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Found 105 results

  1. M4A3 Sherman W/T24 “Calliope” Academy 1:35 History The American Sherman tank has to be one of the most famous tanks from World War 2. What a lot of people may not know is that it was once adapted to carry 60 rocket tubes above the turret, a conversion nicknamed the Calliope, after a musical instrument which had similarly arranged pipes. The launcher was developed in 1943 and could fire a barrage of 4.5” M8 rockets. Only small numbers were produced and were used by various US armoured units in 1944-45. The Model The kit comes in a top opening box with an interesting picture of the vehicle firing its rockets, although the effects aren’t particularly well rendered, not that it’s that important. What is important is what’s in the box. There are eleven sprues of bluey grey styrene, a small sheet of etched brass, a pair of vinyl tracks, a piece of string and a small decal sheet. The parts are all well moulded, although the detail is a little soft and perhaps not as effective as some other kits of the Sherman. The provenance of the kit is a little uncertain, but it looks like Academy’s own tool Sherman M4A3 with the rocket launcher parts possibly coming from Italeri. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections on any of the moulded parts and only a few moulding pips. Construction begins with the assembly of the sprocket wheels, each provided as two halves, two piece idler wheels, plus the road wheels, with two piece wheels and two part axle units. The road wheel assemblies are then fitted into the five piece suspension units. The escape hatch and rear track guard sections are fitted to the lower hull, followed by the rear bulkhead, which has been fitted with the exhausts, an access hatch with handle, three piece towing hitch and two small stowage boxes. The idlers and road wheel assemblies are attached to the lower hull, along with the front hull extensions on which the sprocket wheels and their gearbox covers are attached. The drive cover is fitted to the front of the lower hull whilst on the upper hull the bow machine gun, its ball sockets, front headlamps, two lifting eyes and the engine deck hatch with two grille piece are all glued on. The drivers and machine gunners seven part hatches are next, along with the four fuel caps, rear lights and ventilation mushroom. The upper hull is kitted out with the various pioneer tools, front and rear lights, their respective cage guards, the guards being made of either styrene or PE depending on what you prefer, and grab handles. At the rear of the tank the exhaust grille is attached, with the rear mounted covers mounted behind where the idler wheels would be. Above the exhaust shield a four piece storage rack is attached, and another two grab handles fitted to the top of the engine deck. The build then moves onto the main gun and the turret. The main gun is a nicely produced item, moulded as a single piece, with a similarly moulded muzzle attached. The trunnion mount consist of three parts and is fitted to the inside of the inner mantlet, with the outer mantlet covering that. The barrel is then slid into position, being glued to the trunnion mount. The main gun assembly is then attached to the front of the turret, which does as least have some casting texture on it, from the outside, whilst the 30 cal co-axial machine gun is mounted from the inside, with the turret ring glued to the turret base. For the fitting of the rocket launcher legs, you will need to open up the oblong holes on either side of the turret. The commanders cupola hatches are assembled, with the left hand hatch having a periscope fitted from the inside and with a cage guard fitted on the outside. The two hatches are then glued to the cupola which is then glued to the top of the turret. The gunners hatch is also attached, along with the aerial base, which has the option of either a straight or bent version, turret lifting eyes, plus the gunners periscope and guard. The gunners hatch also has a couple of spring like objects fitted and there is a second aerial base fitted to the rear of the turret. The commanders sighting arm is attached in front of his hatch, whilst a searchlight is attached via a PE plate to the base of the main gun. To accommodate the rocket launcher elevation support the gun is fitted with a ring attachment point. The rocket launcher consists of two full width cluster of tubes and four smaller widths. Each sections is made up from two halves with single piece end caps to the rear. Having built the Revel version of this vehicle I found that getting the seams all cleaned up in the bores of each tube was quite difficult. But you can always cover the fronts with a sheet of tarpaulin made form tissue paper and watered down PVA glue. The large rocket tube sections are joined together, as are two pairs of the narrower width tube sections. The launcher frame is made up from four parts, with the front cross member being fitted with the elevation support rod and its attachment block. The launcher side arms are each made up from three parts which are then glued to the side of the turret. The moving gas struts are then slid into position and the attachment plate holds them in place on the side of the rocket tubes. Strangely the is a very nicely detailed M2 50 cal machine gun and mount consisting of fifteen parts included, but this wasn’t normally fitted to a rocket carrying tank, but it can be fitted to one of the options which is carrying the rocket pack. The build is finished off with the vinyl tracks fitted to the lower hull assembly, the upper hull assembly then glued to the lower hull and the slotting into position of the turret/rocket launcher assembly. Decals The small decal sheet is quite well printed, and not as thick as Academy decals used to be. They’re in register and nicely opaque, particularly useful as the stars and other markings are printed in white. There are four stars that have been over-painted in olive drab, although I’m not sure the reason why, they do make for an interesting look. There are markings for three vehicles. Sherman M4A3 Calliope of the US 12th Armoured Division, Fletrange, France, March 1945 Sherman M4A3 Calliope of the 14th Armoured Division, Germany, Early 1945 Sherman M4A3 of the US 95th Infantry Division, Germany, January 1945. Conclusion Ok, this isn’t an uber kit of the Sherman. But it is a great little kit with some nice details, nothing too taxing, which could make for a pleasant break from more complex builds. If it’s anything like the Revell kit, which this does bear a marked similarity to, it will build into a nice looking kit, just right for some heavy weathering. Perhaps one for the weekend? Recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  2. HMS Roberts Trumpeter 1/350 History HMS Roberts was the first of a two ship class of 15” Monitors. Her keel was laid on April 30th 1940 at John Browns shipyard on the Clyde, and was launched on the 1st of February 1941. HMS Roberts was commissioned, six months late, (due mainly to have repairs made good on damage caused during an air raid), on 6th October 1941, she left Clydebank three days later for the Gareloch where she was dry docked in a floating dock brought up specifically for the job, as no other dock was able to accommodate the Roberts extreme beam. Once trials and final adjustments had been completed, it wasn’t until 13th November that she sailed for work up and to prepare for the long voyage out to the Mediterranean via the Cape of Good Hope. She did not arrive at Suez until the 26th February 1942. She remained at Suez, acting as AA guardship, and was anchored about three miles south of the canal entrance. Her radars and AA directors, added to her design during construction, proving particularly useful, although no action was actually seen during this time. In July 1942 she moved down the Red Sea for a few weeks , before she was ordered to sail for an unspecified operation. This operation turned out to be Operation Torch, the landings in North Africa. Throughout the landings she was anchored seven miles off the coast, but didn’t fire a shot as the French fort Sidi Ferruch did not resist the allied troops. The day after the landings she acted as radar guardship, warning of the approach of any German aircraft from the direction of Tunisia. Her AA guns were used against sustained air attacks, particularly from Ju-88s. She continued in this role until the 11th, when she was hit by two 500kg bombs, one hitting the port side sloping armour on the bulge and the other just aft of the funnel. She was immobilised for two days, before repairs were completed to allow her to sail, all the time still under constant air attack. During the operation she had fired off some 30,000 rounds of AA ammunition in less than a week. With the worst of the bomb damage repaired she went back to her duties and AA guardship until finally relieved, sailing for Gibraltar and home, arriving in Liverpool on the 6th January. The rest of 1943 saw the Roberts providing both AA and 15” cover for operations around the Mediterranean including the landings at Salerno, where she bombarded enemy positions from the 9th to the 19th of September on which she sailed back to Malta to replenish her ammunition as she had fired almost her entire complement of 15” shells during the actions off the beaches. April 1944 HMS Roberts found herself back in home waters to work up for Operation Neptune and to carry out practice bombardments on the Kintyre range in company with the other ships of the bombardment fleet. Owing to her slow speed, she had to sail several days in advance of the rest of Force D, arriving at Spithead on the 28th May to await orders for the invasion fleet to sail to France. On the 5th June she sailed as part of convoy S.6, joining up with the other bombardment ships and minesweepers coming from the Clyde. The Roberts anchored in her firing position eleven miles west of LeHavre at 05.20 on the 6th of June 1944, three minutes later she opened fire from about 20,000 yards range on the Houlgate battery, which had four ex-French 155mm guns, ten miles east of Sword beach. A heavy fire was kept up on the enemy batteries until H hour. Roberts fired some twenty seven rounds during this period, but had difficulty in spotting the fall of shot due to enemy smokescreens and the failure of some armoured piercing rounds to explode in the marshy ground. Periodic fire was required throughout the day to silence any batteries that showed signs of interfering with the build up of troops, vehicles and stores on the beachhead. Most batteries though concentrated their fire on the bombardment ships rather than the flimsy landing craft. During the afternoon of D-Day Roberts made a particularly successful shoot on Houlgate, after sixteen rounds, the spotting fighter reported several direct hits and two large explosions. At 21.30 she had just started to fire on a troop concentration inland from Sword beach, when a crash was heard and a large chunk of metal was seen to fly up in front of the bridge. On ceasing fire it was found that the right 15in had burst its jacket. The jacket had split into several pieces without the whole gun bursting, so further damage was prevented by strapping it with wire rope. It wasn’t until after further action off the Seine and on targets around Caen, using only the one good barrel that she finally was sent back to Portsmouth on the 14th June with only 37 of her compliment of 235 15in rounds left and to replace her guns as the remaining barrel was also out of life. One of the replacement guns was No102, which is now to be found outside the Imperial War Museum, London. By the 21st of June Roberts was back on station on the Eastern flank of the beachhead. Up until the final day of the bombardment operation on the 18th July she continued to give covering fire throughout her operational area. To increase the range out to 30,000 yards the monitor was flooded on one side to give a three degree list to give the guns greater elevation. Roberts returned to Portsmouth on the 23rd July for the next ten weeks, to change her guns, again, give leave and repair the wear and tear of six weeks almost continuous bombardment in which she had fired 692 rounds of 15in, of which only about sixty being armoured piercing. Having completed her duties off the French coast, Roberts took part in the commando landings at Flushing and bombarded the gun emplacements around Zeebrugge. This turned out to be the last action HMS Roberts would take part in, as although she was primed at four hours notice to bombard forts on Heligoland, the operations were called off as the German defence of the Reich collapsed, and the ship’s crew celebrated VE day in Portsmouth. Allocated to the Far East Fleet, she sailed to the Mersey for a quick refit before setting sail on the 27th July 1945 bound for the Indian Ocean where she was ordered arrive before the 1st September to acclimatise before operations against Singapore. Fortunately, the dropping of the two atomic bombs precluded they use, yet she and her sister Abercrombie continued to sail Eastwards until the formal Japanese surrender. The order for the two ships to return and reduce to reserve came on the 11th September, by which time the Roberts had reached Kilindini. The Roberts finally arrived at Plymouth on the 22nd November. Whilst her sister didn’t survive long after the war, being reduced to an accommodation ship and turret drill ship in 1946 before being laid up in Fareham Creek in 1953 and scrapped in 1954/55, HMS Roberts survived quite a bit longer. After arriving in Devonport, she stayed there until 1965, being used as a turret drill ship, accommodation ship and even the headquarters of a sailing club. On the 3rd of August 1965 she arrived at the Wards berth in Inverkeithing to be scrapped. This was the end of the Big Gun Monitors in the Royal Navy after nearly 50 years of service. The Model It was a very pleasant surprise to hear of Trumpeter releasing this 1:350 kit as it would be the first time it has been done in this scale as an injection moulding. The only other option has been the fantastic, but rather expensive resin offering from White Ensign Models. Due to one thing and another we didn’t receive the kit for review until very recently, so I was eager to get the box open and see what it was like. The box lid has a nice painting of the Roberts on the gun line of one of its operations. On opening the box the modeller is confronted with seven sprues of light grey styrene, with separate hull halves and main deck. There are also three frets of etched brass, a small stand and an even smaller decal sheet. The mouldings are really nicely done with some fine detail evident throughout the sprues. There are no signs of defects and not that many moulding pips, being only seen on some of the smaller parts. Unfortunately there is quite a big fly in the ointment as, once again, Trumpeter seem to have mucked up the hull, particularly the foreward end of the bulge, which runs to far foreward on each side, to almost underneath the anchors. The whole hull doesn’t appear deep enough either, although the general shape isn’t too bad. The foreward bulge really needs to sanded away, but due to the way it’s indented this would leave a whole that will require sheeting over with plasticard and filler, probably something only the most fastidious modeller would try. Moving on to the build, construction starts with the two hull halves being joined together. Now, there are several large spurs on both hull joints and gunwhales where they have been cut away from the sprues, which have to be carefully removed before joining. Even though the hull is pretty stiff already due to the shape, Trumpeter have provided three bulkheads and two joining pins to give extra strength and also for giving the main deck somewhere to be affixed to. That said, the next step is to fix the main deck to the hull, before being turned over to have the bilge keels attached, followed by the two propeller shafts, a frames, propellers and rudders fitted into their respective positions. With the hull complete, it’s on with a raft of sub-assemblies, including windlasses, air vents, lookout binoculars, and two Type 282 directors. The weapons assemblies are then built up, the octuple and quad pom pom mounts, (the instructions appear to be wrong, in that it tells you to build two octuple mounts and one quad, whereas it should be the other way round), single 40mm mounts, (which weren’t fitted to the Roberts until 1945), include both styrene and etched parts, whereas the four twin 4” turrets and twin 20mm mounts, (only fitted to the Roberts in 1945), are purely styrene in construction. The next batch of sub-assemblies include the Type 284 directors, fitted with etched Yagi aerials, and three different styles of liferafts, stacked in twos and fours. The main 15” turret is made up of the main turret, turret base and a choice of either moveable barrels, without blast bags, or fixed, with blast bags. Putting the sub-assemblies aside, and with the hull the right way up, the breakwater and storage locker are fitted to the foredeck, along with two 40mm gun tubs. Either side of the main barbette the two quad pom pom splinter shields are fitted, whilst further back on each side the splinter shields for the 4” turrets are attached. The many and various ready use lockers, complete with etched doors are fitted in their appropriate positions, followed by the liferaft stacks. The four paravanes, windlasses, fore and aft anchors, plus their anchor chains and more ready use lockers are fitted. The build then moves onto the aft superstructure with the structures of 01 deck being glued onto the bottom structure. The etched vertical ladders are fitted, along with yet more ready use lockers, followed by the Type 284 mounts, octuple pom pom, three 40mm mounts, the emergency steering position and the twin 20mm mounts. The railings around the 02 deck structures are also attached, thoughtfully provided in the kit. Moving foreward the single piece bridge structure, (like a smaller Queen Annes Mansions seen on the likes of HMS Warspite), which is fitted out with the rear upper bridge surround, rear bridge detail plate, ready use lockers, vertical and inclined ladders, chart and wireless offices, lookout binoculars, aldis lamps, main rangefinder and bridge screen. The structure between the bridge and turret barbette is fitted out with two twin 20mm mounts, their ready use lockers and another stack of liferafts. The funnel is moulded in two halves, which, once joined together is topped out with a two piece etched funnel cap and fitted out with a number of steam pipes on the forward face. These assemblies are then attached to the main deck and at last it’s beginning to look like a warship. Before the assembly of the two masts the midships 40mm mounts are fitted in their elevated tubs, whilst either side of the turret barbette, in similar elevated mounts the two Type 282 directors are fitted. More railings around the upper decks can be fitted now, or the modeller may wish to wait till the end of the main build. The mainmast is assembled from a single pole foreward and double pole moulding aft, connected by two Y shaped struts. To the front pole a long vertical etched ladder is affixed. The top of the mast is fitted out with an oblong star platform on which the mast for the aft Type 281aerial is attached, followed by the yardarm, vertical ladder and etched radar aerial which will need some careful folding to keep everything square. The supporting rear poles of the tripod for the foremast are slid into position to the rear of the bridge structure. The fore pole fitted on top of the bridge, with the large starfish platform, (made entirely of etched parts), fixed to the top of the three poles. The spotting top is fitted onto the starfish platform along with the mast and Type 281 aerial as per the mainmast assembly. With the masts fitted into place, the 4”, 15” turrets can be fitted, as are the forward quad pom pom mounts and foredeck mounted 40mm units. Sundry items, such as the foredeck derricks, Jack Staff and Ensign Staff, ships boats, boat booms, accommodation ladders and quarterdeck derricks are attached. Finally the boat davits, acoustic hammer, (actually removed in 1945), hammer derrick and ships railings are fitted, thus completing the build. Decals The small decal sheet provides just two types of White Ensign, one wavy and one straight. Conclusion I really am quite disappointed with this kit. It had so much promise on opening the box, but Trumpeter has once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The hull, especially the extended bulge seems to have been made by the same team that made, and mucked up the same area, that designed their HMS Warspite. That flaw and the fact that the hull appears to be too shallow overall, but mostly under the waterline makes the whole ship look wrong in its proportions. The twin 20mm mounts and single 40mm Bofors, according to my references, were only fitted to the Roberts in 1945, yet the acoustic hammer was removed, (although the derrick was retained), in the refit before sailing to the Far East. If you want to build HMS Roberts as per her time at Salerno or on D-Day, at the very least you will also need to find some single 20mm mounts to replace the 40mm, another Type 282 director and pair of searchlights, which is a shame really, as the boxart shows her during her bombardment of France during D-Day. Recommended with the above caveats. