Today, Lee takes a look at the latest Stripes release, the M60 kit (part of the “Ryan’s Leatherneck’s” boxset).
Like Mark, I picked up a copy of the Ryan’s Leatherneck’s box. (and unlike him, it was *a* box. For now…). This was mainly to get a quartet of Stinger Humvees (as recently reviewed by Mark) ASAP to compliment my VADS but also to have a look at the M60 kit that came with it. So, let’s have a look!
The recent “Heavy Metal” article covers the development of US main battle tanks, post war and covers the M60 family. As a quick re-cap, the Team Yankee time frame sees two variants in use:
The M60A1 in USMC service. This was the second M60 model and the first to feature the “needle nose” low front profile turret. However, it lacked many modern niceties such as a laser range finder or thermal sight. In USMC use, the M60A1 was used in the 1983 invasion of Grenada.
Note MERDC, wading snorkel, searchlight near main armament and the presence of smoke launchers – something often listed as not being present on the A1
The second model, is the US Army’s M60A3. Visually near identical to the M60A1, it featured a modern fire control system that incorporated a laser range finder in one of the stereoscopic sight blisters, a cross wind mast on the rear left turret, and deleted the optional IR searchlight in favour of a Thermal gunners sight. The M60A3 was in the process of being replaced by the better armoured M1 but could still be found in large numbers in Europe based forces.
The first thing we notice on removing the M60 sprues from the box is the colour! The switch to coloured plastics is a welcome one in general, lessening the grey hordes we often see on the games table, but the green here is a little…aggressive. Its been noted that the painted US models seem to be using something a bit more vibrant than the normal Forest Green and this seems to have carried over to the sprue. Still, makes it easier to spot where the undercoats missed…
The second thing we notice is the inclusion of some pintle guns and alternative cupolas. The M60 originally had a large cupola with an integral .50 machine gun, much like the M48. The Israelis disliked this solution; mainly due to the impact on the overall height of the tank – a key feature in tank warfare; and removed the cupola, replacing it with a low profile cupola (the “urban cupola” and a traditional pintle mounted gun. They also added a second pintle mounted gun, crewed by the loader, to provide greater firepower against infantry in built up areas. These features are in the kit for future proofing and can be ignored by Team Yankee players.
I clipped off the upper and lower hull and the join seemed good. I did note that the parts located well laterally but there was nothing to define the fit fore/aft. As such, I fitted the rear engine plate (using poly cement) and this gave the desired fore/aft datum point. Next, I clipped off the tracks. I noted that the tracks moved a lot under clipping but not to the point of incurring damage. Once removed, I also spotted some dimpling on the top rear surface of the track but this was hidden by the rear fenders once fitted. The tracks have handed grooves so can’t be fitted incorrectly without some considerable effort.
I did a dry fit of the upper hull, lower hull (with engine rear plate glued on) and tracks and it all fitted together sufficiently well that even without glue, the model held together remarkably well. Cleaning was minimal and the joins to the sprue were sufficiently forgiving that clippers and a little clean-up was sufficient.
Attention turned to the turret next. The turret consists of an upper and lower half. In contrast to the lower hull, the sprue joins to the upper turret were surprisingly thick and left a considerable mark on the turret that needed a good bit of clean-up after. The only downer is the join line of the two turret halves. Its not a snug join and will really need a bit of filler to get looking good. Not a huge job but an annoyance none the less. I’m not sure why the join isn’t further down (normally the lower turret fits inside the upper to hid the join) and can only assume that something like the depth of tool on the upper part, the sweep back of the front, or other manufacturing limitation was a driver.
The US style cupola is a one piece affair with a separate ‘kidney’ hatch to allow the commander to be unbuttoned. Makes for a quick construction!
We have a decision to make now as to what version of M60 we are building as the next stage is to fit the barrel to the mantle. There are two barrels provided, a thermal sleeved barrel for the A3 and a non-sleeved one for the A1. They are very similar and the easiest way to tell them apart is the muzzle end, the sleeved version steps down to the end whilst the non-sleeved one steps up. The sleeved one is also marginally thicker, noticeable where the fume extractor meets the sleeve. Both barrels required only a quick scrape with a sharp knife to clean the inevitable mould line.
The rear stowage bin is a three-piece assembly that needs a little bit of lining up to get the two side parts on. Once dry, the whole assembly picked up on a number of locating features and was easily glued into place.
If building an A1 we can also choose to add the IR searchlight (examples in Grenada had them fitted) but otherwise we are done! I spent half an hour on assembly but that was a lot of test fitting, note taking and photos. I reckon a 15 minute build isn’t out of the question (certainly by the 17th in a full strength USMC company!).
All in all, assembly was straight-forward (all of the above was conducted with no assembly sheet or instructions, although those are up on the BF site here) with minimal clean-up and no need for fit corrections. The only point of contention is the noted join of the two turret halves.
So, it builds nicely. But how does it look?
Sat next to the M1, we can see how the M60 is so much taller! The terrain rules don’t allow much scope for that being an issue in game though.
The side view shows the excellent running gear detail, grab handles, water cans and smoke grenade stowage cans. The grab handle is obviously moulded straight to the side to give the look without a fragile and fiddly separate piece which is an acceptable compromise at this scale (though no doubt some will soon carve them off and fit brass wire replacements!). The commander’s M2 has a distinctive muzzle in keeping with its real life counterpart. The turret join line can also be seen.
