M2/M3 Bradley Reference

Some info on the different Bradley kits available.

Tamiya came out with the original M2 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and M3 CFV (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle) kits in 1985. The M2 has a partial interior for the driver’s area and rear crew compartment along with interior placards and markings decals. The M2 and M3 were/are the same plastic, just different decals and the M3 does not include the partial interior. There are a couple different parts on the A sprues for the M3 (blanked off side firing ports).

All of the early Bradley kits are based on Tamiya’s original M2/M3 kits from the 1980s. The Academy M2 is a direct copy. The Lee model and a few others are really bad copies.

Next came Tamiya’s M2A2 kit, right after Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1991. It is the same plastic as the M2/M3 kit with a modified upper hull and new sprue for the M2A2 specific parts. It also no longer included the interior sprue, even though the interior was still correct for this version.

This version and later kits deleted the interior that came in Tamiya’s and Academy’s M2 kits. For an interior, you can find either older M2 kit on eBay pretty cheaply and use the interior out of it for an older M2A2 ODS w/out interior seating mods (changed to long seats along the hull like an M113 with full mods), or use it as a base for a new interior. You can also use the Meng interiors as a base, more on them later.

Next (in the early 2000s) came the Tamiya M2A2 ODS (2003) and Academy’s M2A2 “Iraq 2003” (2006) kits, which are about the same in quality. They both represent M2A2 ODS Bradleys from about 2003-2005. The ODS Bradley does not represent a Bradley used in ODS, but one with modifications applied to it from lessons learned during ODS. These include added armor panels, new seating in the crew compartment (down both sides like an M113) with full mods, a new driver’s hatch hinge, and a few other mods.

The Tamiya M2A2 ODS kit represents a rebuilt to latest standards M2A2 ODS version as used by 3 ID in the initial invasion of Iraq in March '03. It has most of the ODS mods that were seen at that time, but still shows parts that were removed or changed as well. It also has you adding obsolete parts such as the flotation system rods on the rear and left side of the hull.

The Academy M2A2 “Iraq 2003” kit represents a new-build M2A2 ODS from about the same time as Tamiya’s. It has many newer features that Tamiya left off, like the new driver’s hatch hinge, anti-foul bars in front of the driver’s hatch, new lower front glacis plate, etc. It also has nicer side armor, sprockets with lightening holes, and better details in some areas. It has incorrect, old-style, triangle block track in the kit though. The triangle block track hasn’t been used since the mid-'90s. Furthermore, Academy molded the track incorrectly as well, with the pads being molded 180 degrees from how they should be. AFV Club makes a nice set of rubber band, square block track for them though.

None of the previous (above) kits come with any PE. Eduard does a few good PE sets though, one being a full turret interior. Legends and Voyager also have PE sets for them.

All the above will benefit from Pawel’s (Vodnik) Bradley upgrade article as well. It has lots of upgrades and pointers in it. It is highly recommended.

The next big leap in Bradleys came in 2014 with Meng’s new kits. The Meng kits are all new tooling and the first ones not based on Tamiya’s original Bradley kits. They are great and light years ahead of Tamiya and Academy on details and accuracy. They also include PE and metal tubes for the shocks on the suspension.

The M2A3 comes with a complete interior to include the turret and engine areas.


The M3A3 kit does not have an interior, but a separate M3A3 Interior kit is available for it.


A note on the Meng interiors, they fit into the Tamiya, Academy and Orochi/Kinetic hulls pretty easily. I used parts of the M3A3 interior to update/add the turret to the original Tamiya M2 here.

About the same time as Meng’s kits came out, Orochi came out with their own M3A3 kit (2014). Orochi offered their M3A3 kit in two versions; a Deluxe Edition w/metal tracks and some resin bags and an out of place EOD soldier in a blast suit (EOD doesn’t use Bradleys), and a Standard Edition with all plastic parts. Their kits also come with PE, but still have some issues with details. You can see them at my build review of it here.


Kinetic bought the Orochi molds when they went out of business and updated them, fixing most of the issues with it. They introduced their updated/reworked M3A3 kit in 2018. Kinetic fixed Orochi’s issues by adding a new sprue with parts for the TOW launcher, rear door handle, new headlights and tail lights, stowage basket wall and center support. They also reworked some of the parts on the original sprues to improve/correct them. Also included is a set of T161 tracks and new sprockets for them. However, the T161 tracks are too new to be on a Bradley w/ERA mounted. They do mention what to leave off for a non-ERA vehicle, but don’t talk about the tracks. With these fixes, it builds into a really nice kit. Kinetic did a pretty good job of fixing it.

New Kinetic sprue.

With what is available on the market now, by combining parts from different kits and a little bit of scratch work, you can build any Bradley variant that has been fielded.

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I have built a bunch of Bradleys over the years. Here are a few of them.

