Accurizing and detailing 
the Tamiya M2A2 IFV kit.

Tamiya  1:35


ODS modifications

    After Operation Desert Storm many valuable lessons were learnt about the practical use of modern armor in real combat. Based on this experience a set of modifications was introduced to all M2A2 and M3A2 vehicles known under the common name "ODS" - Operation Desert Storm. Also new vehicles manufactured (or remanufactured from older M2 and M3s) included all these modifications. The set of modifications implemented in A2 standard vehicles was split to many MWOs (modification work orders) and these were implemented in various sequence over long period of time, so there are many vehicles, which have only some changes implemented, but other new features are still missing. It is practically impossible to define what exactly makes M2A2ODS variant... Right now all Bradleys based on M2A2 and M3A2 vehicles that have some of the modifications implemented are called ODS vehicles, while in fact they can differ in many details. Some of the modifications introduced to ODS Bradleys that resulted in visible external differences important for modelers were:
    - new exhaust box (the earliest ODS modification applied to all vehicles)
    - addition of two small posts on both sides of driver's hatch (to prevent TOW cables from getting tangled in the hatch) 
    - new driver's hatch with modified hinge
    - removal of swim barrier
    - removal of work platform (on the left side of the hull next to the turret)
    - installation of GPS antenna
    - installation of DCS antenna (Digital Compass System) on the rear of the vehicle.

New style exhaust box. Small posts on both sides of the hatch.
New driver's hatch with modified hinge mechanism. The swim barrier was removed from this 
vehicle shortly before the picture was taken.
This vehicle had the work platform removed. GPS antenna near the TC's elbow.
New mount for DCS antenna near the right taillight.


There is one thing usually listed among ODS modifications: modified doors on primary gunner's sight. But this modification was actually introduced BEFORE the Gulf War 1991! Some of M2A2s fighting in Iraq during Desert Storm already had those new style doors installed. Other parts usually associated with ODS modifications are new style tracks with bigger, more rectangular rubber blocks. These tracks however also saw action during Desert Storm. In "M2A2/M3A2 Bradley" book from Concord Publications there are a few photos of brand new M2A2 vehicles that were delivered to 2nd CAV just before the ground war started (there were not enough M3A2 vehicles available, so unusual decision was made to temporarily equip cavalry unit with infantry variant of Bradley). Those brand new Bradleys had new style gunner sight doors and new tracks.

New gunner's sight doors. M2A2 Bradley during Operation Desert Storm.
It already has new gunner sight doors and new tracks.
Photo from Concord Publications "M2A2/M3A2 Bradley" book.


In addition to ODS modifications, two new features appeared in Bradley vehicles in recent years, that I think were not directly related to ODS program: new fluted barrel to the main M242 Bushmaster cannon and new ammo racks on turret bustle rack.  Both types of barrels and both styles of ammo racks can still be seen on Bradleys in Iraq today.

New style ammo racks. Fluted gun barrel.


Another feature now common to Bradley vehicles are new IFF (identification friend - foe) flat panels on front of the turret and CIPs (combat identification panels) on sides and back of the vehicle.

IFF panels on front slopes of the turret. Note that Tamiya molded one of these panels in folded position in M2A2ODS kit. CIP (combat identification panel) on side armor panel. CIPs on stowage boxes.


The full set of ODS modifications was implemented in last batches of M2A2 and M3A2 vehicles produced. Additionally those vehicles have some other specific features:

    - As the work platform is no longer installed and there is no need to carry swim barrier posts, the place previously occupied by them was used to install new brackets for pioneer tools, that were previously carried at the top hull armor plate just behind the turret ring. New armor plates were installed in this place to protect the turret ring.

Old arrangement of pioneer tools.
Vision block is missing, because it is cavalry M3A2 variant.
Photo from Verlinden Publications 
"Warmachines No.5 M2/M3 Bradley" book.
New arrangement of pioneer tools brackets and improved armor around the turret ring.