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  3. M3 Lee Early/Grant Medium Tanks 1:35 Takom via Pocketbond The US Army had been remarkably complacent with regard to tank development in the lead-up to WWII, and approached war with precious few that were hopelessly outclassed. This realisation resulted in a frantic clamour to produce a modern tank that could hold its own in combat, with the M3 Lee coming into service as a stop-gap measure within a year of its first design while the M4 Sherman was in development. As a consequence of its rather rushed introduction, it was known to have a number of fairly serious flaws, but it also had some strengths that (at least in part) made up for them. Its high profile and sponson mounted main gun gave the enemy a large target, but when the 75mm main gun was brought to bear on a target, it was surprisingly powerful and effective, gaining a reputation in North Africa. A great many examples were exported to the British and Russian forces in the early stages of WWII, and after the majority of British armour was left on the beaches of Dunkerque, the need became even greater. The British required some changes to improve the vehicle's performance, which most visibly included a new larger turret with a bustle to accommodate radio gear, and a cupola instead of the sub-turret with machine gun mount, which was named the Grant after general Lee's opponent. Due to the pressing need for suitable numbers however, the British did take a number of Lees, and the Soviet Union also took delivery of a substantial number of Lee variants, although some ended up at the bottom of the sea thanks to U-Boat action. The Soviets disliked the Lee intensely and gave it a wide berth wherever they could in favour of the more modern and capable T-34, the production of which ramped up substantially after the initial shock of Barbarossa, which led to its retirement from front-line service by 1943, while the other Allied continued to use them (mainly in Africa) until the end of the war. The Kits There have been two kits released initially, one being the Lee, the other the British specification Grant. Both kits share a core of common parts, which is why I'm reviewing them together. Like the real thing, I'll deal with the Lee first, then note the differences between it and the Grant, with pictures of the common sprues and the individual Grant sprues, as the Lee sprues are effectively a subset of the Grant boxing with one exception in the tracks, but more on that later. Both kits arrive in the same box that shares the tank's feature of having a modest size but higher profile. Sprues are bagged individually, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and a landscape A5 instruction booklet in each box. The box art shows one of the decal options, however some of the glue on the box corners appears to be failing already, so you might want to put a precautionary staple in yours when it arrives to save scattering sprues everywhere at some later point. M3 Lee Medium Tank - Early (2085) Inside the box are ten sprues and two parts in grey styrene, a small clear sprue with headlights, a PE sheet, decal sheet and instruction booklet as mentioned above. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has a rear bulkhead and final drive housing attached at the front, with three stations on each side for the VVSS (vertical volute-sprung suspension) units, which held a pair of wheels each. The drive sprockets are fitted to the front, and idlers at the rear on a trailing arm that is where tension is adjusted on the rear thing. A number of large bolt heads are added to the suspension units, which can be found on the sprue runners and are cut free with a sharp blade to be glued in the noted position on each arm. The tracks are link and length, with a jig supplied for the top run, which has an upward curve at the front as it rides over the drive sprocket. The highly curved areas have individual links supplied, with the diagonals under the drive and idler wheels fitted in short lengths. The tracks fit under the sponson floors, with separate sides added, which have crew hatches cut into the sides for later fitting. The complex angles of the glacis plate and casemate of the 75mm gun are formed over a number of steps, with the roof having a cut-out for the turret and the limited-traverse mantlet of the main gun attached before it is flipped over and fitted to the rest of the hull. The engine deck is fitted last, and has a choice of pioneer tools and towing cables, which require some holes to be drilled from the inside before fitting. The exhausts and mudflaps are fitted to the rear bulkhead along with a number of panels and towing eyes to the rear, while the bolted glacis flanges are fitted to the front, with the driver's hatch and caged light cluster on the wings. The turret has a simple two-part construction, with the mantlet inserted into the lower half, allowing the gun to elevate, while the top machine gun turret actually has more parts, including vision ports, a split hatch, lifting eyes and machine gun barrel. The 37mm gun and coax machine gun are fitted last before the mantlet cover is installed, which makes one wonder what the purpose of the additional machine gun on the top of the turret was when there was already one mounted coaxially. Markings There are four markings options spread over the inner cover pages of the instructions, All of which are in Olive Drab expect for the Soviet option, which is in Russian Green. From the box you can build one of the following: Soviet Union, unknown unit, unknown date, with red star on the turret, and patriotic slogan on the glacis. US 2nd Armoured Division, 1942 with colourful red/white/blue star roundel on the sides, glacis and turret top. Unknown training unit, Desert Warfare Centre USA, 1942 – white star and 16 on turret with yellow band at the bustle. Unknown training unit, Desert Warfare Centre USA, 1942 – White star and yellow band on turret. The decals are printed anonymously, and have generally good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. On my sample the blue centre to the early roundel is slightly offset, but not all that noticeably. M3 Grant Medium Tank (2086) With two addition sprues and one replacement, the build is essentially the same except for the replacement of the smooth track links with treaded plates, with a set of side-skirts and additional stowage on the engine deck setting the hull apart from the earlier Lee. The mudflaps on the Grant are boxed in to reduce dust kick-up in conjunction with the side-skirts, after which the turret is a totally new assembly. Using the same turret ring size as the Lee, the Grant's turret is appreciably larger, although it mounts the same 37mm gun in the same manner as the other, but omits the machine gun turret in favour of a folding hatch in a cupola. It retains the coaxial machine gun and mantlet plate, but goes at least some way toward reducing the profile of the tank in the enemy's sights. it appears on closer inspection that the moulding insert on the cheeks of the turret has not lined up completely, and has left an infinitesmal mark around the port. This should be pretty easy to clean up, just by mimicking the texture with a round burr in your motor tool, and a little judicious sanding. cast armour was never all that cleanly done. Look at the sharpness of the bolt heads below, and the casting numbers on the Lee turret. Crisp! Markings Because the Grant saw service with the British and Commonwealth forces in the deserts of North Africa, the base colour of the tanks were a sandy yellow, with camouflage patches of various shades applied over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: 2/10 Armoured Regiment, 1st Australian Armoured Division – Khaki green camouflage and yellow triangle on the turret. British 7th Armoured Division, 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars, Squadron C, battle of Al-Gazala, 1942 – black camouflage pattern and yellow circle on the turret. 3 RTR north Africa, 1942 – Brown camouflage patches, and Khaki green horizontal surfaces. Montgomery's personal command tank, 8th Army HQ, 1942-3 – Khaki green camouflage. Decals are again anonymously printed, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The denim colour of the Porky Pig emblem is slightly offset on my sample, but as it looks like a highlight, it shouldn't pose much of an issue. Conclusion Whilst the old Academy offering isn't a bad kit and includes a basic interior, it is beginning to look dated to the modern modeller's more demanding eyes, so these new releases should be welcomed, especially as the cast texture on the turrets and various other parts is provided in-box without any messy dabbling on the modeller's part with noxious solvents and tools. The lack of interior will hardly bother many, as a lot of models are built with their hatches closed up, or with crew figures to give the vehicle a sense of scale. Detail is excellent, and with a number of other variants including a recovery vehicle forthcoming, Grant/Lee aficionados will be pleased. The Priest also shares the same basic chassis, so perhaps we might see a new tooling of this in due course? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  4. Ukraine KRAZ-6446 Tractor 1:35 Takom The KrAZ 6446 is a Ukrainian designed and built heavy-duty semi-tractor with three axles used locally as well as other Eastern European countries in both military and civilian form. In military guise it is used in conjunction with the catchily named ChMZAP-5247G semi-trailer, allowing it to carry heavy vehicles with a towing load weight of 11.4 tonnes. It is powered by a turbocharged diesel engine that outputs a surprisingly low 330hp, but thanks to its gearing is still able to cope with off-road travel thanks in part to the 6-wheels on the tractor, and a further eight in pairs on the trailer, all of which are shod with an aggressive tread patterned balloon tyre. The trailer is also used with other vehicles, and has substantial loading ramps at the rear to cope with the weight of armoured vehicles clambering aboard over the rear axles and onto the dropped load area, which helps to reduce overall height. The Kit This is possibly Takom's largest issue to date, and was released along with the very similar KrAZ 260 (reviewed here). The box is substantially bigger however due to the inclusion of its trailer, and everything is moulded in the by now usual Takom style with plenty of detail, judicious use of slide moulding, and their useful punched-out sprue marker tags (I do love them so!). The box is pretty full, sporting nine large sand coloured sprues, plus two trailer chassis pieces in the same colour, seventeen soft styrene wheels in black, a clear sprue, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, instruction manual and two pages of separately printed full colour painting and decaling instructions. There is a length of copper wire noted in the instructions, but my review sample didn't seem to have one in, or I lost it before I noticed it. Not to worry – I'll find some from somewhere else. The first thing of note is that this kit shares five sprues with the KrAZ 260 that we reviewed here, plus the clear sprue, one of the PE frets, and eight of the wheels. It seems that there are more variants afoot, so expect to see some more big Ukrainian trucks with commonality of parts in the near future. At the front of the instruction booklet, a Mr Ernest Beck gets some sincere thanks from the designers at Takom for his assistance with the project, which is nice to see. Construction begins with the ladder chassis of the trailer, which is just over 12" long even before you add the A-frame and fold-down ramps at the rear. The underside part has the vertical sides moulded-in, and after some smaller constructional parts are added, the top deck is installed along with some of the copper wire that you cut and bend to a template. PE upstands that prevent the load from slipping sideways are added to the inside edge of each runway, with strengthening plates added from more PE. The two sturdy ramps have four verticals each for strength, with a single top-section, and a small flat panel as the "foot", back plate, control box and grab handles for manual handling. A pair of decals are supplied for the ends with chevrons, and their hinges are made up in such a way that they should remain mobile if you're careful with the glue. They fit to the rear of the deck on the round-down behind the back axles, as you'd expect. The A-frame that carries the fifth-wheel is made up next with a top panel that has supports added to the underside, and two huge curved girders attaching to the sides, the front of which is boxed in to accept the articulation gear later. First the frame is finished off with small parts, mud-guards, and support legs to prop the nose up when uncoupled. The finished article is fitted to the main bed later in the build, held in place by substantial slots and tabs, plus two large diagonal webs that should prevent any problems once it is loaded with your choice of AFV. The rear axles are paired up one each side, with a wheel either side of the large suspension unit. The back hubs of the wheels are attached first with a locking pin, with one of the rubber tyres (type B – to avoid confusion) slipped over the axle body, and trapped in place with the front of the hub, which is made from three parts for extra detail. Moulding of the tyres is nicely done with plenty of tread detail, and they have a quite realistic drab grey/black colour that could pass muster as a new tyre without any paint. The completed axles are added to their attachment points under the rear of the load bed at the same time as the lower halves of the front props, which are large as you could imagine. Two spares tyres are supplied with hubs and clamps, both of which are added to the top of the A-frame near the fifth-wheel. Moving to the tractor part of the kit, the engine is built up from a substantial number of parts that results in a fine basis for painting & detailing with wires & so forth, and it is soon installed between the two main chassis members, which have to be cut down slightly to fit this variant. A scrap diagram shows the correct cut-point, which coincides with a vertical flange, so clean-up will be a doddle. The two-part radiator core sits right at the front on a couple of mounting pegs, while the engine has two extra cylindrical pegs added to suspend it from the chassis. At the rear of the chassis a linking girder is added, which has a cut-out in the top to allow the drive-shafts top pass through. The front axle is then made up, has its leaf-springs pinned in place by a pair of long C-shaped clamps just like the real thing, and the hubs are added to the ends, which consist of a surprising six parts each, two of which remain unglued (you hope!) to allow the wheels to turn. This assembly is then added to the bottom of the chassis below the engine with some control linkages and a towing beam installed under the radiator. A transmission box is placed on mounts within the chassis behind the engine, with a drive-shaft into the rear of the engine, and another providing drive to the front axle. Turning the chassis over you're tasked with filling in a quartet of cut-outs that are only used for another variant, after which a large curved beam is added aft of the engine block. The rear axles are large, and their bodies are split horizontally, due to them having a large flat riveted section on the top to which the transmission boxes and drive-shafts attach. The assembly begins on a large bogie to which deep leaf-springs are pinned, plus various additional small parts and damper rods that link the bogie to the tops of the axles by large mounts. Simpler three-part hubs are added to each axle end, and the whole assembly is added to the rear of the chassis with a long drive-shaft that enters the back of the first transmission box, plus another pair of dampers linking the axles to the chassis cross-member. Another cross-member is added at the back to take the rear towing hook, and this is first reduced in height by a third to fit into the shortened chassis. Fuel tanks, stowage and tool boxes, plus a large frame for a spare wheel are added, along with a number of smaller boxes and tanks, after which the fifth-wheel assembly is mounted to the chassis, and mud-guards with their tubular mounting frames are installed over the rear wheels. The cab starts with the front firewall and windscreen frame, to which are added the two panes of the screen and separate windscreen wipers. The simple dash with instrument panel (with decals) and steering wheel slot inside, and a simple pedal box is added to a groove in the footwell. The rear of the cab has an oval-cornered rectangular window added before the two ends are joined with the doors, which can't be posed open because of their structural nature. They do however have nicely detailed door cards and window panes added to them before they are closed up forever. The roof and a small searchlight should firm up the shape, and a pair of tiny bumps are cut off a portion of the sprue and added the valance in front of the windscreen to portray cleaning water jets, which were perhaps an omission noticed on the original parts at the last minute. The inside of the cab is built up on the floor panel, which also projects into the engine compartment to form its curved lower sides. You might want to paint it the same colour as the engine bay in that case, and give it a dose of weathering. The passengers get a simple bench seat on a raised platform, but the driver gets a very fancy mount that consists of eight parts (plus seat) to keep him insulated from the movement of the chassis over rough ground. Each seat is made from two parts, and have horizontal lines moulded in that will scream "vinyl seats" to anyone over a certain age. This is then covered over by the cab body, and has handles and wing-mirrors added. Thinking of which, there doesn't seem to be a rear view mirror in the cab, but I can't see one in any of the photos I've seen. The engine compartment is shown built up separately from the cab, and there doesn't seem to be much chance of avoiding this, so placing it on the chassis with the cab before the glue cures would be wise. The grille has a small PE centre strut added inside, and the two side panels fit on lugs, with another layer (the opening part) added above. The bonnet/hood is then added to the top, and the two fenders for the front wheel fit on lugs at the bottom. Indicators/blinkers are added to the fenders, and a pull-handle is added to the bonnet just under the company logo at the front, which reads KPA3 to a non-Russian speaker like me. A pair of PE mudguards are installed to the rear of each fender, and this and the cab body are added to the model. The front bumper has a PE treadplate section folded and added atop it, plus clear repeaters on the sides, and headlamp lenses at the front. The final act involves making up seven wheels from type A tyres and two hub-halves, installing six of them on the axles, and adding the last one to the cage on the right hand behind the cab. Clip the two assemblies together, and you have your finished model that is now crying out for some cargo. Markings The painting and decaling instructions are on separate sheets, as previously mentioned, with the profiles provided by Mig Jiminez's new company AMMO. There are three schemes for the tractor, but only one for the trailer, which is Russian Green. Colour call-outs are in AMMO paint codes, as expected, although some mixing is requires on one scheme. Decals are few, consisting of number plates for the three colour choices, plus the aforementioned instrument decals and chevron warning patches for the ramps. They are well-printed with close-fitting satin carrier film, good register and colour density. Conclusion If you're a fan of Soviet armour, or just like tank transporters, this will probably appeal to you. It's a really nicely done kit, and once finished will take up an impressive amount of space in your cabinet, but with the addition of an AFV on board, it will look great. Good work from Takom. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  5. FV432 Mk.3 Bulldog 1:35

