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In-Box Review
135
M3A3 Bradley CFV
M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV)
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) is the staple Armored Personnel Carrier of the US Army. While holding only six infantry, the M2 Bradley is both better-protected and more deadly than APCs of the past, or the current USMC version, the AAVP-7A1. Unlike other APCs (think M113 which served it would seem in every army of the world), the Bradley has been reserved almost entirely for use by US forces (only Lebanon and Saudi Arabia have Bradleys).

The M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle (CFV) is a scout or "cavalry" version that carries only two scouts, plus additional radio gear and extra TOW missiles. Otherwise, it is identical to the M2 except for lacking the six external firing ports.

Both Meng and Orochi brought out M3A3 versions at about the same time. The Meng Bradleys have been widely-praised, including by myself, as among the best plastic kits ever released. The Orochi Bradley had some issues, and sank from view. Hong Kong model company Kinetic purchased the molds from Orochi, and has released a "new & improved" kit. Kinetic has corrected most of the Orochi M3A3's problems and has re-released it at a price that makes it almost impossible not to snap up at least one or two.

the kit

Inside an attractive glossy box are 375 plastic parts, some PE and instructions. With about half the parts count as the Meng (though the latter has complex working tracks), the Kinetic kit is intended to follow in the footsteps of Tamiya by emphasizing buildability over complexity. Kinetic wants modelers to purchase multiple kits and build them easily for the fun factor, not to have the most-complicated version, thus bucking the trend of most models coming out of Greater China.

7 sprues of gray plastic
1 styrene "canvas" flap to cover gun mantlet
Hull tub
Hull superstructure
1 sprue of clear parts
1 sprue of vinyl rounds for allowing the wheels to rotate
1 fret of photo etch
1 small sheet of decals
13-page instruction booklet
double-sided color sheet of 2 camo variants (NATO & Gulf)

the review

According to Armorama's own Gino Quintillani (HeavyArty), Kinetic has corrected several booboos from the Orochi kit (his review can be found here):

1.) the TOW missile launcher details
2.) front headlight and taillight clusters
3.) rear access door handle
4.) end panel on the turret basket

But according to Gino, the biggest improvement is the T161 tracks and new sprockets for them. Unlike the Meng kit where each track is composed of seven pieces (four track pads, two track pin assembles and track horn), the Kinetic are pre-molded "length & link" tracks that require only cleanup. According to Gino,

... the tracks in the Orochi kit were not incorrect but... Kinetic made a conscious effort to include the newer T161 tracks that are seen on the latest versions of Bradleys.... They present another problem though: the ERA blocks are only for combat and haven't been used since Iraq (we withdrew our heavy forces in 2011). An M3A3 with T161 tracks should not have the ERA blocks on it. This is sort of addressed in the instructions by giving you the option of not adding the ERA, but it doesn't say why. You also have to add back a bunch of bolts that are not addressed in the instructions.

Check out Gino's review for more about fixing the issues when leaving off the ERA armor. But the good news for those who like quick builds, having the ERA mounts molded-on with clustered ERA modules means that part of the build goes much more easily.

The molding on the kit is for the most part crisp with minimal flash. The M242 Bushmaster chain gun has sharp detail and doesn't look like it will need replacement with an AM brass barrel. Overall this looks like a kit that will go together easily and be a fun build.

painting & markings

The marking guide calls out AMMO by Mig colors, but any paint manufacturer will do, since the options are easily-replicated:

NATO tri-color black, green & brown
Gulf sand

No particular vehicles are specified, which some may find objectionable, while others will find it freeing-up their imagination to do multiple Bradleys depending on your historical references.

conclusion

Raymond Chung of Kinetic has crunched his supply chain numbers and eliminated every ounce of fat and waste. The result is a kit selling for around $20 (plus shipping) that's almost too good a value for money.

Thanks to Kinetic for providing this review sample on my last trip to Hong Kong. Please be sure to say you saw it reviewed here when ordering your copy.
SUMMARY
Highs: Designed like all Kinetic kits for maximum buildability at a reasonable price. Improvements to the old Orochi kit include link & length tracks over the rubber band version, plus an improved TOW array.
Lows: Not for the committed super-detailer as the philosophy of the manufacturer is closer to Tamiya's, and emphasizes ease-of-assembly over hundreds of tiny parts. Quite a bit of mold-release, so clean the parts well.
Verdict: Given the price, you can't NOT purchase this kit if you are interested in modern AFVs.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: KI-K61014
  Suggested Retail: $26.99 plus shipping
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 15, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.80%

Our Thanks to Kinetic Model Kits!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright 2019 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Nice! And very reasonably priced too
JUN 16, 2019 - 08:02 AM
Tempting!!
JUN 16, 2019 - 08:54 AM
Georg Eyerman has promised me a build feature of this kit so y'all can see it finished.
JUN 17, 2019 - 04:20 AM
Kinetic did a pretty good job of fixing most of the shortcomings in Orochi's product. They were still not able to fix the missing bolt heads on the left side of the hull and the TOW loading hatch on the rear deck due to how the molds were designed. Also, as a note, the tracks in the Orochi kit were not incorrect or wrong. Kinetic made a conscious effort to include the newer T161 tracks that are seen on the latest versions of Bradleys. They came out nicely too. They do present another problem though. The ERA blocks are only used in combat and haven't been used since Iraq (we left in '11 with heavy forces). An M3A3 with T161 track should not have the ERA blocks on it. This is sort of addressed in the instructions by giving you the option of not adding the ERA, but it deosn't say why. You also have to add back a bunch of bolts that are not addressed in the instructions. Here is more on that from my Orochi M3A3 Review.
JUN 17, 2019 - 07:17 AM
Thanks, Gino, I have incorporated that into my review and credited you.
JUN 17, 2019 - 07:31 AM
   

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