M48A5 Lebanese Armed Forces
Réf : Academy #1355 M48A5K
AFV Club # AF35010 M60 & M48 T142 workable track

With the M47 being only a stopgap solution the M48 Patton was a completely new design compared to its predecessors. The hull and turret were of cast steel, well curved design and offered much better ballistic protection than former welded and rather flat designs. The M48 was significantly larger than any earlier medium tank design. The M48 finally omitted the bow machine gun and gunner. It was armed with a co-axial 7.62mm MG and the commander’s .50 cal MG only. The M48 retained a 90mm M41 gun as main weapon.
The US Army evaluated the first prototypes in 1951 and production of the M48 began in 1952. Production finally ceased in 1959 with 11703 vehicles being build.
The final US version is the M48A5 of 1975. It incorporates a new main gun, the L107 105mm, two M60D 7.62mm machine guns and new tracks with replaceable octagonal track shoes, the T142 track and a new CWS now close to the IDF ’Urdan’ design as most prominent features. Of course the fire control received upgrades also, most M48A5 also have the lighting system reworked to M60 standard. The rear lights and engine access doors were upgraded, too. The whole M48A5 program nevertheless shows a wide range of actual different conversion status’, some even without the new gun but others with the old M1 cupola or track. Conversion packs were also sold to other M48 users.
The M48A5 has been phased out of any US service by the mid 1990’s but has continued to serve with the Republic of Korea (ROK) army in a homemade version, the M48A5K featuring side skirts and an alternate IR searchlight.
In 2008, it was still in service with the Lebanese armed forces along with numerous T-55 tanks.

Reference: patton-mania.com

The kit

Released in 1993, the Academy kit depicts a Republic of Korea (ROK) army M48A5. The level of detail is average with many parts needing to be thinned. The molding is correct with some mold lines to be removed. The box content allows to build either a US M48 or an early and a late ROK army M48.
The vinyl type tracks are of the chevron rubber pad pattern.
The decal sheet comprises three Korean decorations and a single US one.
The 8-page instruction foldable booklet is clear in particular when options are offered. The paint references are Tamiya ones even if this is not clearly stated.

The build

The Lebanese M48 is a US version with some modifications made to the turret. All along the build, the corresponding options must be applied. The main was to depict a tank seen in Southern Lebanon in 2008 but without necessarily fixing all the tweaks.

The hull

The chassis
It is necessary to start by filling the gaps in the sides of the hull near the idlers and the sprockets. Then after cleaning the large molding lines, the suspension arms which are molded solid with the stops, are put in place. The first arm is higher by 2mm. So the track adjusting link must be cut before lining up the arm with the others. Then the track adjusting link is adjusted at the right angle.
The shock absorbers for the first suspension arms do not properly fit as the welded brackets on the hull are badly represented. They need to be lengthened.
The sprockets are detailed with the three oval shaped mud relief holes. The roadwheels are not fitted yet. This will be done after the painting. The rubber tires come as vinyl parts. They are sanded with a nail file to give them a mat look. With a side cutter some of the tires are given a damage aspect.

The upper hull
The kit being designed for a Korean tank, it is required to remove the brackets and fill the positioning notches for the side skirts. The mudguards and the fenders are thoroughly thinned as well as the fender brackets. The various bins also are thinned and in particular their hinges.
The front glacis requires a lot of work to relocate the headlights, the lifting hooks and the fire extinguishers handles cover. The light guards are modified.
The driver vision blocks are made from plastic card.
The crew heater exhaust is hollowed and slightly bent to match the real tank that is used as the reference.
The rear deck requires less work. The gun travel lock must be redone. The hinge is wrong and on the real tank the lock is damaged. The lifting hooks are relocated. The infantry telephone is detailed. The bracket is thinned, the numerous bolts are added as well as the cable conduit to the engine compartment.
When all is fixed, both hull halves are assembled. The seams are filled with putty as well as the perimeter of the front towing hooks. On the fenders, bits of angle iron are added. They are made of Evergreen styrene. In the end, the fixation bolts are added.

The turret

Apparently the turret is identical to that of the Tamiya M48A3 kit. It features the same flaws like the ill represented gun mantlet cover or the springs on the loader's hatch that are molded solid to name just a few.

To begin with the various positioning holes for the Us version must be drilled then both halves are glued together. The seam is thoroughly sanded.
Then the straps for the fabric cover of the gun mantlet are redone. The kit's one looked like a stepladder. They are sanded away and replaced by some plastic strips. Once the gun is glued at the desired elevation, the gap between the mobile part of the mantlet and the turret is filled with putty to depict the canvas cover.
The IR searchlight is quite basic. No glass is provided. This is not a problem as on the model tank the light was covered by a tarp. It is made with a piece of tissue soaked with white glue. The power cable of the searchlight is provided by Academy. The plugs at both ends are made from styrene rod bits.

On the roof of the turret, the main sight cover is detailed. The MG pedestal in front of the loader's hatch is drilled out as well as the one on the turret side. On the latter the M60D will be installed. The springs on the hatch are redone. The copper wire was a bit too thick but the resulting springs were better than the kit ones. The lock for the open hatch is made from plastic card.
The tank commander's cupola is detailed too. It is the Urdan type. The vision blocks are not used and only their flaps are made from thin plastic card. On each side of the cupola at the front a small rod is visible.

Both MG are detailed. The .50MG of the kit lacks of detail but some leftovers of a PE sheet for a M1 Abrams help to enhance the sights. The cradle is thinned. The ammunition box support comes from a Skybow set which was in the spare box.
On the M60D, the spade grip is made from styrene rods and strips.

The rear basket has been the most difficult to install as the fit was far from perfect. Before, the mesh parts are cut in a Aber PE sheet.
The cables brackets are added and only one cable is made from twisted metal wire. The eyelets are those of the kit.

The painting

The tank paint being really worn out, it was the opportunity to use the hairspray technique. The base color is NATO black. Several filters of Umber and Sienna are brushed to create a worn metal look. A layer of hairspray is applied then some sand is sprayed over the glacis and the hull sides. Two more layers of hairspray are applied before spraying the final shade in XF26 Deep Green. A more greyish shade could be correct too.
The chipping work was then done. On the turret, as too much paint was removed, it was necessary to start again.
When done some rust has been added here and there then a dark wash was applied to enhance the details.
The tracks were painted light grey then weathered with various shades of sand and earth.
The final touch was the addition of registration plates made from a decal issued in the Ironside Lebanese M113 kit.

M48A5 Norwegian army
M48A5K ROK army
M48A5 Lebanese armed forces