    FV432 Mk.3 Bulldog 1:35 Takom Dating back to the 1960, the design for this British front-line "battle taxi" has undergone many changes over the years, and many British Army soldiers will be hugely familiar with this robust, quirky little vehicle. Originally to have been declared obsolete and sent to the scrapyard or into private hands, the eruption of hostilities in the Middle East saw renewed use for the 432, and in light of experience gained in that theatre, a thousand chassis were upgraded and zero-houred to the new Mark 3 standard, including new steering, braking and propulsion systems, as well as reactive armour and even air-conditioning units for those bound for the sandbox were fitted. In addition, new systems were employed to protect the crew and passengers from the perils of asymmetric combat, in the shape of IEDs and RPGs. Along with a number of other vehicles in theatre, perhaps in a psy-ops style attempt to give the 432 some "fear factor", the upgraded vehicles were christened "Bulldog" to represent their pugnacious character and their by-now broad beam. A heavily modified 432 (probably one of those sold off before the need arose) was seen performing duties as a Hover Tank in the new Star Wars film, Rogue One. The Kit Lots of British AFV fans were very pleased about Takom's announcement of a new series of models of this iconic and popular vehicle, which allowed them to push their ancient and iffy Academy kits to the back of the shelf, or offload them to a well-known auction site. This is the second issue from Takom, the first being the 2/1 that came with a full interior, which we sadly missed due to unforeseen circumstances. The Bulldog boxing is a substantially new issue due to the massive differences between the kits, and as we've not yet reviewed its stablemate, we'll start at the very beginning. The box is the now traditional Takom style with separate lid, and individually bagged sprues (with the exception of the multiple sprues) inside, which are resealable if you're one of those folks that like to rebag your sprues after fondling them (you wierdos!). In addition to the ten grey sprues and two hull halves, there is a sprue of clear parts, a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret, a decal sheet, a track jig, and the instructions with integrated painting and markings guide. Not unusually, construction begins with the lower hull and the many suspension parts being added, lined up using the holes in the track jig mentioned above. This is repeated both sides, and the twelve road wheels and two drive sprockets are made up in readiness. The sprocket and one road wheel are placed in the jig and are dressed with the link and length tracks, with two being needed, so a bit of a delay will be necessary to allow the first run to set up before you can start the second. Scrap diagrams show how the finished article should look from both sides, and above the sponson floor the sidewalls are fitted, with a number of mounts moulded-in to accept the stand-off reactive armour. The exhaust is directed along the left side and exits at deck height toward the rear of the vehicle, which is also added at this time. Large stowage boxes fit either side of the wide rear door, and a number of small holes are drilled out in preparation for the fitting of detailing parts. The separate sponson rear ends have long mudflaps added from PE, and the door is made up with ammo boxes fitted to the inside, plus handle and number plate on the outside. The glacis plate has a change of angle around half way up, and is built from two sections to accommodate this (the upper section moulded into the deck), with ERA blocks fitted to the fixed section and slat armour added over the hatch on the lower section. More slat armour panels are fitted below the nose, with light clusters and sensor boxes for good measure. The deck is full of holes at this point, but has pioneer tools and copious smoke grenade launchers installed before attachment to the model, which first needs the outer shell constructing before fitting. Engine ventilation covers are added to the right side of the hull, and are immediately covered by the outer hull panel and its appliqué armour, which has a separate top panel for preservation of detail. This is repeated on the other side, allowing the fitment of the glacis and deck panels, which are detailed with the hatches and grilles to fill all those holes bar the main "turret ring" at the rear, and the commander's cupola, which is added later with clear vision blocks. Additional slat-armour corner parts are inserted in the gaps to protect those areas, and this is repeated at the rear, with the air conditioning box perched on the very back of the deck, overhanging the rear door and decked with aerials and jammer antennae. The rear of the vehicle has a complicated set of slat armour panels that allow the rear door to operate, with bracing struts preventing strumming over rough ground. More sensors, antennae, the rear clamshell top hatch, and the large crew station are built and added, the latter made from a substantial number of parts, which provides more than adequate protection for the top cover man, with shields and armoured glazing all around his GPMG station, which can also be operated remotely from inside thanks to the TV box on the opposite side of the mount to the ammo can. Markings Takom and Ammo hooked up to do the colour and markings options fairly early on, and this carries on in the back pages of the instruction booklet. There are three decal options, all of which are applied over a sand yellow base, with little to differentiate other than the weapons fit and unit markings. From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Battalion Scots Guards Reconnaissance Platoon, Operation Telic, Southern Iraq, January 2008 – Yellow 12 marking on rear and unshrouded GPMG on the upper deck. 1st Battalion Scots Guards Reconnaissance Platoon, Operation Telic, Southern Iraq, January 2008 – Rob Roy on sides, shrouded GPMG on the cupola. 1st Battalion Scots Guards Reconnaissance Platoon, Operation Telic, Southern Iraq, January 2008 – Robert Bruce on sides, and unshrouded GPMG on the upper deck. The decals are printed anonymously, and due to their simplicity there is little need for register (which seems good anyway), with the lighter colours appearing suitably dense. There is a tiny amount of over-printing of the yellow around the white backing, but that should disappear on a sand coloured backdrop. A little variation in units would have been nice to see, but as there's not much in the way of decals anyway, it wouldn't be too hard to build your own choice of subject, taking note of the personalisations to the vehicles. Conclusion The FV432 is long overdue in 1:35, and this seems to hit the spot. If you've spent a lot of time around these vehicles as some of my friends have, you'll be bound to pick up some things that might need attention, but for the majority of us (self included), this is a welcome addition to Takom's increasing armour range. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  6. IDF Tiran 4. 1:35

    IDF Tiran 4 Takom 1:35 History The meaning of Tiran [pronounced as Tiy-RAE-N] in Hebrew is beginner. Israel's chronic lack of AFV's on one hand and it's phenomenal victory in the 1967 Six Days War on the other, brought the IDF to adopt captured enemy vehicles for its use. The Arab armies lost hundreds of fighting vehicles - mostly Egyptian T-54 and T-55 MBT's which were abandoned by their crews. In order to allow for greater standardization in its armour corps, the IDF initiated a conversion program. The captured tanks were re-engined and re-gunned (with the standard 105mm gun used in the Centurion and Patton MBT's). Chief was the several hundred captured T-54/T-55 tanks that were taken and modified into the Tiran 4 (T-54) and Tiran 5 (T-55), called Ti-67 (Tank Israeli-1967) in the west. The main difference between the two versions is the main gun armament. The Tiran 4 having a 100 mm main gun while the Tiran 5 having a 105 mm main gun. The first version of the Tiran 4 is distinguished by a few minor additions such as two brackets, Jerry cans on the back of the turret and a new communication system. The rest seem to be original, even up to the ammunition. The first standard Tiran 4 is one of several sub-versions of the Tiran vehicles. It was directly taken from the T-54 and received a set of different mud guards to the rear, a cal.30 Browning was fitted to the turret, and a box on the rear of the chassis which was also used on most of the Tiran versions. The next version of the Tiran 4 was unusual, in that it retained its original 100mm gun, but fitted with a fume extractor. Many of these cannon are visible on other Tiran versions in the IDF. The second version of the Tiran 4 was fitted with a few additional changes, such as antennas, hatch, and searchlights on the turret, along with spare track links, the biggest change being the fitting of the 105 mm M-68 main gun. The first combat use of captured tanks by the IDF was in operation "Raviv" (8-9 September 1969) - an amphibious raid across the Suez channel. Three T-54 tanks and six BTR-50 APC's were used to wreak havoc behind the Egyptian lines. Tirans were used along Israel's borders - mostly at the Suez front. In the 1973 Yom Kippur war Tirans were used in combat in the southern front - against Egyptian T-54/55 (which caused a lot of confusion). During the 1973 war the IDF managed to capture the newest Soviet MBT of the time - the T-62. Plans for conversion into Tiran-6 were made, but the relatively small numbers captured, together with the massive numbers of M-60 MBT's supplied by the US brought them to a halt (several prototypes were made, however). During the early 1980's Tiran MBT's were withdrawn from active duty. Some were sold to foreign states (including, reportedly, to Iran during its war with Iraq), some were given to Israel's allies in Lebanon and some were converted into the Achzarit APC. Ironicaly, some of the Tirans supplied to the SLA (South Lebanon Army) militia fell into Hizballah hands after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon (June 2000). In a way, those tanks made a full circle. The Model We must be getting pretty close to having every single Russian/Soviet tank type being released in injection moulded plastic. At least this kit fills the gap between the JS tanks and the T-62s, and there weren’t too many versions of this vehicle when compared with the T-62 series onwards. Contained in a nicely illustrated box are fourteen sprues and two separate parts in grey styrene, a bag of individual track links in the same material, a smallish sheet of etched brass and a small decal sheet, oh!, and a length of wire. The moulding is superb, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, just a few of the usual moulding pips to clean up. The fact that the individual links are already off the sprue and ready to use is very helpful. Construction begins with the lower glacis plate being attached to the front, the sprocket gear covers to the rear and the idler wheel assemblies to the front. Each idler wheel, which actually looks like a modified sprocket, each one is made up from seven parts. Each road wheel is made up from two wheels and two separate tyres, which will at least make it easier to paint, whilst the sprockets are just two parts, the inner and outer hubs. The slightly confusing bit is that there are three different styles of suspension arm per side, and up to three parts per arm, so take care when assembling and fitting each arm to ensure you are using the right parts for each particular side. The upper hull decking is made up from front middle and rear sections, which, when joined together is fitted out with the drivers hatch, PE grilles, six piece headlight cluster, fastening strips, hooks and other sundry items. With the wheels and tracks fitted, the upper hull decking is attached to the lower hull, followed by the rear bulkhead and inner sprocket gearbox fairings. As stated above, each individual track link is all ready to be used, it’s just a shame they aren’t the click together type as seen in Takom’s Mk.IV and Mk.V Heavy Tanks. They are easy to fit and glue, but it might be an idea to make up lengths of them to match the point in the track and any associated sag required before joining them up around the sprockets and idlers, you will need around 92 links per side. Before the track guards are fitted several holes of various diameters need to be drilled out. The starboard guard is then fitted with the various storage boxes, angled support arms, spare fuel tanks, plus the front and rear mudguards. The pioneer tool rack and tools is fitted to the port track guard, along with the barrel cleaning kit tube, and more storage boxes. They are then fitted to the hull and the fuel tanks pipework attached to the appropriate tanks. The rear bulkhead is fitted with the mounting brackets for the two four piece auxiliary fuel drums and the unditching beam. The build then moves onto the turret, with the single piece upper section being fitted with the hatch rings, internal co-axial machine gun, various brackets, stowage eyes, sight doors, and hand rails before the gunners hatch, which is made up from no less than twelve parts, is attached, along with a sight. The much simpler, four part commanders hatch is glued into position, as is the mantlet cover, three piece 60mm mortar, two jerry cans, small two piece storage box, three piece large storage box, two, three piece aerial bases, and ten piece rear stowage basket. There are two types of main gun barrel, one with a fume extractor and one without, both made up from two halves split longitudinally, so care to minimise the seam will be required, or wait for an aftermarket company to release a metal barrel, the barrel is fitted in place and finished off with the separate muzzle end piece. The six piece 30cal Browning machine gun and eight piece 50cal machine gun are attached, the 50cal having alternate positons. The completed turret is then fitted to the hull at which point the build is ready for paint. Decals Whilst there are three schemes in the full colour paint chart the actual decal sheet is very small and is only required for two of the schemes, one of which only has registration numbers, the other has registration numbers, identification chevrons, and three white rings on the barrel. The schemes are for the following vehicles:- Tiran 4 of the South Lebanese Army, used during the Peace for Galilee operation 1982. Tiran 4 of the South Lebanese Army, Negev Desert, early 80’s Tiran 4 of the South Lebanese Army, Jezzine, 1985 Conclusion Takom really are getting the most of their T-54 moulds, but this is still a very nice kit and looks like it will be a joy to build, much like their other kits. What with Trumpeter and Tamiya producing other versions of the Tiran series, you could end up with a full set. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  7. AML-90 French Light Armoured Car 1:35 Takom The AML-90 was designed from the original AML-245 specification by Panhard originally being designated the AML-245C. The main feature of this model is the DEFA D921 low pressure 90mm gun. The gun was specifically designed for light vehicles (<10 Tonnes), This made the AML-90 well armed in proportion to its weight. The gun has shallow rifling and coupled with fin stabilised rounds gives a an improved range, however the low muzzle velocity does only favour close combat. Combat in the South African border Wars, and The Six Day War would show the AML-90 was out ranged by older T-34/85 and M48 Patton tanks. Optical fire control, and no power assist on the turret traverse also hampered operations. Even given these factors the AML-90 is capable of destroying older main battle tanks. A Libyan T-62 was reported destroyed in the Toyota War (Libyan/Chad border conflict of 1987). The Kit This is a welcome new tool from Takom who seem to be on a mission to bring us less mainstream vehicles. It is an addition to the Takom AML-60 kit as both vehicles use the same AML-245 chassis (the two kits sharing 3 common sprues & the lower hull). The kit arrives on 4 main sprues, a small clear sprue, 5 rubber tyres, a lower hull part, and the turret. All of the parts are up to Takom's usual standard. The kit does not feature an interior. Of note are the instructions (which I dont normally mention), it seems Takom have shrunk their normal A4 instructions down to A5 to fint in the box, and this had made them harder to read. Construction starts with the lower hull. The rear of the car is attached to the hull along with additional side parts the rear frame and the main side door. The rear wheel housing and suspension components and springs are also added. Additional handles and smaller parts are also added at this stage. The front suspension components are then built up and added to the lower hull. Followed by the wheel housing and their suspension components. The wheels can then be built up. These consist of five plastic components for each wheel in addition to the tyres. The upper hull deck can then be added to the lower hull. Tools and periscopes are added at this stage., along with a sand channel and other parts which I suspect a lot of modellers will leave off until the end. Next the turret is built up from the main part with the hatches, tools and other ancillary parts being added. This turret is much larger than the AML-60. The lower and upper parts are put together with the gun mantlet being added between the two. The hatches, other lights and smoke dischargers are added along with the rear turret bin. the 90mm gun is then made up and added. The completed turret can then be added to the hull. Markings There are 5 options included with the kit, and are featured on the coloured artwork. Argentinian Army - Falklands War 1982 (Green/brown camo) French Army - (Green / sand camo) Israeli Defence Forces (overall sand grey) Iraqi Army - Kuwait 1991 (overall sand) Lebanese Army Special Forces - 2012 (4 colour camo) Conclusion This is welcome new tool from Takom of Armoured Car which was used by the Armies of many nations around the world. No doubt the aftermarket producers will do decals and probably a full interior at some point. