This is Tamiya's 'USA M1A2 Abrams' kit, which I have done my best to convert to an Australian M1A1 with a bit of scratch building. The kit wasn't too bad with the exception of the tracks, which were very rigid and difficult to work with (e.g. see twist in rear left track). Other than that it was a pretty quick and easy kit to put together.
Other stuff I used:
- Mouse House Auscam paints & ration boxes
- Southern Sky decals
- Eduard bustle rack extension
- other bits and pieces scrounged from my spares box.
I think they get refirbished M1's out of Anniston Tank Depot in the US. A new M1 Abrams has not rolled of the assembly line for years. All the Tanks get refurbished and up graded. It is possible they purchased M1's from new and send them back to the US to get "boogied up". I did see a programe once with an Aussie M1 at the plant getting upgraded.
Steve is right - in 2006 we received the first of around 59 refurbished M1A1's from the US to replace our Leopards. The government had considered the Challenger 2 and Leopard 2, but ended up going for the Abrams. I believe there were also some minor modifications made for us (including the addition of a fridge )
Our current brain-dead government recently mothballed the Abrams as part of defence funding cuts
Also when they first arrived they were painted in an overall tan / sand colour...