Australia recently decided to replace its ageing fleet of Leopard tanks with current US M1A1 AIM tanks. They requested a few different items be added to their tanks as opposed to what the US uses to meet the unique needs of operating in Australia. They have bought 1 Battalion's worth (54) M1A1 AIM tanks so far, and support equipment to go with them. There may be further purchases in the future.
No available kit on the market at this time will build directly into an Aussie M1A1 AIM. This excellent set from Arms Corps Models (ACM)
out of Australia gives you the additional parts and a full set of directions on how to backdate Dragon
’s M1A2 SEP/SEP v2 kits (#3536/3556) into an Aussie M1A1 AIM as used by the Australian 1st Armoured Regiment and the Australian Armour School. Additionally, the set includes a CD which has a very nice PDF instruction sheet and four separate walk-around files included which provide a total of 406 very clear reference images. You can also purchase Echelon
decals for either sand (356041) or 3-tone camo (356176) as part of the set for a complete package to build your Aussie M1A1 AIM. ACM also offers two other Aussie M1A1 AIM conversion sets; Option 2 which is also for the Dragon
M1A2 SEP/SEP V2 and includes the Loaders Armored Gun Shields (LAGS), and Option 3 which converts the Dragon
M1A1 AIM kit (3535).
The set includes 33 resin pieces, 1 coil of thin fuse wire, and a piece of PE mesh packaged in a small blister pack. The pieces supply all the additional pieces that are on an Aussie M1A1 AIM Abrams and not in the Dragon
M1A2 SEP/SEP v2 kit. Some of these are items only used by Australia, such as the fridge and its connection parts and the umbrella and its strand. Others are parts not found on US M1A2 SEPs, but are on M1A1 AIMs. The reason to uses the Dragon
M1A2 SEP kit is that there are specific parts found in that kit that the Aussie version has. These include the folding Bustle Rack Extension (BRE) on the rear of the turret and open guide horned T-158LL tracks. Most of these are not included in Dragon
's, or anyone else's, M1A1 AIM kits. The tracks are not available in any other Abrams kit, but are now available as a separate set by Bronco Models
(3522). The set is complete enough that you could really use it with just about any Abrams kit and add the Bronco
tracks and a PE folding BRE to get an Aussie M1A1 AIM.
The resin pieces in the set are very nicely cast with no flash and excellent surface details. The 30 resin parts include the following pieces:
- Rear Left Engine Deck / Hull Panel
- Center Rear Engine Deck Panel
- Fridge Power Unit
- Umbrella Stand/Mount
- Umbrella Bag
- .50 Cal QCB Handle
- Armored Electrical Cover
- T/I Phone box
- Slave Cable Receptacle box with separate handle
- Two Aussie water cans
- Two Aussie fuel cans w/separate handles
- Two empty ,50 cal ammo cans w/separate tops and locking mechanisms
- Loaded ammo cans for the .50 cal and M240 w/ separate tops and locking mechanisms
- Mount for M240
- 2 straight Headlight Guards
The instructions are clearly written using the Dragon instructions with red Xs for what not to use and green number to show ACM’s new pieces to add. Additionally, the new pieces are shown in a sand color to identify them more clearly. The instructions not only show you where and how to add the included resin pieces, but also tell you what specific parts from the Dragon
kit to use for an Aussie Abrams. There are also very clear and concise pictures to reference while building for parts placement and clarification. The instructions guide you through the process and make the backdate a simple affair.