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  8. Finnish Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun ltPsv 90 Marksman SPAAG 1:35 Takom The Marksman system was developed by Marconi to be a drop-in solution to the need for mobile, radar-targeted anti-aircraft gun platforms for close-in support of troops, installations and other valuable assets. The system comprises a pair of Swiss made 35mm Oerlikon guns with a fire rate of 18 rounds per second. The Marconi 400 series frequency agile surveillance and tracking X/J band radar is able to detect targets at 12 KM and track them from 10 KM Although the turret could be mated with many different hulls, the British chose the Chieftain tank for trials of this system. The second prototype was mounted on a Chieftain, and have the vehicle a top-heavy look, with the crew hatches perched high on the top of the turret, overshadowed by the radar dish that made it so accurate to its maximum range of 4,000m. Sadly, the Chieftain installation never progressed beyond prototype and it didn't see service with the British Army. The turret did see limited service with other operators such as Finland who mounted it on Polish T-55AM chassis. The Fins moved these systems to wartime storage but have since been fitting the turrets to Leopard 2A4 chassis The Kit This is a re-tooling of the new tool T-55AM kit with added parts for the Marksman turret as seen in the Chieftain Marksman kit we reviewed here. Construction starts with the T-55 chassis. The front plate is added to the rea hull and plates are added for the drive sprockets at the rear. The front idler wheels are made up and added to the hull, these are followed by the drive wheels and suspension arms for the road wheels. The ten pairs of road wheels (five either side) are made up. Here the rubber tyres on the outside of the wheels (moulded in plastic) are separate and are added over the main wheels. With careful construction this could ease the difficulty of painting the tyres that you get with tanks. With the road wheels then fitted you move to the upper hull of the tank. The three parts of the upper hull are joined together, PE rear engine mesh is added along with the drivers hatch. Some tools and a headlight assembly are then added though I suspect some will leave this until last. The upper hull can then be added and the rear bulkhead put in place. The tracks consist of 92 individual links per side. These are put together (i know not as easy as it sounds!). Once the tracks are on the track guards either side are completed. There are PE webs for these, and along with tool boxes and tow cables to add. Once complete they can be added to the sides and the vertical parts added over the tracks. Final assembly of the hull then takes place with a myriad of small brackets, tools, tool boxes etc to add. The turret is then started, with the guns built up first from two halves that have some lovely moulding that results in a hollow flash-guide as per the real thing. These then fit onto a five-part breech fairing that has an axle for joining to the turret body. The two interlock in the middle of the turret, but as there is nothing to provide a friction-fit braking on the pivot-points, you will have to either fabricate your own, or glue them in position, or they will flop. The lower turret with moulded in ring closes up the turret, whilst providing the floor of the bustle that is added later from a single part. A number of sensors and vision devices are installed on the top, along with an insert that contains the two crew hatches and forms the base of the radar installation. The top section of the insert flips up on a pair of hinges for stowage of the radar during travel. More small parts such as smoke dischargers and antennae mounts are added on the sides of the turret and then the tapered radar base is inserted on the hinged panel along with the motor housing. The radome and receiver are put together with some additional sensors on the head-unit, which must again be glued in position. The turret ring then has its bayonet-fitting added to the bottom. When dry the turret is fitted to the hull and twisted to engage the bayonet lugs. Markings Only one set of markings for a Finnish example are provided. These are in the two tone green & black scheme. Conclusion Following on the from the Chieftain marksman there was hope that Takom would kit the one real user of the type. It makes good use of the tooling already developed, and its good to see that they are prepared to invest in this type of kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  9. AML-60 French Light Armoured Car 1:35 Takom The AML-60 was designed from the original AML-245 specification by Panhard originally being designated the AML-245B. This was the initial production variant with a rounded turret containing twin 7.62mm machine guns and a breech lading 60mm mortar. The mortar was normally loaded from inside the vehicle via its breech like normal artillery, or from outside the vehicle like a conventional mortar. It has an elevation of +80° and a depression of −15°. In the vehicle the commander acquires targets and direct the gunner sighting via a combined monocular telescope & binocular periscope. Range of the mortar is 300m in the direct fire role, and 1700m in the indirect fire role. 3200 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 32 mortar bombs are carried. The AML60-20 would later replace the twin machine guns with a 20mm autocannon. The Kit This is a welcome new tool from Takom who seem to be on a mission to bring us less mainstream vehicles. The kit arrives on 4 main sprues, a small clear sprue, 5 rubber tyres, a lower hull part, and the turret. All of the parts are up to Takom's usual standard. The kit does not feature an interior. Of note are the instructions (which I dont normally mention), it seems Takom have shrunk their normal A4 instructions down to A5 to fint in the box, and this had made them harder to read. Construction starts with the lower hull. The rear of the car is attached to the hull along with additional side parts the rear frame and the main side door. The rear wheel housing and suspension components and springs are also added. Additional handles and smaller parts are also added at this stage. The front suspension components are then built up and added to the lower hull. Followed by the wheel housing and their suspension components. The wheels can then be built up. These consist of five plastic components for each wheel in addition to the tyres. The upper hull deck can then be added to the lower hull. Tools and periscopes are added at this stage., along with a sand channel and other parts which I suspect a lot of modellers will leave off untill the end. Next the turret is built up from the main part with the hatches, tools and other ancillary parts being added. A choice of twin machines guns & motar, or the 20mm autocannon can be added though the instruction make no note which of any of the decal options carried this, and the decal / markings guides do not show any vehicles with this armament! Once the choice of armament is in place the lower turret ring can be added, other lights and a tarp can then be added to the turret. The completed turret can then be added to the hull. Markings There are 4 options included with the kit, and are featured on the coloured artwork. Spanish Legion - Sahara 1970s (overall sand) Spanish Legion - Sahara 1970s (overall green) French Army - (3 colour camo) Portuguese Army (overall green) Conclusion This is welcome new tool from Takom of Armoured Car which was used by the Armies of many nations around the world. No doubt the aftermarket producers will do decals and probably a full interior at some point. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  10. Boulton Paul Defiant Trumpeter 1:48 History The Boulton Paul Defiant was designed in response to Air Ministry Specification F9/35 of 26 June 1935 calling for a two-seat fighter with all its armament concentrated in a turret. It was believed at the time that, in avoiding an enemy aircraft’s slipstream, fire from a powered turret would be more accurate than that provided by fixed forward firing guns. Five companies responded to the specification but, for various reasons, four withdrew leaving Boulton Paul the sole contender. Designed by John Dudley North, the P82 prototype (minus turret) first flew on 11 Dec 1937 at which point it was named the Defiant. A second prototype was fitted with a Type A four-gun turret based on a French design already licensed for use on Boulton Paul’s Overstrand bomber, and this version with but minor changes became the production Defiant Mk1. The turret was electro-hydraulically operated with a mechanical backup and carried 4 x .303 Browning machine guns, electrically fired with cut-off points in the turret ring preventing activation when pointing at the propeller disc or tailplane. Whilst the gunner could lock the turret forward and transfer firing control to the pilot, this was rarely practised given forward elevation restrictions and the lack of pilot gunsight. The Defiant entered RAF service with No 264 Squadron in December 1939 and saw combat for the first time in May 1940 during the evacuation of Dunkirk. It was initially successful with Luftwaffe fighters sustaining losses, but a change of enemy tactics with attacks from below or head on soon saw Defiants forfeit the initiative. Following the loss by 264 Squadron of 7 aircraft with 9 crewmen dead over the three days 26th to 28th August 1940, the Defiant was withdrawn from the day fighter role. Four squadrons were equipped with the aircraft for night fighter duties, however, and it is apposite that during the “Blitz” of 1940-41 the Defiant destroyed more enemy bombers than any other type. It was finally retired from the front line in 1942 and thereafter used for training, target-towing, ECM and air sea rescue – many aircraft having had their turrets removed. The “Daffy”, as the Defiant was affectionately known, also saw service with the Royal Navy and the air forces of Australia, Canada and Poland. The Model We hadn’t had a Defiant in 1:48 at all, then within a year we have two. Unfortunately Trumpeter seem to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again with some sloppy research. This is particularly noticeable on the fuselage. The nose appears to be the wrong shape, being too deep and not long enough. The shape of the rear fuselage is no better, being too deep and also missing the kink on the lower fuselage between just aft of the turret and the tail. I'm not really sure of the right nomenclature, should it be F1, or Mk.1. The detail is nicely restrained, but many of the panel lines are spurious at best, many being moulded complete with two lines of rivets where the real aircraft only has a single line of rivets and no panel line. Having said all that, the moulding is very nice and, apparently, according to some build reviews it is easy to build and look nice, if wrong, on the shelf. Not having the Airfix kit, means I cannot do a direct comparison, but I get the feeling that the Airfix one is more accurate, if a little lacking in surface detail. So, on with the build, beginning with the cockpit, naturally; this is built up from the floor, seat, rudder bar, joystick, the two sidewalls and instrument panel with decal instruments. The cockpit assembly is then glued into one half of the fuselage while a small switchbox is fitted to the starboard side. The fuselage is then closed up, with the two piece tailwheel sandwiched between. The clear parts of the section between the cockpit and turret and then added from the outside. The wing is comprised of a single piece lower section complete with wheel wells and two upper sections, once assembled this is glued to the fuselage. Each main undercarriage assembly is made up from the single piece wheel, undercarriage leg and outer bay door. Once glued in place the retraction actuator is then attached along with the inner bay door. The individual exhaust stubs are then attached; three per side, as well as the landing light covers, navigation light covers and separate ailerons. The propeller is a single piece item, with separate spinner and backplate whilst the radiator bath is a two piece affair whilst the oil cooler is a single piece item. The lower outer bay doors are then glued into position along with the optionally posed flaps, as is the separate rudder, main and rear mounted aerial masts. The turret is very well detailed, made up of seventeen plastic and two brass parts. The four gun barrels are hollowed out at the muzzle, giving them a nice appearance. With the turret assembled it can be inserted into its aperture. Unfortunately, the turtle deck, aft of the turret is fixed, and there si no option to have it retracted, without further surgery. The build is finished off with the fitting of the windscreen and canopy, which cannot be posed open without some surgery, the two horizontal tailplanes and finally the pitot probe. Decals The decal sheet provided markings for two aircraft and are designed and printed by Trumpeter themselves. The decals are sharp, in good register, nicely opaque and with minimal carrier film, except around the letters of the main identification letters. The aircraft markings are for the following:- Defiant F1 L7009 TW-H in a day fighter scheme of dark green, dark brown over light aircraft grey. Defiant F1 N3328 DZ-Z in a night fighter scheme of overall black. Conclusion This looks to be quite a nice to build and will no doubt look stunning in an experts hands if they can get over the kits inaccuracies. It would certainly be a good kit for a novice modeller too as it’s not too taxing, although they may need a little help with the turret. Just a shame that Trumpeter failed to get the shape right as it could have been a great kit. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  11. M47/G Patton Medium Tank 1:35

    M47/G Patton 1:35 Takom via Pocketbond Despite his insistence that the US Forces didn't require a heavier tank toward the close of WWII, which resulted in the delay of the capable Pershing tank, so that it barely made any difference the final few months of the war, the US Army seem fond of naming tanks after this flamboyant General. Of the four, the M47 was the second, and was a development of the earlier M46, which was always to be an interim solution whilst they waited for the ill-fated T42 medium tank. The M47 was also supposed to be a stop-gap, but it took the M46 chassis and mated it with the turret from the T42, with a 90mm gun as the main armament. It also had the distinction of being the last US tank to have a bow mounted machine gun in the glacis, with following designs having a coax machine gun alongside the barrel for flexibility in combat. Over 9,000 examples were made, and its front-line lifespan was relatively short, being superseded by the M48 Patton almost as soon as production ceased, and being declared obsolete only 5 years later. By the end of the 50s, the US army had sold their stock to overseas customers, and even the US Marines, who aren't so quick to throw their kit away had replaced them by that time too. All in all, not a well-loved tank in US Service, but it served other Allied nations such as Italy and Spain in large numbers, so it wasn't a total loss. The Kit The juggernaut of new releases from Takom continues apace, and the Patton range of tanks seems to be one of the current subjects in hand. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues and three separate parts in mid-grey styrene, a small clear sprue, two khaki coloured track jigs, a small decal sheet and of course the instruction booklet with painting guide on the insides of the glossy cover. Beginning construction with the M46 Patton styled underside involved adding the various suspension parts, using the track jigs to line up all the swing-arms, and creating 14 pairs of road wheels, plus two drive sprockets. The jigs can then be used to create the track runs, which are link-and-length, by installing the idler and drive sprockets temporarily in the jig and lining up the parts of the track with small bars that ensure correct position when dry. The whole assembly can then be lifted off once the glue is dry to install the road wheels and tracks in your preferred order of construction and painting. The upper hull is made up primarily from a single slab with moulded-in engine deck louvers and the sleek cast glacis plate, which has subtle casting texture to its surface. The bow-mounted gun, lifting eyes and towing shackles are added along with the D-shaped front hatches and their periscope, finished off with the light clusters and their protective framing. Shackles, vents, towing eyes and tow-ropes are added to the rea, and then the two fenders are built up away from the hull, with stowage, pioneer tools, exhaust boxes with shrouds added to both before being attached into long slots with matching tabs in the now complete hull. The turret also has the casting texture moulded-in, which will need a little fettling around the top-bottom join, paying careful attention to your references so that you don't make it too neat and tidy. In fact, it could do with a little sharpening at the bottom edge, with an almost vertical torch-cut pattern where the area has been "tidied" up, and I use that term very loosely. The casting details are nicely embossed on the bustle, and should escape any damage if you are careful when cleaning up/texturing the joint. A functional pivot for the gun is fitted inside the lower half before closure, and if left unglued will enable the gun to be posed after completion, although there is no damping in the shape of poly-caps, so it might need gluing later to prevent droop. A big trapezoid stowage box is added to the rear with spare fuel cans strapped to the sides, and the commander's cupola with clear vision blocks and periscope is dropped into the hole in the turret top, next to the simple loader's hatch, with an M2 derivative machine gun on a simple pintle-mount next to his hatch. Two barrels for the main gun are supplied, depending on whether you will be fitting the canvas mantlet cover or not. Without it, the barrel is a single moulding, with a choice of muzzle types, while with the styrene cover the barrel is split vertically but uses the same muzzle brakes. If you are fitting the cover however, you will need to remove the little catches that are attached to the front of the turret, as these are moulded to the cover. Grab handles and tie-down points are fitted to the sides of the turret, plus smoke dischargers, and then it's just a case of twisting the turret into its bayonet fitting, and you're finished. Markings There are six marking options from the box, and the profiles have been done in conjunction with Mig Jiménez's company AMMO, so the colour codes are theirs, although you also get the colour names, so conversion to your favourite brand will be relatively easy should you need to. Given the more widespread use of the vehicle by foreign powers, there is only one US option, with the rest being from various countries as follows: M47 Early production Detroit Tank Arsenal, USA 1951 – all over green. M47 G, Western Germany, 1960s – all over green with post-war German cross. M47 Pakistan Army Battle of Assal Uttar Sep 10th 1965 Indo-Pakistan war – Green with wavy brown camo. M47 South Koeran Army, 1980s – Green/sand/white/black camo. M47 Jordanian army 6 days war, 1967 – sand with wavy green camo. M47 Croatian Army Bosnia Herzegovina – green with red-brown and sand yellow camo. The decal sheet is printed anonymously, but is of high quality so could be by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Not everyone likes link-and-length tracks, but otherwise this should appeal to many modellers, with plenty of relatively unusual schemes to choose from. