In-Box Review
Covered Mantlet and AN/VSS-1
M48A3 Mantlet / AN/VSS-1 Searchlight set for Dragon
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by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ HEAVYARTY ]


Close on the heels of Dragon’s M48A3 Mod B release, Legend Productions comes to the rescue to fix the glaring omissions of the kit. Dragon left two prominent features of the M48A3 Mod B tanks out of the kit. All the tanks that came out of the Bowen-McLaughlin-York, Inc. (BMY) rebuild facility came with a fabric dust cover on the mantlet and an AN/VSS-1 IR searchlight attached. These were basic features of the tank that Dragon somehow missed.


Legend Productions fixes this omission with this set which includes 10 major resin pieces, sprue of resin bolt heads, two lengths of 0.020 brass rod, a small PE fret, and a length of coated wire. All of the pieces are crisply molded and look very nice. There is also a small, one page instruction with very nice color pictures showing how to assemble the set.

The instructions are a little vague on how to attach the base of the covered mantlet. It says to “remove” an outlined section on the front of the turret. I believe it means to cut this section away leaving a large opening to drop the mantlet base into. I chose not to do it this way. Instead, I filed away and smoothed off the details on the turret front. Then I removed the excess material on the back side of the mantlet base with a sanding drum on my dremmel tool. I was left with a wafer thin mantlet base that I then attached to the turret with super glue. Then I attached the PE holders for the mantlet cover as shown in the instructions. For me, this was easier and made a much smoother blend between the turret and the base piece.

The rest of the set went together well. The PE holders are very nice and are easy to apply. They look very good once attached. The cutting of the barrel was easy and the exact length to cut it at is provided. Once cut, simply glue the barrel onto the bellows section of the covered mantlet and it is done.

The AN/VSS-1 searchlight is also very nicely cast with a cover on the lens as well. The brass rod is used on it for the side handles and the bars for attaching the mount to. There were no issues here either and the light went together easily. The only thing I did change was the cable for the light. The cable provided in the set is very stiff and this and looks too thin when compared to the actual cable. I swapped it out for a piece of tubing left over from a Tamiya searchlight from one of their M48 or M60 kits and it looks perfect.
Highs: Crisply molded and looks great once installed.
Lows: The undersized searchlight power cable needs to be replaced with a thicker one.
Verdict: Overall, this is a great little set and well worth the money to correct your M48A3 Mod B from Dragon models. I highly recommend it.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: LF1268
  Suggested Retail: 18.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 01, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Legend Productions!
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About Gino P. Quintiliani (HeavyArty)

Retired US Army Artillery Officer, currently a contractor at MacDill AFB in the Tampa, FL area. I have been modelling for the past 40+ years, really seriously on armor and large scale helos (1/32, 1/35) for the last 35 or so.

Copyright ©2021 text by Gino P. Quintiliani [ HEAVYARTY ]. All rights reserved.


I believe the front part of the handle is shorter but still attached to the light, the same as it is on the old Tamiya M48 light. I have a large photo of an M48 in 'Nam on my computer as a screen saver, and it definitely looks like the handle is shorter in length than Legend shows it.
OCT 02, 2013 - 07:42 AM
It looks to be the way Legend has you build it on the below M48A5. The front portion is not attached and just hanging there. Maybe they were both ways?
OCT 02, 2013 - 07:51 AM
Good write up Gino and a nice price but is the lens cover an option? Can it be built without it? Jeff
OCT 02, 2013 - 08:31 AM
Thanks Jeff. No, there is no option to build it w/out the lens cover. The light is a solid block of resin with the cover molded onto it.
OCT 02, 2013 - 08:42 AM
Gino, very good possibility, or Legend just made the sides of the cover to long? Either way I am just going to make the front part of the grab handle a little shorter than they call for, and hope it is correct.
OCT 03, 2013 - 12:15 AM
Thanks Gino... ah, but I have to ask the stupid questions first. I like it just the way it is! Now just to find who sells it. Jeff
OCT 03, 2013 - 12:17 AM
The carry handles do go the length described except that the front of the grab handle curves in, but does NOT attach to the light case itself. The handles are only secured by the rear and middle, leaving the front open with enough space for the cover. There's also a removable part at the front of the light where the handle would have attached - they don't attach there of course because it's a removable piece. I've found some TM's online for the light that illustrate this clearly - I myself never dealt with these older lights in person. The cover also has straps that go back and attach to the torsion bars that go across the rear. The "hitch" handles also need to be added for the ball/trailer hitch type of mount. These are missing in several companies kits although they are a fairly large obvious item.
OCT 03, 2013 - 02:52 AM
Thanks Bruce, great info and pics. Now that I think about it, it makes sense that the front of the handle is floating. The forward part of the light comes off to service the bulb. If the handle was attached, the front wouldn't be able to be removed.
OCT 03, 2013 - 03:05 AM
Thanks Bruce for solving the mystery.
OCT 03, 2013 - 04:12 AM

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