Empress Miniatures – M1A2 SEP TUSK conversion wip2

A little carpentry ….

Hunting for something to make the ERA (explosive reactive armour) blocks from proved tricky for a while. Sounds easy doesn’t it, after all it’s just some plastic blocks/strips. However none of the plastic sheet on hand including some acrylic was thick enough and would prove difficult to cut accurately anyway.

After much searching I went alternative and looked at the wood strip supply. I finally found something that looked close and after some measurements decided it looked almost perfect to get both the required hull length and side rail depth. I cut a test piece and decided it worked well enough to crack on with.

The wood strip is bass wood used in picture framing (1/4″ x 3/16″) and should be readily available at hardware outlets, which is handy as I’ll need more including a thicker depth for the Bradley tiles. Ideally this should be done by creating a strip of tiles with it’s mounting backing plates and then casting it in resin for the multiple copies required. I may …. still try this if I can fund some resin but as finding that amount of spare cash is unlikely I’ll probably have to carry on manually.

Either way the strip was marked to the length required for the double stacked block (13mm as the Abrams side skirt is 14mm), cut to size with the diamond saw and then cleaned up by a gentle sanding. A half way line to simulate the 2 separate blocks was marked and then an impression cut into the block with the saw. I painted it with some Vallejo Sand to seal it and check that the grain didn’t show. Being a denser wood required for picture framing all was good as so the test block was ticked off.

The Abrams has 32x ARAT XM19 ERA Blocks (31 plus a spacer block) fitted to mounting rails attached to the side skirts and so I cut 16 (to be cut to simulate doubles) blocks. I’m not sure yet how detailed the backing mounts will be yet, there’s a line to be drawn in the detail somewhere ….. 🙂

emp m1a2 017 era1 1020

emp m1a2 019 era2 900

ABRAMs TUSK ERA – ARAT-1 XM19 and ARAT-2 XM32

The Abrams can be currently retrofitted with ERA bocks as part of the TUSK (Tank Urban Survivability Kit) upgrade. Amongst other upgrades which are modular and it is possible to see some tanks with mixed equipment fits, the ERA system is fitted to mounting rails attached to the tanks side rails. This can be done with a field install kit and by troops on deployment.

The block part of the system is called ARAT-1 (Abrams Reactive Armour Tile) and the blocks are designated XM-19. The mounting package also includes brush guards fitted to the front and rear side rails. Note the front side rail on each side of the vehicle is replaced by a specialised and thinner plate although I won’t be modelling this.

To create a TUSKII level package, ARAT-2 curved tiles, XM-32, are further mounted to the side XM-19 blocks and to the sides of the turret.

REF Pics included from web sources and for discussion only. I believe some are from the excellent looking Tankograd publication M1A2 SEPv2 which is highly recommended as a modelling resource.

Abrams desex 14

Tusk 1 and 2 mix

XM32 ARAT2 22

M32 tiles on M19 Blocks v2

arat1 011 900

arat2 021 900

arat maint 12 900

tusk1-intsalltion-kit

And a couple of general Abrams ref pics from exercises held in Eastern Europe and showing the look I’m hoping to achieve as well as the CROWs remote weapons systems fitted to the turret roof.

Abrams euroex 22

Abrams euroex 31

Empress Miniatures – Vehicle conversion project

Assembly wips ….

Decided to post all the various wips from the project into one series but give them each a separate “feature” once final painting is finished.

T90A Welded Turret conversion

First step was to prepare some scale plans for the base T90, the T90A welded turret and the prototype T90MS Tagil. I reduced some reference plans until hull width matched a scale 1/50th. The Empress T90 was within a mm or so width wise but a little short in overall length. Not much I can do about that but I’m planning to fit extra fuel tanks on the rear so the length wont be an issue, not that it is, just covering it off from a completeness point of view.

Tracks

The tracks fit inside the upper hull track guard and against a chamfered edge and with a lip to provide fore/aft location. I had to file off the upper outer edge to get them to sit down properly. I also relieved the inside of the front idlers to simulate the bearing housing because the wheel sits so far forward of the front plate and is visible.

Turret

The first step was to remove the turret bins, ERA blocks and fittings using a razor saw. I then ground the turret into the basic welded shape using a bench grinder, the dremel and files. Next the shape will be tuned then flat plates made from plasticard attached. Any gaps will be filled and the whole thing sanded and filed into the final profile. Last steps will be to add back in all the removed details …..

emp t90 0011 1100 conversion planning

emp t90 0015 1100 turret conv

emp t90 0019 1100 turret conv

emp t90 0020 1100 turret conv

emp t90 0021 1100 track fitting

emp t90 0023 1100 front idler

Abrams TUSK conversion

The only work so far was to grind out the tank commanders hatch so a crewman can be fitted to one of the tanks.

emp m1a2 015 1100 hatch

Bradley BUSK conversion

One vehicle is going to have the twin air-conditioning units fitted and so I removed the rear stowage bins with the trusty razor saw. Both vehicles had their front headlights removed so that the front BUSK ERA plate can be fitted. The headlights will be put back in place on top of the new block. I also started grinding down the inside of the hull turret ring. I’m planning to build up the base of the turret so that it fits better/more securely. In the past I’ve just drilled and pinned the turret on but as the ring is so shallow it was difficult to seat properly. I’ll probably grind this down about the same distance again and if the experiment works all vehicles except the BMPs will get the same treatment.

emp brad 016 1100 hull fittings

cheers
Q

Empress Miniatures – Modern Vehicles

Modern battlegroup project ….

The start of what will probably an on-going period or project for us, large scale moderns. We have the troops (gee almost 200 or so Empress Modern Infantry from various nations), we have the rules (almost anyway, the set is currently being worked on in collaboration with the Empress Ladz) and now we have the tanks, or at least some of them!

We put together what is basically a “starter” set of vehicles for both the Russians and Americans to fight out some “what-if” conflicts on the table. We’ll probably push the numbers up to correct platoon establishments as both time and more importantly funds, allow. For now though we have 2x M1A2 Abrams and 2x Bradley IFVs for the Americans, and 3x T90s and 2x BMP3 IFVs for the Russians.

The bulk of these will be modified in some way as you should now expect 🙂 For the Russians I’m toying with updating a T90 into a T90A with the later welded turret and maybe even taking another a step further to try a T90MS, although I’m not sure about that one. The BMP3s will pretty much be a straight paint although they will probably get a few small details added such as added grab handles etc.

The American vehicles will both be updated to the present armour and equipment standard with the Abrams getting a TUSK II or III outfit including side ERA blocks and probably a CROWs remote weapon station and the Bradleys will get the same, ERA, CITV etc. I’d like to do one with the rear air conditioning units but they wouldn’t be on Europeans Bradleys, although maybe one could have been “transferred” from hotter climes and the units not removed …..

Q

emptks 010 cvr 1450

emp t90 010 cvr 1250

emp bmp3 010 cvr 1250

emp m1a2 010 cvr 1250

emp brad 010 cvr 1250

Airfix Jackals – take 2 …. or more

More Airfix modern goodness …..

We have some more Airfix Moderns on the bench (including a Coyote, Warrior and hopefully with a couple of WMIKs thrown in later). Got a few resin and PE goodies for them so they are getting the royal treatment for a change vrs just some nice paint 🙂

Not too much to see as basic assembly is underway. Lower hulls are in place, replacement resin wheels on and the side PE screens attached, enough to allow the next steps which pretty much need the crew positions to be sorted out first.

Q

 

afx jackal-2 022 1020

afx jackal-2 023 1020

afx jackal-2 030 1020

afx jackal-2 032 1020 2