew that Iraq had the Abrams, but I did not know about Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The book comes to end with the author providing a great reference on books that cover the Abrams in far greater depth than is possible in this title.

The photographs in the book are a mix of colour and black & white and all of these are of a quality that I am happy with. The captions are well written and provide information on what you are looking at plus usually where and when the images were taken; also provided in some instances is areas of interested that you are directed to note. The colour prints provided only show the Abrams side on which limits replication by the modeller of a vehicle covered here, but the caption that is provided does provide a good level of information that will enable you to hunt around the web for further reference.

The section covering the finished models is informative for the most part as regards what kit or kits have been used to get the finished result, but there is very little information on the actual build. I fairness I cannot really blame the author as he is restricted by page count and these books are intended to follow a set presentation style. Something I like here is that in some cases there are images of the real vehicle provided with the model. The builds covered here are:
M1 2nd Battalion, 64th Armour Regiment, Exercise Carbine Fortress, Germany, September 1982
The model has been produced by John Murphy in 1/35th scale using the Tamiya and Dragon model kits.

M1A2, 1st Squadron, 3rd Armoured Cavelry Regiment, ĎTask Force Riflesí, Iraq 2003
This offering has been produced by Joaquin Garcia Gazquez in 1/48th scale using the Tamiya offering.

USMC M1A1 Heavy Common, Bravo Company, 1st Tank Battalion, USMC, Iraq 2003
This offering has been produced by Chris Jarrett in 1/35th scale, this model is a bit of a kit bash using the Dragon M1A1 offering with parts from the Tamiya kit along with the Perfect Scale Modellbau USMC Abrams resin update set plus of course some scratch building.

M1A1HA, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Armour Regiment, 1st Armoured Division, Iraq 2003
This offering has been produced by Mark Chisolm in 1/35th scale using the Dragon Model kit.

M1A2 SEP Tusk !!, Company C, 1st Battalion, 68th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Baghdad 2008
This offering has been produced by Vorya Heidaryan in 1/35th scale using the Tye Field Model kit.

M1A2 SEP, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 64th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Iraq 2003
This offering has been produced by Arthur Walachowski in 1/72nd scale using the Flyhawk kit.

M1A2 SEP V2, 2nd Battalion, 70th Armour Regiment, 2nd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Germany 2018
This offering has been produced by the author of the title David Grummitt in 1/35th scale using the Academy kit.

Due to who the author of this book is I am sure you will not be surprised that I am impressed in the section covering the models and after market options available. The scale kits have been presented in a logical manner and there is information on the models provided by the author that will prove useful to the modeller when looking to purchase a model. David Grummitt has looked at the after market by covering the track sets available and the stores sets specifically released for the Abrams.


One thing that is common to these titles and an aspect that I wish was stopped is the splitting of sections to add artistís drawings and the modelling sections into the book. The author met my expectations with this book considering the limitations on him and has presented both text and photographs in a pleasing and informative manner. The model section is very well written when it comes to models and after market options and should enable the modeller to make an informed choice to a degree. The finished models are really well done and stunning builds but I would have liked some information on the actual build in each case.
Darren Baker takes a look at one of the Tank Craft series of books covering the M1 Abrams the US Main Battle Tank in American and Foreign Service 1981-2019 from Pen and Sword.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526749758
  Suggested Retail: £16.99
  PUBLISHED: Dec 10, 2019

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


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