Armor RC

Detailing the Heng Long M1A2 Abrams for RC 1/16 scale

by Mario Covalski © Modeler Site

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Two years ago the Challenger 2 appeared first and then the Abrams in the A2 version Though they always liked me, especially the Abrams, I let them go to keep myself focused in other projects. Some months ago a local importer started offering them and I had the opportunity to see them with my own in live. The HL tanks don’t say a lot when you take it out the box. In general they’re painted with wrong colors, with black plastic exposed wheels look like toys more appropriated for little kids than for older children. But with my trained eye, after having read so many magazines and seen models, told me that both of them had a lot of potential to meet my expectations.


Since over 10 years ago, Heng Long, a Chinese toy manufacturer has been producing RC tanks. The first ones were copied from Tamiya, the Pershing and Tiger, full of inaccuracies, out of scale, etc. My first HL was a Tiger, which disappointed me and finished converting it to a static model using parts from the Hobby Boss kit. I’ve modified several HL(s) , the M41 and several Sherman chassis for projects that needed a cheap base. Finally, I decided that converting a HL into the RC tank would mean to spend a lot of money and, especially, work over a non friendly plastic.

I’ve looked a lot for work in progress projects in forums, but most of them with some exception, were focused to the mechanical aspect than to painting or detailing. And those I’ve seen plenty of details, with expensive parts, like metal tracks and running gears, generally, they end in a painting job that doesn’t do justice to the model built.

The aim of this short article is to share with the reader, the work of adding several details to the plastic with no more things that I had in my spare box, with a minimum electronic inversion, gear box, wheels…etc. but trying to get the aspect of a model that looks like an hobby grade RC Abrams and not an expensive toy. In order not to be disappointed , I’ll not concentrate in the mechanical or electronic improvements since they’re widely known and the work done was the minimum as possible.


After looking at several work in progress projects and searching for references, I realized that HL had copied almost to the letter the 1/35 Tamiya “M1A2 Iraqi Freedom”, so much so that several mistakes of the Tamiya kit were copied as they are. There are other recent versions of the Abrams such as the TUSK I, SEP TUSK II…etc which are more spectacular.

Obviously, they chose this version cause is the less complicated with less sophistication what means less work and cost. I followed the line and decided to build my tank in that version that was the one I liked best since in 1994, I had built the 1/35 Tamiya kit.

Interior additions

I left the plastic gear boxes, but added some ball bearings to the drive axles. I used similar parts to the ones offered by HL.

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