The rear view shows off the ‘chicken wire’ texture on the stowage rack well. The engine plate is pretty good. the cooling louvres are simplified (Less of them and thicker) which is an understandable tooling compromise for plastic but the tow hitch and driving lights are well captured. Oddly there appears to be two voids either side of the plate which don’t exist in real life (there’s a curved plate each side that would fill the gap in). The track pad shape is captured on the tracks directly perpendicular to ground but are simplified on the rest of the track (again, given you won’t see this that much its understandable).
Front on and the tank is generally good with a few niggles. Starting with the positive, the smoke dischargers are much improved over the frankly rubbish ones on the Chieftain, being well defined and realised with just a little bit of plastic kit induced distortion. The immediately visible track pads are correctly shaped (and again simplified on the less visible downward facing pads). Lifting points are present, if simplified and the gunner scope is present. the two “ears” for the A1’s stereoscopic range finder are present. The A3 also had the same features, the laser range finder being in the right one and the left kept as a dummy to complicate enemy identification of type. There should be a door on the right bump for the laser on the A3 but given the common kit and scale its understandable that its a little more A1 than A3.
Niggling issues revolve around three main points, in increasing annyoance:
- Driving lights are a little ugly but this is very much a plastic kit compromise and common to all the tanks (no matter manufacturer). The alternative are some really tiny separate bits so I’ll live with painting in the missing detail.
- As already noted, the turret join line is very visible and will really require filling.
- The commander M2 and main gun both look like they are missing their canvas covers. This isn’t too big an issue on the M2 but it makes the mantle of the M68 look very odd compared to its real life look, with a much harder edge on the oval shaped part. I’m not sure why the canvas cover isn’t present given canvas mantle covers are present on other tanks in the Team Yankee range. I plan to green stuff on the detail to try and get it looking a bit closer to reality.
From the top, the back of the upper hull benefits the most with some great detail on the filter housings, barrel cradle and the like.
The M60 A3’s crosss wind mast is missing but there is a base for one to be fitted. I would try and find a suitable pin with a spherical top to fit out any M60A3.
Not shown is the IR searchlight which could be fitted the A1, and is supplied on the sprue.
All in all its a very good model that is easily built and is only really marred by an unsightly join on the turret halves. I’d say its a slightly better depiction of the A1 than the A3 but that mostly comes down to the missing cross wind mast. It would have been nice to have some spare roadwheels, track pads and a wading snorkel for the USMC, but ultimately they are niceties and the core kit is sound.
In the Game
As they are equipped with the same M68 gun, both M60 can match the M1 Abrams for killing power, having equal anti-tank, rate of fire (halted and moving) and range. However, they fall behind the M1 on mobility (being very Cheiftain-esque in their move rates and lack Advanced Stabilisers) and protection (equal side armour but less front armour and no HEAT protection – not even skirts!). In a stand up fight, the M60 is going to quickly take casualties and it will struggle to match the likes of the T-64 or T-72 in a war of manoeuvre.
Exposing the side of the hull to a T-64 is considered a somewhat “ballsy” move… concrete wall or not.
What the M60 does have on its sides is weight of numbers. It comes in at half the cost of an M1 so the US Army player can suddenly double his number of 105mm shots for the same points. This can make for a frightening ‘alpha strike’ for the Pact players to face as defending M60 suddenly move up from hiding to firing positions and send twenty odd 105mm fin rounds down range! The M60A3 has the advantage over the A1 here as the laser range finder does not require the tank to be static to remove the range penalty like the antiquated stereoscopic range finder of its older brother does. The Thermal sight can also be useful too.
The US Army can deploy the M60A3 as a supporting unit to a Mechanised Combat Team or as a formation in the Armour Combat Team and the Armoured Cavalry Troop, both being able to field up to three platoons. I favour the Armoured Cavalry Troop as it provides an excellent range of supporting assets that all count as core platoons – very handy when the casualties mount in the tank platoons!
Still, the USMC M60A1 does still have merit.
For a start you can have platoons of five tanks, rather than four (always handy with the TY morale rules) and they remount on a 3+ rather than a 4+. The 3+ courage can be useful for “Follow Me!” orders if you want to charge the enemy down but given you’ll often want to shoot it may struggle to come up that often.
The M60A1 can be useful as both a supporting platoon to a USMC Rifle platoon or as a formation in its own right. The USMC tank company has access to anti-tank and scout assets in the form of the Humvee (although being only three strong the Humvee scout in the USMC isn’t quite as good as its army counterpart) and LAV, plus the rather excellent USMC rifle platoon (to be covered in a future review). A M60A1 tank company is definitely something I want to try in the future.
Retailing at £30 (RRP) for five tanks, the M60 kit weighs in at a fiver a tank – cheaper than its metal and resin counterparts.
Of course, if you plan to have Humvee in your force then the Ryan’s Leathernecks boxset offers remarkable value. You only get three M60 but you also get six Humvee – all for £34 (RRP)! Five of those and you have both a 14 strong M60A3 company (2HQ tanks, plus 3 four tank platoons) *and* a full strength Humvee troop (2 HQ + six, four strong, platoons) *and* a full Stinger MANPAD platoon, saving near £80 compared to buying three M60 boxes and five Humvee boxes, if my sums are correct! The only real downside is that it comes with just the USMC unit cards but I’ve never been that fussed with the cards.
All in all I liked the M60 kit. As part of the Ryan Leatherneck box you can’t beat the price, and it goes together quickly with little need for trimming. The only points against it are the turret joint chasm and the lack of a crosswind mast to really mark out the A3 version. Both are fixable with a little work but need to be considered.
In the game, the M60 gives the US Army some numbers to deal with East German T-72M/55 battalions or Soviet BMP battalions, but needs a bit of elan against T-64 or other NATO forces.