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  12. Russian Su-34 Fullback Fighter-Bomber 1:72 Trumpeter The Sukhoi Su-34, known by the NATO reporting name 'Fullback' is an all-weather strike fighter, designed to replace the ageing Su-24 Fencer in Russian service. Despite being based on an existing design (the Su-27), the type endured an extremely protracted development, punctuated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Eventually, 200 of the type are expected to enter service, replacing approximately 300 Su-24s. There are many differences between the Su-27 and the Su34, principal amongst which is a completely new nose, which accomodates the crew side-by-side. Since September 2015, Su-34s have been involved in the conflict in Syria, dropping BETAB-500 and OFAB-500 bombs. There has already been interest in the type from overseas customers. Algeria has ordered an initial batch of 12 aircraft, while Vietnam is apparently also interested in the type. This kit represents another high-profile release from the Trumpeter stable. Following hot on the heels of their gorwing range of Su-27 variants, as well as the 1:48 Su-34 from Hobbyboss, the kit has been fairly warmly received by fans of modern Russian hardware, save from the fairly well known issue with the shape of the nose. The kit arrives in a fairly large box, inside which are a fairly staggering 550 parts spread across 34 sprues of grey plastic (not including the upper and lower fuselage/wing parts, which are not on a sprue) and a single clear sprue. You have to hand it to Trumpeter, they know how to cram a lot of plastic into a box! The parts are well protected and the quality of moulding is up to the usual Trumpeter standard, with fine, consistent panel lines and plenty of detail. The overall shape and arrangement of parts appears to match photographs and plans of the real aircraft well, with the only exception being the shape of the nose. Some modellers have commented that this could be improved with a little work with a sanding stick, but I'm not so sure. No doubt someone will pop up with a resin replacement before too long, however. Construction begins with the cockpit. This is made up of sixteen parts, including two crisply moulded K36 ejection seats. The cockpit is well detailed and includes a door in the rear bulkhead which leads to the nose gear bay and crew access point. The nose gear bay itself is made up of seven parts and is just as well detailed as the cockpit. Both sub-assemblies fit into the lower fuselage, while the parts for the main landing gear bay fit into the upper fuselage. With this done the upper and lowe fusealge halves can be joined. As with most kits of blended-wing aircraft, the fuselage is split vertically with the entire wing moulded in place. The fences for the outer wing are all present and correct. The canards, vertical tail and tail boom are next. The rudders are moulded seperately, but can't be posed off centre as they have large tabs that lock them into place. The upper tail boom is moulded seperately and there is a cutout for the APU vent. The wing flaps and elevators are next, along with the multi-part engine exhausts. These are well detailed and slot into the fuselage up to their real depth. Next up is the rugged landing gear. Each main gear leg is moulded from five parts, with the uppermost part of the main leg seperate from the rest of the leg. I have to say that the structural strength of this breakdown concerns me a little. The complex nose gear leg is made up of seven parts, with an optional crew access ladder. The engine air intakes are next. These are partly slide moulded, which makes construction relatively pain free. Engine turbine faces are included, which will prevent the dreaded see-through effect. As the build draws to a conclusion, the pylons have to be added. The canopy is nicely realised and very cleanly moulded. This kit famously includes a quite frankly ludicrous amount of weaponry. This probably accounts for at least a third of the asking price, but who doesn't like spare ordnance? All told, you get: 2 x KH-31 Krypton air-to-surface missiles; 2 x KH-58 Kilter anti-radiation missiles; 2 x KH-59 Ovod cruise missiles; 2 x KMGU-2 munitions dispenser; 12 x FAB-100 bombs; 2 x KAB-500L bombs; 2 x KAB-1500L bombs; 2 x KAB-1500T bombs; 2 x R-27T infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-27R semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-27ET extended range infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-27ER extended range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-73E infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-77 active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-172 'AWACS killer' air-to-air missiles; 2 x PTB-3000 drop tanks; and 2 x APK-9 data link pods. Decal options are provided for two Russian Air Force Su-34s, one in the blue/blue/green disruptive pattern and the other in the much less pleasing dark grey over blue finish that the aircraft operating in Syria wore. Decals are also included for the pile of ordnance. The decals look nicely printed and should perform well. Conclusion This is an interesting kit which will probably divide opinion. It's big, complex, well detailed and includes a very generous selection of ordnance. On the other hand, it's not that cheap and it has a wonky nose. Whether you decide to take the plunge will depend very much on whether you think the kit represents value for money, as well as how much you care about the nose (or how much time or money you are willing to spend fixing it). Whichever route you choose, you will be rewarded with an impressive kit. Now let's hope some more foreign governments splash out on the real thing so we can have some more impressive marking options. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  13. German Bergepanzer Hetzer late 1:35 Thunder Model The Hetzer was a highly successful tank destroyer that was based on the Czech P38(t), which mounted a powerful 75mm gun in the glacis with limited traverse capability, obviating the need for a turret and thereby reducing its profile, but requiring the driver to slew the vehicle for gross re-targeting. The Bergepanzer variant was fitted with a smooth glacis with no gun port, and had an open top for ease of ingress by the crew, who would be in and out connecting up towing ropes etc. to any vehicle in distress, possibly whilst still under fire. Due to its designation as a "light" recovery vehicle its use was limited to an extent, and only 170 were built in total, with later models benefitting from experience in the field, and from side skirts that helped defuse the blast of shaped charges that were in use in the later part of the war. The Kit This is a variant on Thunder Model's original Bergepanzer Hetzer late, which has been released with different parts to bring a total of four boxings including this one, which is a Limited Special edition with some upgrades to detail in the shape of metal and resin parts. Thunder Model are another Chinese company, with a number of unusual kits under their belts already, and some more to be released going forwards. Their tooling style reminds me of Hasegawa, whether it's the colour of styrene they use, or the look of the parts, I'm not sure. Their boxes have captive lids, opening up to reveal seven sprues of that grey styrene, plus the extras, which you will find in a ziplok bag. Take care when opening the bag, as some of the parts are necessarily small and easily lost. There are two sheets of copper Photo-Etch (PE), a small sheet of brass PE, another nickel plated fret with painted dials, a length of brass chain, three lengths of braided string/rope with no fuzzy threads, a length of brass wire, two short loops of thicker gauge steel and copper wire, and two resin towing cable eyes. Almost everything you will need other than glue and paint to complete your model. The instructions are printed on an A4 booklet in portrait with greyscale isometric views, and the painting guide is printed on glossy stock in full colour. Due to the open top, quite a lot of the interior will be on display, so construction begins with the engine, which is nicely detailed, with ancillary parts also included, such as fuel tanks, radiator and air ducting parts. A number of tiny rivets are added around the inside of the hull by the final drive housing, and the leaf-spring suspension units with their large wheels are added all around before the link-and-length track is built up around the road wheels and drive sprocket. The rear bulkhead is added to the hull along with the towing cables, lifting eyes and towing hooks, while the transmission box is constructed over a number of steps before it is dropped into the front of the hull, and the driver's position with PE pedals and controls are glued into the left side. Behind and to his right a power take-off runs the internal winch that passes out through the rear armour, and behind that the bulkhead is fitted to separate the engine bay from the crew compartment. The upper hull is open at the top and has a separate engine deck, which is constructed by adding an inverted T-shape with PE grilled to the centre, and fitting the two access panels at the top left and right, the winch cable exiting from the starboard side. Various PE brackets and a length of replacement track are used, and the special edition rear fenders are built up from the included PE, which can be deformed to show use in a more realistic way, as well as having more scale thickness. The Pioneer tools and the bergepanzer specific tools are festooned over the slab sides, and the crane can either be shown collapsed for transport in the port side, or with the addition of its cabling and hook, it can be shown erected on the top of the hull. A choice of PE or styrene side skirts are also fitted to the hull and fender edges, which can also be dented, twisted or plain-old ripped free depending on how good your imaginary driver was at his job. A shallow stowage bin is fitted into the crew compartment aperture, which can be fitted with a choice of pulley assemblies, and the final act involves building up the chunky entrenching blade that fits to the rear of the vehicle and hinges vertically for travel. Small PE lifting eyes are added to the rear of the blade, and an addendum is included on a slip of paper in the box for the support arms, so staple it into the booklet before you start to remind you. Markings There are two markings options in the box, but as neither have any stencils applied, there are no decals, just instructions on how to paint your Hetzer. From the box you can build one of the following: Germany, March 1945 - Dotted ambush pattern in red brown and green over a dark yellow base. Rhineland, 1945 - Wavy-edged hard demarcation pattern in red brown and green over a dark yellow base. There are tools out there to help with these schemes, such as masks for the dotted pattern, and the Clever Putty to achieve the hard lines of the wavy edged pattern. Conclusion It's worth picking up the limited edition boxing for the extras that it includes, which includes the engine compartment, as the cost saving is notable, and it will be interesting to work with the softer copper PE for the first time (for this modeller at least). Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  14. Russian Su-33 Flanker D (with carrier deck) 1:72 Trumpeter Instantly recognisable to enthusiasts of Cold War or modern jet aircraft, the Su-27 Flanker has formed the backbone of the Russian Air Force's air superiority fighter force for much of the last thirty years. The design marked a departure from previous Soviet/Russian aircraft, with its podded engines, large wing and sophisticated avionics (it was the first fly-by-wire aircraft to enter service in the Soviet Union). Emerging in prototype form as the T-10 in 1977, the design showed great promise, and before long it had beaten the time-to-height records set by the modified Streak Eagle in 1975. Although originally designed as a long-range air superiority fighter, like many of its contemporaries the Su-27 has been developed to take on a variety of roles, including air-to-surface missions. The multirole Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker D is the navalised variant of the successful all-weather interceptor. Around 35 examples of the type have been constructed for Russian Naval Aviation, all of which operate from the Aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznestov’. The Su-33 differs from the Su-27 in a number of respects. Most noticeable are the canards, situated forward of the wing to provide additional lift and manoeuvrability. The Su-33 also features larger wings with a powered folding mechanism, folding horizontal stabilisers, in-flight refuelling capability and the ability to carry a range of air-to-surface weapons. Despite the relatively small number of aircraft produced, this is the latest in a steady trickle of kits of the Su-33 to emerge. Things got off to a less-than-promising start, with the old and not very accurate Italeri Su-27 Sea Flanker (re-boxed by Zvezda). A few years ago Hasegawa gave us a much more sophisticated kit which, while still not perfect, was very good indeed. Trumpeter released an all-new kit along with a typically generous selection of ordnance a few years agp, just before Zveda added their own kit. At this rate it won't be long before we can build every one of the 35 aircraft with a different kit! Anyway, Trumpeter's kit is back once again, but with a slight twist this time. Inside the large top-opening box are over 300 parts spread across around twenty sprues of grey plastic and a single clear sprue. In typical Trumpeter style, the plastic parts are exquisitely moulded, with engraved panel lines, rivet and fastener detail. Also in the box is a small fret of photo etched parts, two decal sheets (one for markings and one for stencils) and a colour painting diagram as well as instructions. In common with other Trumpeter kits, the parts are extremely well packed and all of the sprues are individually bagged. Certain parts, such as the clear sprue are wrapped in foam for extra protection. This version of the kit differs from the last one we received for review as it contains extra parts for a large section of carrier deck, complete with hydraulic jet blast deflector, crew and a few extra optional parts for the aircraft itself. Trumpeter don't appear to have trumpeted (ha ha) this fact, however, as it doesn't appear to be mentioned on the box artwork. Nothing has changed since we reviewed the last iteration of this kit, so it's still the case that the overall shape and arrangement of parts appears to match photographs and plans of the real thing very well. The canopy has the correct profile, which means a seam down the middle, but this is a five minute job to clean up with the right tools. Trumpeter have even included the option to build the model with the wings and horizontal tails folded, which is very pleasing to see and exactly how I intend to finish mine. Construction begins with the cockpit. This is made up of five parts, including a crisply moulded K36 ejection seat, which slots into a cockpit tub adorned with convincing moulded details (although decals re also provided). Once completed, the whole sub-assembly fits inside the fuselage halves. As with most kits of blended-wing aircraft, the fuselage is split vertically with the inner section of wing moulded in place. The outer sections of the wings are moulded separately so that the model can be built with the wings folded. Some modellers will find this a pain as it creates an extra joint to deal with, but as I mentioned before, I think it's great that Trumpeter included this option because it wasn't possible to finish the Hasegawa kit like this without major surgery. Do note, however, that you must drill a number of holes in order to fit the appropriate pylons to the outer wing sections before your cement the parts together. There are different parts to use for each option, as the outer flaps are dropped when the wings are folded. The same applies to the horizontal tail surfaces, with different versions provided for folded and unfolded options. In this boxing there is an additional sprue with extra parts for the drooped flaps which wasn't included with the original kit. The engine air intakes are next. These are slide moulded, which makes construction relatively pain free. Engine turbine faces are included, which will prevent the dreaded see-through effect, and parts such as the auxiliary air intake louvers are moulded separately in order to maximise the level of detail. The Su-33's rugged landing gear is next. Each main gear leg is moulded as a single part, which should translate into a degree of structural strength, while the more complex nose gear leg is made up of seven parts. In both cases the wheels are moulded separately. While the model is on its back, you have to add the Su-33's beefy tail hook – a nicely detailed part is made up of four parts. The pylons have to be added at this stage too, so make sure you drill out the appropriate holes at the start of the build, or this is the point at which you'll really regret it. The canopy is nicely realised and, as mentioned above, accurate in profile. Because of the shape of the canopy and the way it has had to be moulded, there is a little distortion around the sides, but by way of compensation it can be finished in either open or closed positions. The major difference between this version of the kit and the previous version is the inclusion of a section of carrier deck, complete with jet blast deflector, decals and crew. The carrier deck is a hell of a slab of plastic, and will look very impressive with the aircraft and crew positioned in place. I think the Olymp 10 ton deck tractor will be a virtually mandatory purchase with this kit! In typical Trumpeter style, a very extensive range of ordnance is included. Of course there is so much that you can't possibly use it all, but who doesn't like spare ordnance? All told, you get: 4 x KH-31 Krypton air-to-surface missiles; 4 x KH-35 Zvezda anti-ship missiles; 4 x KH-59M Ovod cruise missiles; 2 x B-8M rocket pods; 1 x APK-9 data link pod (for use with the KH-59 missiles); 2 x R-77 active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 4 x R-27ET extended range infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 4 x R-27ER extended range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-73 infrared homing air-to-air missiles; No, it doesn't fit inside my photo tent... Nothing has changed when it comes to the decal sheet, so you still have a choice of two schemes - Su-33 Flanker D 'Red 67' and Su-33 Flanker D 'Red 80', both of the Russian Navy. The decal sheets are nicely printed and you get a full set of stencils too, which is a bonus. Conclusion Trumpeter are definitely on a role with their 1:72 aircraft, having given us fans of Soviet/Russian aircraft a hat-trick of very decent kits in the shape of the MiG-29, Su-24 and now the Su-33. This is a very decent representation of an interesting variant of an important aircraft. The basic shape of the aircraft looks to be about spot on and, with the option to fold the wings, it has much to recommend it, even when compared to the Hasegawa kit. The inclusion of the deck section is a worthwhile addition too. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  15. Soviet PL-37 Light Artillery Wagon Trumpeter 1:35 History There is very little in the way of history that I can find on the PL-37, whether in my library or on the interweb. What is known is that the first Russian armoured train was built around 1915 with a number being captured after the revolution. The Soviets built up a fleet of armoured trains in the interwar years, used mostly by the Red Army, but the NKVD also used them in conjunction with their armoured cruisers. In the 1930’s this fleet was modernised with the introduction of the PR-35 and PL-37 wagons. Each train consisted of one BR-35 armoured engine, one PR-35 and two PL-37 wagons. During Operation Barbarossa, the Germans captured or destroyed most of these trains, usually through bombing as they were particularly vulnerable of this. During the war more heavily armoured trains and cruisers were built, with around 70 being available in 1945. The Model The kit comes in quite a large top opening box with an artistic impression of the wagon, strangely on its own without the rest of the train it should be attached to, firing its cannon at the enemy. As with the Panzertriebwagen No.16, reviewed HERE on opening the modeller is confronted with a box full of medium grey styrene, ten sprues in total, along with separate hull, in its own protective box, floor, turrets and five rail ballast sections. All the parts are beautifully moulded, particularly the single piece hull of the wagon, with no sign of flash and only a few moulding pips, so cleaning up after removal from the sprues should be a bit of a doddle. Being a fair bit smaller than the Panzertriebwagen there are far fewer steps in the construction, which begins with the construction of the rail tracks. The three sections that make up the majority of the track are joined together and fitted with the two end pieces, one of which needs to be modified to fit. The sleeper sections are then fitted from beneath, again with one section requiring modification to fit. The rails are then slid through the ties and joined together with two fishplates per rail. The wagon construction begins with the floor, the underside of which is fitted out with two longitudinal strengthening beams and two cross beams, on at each end. Toe plates, with added swivels are then attached to the underside in preparation for fitting the two bogies. Inside the main box structure there are four machine gun positions fitted. Each of these consists of the gun muzzle with the ball glued to the rear end. The ball is then placed in the socket of the mounting plate and covered with a semi-circular backing, allowing the muzzle to move. Each completed mounting plate is the glued into position, this is the limit of what’s in the interior. With the machine guns fitted, the floor assembly can be joined to the hull, along with the four two part buffers, two at each end. Each of the two bogies is built up from two side frames to which the two axle boxes are attached along with the parts that represent the spring suspension. Each axle is fitted with two wheels, with two axles sandwiched between the side frames, along with the bogie pivot block, which has been fitted with the four, three piece, brake shoes. The completed assemblies are then attached to the pivot mounts previously fitted to the underside of the wagon floor. The buffer plates are then attached, along with the ID plate to each end, whilst the wagon sides are fitted with the various hand rails and the access door. With the wagon the right side up, more hand and foot rails are fitted to the ends of the car, along with the five piece couplings and air line. On the side with the access door, three steps are added beneath the door and two long hand rails either side. The observation tower is made up of the single piece tower, to which the two top mounted hatches are fitted, along with the periscope cover, with the six viewing ports attached, one per side of the hexagon shaped tower. The completed tower is then fitted to the hole in the centre of the wagon roof. The two turrets are identical and consist of the single piece turret, a machine gun mount similar to those fitted to the wagon sides, a five piece main gun, made up of a two piece front barrel section, single piece rear barrel section, recuperator, and a figure of eight shaped joining piece. The machine gun, and main gun are fitted to the inside of the turret, before the turret base is attached. On the outside the turret is fitted with aiming port, periscope port, hatch hinge and an under-barrel plate. The hatch is then fitted with the other end of the hinge before being fitted into position, followed by a hinged mantlet plate, complete with two hinges. This can be posed closed up for low elevations or open for high. There are two protective plates fitted to each side of the barrel and these are attached along with the roof mounted radio aerial. Lastly the turret mounted rear hatch doors are fitted along with their hinges. The two completed turret assemblies are then fitted slotted into position and the railcar is completed with the addition of two armoured plates fitted either side of the couplings, each plate having previously been fitted with two hinges. The completed model can then be placed on the rail tracks. For improvements to the tracks, such as the rails, ties and ballast see the link in the Panzertriebwagen review. Conclusion I’m really loving the releases of these rail wagons. Having got all the German armoured train components, it’ll be great if Trumpeter continues with further releases of the Soviet trains. The build of this one isn’t at all complicated and would be a good first build or anyone interested in these trains, or those wanting something unusual in their collection. The camouflage possibilities are endless, with a fair few photos on the web showing how each individual unit painted their wagons differently. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  16. EA-3B Skywarrior 1:48

    EA-3B Skywarrior 1:48 Trumpeter The Skywarrior was originally designed as a US Naval Strategic Bomber, but like the Vigilante that replaced it, it was re-tasked when the roles for delivery of bombs (especially nuclear) was handed over to the ballistic missiles of the growing submarine fleet. It was developed from an early concept of a jet bomber, and although it had trouble with its engines, it first flew in the early 50s. Even after entry into service it was dogged with problems, one of which was the decision not to fit ejection seats to save weight, which resulted in the wry comment that A3D stood for "all three dead". Once it switched to the Electronic Warfare role, it found its niche and continued in that area until the end of the first Gulf War. The EA aircraft were fitted with pressurised compartments in one of the former weapons bays, and the EA-3B carried four addition crew in this area along with a host of electronic sensors for defensive and offensive operations. The Kit This is the fourth kit from Trumpeter using the same basic airframe, and it has been established that the landing gear bay lacks a see-through area that should be present, although from looking at it back when the first edition was released, it doesn't seem too difficult to fix with a bit of styrene and modelling skill. The box it arrives in is quite large, which stems from the size of this venerable bomber. It had a long, slab-sided fuselage that earned it the nickname "the Whale", and its large swept wings take up some room, although the wings do fold, so are supplied in sections. Inside the box is a small partition that protects the two sprues of clear parts, two small sprues in grey styrene, and two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass. There is also a separate bag containing three flexible styrene wheels that may cause some wrinkling of noses amongst those that don't like "rubber" tyres. The rest of the box is taken up with ten large sprues and the two monstrous fuselage halves, all in the same mid-grey styrene. A quick perusal of the instructions show a fairly standard construction, although it would seem that Trumpeter have decided not to depict the compartment (coal-hole?) where the four additional crew spent their time staring at racks of instruments while flying sideways. That's pretty understandable actually, as given the secret nature of most of the equipment on board, not many photos of the area exist apart from one I found on the A-3 Skywarrior Association's page here. Although the box states it's an EA-3B, the two decal options are stated as A3D-2s, and if you look at the profiles of the EA3-B, you will notice some differences are apparent. The large bulged tail top sensor suite is missing entirely (but it is included as an option in the previous A3D-2 boxing 02868 along with the pointed radome and stinger tail), although the nose radome is of the correct flat ended shape. There are also windows missing for the EA-3B, a towel-rail antenna on the starboard side, an optional belly pod and a bulge on the nose that is sometimes carried on airframes with the pointed radome. Additionally, some A3D-2s still carried the 20mm stinger tail turrets, although admittedly these were only the early ones before it was dropped. There have been comments about the decal options not being appropriate too, but I can only come up with a discrepancy in the more colourful VAH-10 Vikings scheme, which may be fictional. Setting aside those concerns, which may or may not bother you depending on your modelling outlook, let's have a look at the kit. The cockpit is where the build starts with three seats that are built from two halves each, which will leave an annoying seam within the back frame to deal with. The seat pad covers the rest of the join, and a pair of seatbelts is added to each one. The side consoles, main panel and rear instrument bulkhead are then built onto a floor panel that has a few visible ejector pin marks that will need sanding or filling, depending on whether they will be seen. The side consoles have PE inserts for the instruments, and the main panel has been moulded in clear for no apparent reason, as it is painted black and has a white instrument face decal added to the front. Maybe they ran out of space on the grey sprues? The rear crew member sits facing backwards behind the pilot, and has a rack of equipment to play with while he watches where they've been. The radar is constructed from a good number of parts before being salted away out of sight in the radome, and the nose gear bay is built up from panels to form a sloping box shape that holds the leg, retraction jack and the single nose wheel in a Y-shaped yoke, which flexes to insert the two-part wheel hub and the rubbery wheel. The main gear legs are also built up at this point, with L-shaped legs, separate oleo-scissors, and complex hubs made up from two styrene parts and another two PE parts for the outer hub. The bomb bay is also built up from panels, and has some nice ribbing detail included, with a high part count. The main gear bays are located in the rear of the fuselage, and are built up side-by-side with plenty of detail, after which they are sandwiched between a bulkhead at the front, and an insert in the rear that makes them into a single assembly. A short crawl way between the cockpit and bomb bay is again built from panels, and this is first joined to the head of the bomb bay, then to the bottom of the cockpit. The nose gear bay is added to the front of this crawl way, and the whole lot is glued into the fuselage side along with the main gear bay, arrestor hook bay and some inserts in the air-brake bay. You can now close up the fuselage finally, and what a seam that will be! Fit seems good, although it's always difficult to say for certain without the "innards" installed, which sometimes actually improve fit due to the increased rigidity of the parts. The nose cone is added (with no means of displaying it open mentioned), and the two-part tail cone fairing takes it to its full length of almost 50cm. A refuelling probe and its pipework sprouts from under the wing root, and is stabilised against the curve of the nose by a small bracket, and the large crystal clear canopy is then added over a one-piece coaming, after which the fuselage is flipped to add all the doors to the gear bays and bomb bay, plus the tail bumper and arrestor hook. The bomb bay doors have PE skins for a 3D look, but there is no documented way of posing them closed, and there is a crew doorway on the underside behind the nose gear that could be lowered with a little ingenuity. After adding the main gear legs the fuselage can then be stood on its own legs for the first time. Construction moves to the wings, which are fairly complex as they go. The inner wing is built up with a few small parts in the tip for the wing-fold mechanism. Six spacers are added in the slat bays, after which the slats are added, plus the engine pylons, flap guides and the flaps themselves. A number of PE parts are added to the wing-fold area to give it additional detail, and the inner wings are then slotted into their mating points, where care will be needed to ensure the correct angle and that the edges line-up with the wing root fairings that are moulded into the fuselage. The outer sections build up in much the same way, but without the pylons, and these can be mounted folded for stowage or unfolded for flight at your whim by adding some PE linkages during construction. The tail fins are simpler, and each elevator has separate sections, while the rudder fin that folds part way up has two separate rudder sections and basic interior detail at the fold point. Again, a couple of extra parts will allow you to portray this folded, so you can choose a "below decks" scenario to save space on your modelling shelves. The twin engines are built up from over 30 parts with a full length provided and a pair of access hatches that could be left open, showing all the detail and your excellent paint job. The intake lip part is a single part with a bullet fairing and triple stator blades. Of course you'll build both engines up in tandem for ease, and because of the handed pylons, they are interchangeable, so there's no worry about putting the wrong engine on the pylons. After adding the engines there are a number of additional aerials, and intakes to add, along with the prominent air-brakes on the rear fuselage, which have retraction jacks included. The main bay doors have PE inserts and a small hinge-point part, fitting to the top of their bays with a retraction jack fitting against the hinge-point. Finally, there is another airbrake under the fuselage ahead of the bomb bay that retracts flush against the fuselage, and is perforated to optimise flow. This can be posed open by the addition of the retraction jack, but check for fit when the aircraft is on its wheels, in case there is any interference. Markings There are two schemes included on the large decal sheets, as well as a whole heap of serials on the second sheet that will be of help if you plan on going off-piste with your decal choices. The decals are printed in-house as usual, and are adequate, although not massively impressive. They have good registration, colour density and sharpness, apart from the diagonals that show some pixelation or "jaggies" under magnification. You can build either of the following from the box: BU.No. 142401 VAH-13 Bats, USS Kitty Hawk, A-3D-2, 611 NH – Grey over white with dark grey walkways on the wings, and an orange band at the top of the tail. BU.No. 142406 VAH-10 Vikings, A-3D-2, 4GQ – Grey over white with orange upper flying surfaces, nose, tail and rudder. Aircraft 401 seems to concur with the airframe's flight history, but 406 does not, and may possibly have been taken from a French language profile that seems to have been fictional, although my school-boy translation of the text shows date and location detail, but gives no other context. 406 seems to have spent most of its service life in the usual grey/white scheme, and it is interesting that both decal options were later converted to KA-3Bs – the tanker variant. Conclusion The designers at Trumpeter have been castigated for using one set of main parts to portray different airframes with subtle changes between each one as mentioned earlier, but if you feel the urge the necessary changes should be within your grasp if you apply some modelling skills, and for those that don't mind the small things, it's an impressively sized model. Have a look at the missing tunnel in the main gear bays too, and decide whether you're going to fix that while you have your tools out. Finally, check out our Walk Around here Recommended with the aforementioned caveats. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  17. HMS Ark Royal 1939 1:350 Merit International via Pocketbond Despite the fact that the Ark did not survive WWII, she was considered a lucky ship, having a few close scrapes that she survived, and as such she was seen as a good posting. She was involved in a lot of action, including the hunt for the Bismark before being hit by a torpedo in the Mediterranean in 1941, slowly sinking beneath the waves whilst being towed to port. Only one crew member was lost, having the misfortune to be low down in the hull when the torpedo struck. Laid down in 1935, with launch following two years later and a further year taken up with the fitting out of the hull. Several famous squadrons embarked on the Ark during her fairly short service life, flying Swordfish, Skua, Roc, Fulmar and Albacore torpedo bombers. She was involved in the hunt for the Graf Spee, and before deployment to the Med., where she became part of Force H, returning to duties after a refit. She also hunted the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau where she was damaged after a failed launch of a Swordfish resulted in the depth charges it was carrying going off under the hull. After repairs she was involved in hunting the Bismark, having a close squeak that almost ended in the accidental destruction of the Sheffield, followed by eventual contact with the real quarry, where a successful attack from Ark Royal Swordfishes led to the Bismark's partial disablement and subsequent destruction. After this she returned to Force H, ferrying aircraft to Malta but on their return trip to Gibraltar, she was picked up by U-81, which managed to hit her with just one torpedo amidships. The damage was massive, due to the relatively deep hit, exacerbated by her movement, and she soon began to list to the side. Although they managed to stablise the situation briefly, water continued to encroach through open hatches, and the list increased after which the crew were evacuated to HMS Legion, who was assisting in trying to keep her afloat. She later capsized and broke into two parts, ending up quite a way from the expected wreck location. She was discovered by a BBC documentary crew early in the new millennium, who concluded that after the engines failed nothing could save her due to some design flaws that were not appreciated at the time. The Kit This is a new tooling from Merit International, and has been awaited with baited breath by many fans of the Ark, myself amongst them. I have no idea why I find her so intriguing, and I freely profess that I'm no expert on her, but I have a fondness that I can't explain. The box is best described as BIG, as at 1:350, she scales out at 696mm long. Gulp! Deep breaths Mike – don't wonder how you're going to photograph the hull parts and the box top. Moving on. Inside the huge top-opening box are the two hull halves and the carrier deck, which notably has no cut-outs for the lifts and thereby no view into the interior. Beneath a card divider are the rest of the sprues, all in the same mid-grey styrene. There are twenty three sprues of various sizes (excluding the aforementioned hull & deck), plus eight Photo-Etch (PE) frets of varying sizes. A large black stand and sheet of decals complete the parts list, and of course the instruction booklet rounds out the package with a folded glossy A3 sheet containing the painting and marking instructions for both the ship and her complement of aircraft. Speaking of which, you get the following spread over thirteen small sprues. 