    - After removal of swim barrier, many brackets, bolts, tie downs etc. associated with swim barrier equipment were no longer needed. Removal of these parts allowed for simplification of appliqué armor plates.

Older Bradley modified to ODS standard with 
most of the swim barrier installation hardware still present.
Newly produced ODS Bradley - all the bolts and brackets 
that were used to attach swim barrier disappeared 
resulting in a smooth armor plate.

   - New towing/lifting eyes attached to final drive housings. The armor plates on the lower front hull slope were also redesigned and simplified.

Older vehicle modified to ODS standard. New towing/lifting eyes on newer ODS Bradley. You may notice that this vehicle has more bolts on the front upper armor plate than the one on the photo above, but the shape of the armor plate is the same.

    - New uparmored gunner's hatch is installed on new ODS vehicles.

    - Armor plates are added to cargo hatch.

Old style gunner's and cargo hatches. New heavy gunner's hatch and uparmored 
cargo hatch.

- One small armor plate on the right side of the turret has new shape in new ODS vehicles (There were two plates in older vehicles, the lower had the "T" shape. In new vehicles there is one plate with trapezoid shape on the bottom).

Old style armor plate on ODS modified older Bradley. New style armor plate on newer ODS Bradley.

    - Brackets for strapping crew gear are attached to bolts on side armor plates as standard to all new Bradleys. There are also two large rubber flaps attached to first side armor plates on both sides of new ODS vehicles (they protect the gear attached to side of the vehicle from being torn off when it rides through a dense vegetation).

    - Armor skirts mounting brackets are different in new vehicles - instead of brackets bent / pressed from thick steel plate, new vehicles have brackets that are cut from a single block of metal (or cast in metal maybe?). Also bolts that attached skirts to brackets are different (instead of three large bolts holding skirts in place, new vehicles have nine smaller bolts there). 

Old style side skirts. New side skirts and their new mounting brackets. Rubber flap 
and brackets for crew gear attached to side armor bolts.

    - Smoke grenade storage boxes are rearranged on the front of the turret. In newer vehicles both boxes are on the right side of the barrel, one over the other (see the photo of fluted gun barrel above).

    - The interior of the vehicle is highly modified. Except for obvious electronic equipment updates, there was a major change introduced in the layout of troop compartment. Instead of individual seats of older Bradleys, newer vehicles have two parallel benches on sides of compartment.

    Between oldest vehicles that have only some of the basic ODS modifications implemented and newest  manufactured to the full ODS specification with many additional improvements, there is a lot of intermediate variants of Bradleys with various combinations of new features fitted. This means that there is basically no such thing as a single, clearly defined standard for ODS Bradley. So carefully examine your references to decide what modifications apply to the vehicle you are building.

    Tamiya M2A2ODS kit allows you to build older M2A2 vehicle modified to ODS standard. The kit does not include parts necessary to build a newly manufactured M2A2ODS vehicle or late production batch M2A2 modified to ODS. In the kit you get new gunner's sight doors, new exhaust box, armor plates for cargo hatch, GPS and DCS antennas. You also get a fluted barrel and new tracks. So out of the box it is possible to build a vehicle that is partially modified, although it still lacks some new features (e.g. driver's hatch). The kit does not include interior, but you can install the interior from old Tamiya M2 kit (or Academy copy of it) and it will be generally correct for early M2A2 partially modified to ODS standard. Eduard PE sets for M2 kit can be used to improve the interior, but you must remember to replace some equipment e.g. radios with newer items.
Note that almost all corrections required to improve accuracy of the original Tamiya M2A2 kit, described in my article, still apply to the ODS kit.




Most of the photos of real vehicles in this article came from various sources on the Internet. I have so many of them downloaded on my computer that I lost track of where each of them came from. If you recognized some of the pictures as yours and want me to credit you for them here, or you want me to remove them, let me know - I'll sure do it.


Copyright © 2004 VODNIK,