M2 REFORGER, Late '80s (w/full interior, including turret)


M3A1 24ID Desert Storm

M2A2 1-5 CAV, 1 CAV Div, Operation Desert Storm (w/ rear interior)


M2A2 ODS 3ID Iraq (w/ rear interior)



M2A2 ODS 3ID Iraq (w/full interior, including turret)



M3A3 Iraq firing TOW

M7A2 BFIST (w/full interior, including turret and engine)



M7A2 BFIST, 1-10 FA, 3ID, OIF 1


M7A3 BFIST Iraq

M7A3 BFIST 1CAV


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Some Bradley lineage:

The original M2 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and M3 CFV (Cavalry Fighting Vehicle) were fielded in the early '80s

In the mid '80s came the M2A1 and M3A1 versions which included the larger turret bustle stowage rack, guards around the driver’s and commander’s periscopes, an NBC system for the crew (not the troops in the back), side firing ports deleted, and some other minor changes.

Just before Operation Desert Shield (Aug '90 - late Jan '91) the upgraded M2A2 IFV and M3A2 CFV with armored side panels and some other upgrades were introduced. Most units received new M2A2 and M3A2 versions in the deserts of Saudi Arabia before kicking off the ground war (Operation Desert Storm) in Feb '91.

Following Operation Desert Storm, lessons learned led to the updated M2A2 ODS and M3A2 ODS versions, which were the versions used during the invasion of Iraq. Externally, it looks pretty close to a standard M2A2 or M3A2, but had more armor, improved seating, and other improvements. Most of these were MWOs (Modification Work Orders) added to older M2A2s to bring them up to the new standard. Some were new build M2A2 ODS Bradleys. See the discussion above about the Tamiya and Academy M2A2 ODS kits for more on them.

During the war in Iraq, about late '04, additional armor, known as BUSK (Bradley Urban Survival Kit) was added to give them more protection and make them more survivable.

Around '07, the latest version M2A3 and M3A3 were introduced. These include individual blast survival seats for the troops in the back, digital instruments and commo systems, a thermal viewer for the commander, camera for the driver, and a few other improvements.

This M2A3 also has the new T-161 tracks which started being seen around 2014.

There are/were a couple other Bradley variants as well.

The M6A2 Linebacker ADA vehicle was fielded and served in 3ID during the initial invasion of Iraq. Shortly after that they were taken out of service and were all converted back to standard M2A2/M3A2 ODS vehicles.


Before the M6, there was the BSFV (Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle). It looked like any other Bradley from the outside, but had a modified interior layout to hold two dismount Stinger gunners and extra Stinger missiles. The idea was that the gunners would jump out and engage targets as they presented themselves.

There is also the M7A2/M7A3 BFIST (Bradley Fires Integration Support Team) vehicle used by artillerymen to plan and execute FA and mortar fires for an Armored or Mech Infantry company. The A2 version looked just like any other A2 Bradley with the rear of the TOW box blanked off as it held targeting electronics. It also had a couple added antennas on top of extended rear light guards and a cable reel holder on the right rear sponson box. The interior is also different with a large operator’s chair and computer console and more radios, along with other FA gear in the back.

M7A2 BFIST

The M7A3 BFIST has all the other features of an M2A3, but with a new targeting box in place of the TOW box and the modified rear cabin. In the Targeting Box is a GVLLD (Ground/Vehicle Laser Locator Designator) targeting unit that assists with target location, range-finding, and designating for laser guided munitions.

The M270 MLRS is also based on a lengthened Bradley chassis.

As was the M4 C2V (Command and Control Vehicle) which was tested in OIF, but not accepted. All have been rebuilt back to M270A1 MLRS, except the below vehicle (and a few others) now on display at Ft Stewart, GA.

The USMC AAVP-7A1 RAMS/RS has Bradley running gear and automotive parts.

The newest is the AMPV (Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle), which is a turretless Bradley that is set to replace the venerable M113. These vehicles are being built and fielded now. It will have five versions.

General Purpose Vehicle (APC)

Command Post Carrier

Mortar Carrier

Ambulances

AMEV (Armored Medical Evac Vehicle) 4-patient (ala M113)

AMTV (Armored Medical Treatment Vehicle) 6-patient (ala M577)

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Some nice info there guys and will look in on this for reference. in your opinions, what would be the best kit to use as an OOB build with very little extras for a Bradley used during ODS ? ie configuration, tracks, side armour if any etc ?? Thanks.

The Tamiya M2A2 (35152) is a Desert Storm M2A2. It is OOB correct for the time period, but can use some updating and corrections to make it look even better. Follow Vodnik’s article I linked to above and you will be good.

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Thanks Gino @HeavyArty for that very speedy reply … you must have been hovering over the mouse !! will look at yet another purchase now… cheers.

Here are some Bradley interiors for reference.

Original M2 through M2A2 with six individual seat. This is what came/comes in the Tamiya and Academy M2 kits.

M2A2 ODS through early M2A3 with bench seats down each side.


M2A3 with six individual, blast resistant seats down each side. This is what comes in the Meng M2A3 kit.

M3 CFV interior with two scout seats in the middle and TOW rack on right. Used on M3 and M3A1.

M3A2 interior with bench seat for scouts and improved TOW storage. Used on early M3A3 as well.

M3A3 interior with blast resistant seats. This is what comes in the Meng M3A3 Interior kit.

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M2 IFV and M3 CFV differences.

M2A1/M3A1 improvements:

During 1986, FMC began production of an improved variant of the Bradley designated the M2A1/M3A1. This improved model was based on Research and Development (R & D) work carried out by FMC’s Ground Systems Divisions, the Army Tank Automotive command (TACOM), field reports and intelligence data.

The most significant improvement in the new variant was the installation of an improved TOW-2 missile system. In addition to the new TOW system, there was a number of external changes to the M2A1/M3A1. The rear turret stowage basket was redesign. On the M3A1, the firing ports were deleted and replaced with solid armor on the sides and rear. The M3A1 also has a redesigned rear upper hatch with four periscopes (which replaced the rear periscopes of the M2A1). The scout’s seats were also relocated under the hatch to make it easier for the scouts to use them.

Other changes included the remove of the grenade ammunition boxes from the front of the turret, improved flotation screen brackets and improved auto-interrupter to prevent the 25mm gun from damaging various hull fittings.


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Let’s not forget the surprisingly good ones by Revell in 1/72, with link and length track.

The latest news, right here…

M2A4 Bradley—weighs in at around 45-tons now

New M2A4 being tested.



Externally, it looks the same as an M2A3 to me. I guess all the changes/updates are internal.

“The Bradley M2A4 features the latest digitized electronics for optimum situational awareness, network connectivity and communication within the Armored Brigade Combat Team. It is equipped with a wide-angle Driver’s Vision Enhancer, improved Force XXI Battle Command Bridge, and Below (FBCB2) software integration improve friendly and enemy vehicle identification, enhancing situational awareness. The addition of a High-Speed Slip Ring, greater network connectivity and Smart Displays that simultaneously display classified and unclassified information also improve situational awareness.”

Some more info on the M2A4 upgrades:

After the Iraq War, the Army began researching engineering change proposals (ECPs) for the M2 Bradley to buy back space, weight, power, and cooling capacity reduced by the addition of armor and electronics hastily added during combat.

ECP1 will work to restore mobility and allow the vehicle to handle more weight. As weight increased, the Bradley got lower on its suspension, which reduced ground clearance. This decreased mobility on rough terrain and left it more vulnerable to IEDs. The effort will install lighter tracks, shock absorbers, a new suspension support system, and heavy weight torsion bars.

ECP2 will restore automotive power with a larger engine, a new transmission, and a smart-power management system for better electrical power distribution to accept future networked tactical radio and battle command systems.

Vehicles that receive both the ECP1 and ECP2 upgrade will be designated A4. The first Bradleys upgraded with ECP1 were fielded in mid-2015, and the first to be upgraded with ECP2 were fielded in 2018.

The M2A4 is equipped with an enhanced drivetrain, more powerful engine, new digitized electronics, a new fire suppression system, and a new IED jammer. On June 14, 2018 BAE Systems Land and Armaments was awarded a contract to produce up to 164 M2A4 and M7A4 Bradley Fighting Vehicles using existing M2A3, M7A3 and M2A2 ODS-SA Bradleys.

Additional anti shot trap armor added, among other things.

I’m surprised that the roof hatch in the crew compartment has been kept. But then, that’s how the TOW is loaded, right?

Yes, it is the TOW reload hatch, not a crew hatch.

image

ISU(Integrated Sight Unit)

This sits on top of the ISU

I think this is all set for becoming the go to place for all Bradley info … I will now be getting the one Gino @HeavyArty recommended to portray an initial ODS one. Some great insights guys. Thanks for sharing. And a great idea in the first place Peter @MrBMB

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I think its a great idea. There are enough very knowledgeable people here to start some really in-depth info threads.

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And with all of these little details, don’t forget the one thing that every 11Mike must invest in - a 1/2 " drive Craftsman ratchet handle to load the Bushmaster!





1008 images sent digitally. No pages to fall out. Ever. M2 Slick through M2A4. Mainly focused on M2A3 and M3A3 BUSK. Lots of good close up engine detail and interior shots.

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From BAE Land Systems and AUSA 2020, used with permission for editorial and personal use as long as the photos are original and not altered and combined with anything else.

M2A3s

And the AMPV family…

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