5 x Fairey Swordfish 4 x Fairey Fulmar 4 x Blackburn Skua The Swordfish also have 5 sheets of PE for their interplane struts, which will enhance their realism substantially, especially if you are brave enough to rig them with… human hair? The detail on the aircraft at this scale is excellent, and even the wings are commendably thin, as are the props. Ideally you could do with squadron strength of at least one of the aircraft choices, but it's not a major problem, although at this stage there are no extra sprues available separately from Merit. The absence of aircraft lifts is a shame, as this would have opened up some extra potential deck-handling scenarios that add a little interest to any aircraft carrier model. I'm sure it won't be long before this happens via aftermarket however. As with most ship kits, there is a lot of repetition in the parts count, as there are multiple instances of anti-aircraft gun emplacements, lifeboats, cranes and of course the aircraft lurking around the decks. Construction starts with the hull sides, which are detailed up with long rectangular boxes into which dividers and lifeboats are placed, to simulate some of the detail. A number of PE railings are used to prevent folks from pitching off the sides in bad weather, and these along with the interiors will need painting before they are installed. With both halves completed, the hull halves are brought together, being held at the correct width by the addition of three strong mini-bulkheads that plug into sockets on each side of the hull. Inserts are also provided for the open deck sections under the bow and round-down at the stern, which can be fitted once the two halves are together. A single rudder is also fitted, and additional PE railings are added fore and aft, before the flight deck is dropped into place. At this stage eight anti-aircraft guns are added to their emplacements, with twin 4.5" barrels slotted through the enclosed gun-shield, the latter being slide-moulded to obtain maximum detail. The hull is inverted briefly to install the twin screws and their driveshaft fairings, and then she is flipped over again to begin the installation of the various suspended walkways that festoon the exterior of the upper hull, complete with the life rafts that were usually visible in period photos strapped to the sides of the hull. Eight davits are made up from a combination of PE and styrene in various configurations, and these are added to the sides of the hull in the raised position throughout the rest of the construction process, as are a number of bofors 40mm pom-pom guns. More railings are added throughout the process, and the two ship's cranes are installed at midships near the launches. Toward the bow a set of parts for the last-ditch retrieval nets are supplied, which block the route of an aircraft that has failed to trap-on to the front and sides of the last usable section of deck before the pilot gets his feet wet. The penultimate task is to build the Island, which is fairly simple, consisting of only a few decks plus the bridge, smoke stack to the rear with a PE grating, additional Pom-Pom mounts, and a number of lights for communications. A set of PE railings are fitted to the crow's nest, around the radar installation, and to form the bracing for the topmost section of the mast. Finally the aircraft are up for construction. The five Swordfish are complex, and made from a number of parts, including four for the landing gear, separate upper and lower wings, a two-part fuselage with the tail captive to one side for finesse, separate engine cowling and prop, elevators, and of course the PE to simulate both the interplane stuts and the rigging, which will take some care to do well. The four Fulmars are a much simpler affair, with two fuselage halves, a single piece wing, two gear legs, two elevators and the prop, as are the four Skuas, although they have a single piece elevator instead. The island is then attached to a raised part on the deck, which prevents it being fitted the wrong way round. Three more bofors sets are also added along with another set of netting to complement the last-gasp set further toward the bow. Assuming everything is painted and decaled, the finished model can be rests on the supplied plinth with a name plaque provided with raised lettering to inform the casual observer. Markings The decal sheet is fairly large due mainly to the white lines on the desk and the markings for the aircraft. The boot topping must be painted, and as there are no moulded-in lines to assist with this, you will need to be careful when masking it up to ensure that it doesn't wobble during the process. The decals are serviceable, however, some of the roundels are a little squiffy, but at this scale it isn't all that noticeable. Some of the more complex lining on the deck has a substantial amount of carrier film accompanying it by necessity, so a good glossy surface will be needed to keep them from silvering, followed by additional gloss-coats to hide the raised edges of the film. Only the national markings are supplied for the aircraft, and their positioning is shown in scrap diagrams around the guide, with paint colours called out in Gunze shades, but with conversions to Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol provided in tables at the top of the sheet. Conclusion Maritime Modellers have been waiting for a decent model of the Ark in 1:350 for some time, and now we have one. It lacks a few of the expected aspects such as the lifts and some semblance of a hangar, but otherwise it is well detailed and a good quality model. It's certainly an item ticked off my modelling wish list. Apologies go to Pocketbond for the delay in getting this one done, which was mainly due to photographing the large parts and my poor memory. Keep your eyes open for the upcoming review of the comprehensive upgrade set from Tetra Model Works soon. It's a work of art! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  18. M1A2 Abrams SEP v2/TUSK I/TUSK II 1:35 Academy The Abrams Main Battle Tank is the direct replacement to the M60, when it was realised that the venerable design was ill-suited to further modification. The new design entered limited service in 1980 and went on to become the main heavy tank in the Army and Marines branches of the American armed forces. It saw extensive action in the two Gulf Wars, where it cleaned up against older Soviet designs with minimal damage inflicted in a stand-up fight due to its composite armour. It was developed further with the AIM programme, which upgraded the battle management systems and returned the vehicles to factory fresh condition. The A2 was improved again, giving the commander his own sighting system as well as other system changes. The SEP (System Enhancement Package) received additional changes to its armour and systems, with a remote weapons station added later on. An auxiliary pwer unit was added to the tank in the rear turret basket to enable the tank to operate all its systems without having to have the main gas turbine engine running. With the involvement of the Abrams in urban combat during the Afghanistan campaign, it became clear that the tank was vulnerable in close-quarters combat, where the top of the tank was open to attack from small arms fire and RPGs could be used with relative ease. IEDs buried on roads or in buildings also disabled a number of tanks in practice, all of which led to the TUSK and improved TUSK II upgrade packages, which stands for Tank Urban Survival Kit. To counter IEDs an angled "keel" was added to the underside to deflect blast away from the hull, reactive armour blocks were added to the side skirts and turrets, and bullet-resistant glass cages were mounted around the crew hatches on the turrets to provide protection for the crew during urban transit or if they were called upon to use their weapons in combat. A combat telephone was also installed on the rear of the tank to allow communication between accompanying troops and the tank, as well as slat armour to protect the exhausts for the gas turbine engine, the blast from which was directed upwards by a deflector panel that could be attached to the grille to avoid frying troops behind. The TUSK II kit improved on the original TUSK with shaped charges incorporated into the ERA blocks on the sides of the tank, and additional shields for the crew when exposed. Both kits were field-installable, which reduced the cost and time spent out of the field. The Kit I must admit to thinking Academy would add parts to their existing Abrams to bring us this kit, bit NO this is a complete new tool kit from Academy. The kit arrives on nine sprues of sand coloured plastic, a clear sprue, a small sheet of photo-etch, a small sheet of masks; and two rubber tracks. The box is really packed with plastic and the main sprues are on the large size barely fitting into the reviewers photo booth. The moulding quality of all the parts is excellent. One word of caution is to read the extensive instructions (3 booklets) to follow the correct steps for the version you will be constructing as the instructions are not the clearest out there. Construction starts with the lower hull. Unlike some AFV kits this is not one part and has to be built up. The lower plate needs adding to the side parts with two internal stiffening bulkheads being added. Once the lower hill is complete the mounting points for the wheels need to be built up and added. Then seven pairs of road wheels each side are made up and added, along with two idler wheels and the two drive sprockets at the rear. Two return rollers each side are then added. Once the wheels are on the mounting brackets and supports for the side armour is added. If doing a TUSK then the under hull armour needs to be added last. To finish of the lower hull the rear section is made up and added. Construction then moves onto the upper hull. The drivers hatch is added along with some parts to the rear engine decking and sides. The front light clusters are also built up and added. Some of the PE parts are also added at this stage. The top deck can then be added to the lower hull. Next the side armour is built up, different parts being added depending on the version being built. Once complete they can be added to the main hull. The turret is the next major step. First the barrel is built up. Unlike conventional Tank kits the barrel is not two halves which the modeller has to try hard to assemble into a convincing barrel. Here there are three sections of tube which slot together, a much better idea in the opinion of this reviewer. Once the barrel is complete it can be added to the breach assembly. This is then added into the lower turret ring. The upper turret can then be added to complete the main assembly. Take care on which holes need to be opened up for the version you are building. The next construction stage is to make up the various guns / copulas etc which go on top of the turret. The TUSK version also features a M2 machine gun mounted on top of the main gun. The turret can be configured with crew served light weapons in protected turrets and the CROWS II remotely operated station. The up-armoured crew hatches are also supplied. Following completion of the turret of your choice the rear turret basket is added. All the mesh here is provided as photo-etch. The Basket mounted aux power unit is added (if for the right version). The side turret units are added along with any additional armour units your version carried. Decals Decals are provided for 9 examples; M1A2 SEP V2 - 2nd Infantry Division US Army, South Korea 2013. M1A2 SEP V2 - 2-7 Infantry, NATO Joint Training, Poland, Latvia & Estonia 2015. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 4th Infantry Division, 1-68 Armoured Regiment US Army, Iraq 2008. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - Combined Arms Battalion, 1-68 Armoured Regiment US Army, Iraq 2008. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 1st Cavalry Division, 2-7 Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 3rd Sqn, G troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 2nd Sqn, E troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 3rd Sqn, H troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk II- 1st Battalion. 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Div, US Army, Iraq 2008 Conclusion This is thoroughly modern tooling of the latest M1 Abrams. Included are all the modern Abrams upgrades and add ons and the modeller will need to study their references and the instructions to fit the correct set of parts for their kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  19. Indian T-90 “Bhishma” Trumpeter 1:35 History The T-90S is the latest development in the T-series of Russian tanks and represents an increase in firepower, mobility and protection. It is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod in Nizhnyi Tagil, Russia. The T-90S entered service with the Russian Army in 1992. In February 2001, the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks: 124 were completed in Russia and the rest are being delivered in "knocked down" form for final assembly in India. The first of these was delivered in January 2004. The locally assembled tanks are christened 'Bhishma'. The tanks are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system and Catherine thermal imagers from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus. The first ten Bhishma tanks were inducted into the Indian Army in August 2009. India plans to induce 1,640 T-90 tanks by 2020. In January 2005, it was announced that a further 91 T-90S tanks would be procured for the Russian Army, although this number was later reduced. By November 2007, it has been estimated that the Russian Army has around 200 T-90 tanks. In August 2007, Thales was awarded a contract to supply 100 of these with the Catherine FC thermal imager. In March 2006, Algeria signed a contract for the supply of 180 T-90S tanks from Uralvagonzavod, to be delivered by 2011. Of the total, 102 tanks were in service with the Algerian Army by 2008. In November 2006, India ordered a further 330 T-90 tanks, to be licence-built by heavy vehicle factory (HVF), Avadi, Tamil Nadu. The Model The kit comes in the standard style of box used by Trumpeter these days, although in this instance it appears to be slightly deeper. The boxart shows a vehicle on the road during a parade in the standard Indian colour scheme for this type. Inside there are fourteen sprues of light grey styrene, separate lower hull and turret, eight of brown styrene, one of clear, two sprues of a rubbery material, a bit like Dragons DS, three sheets of etched brass, sixteen poly caps, plus lengths of copper wire, brass wire and vinyl tubing. All the parts are beautifully moulded with great detail and surface texture. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are a lot of moulding pips that need to be removed and will add to the cleaning up required. Construction begins with the assembly of the two sprocket wheels, each from three parts plus the poly cap, the two idler wheels, each of two parts and the poly cap, the idler axle mounts, each from four parts, (ensure you use the correct parts as they are handed), and the twelve road wheels, again each from two parts plus the poly cap. With these done the lower hull section is fitted out with the idler wheel axles, the sprocket axle casings, the return rollers, track slides and the three additional shock absorber mounts for the first, second and sixth road wheels. The lower glacis plate is also attached, and fitted with two towing eye fixtures and centrally mounted hook, whilst on the hull sides, two turret ring panels are fitted, and completed with the addition of fifteen PE bolt heads. The torsion arms and additional suspension arms are attached, whilst the mine trawl KMT-6 connection hardpoint/attachment plate is fitted on the underside of the hull. All the wheels are now fitted and the complete lower hull assembly put to one side to set properly. Before fitting any parts to the upper hull several holes need to be opened up from the inside, followed by the fitting of the drivers clear vision block. The armoured plate that sits between the drivers hatch and the turret ring is attached, followed by two long rods plus end fittings on the upper glacis plate, drivers vision block shield and the six shtora sensors each made up from two parts. The glacis plate ERA block comes in one piece and is fitted with the block end plates, mid mounted breakwater, and tow hooks, before being fitted to the upper hull. Each of the main headlight assemblies are made up from the protective cage, headlight, with separate clear lens, indicators and reflectors before being attached to the sides of the upper glacis. There is a further plate fitted in front of the drivers position, whilst the drivers hatch is made up from inner and outer plates and fitted into position. The front upper hull section is then attached to the lower hull, followed by the engine hatch, complete with additional hinge details, and the radiator hatch, which is fitted with hinges, clasps, four etched grilles and two intake covers. The rear bulkhead plate is fitted out with spare track links, unditching log straps, unditching log, (DS type material) and the fuel drum supports, before being fitted to the rear hull. Each individual track link is connected to the sprue in two places, in addition to the two moulding pips per link, it will be a rather labourious job cleaning up the 166 links required per side, not to mention the individual track horns, although these are very nicely moulded. Whilst the links have to glued together as there are no location pins provided, Trumpeter have provided a guide to build up the links into the various lengths required. With the tracks completed and fitted its back to the more interesting stuff with the assembly of the four part exhaust, with optional top plate, and the two four piece fuel drums. The two track guards are assembled, with the support arms and inside front plate attached. The right hand guard is fitted with a full length top piece representing the various stowage boxes the rear one fitted with a blanking plate, whilst the left hand unit is fitted with a smaller stowage box plate, exhaust unit and separate rear stowage box. Each of the stowage plates are then fitted with the various PE straps and hinges before the side skirts are attached. Each side skirt is then fitted with three additional armour plates and their associated fittings to the front of each side. The previously assembled fuel drums, additional engine cover plate and the track guards are then attached to the hull. The fuel drums are then plumbed, using the vinyl tubing provided. Each of the front rubber sections of mudguards are fitted with a PE part which will need some careful bending to fit correctly. The tow cable is then made up from a length of brass wire and the two tow eyes; this is then wrapped around the clamps to the rear of the hull. The turret is probably the most complicated section of the build, well, perhaps after the tracks that is. There are quite a few parts which I cannot identify even through searching the interweb, so forgive me if I get some parts wrong, or am a bit vague. Before the turret ring is attached to the turret itself, the three piece commanders’ sight is assembled and fitted inside, just in front of the commanders’ hatch. The only other part that needs to be fitted from the inside is the barrel of the co-axial machine gun. The mantlet cover is made of the DS type material and once fiotted to the turret is finished off with a PE connector ring. The infra-red sight housing is fitted with a PE window frame, and side panel, whilkst on the right hand side of the lower front, there is a small angled ERA box, made up from four parts, fitted. Each of the large cheek mounted ERA boxes is made up of four parts, which once assembled is glued into place. There is another small ERA box fitted to the right of the main gun and is assembled using five parts before being glued into position. There are an additional nineteen individual ERA boxes mounted on the roof of the turret. In front of the fixed sight there is a PE hood, made up from four parts attached to the turret roof, along with a rotating sight further aft which is made up from three parts. The spent cartridge port door is then fitted, as is the gunners hatche and aerial base. On each side of the turret there are six smoke dischargers. The tubes of which are individual parts fitted to a back plate. A small searchlight mounted on a pintle and including a clear leans is fitted to the left front of the turret. On the right side of the turret, adjacent to the commander cupola, a large storage box, made from nine parts is attached, along with the five parts that go to make up a spare ammunition box for the 14.5mm machine gun. There is another aerial type structure which looks to be part of the defensive suite and made up of seven parts before being fitted to the to the rear of the turret. The commanders’ cupola is quite a complex affair with the cupola being fitted with the vision blocks and computer sight, followed by the cupola ring. To this the hatch is attached after being fitted with the inner and outer plates, two grab handles inside and two vision blocks and their covers on the outside. The two part hinge is then fitted, followed by the clear plate and frame at the nominal front. The 14.5mm machine gun is assembled from five parts, then fitted with the three part spent cartridge bag, before being fitted to the cupola via the six piece mount. The completed cupola is then fitted with an elevation support, whilst the machine gun is fitted with its four piece ammunition box. Two more storage boxes are then assembled the smaller one, made from six parts is fitted to the left rear of the turret, just behind the smoke dischargers, whilst the larger one, made up of eight parts and fitted with the six piece snorkel, is attached to the rear of the turret. The main gun barrel is provided in two halves, which, with the strap detail, may be rather awkward to get rid of the seam without losing the detail, os it may be an idea to buy one of the turned aftermarket barrels that are available for this kit. The barrel and commanders’ cupola are glued into position and the completed turret attached to the hull completing the build. There is only one colour option, that of sandy brown overall, with a number of wood brown splotches over the base coat. There are no markings provided with the kit, and from what I’ve seen, none on the real tank. Conclusion Ok, so it’s another version of the T-90 from Trumpeter, but this one at least is a little different and will look great in its camouflage scheme. Without the glaring anti missile “eyes” on the front of the turret it looks very much like its forbears the T-72/T-80, but if you like the T-90 it will certainly stand out from the crowd in your collection. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  20. Type 69-II Iraqi Medium Tank 1:35 Takom The Type 69-II is an improved T-55 that was reverse engineered by China after they got their hands on a Russian T-62 after some border skirmishes. The initial batch weren't all that successful, so a revision was ordered, using a 100mm rifled gun with dual access stabilisation and many features found on the captured T-62, but basing it on the earlier T-55 chassis. The Type 69-II has itself undergone some upgrades, incorporating lessons learned from action with the many export customers that China have for this capable medium tank. The Iraqi Army have used it both during and immediately after the Gulf Wars, where many were destroyed by the superior range and firepower that the Allies had at their disposal. Unlike the earlier T-55 ENIGMA, the Type 69 used stand-off armour in the shape of stowage baskets to protect the turret from shaped charge warheads, giving it a more modern look than the underlying technology of the main hull. The Kit This is a newly adapted tooling of the recent T-55 range of kits from Takom, and has a label on the box stating that the hull has been re-tooled for accuracy with the words "Approved", although it doesn't say by whom. Inside the box are a gaggle of sprues in various sizes, totalling fourteen plus the lower hull and turret top in grey styrene. There is also a clear sprue, two Photo-Etch (PE) sheets, a length of flexible braided wire, two polycaps, a flexible styrene mantlet cover, a small decal sheet, landscape A4 instruction booklet and an A5 portrait markings and painting guide in full colour. The kit is also marked as a 2 in 1, which means you can build either a standard tank, or a slightly different command tank by using some additional parts supplied in the box. Detail throughout is good, and the quality of the package is up to standard with sprues bagged individually, some of which are re-sealable, others being heat-sealed. The track links are bagged separately, as are the PE and the decals, all in ziplok bags so they can easily be returned for safe-keeping during the build. This is especially useful for the individual track links, which have already been removed from the sprue for your convenience. A small sheet of paper is also included that advises you where to find the raised turret casting code digits, on the runner of sprue L. You'll need to cut them free with a new blade, then glue them to the turret, taking great care not to flood them and dissolve the details. Sadly, no details are given relating to the correct codes for the decal options, so you'll either need to do some research or make them up to suit your whim. The lower hull and road wheels are first up for construction, with an appliqué panel added to the front, the final drive, idler wheels and drive sprockets first to be installed. The stub axles for the road wheels are quite detailed, and each one is made from three parts, with six different types, so keep your wits about you so you don't get them mixed up. The road wheels are next, with the wheels paired with separate tyres and central hubs, which could allow you to paint them separately if you hate cutting circular demarcations. With the lower hull completed, the upper hull is made up from three main parts, consisting of the glacis plate, turret ring section and rear engine deck. PE grilles (or are they mesh? In-joke with Ken) are added to the engine deck along with some additional parts and the driver's hatch, and then it's time to make up the tracks. There are 92 links each side, which are supplied individually in a ziplok bag as mentioned earlier. Each one has a single sprue gate and two raised ejector pin marks, so shouldn't take too long to sort out with a fair wind and some good TV to distract you. The links fit together nicely, and the detail on the outer surface includes some nice casting marks, which makes it tempting to leave the tracks in a fairly clean state once painted. As usual with this type of track, just build up your run using liquid glue and drape them round the sprockets while still malleable, holding them in place with tape and packing to get a realistic shape until dry. The upper hull is then glued in place and the rear bulkhead is made up, with an infantry telephone, plus and extra one for the command tank, or an optional unditching log strapped to the back, all using different holes drilled from the inside. The lower edges of the final drive housing are added underneath, plus the curved bulge under the bulkhead that houses the cooling fan, an idea taken from the captured T-62 mentioned above. The fenders are of metal construction, and are supplied as long parts to which you add lateral strengthening parts, the mudguards, stowage and pioneer tools on the starboard side, with interlinked additional fuel cells on the port. The rubber side skirts are contoured styrene parts that fix to the sides of the fenders, and the flexible braided metal cable is cut to 106mm and given plastic towing eyes before being draped over the fuel cells. Attention then turns to the turret, which begins with the main upper part that is then detailed with coax machine gun, mushroom vents, vision blocks and tie-down shackles. The extensive bar/slat armour baskets are built up simply from the respective panels and attached to deep recesses in the sides of the turret for strength, in eight sections that wrap around the back and sides of the turret, leaving a the smoke launchers and a barrel synchronised searchlight to operate cleanly. The breech is not depicted, but a wedge-shaped block is inserted into the bottom of the turret using two poly-caps to hold the barrel in place, which is made up of two halves plus a hollow muzzle and a PE ring at the base. A Chinese Type 54 Machine Gun is built up from a number of parts to sit at the front of the starboard cupola, while the commander's more complex cupola has a set of vision blocks installed in the hatch, plus a folding mechanism that splits the hatch to allow some degree of protection under fire. Before the gun is mounted, a flexible styrene dust cover is slid over the mantlet and has four holes drilled in it to accommodate the platform for the Type 70 aiming device that sits above the barrel's central access. Hooking up the searchlight to the mantlet finishes the turret, and it locks in place on the hull using the usual bayonet fitting. Markings There are six markings options, two of what are found on the inside cover of the instruction booklet, and as is usual now, Mig AMMO have done the five-view profiles, and have their paint codes on the legend, as well as one of their logos in the top right of each sheet. From the box you can build one of the following: Iranian IRGC tank captured from the Iraqi Army during the Iran-Iraq 1980-88 – all-over sand. Iraqi Army, 1991 Operation Desert Storm – all-over sand. Iraqi Army, 1991 Operation Desert Storm – sand with green camo patches. Royal Thai Army – Sand, green and brown camo. Iraqi Army, 1991 Operation Desert Storm, preserved at Saumur France – dark sand with green camo and three light sand replacement side skirts. New Iraq Army, post 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom – all-over sand. The decals are printed anonymously, but have good register, sharpness and colour density. Everything but the "fuel" decals are written in what I presume to be Persian or Arabic, with some small patriotic slogans and flags for good measure. Conclusion Just right for an Iraq war diorama or one of the lesser known operators that use or used the somewhere around 2,000 examples of this more unusual variant of the doughty T-55. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  21. Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG - Takom 1:35

    Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG Takom 1:35 Following WWII and with the advent of the cold war the Soviets found themselves facing a potential enemy with good ground attack aircraft, they realised that a dedicated Anti-aircraft gun mounting auto cannons not machine guns was needed. To keep up with armoured forces this would also need to be tracked. Using the newest tank chassis the T-54 it was proposed as objeck 500 and would mount a twin 57mm S-68 automatic cannon. Development began in the late 1940's with updates in the early 1950's, finally entering service in 1955. The system relied entirely on optical/mechanical computing and carried no radar system which proved to be a major weakness. There were proposals to upgrade the system but these did not come to fruition as newer systems would come online. These guns would be retired on the early 1970s to be replaced by ZSU-23-4s. Like many Soviet systems of the time they would be supplied to their sattilite states and the system was used by Cuba, Finland, Iraq and Egypt as well as the normal Warsaw pact countries. In combat they were using Vietnam and the Middle East. Lastly in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, and the invasion of Iraq. The Kit Like many kits this was earlier kitted by Tamyia, and now the Takom version will battle it out with a Trumpeter kit. Takom are making full use of their T-54/55 kits by producing this kit which utilises the same chassis. A fairly packed box arrives from Takom here. Along with the main lower hull plus the Turret there are five main sprues of parts, four sprues of suspension/wheel components, two sprues of gun parts, five sprues of ammunition; and a bag of track components. In addition there is a clear sprue, a sheet of photo etch, a metal tow cable, a flexible part which is the stowed canvas cover; and a small sheet of decals. The turret on this vehicle is open and you get a full interior and ammunition load. Construction begins with the running gear of the tank. The suspension comments are added to the hull. The main wheels feature an inner and outer wheel, here Takom have moulded the rubber tyre as a separate part which needs to be added to the outside of the steel wheel. Eight main wheels in total are made up along with a two drive sprockets and two idler wheels. Once all the wheels are constructed they can be added to the lower hull. Once the lower hull is complete construction moves to the upper hull. The hatches here can be left open, but as there is no interior there is little point. The rear grill is added along with spare tracklinks carried on the hull. The tracks are the next major parts to be added. Here you get individual track links, but they are not the type you click together, you will have to glue them. I suspect the best way is to do the lower run first and let it dry. The upper parts can be constructed, and when your glue is going off they should still be flexible enough to drape around the wheels to get the run looking right. Not the best solution. There are 92 links per side. The upper side covers for the tracks can now be built up. These feature equipment boxes on both sides with the front and rear mud guards being added. Once made up they can be attached to the upper hull. There are different configurations or the side parts depending on the country of the vehicle being made. The instructions are as clear as mud here, with a couple for the options being named, but the rest not. Given the various combinations of lockers etc the modeller should consult their references for the vehicle being modelled. Various grab handles, lights, cables etc can now be fitted as needed. There are also various tools and a ditching beam to add to the model. Once the main hull is completed then we move onto the main event for this kit, the turret with its twin 54mm guns. This is highly detailed with a full interior. Construction starts with the central mounting platform. This is the core of the gun system. All of the sighting and control systems will mount to this. The lower controls and sighting systems are built up and added to this central part. Crew seats are added, then the barrels go one, these are one piece each with well moulded muzzle brakes. Attention now moves to the inside of the main turret. The turret basket is made up. A full ammunition load is made up and added to the turret base, along with crew seats and controls. The turret basket can be added to the lower side and then the guns mounted. Additional ammunition is then added inside the turret. The main upper part of the turret is the next to receive attention. This single moulded part receives more ammunition stowage on the inside, and a series of grab handles on the outside. The rear turret basket is made up from photo-etch and added. The upper and lower turret parts can then be joined and fitted to the hull. The flexible cover can then be added to the rear of the turret. Decals These vehicles carried little in the way of markings, and even with a small decal sheet you are able to build 11 versions out of the box. Egyptian Army - Six Day War Finnish Army Iranian Army - Iran Iraq War Iranian Army PKK North Iraq/Kurdistan East German Army Red Army - Moscow Parade 1960 Serbian Army - Balkan War 1991 Syrian Army - Yom Kippur War 1973 North Vietnamese Army - Vietnam War - 2 different variants Conclusion This is a really good kit, just be careful with the tracks, and consult your references as the instructions are a little vague in places. It is good to see other tracked vehicles apart from tanks now appearing for modellers. Overall highly recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  22. King Tiger Sd.Kfz.182 Henschel Turret with Zimmerit – Full Interior (2045) 1:35 Takom via Pocketbond Hitler, and therefore Nazi Germany was obsessed with bigger which they equated with better, and this was reflected in almost every aspect of arms production in the run-up to, and throughout World War II. After the Panzer IV had been matched by Allied designs, the Tiger addressed the balance back in their favour, becoming the most feared combatant from any force, despite several draw-backs of its design, such as a weak transmission, and a level of complexity that meant it was slow to manufacture, prone to break-downs and expensive to repair. Expecting the Allies to bring heavier tanks to the field before too long, the King Tiger, Tiger II, or Königstiger as the Sd.Kfz.182 was known came into existence, having begun development even before the war started. Porsche's ground-breaking and complex design was unsuccessful for this reason, while the Henschel proposal was taken forward to production, using the same underpowered Maybach engine that was barely adequate for the Tiger I, and taking on the sloped armour of the successful Panther to significantly increase the effective thickness of the armour whilst keeping weight down to a staggering 70 tonnes. The initial turrets had curved surfaces that were difficult to manufacture, and a redesign was necessary to cure this and remove the shot-trap under the mantlet, with the new design being known today as the Henschel turret, while the old design became the Porsche turret, although both were designed by Krupps. A weak transmission design, coupled with the underpowered engine ensured that many vehicles broke down in the field, and plans were in progress to improve both aspects with fuel-injection and a new drive-train, but were curtailed by the end of the war. Most of the initial order of 1,500 units were built under difficult circumstances due to bombing of the factories and the encroaching Allied forces, and despite its problems it became one of the icons of German tank design of WWII, with a number surviving to be placed in museums, with some still running. The Kit We have had a few King Tiger (KT) kits in 1:35 over the years, but nothing new for quite a while, and at times the preferred brands have been hard to come by with prices reaching silly levels on eBay. Takom's new range of KT kits aims to provide a full set of these imposing tanks, with and without Zimmerit anti-mine coating, with Henschel and Porsche turrets, and with or without interiors. This should cater for almost every possibility, and if you like your tanks buttoned up, you won't be wasting the interior if you buy wisely. If you're unfamiliar with Zimmerit, it was a paste containing sawdust that was applied at the factory beginning in December 1943 and ending in September 1944, designed to prevent magnetic mines from sticking to the sides of tanks. It was applied in a number of different patterns, but was mostly seen in short horizontal ridges as depicted on this kit. Late war production eschewed this protection to speed production and remove the danger of fire hazard, the latter turning out to be false. This is a complete new tooling from Takom, and the first to feature a full interior from the box in this scale, although more new KT kits are on the way shortly. The box shows the tank cut in half to show off the interior, on a white background, and has deep sides to accommodate the contents, although my box didn't survive shipping very well and will need a bit of repair. Inspecting the parts shows that the Zimmerit coating has been well-done, showing individual tooling marks for each indent and "crowding" of the marks around raised areas on the mantlet and rear bulkhead, meaning that someone has spent a lot of time researching and producing this aspect, rather than just copy-paste (excuse the pun) of blocks of texture onto the CAD designs. The weld seams have all been reproduced too, and the skin has been quoted as being of scale-thickness to accurately depict the interior size. This has been done by laminating parts around the hull, rather than risk sink marks on the delicate Zimmerit texture. The interior has been faithfully reproduced within the limits of injection moulding too, and really does beg you to leave open as many hatches as possible so that all the detail isn't lost to darkness. There are bound to be some modellers tempted to do a partial cut-away to expose yet more of the detail, and I'm sorely tempted myself, but will probably chicken out eventually. Inside the box are a lot of sprues, taking up almost all the available space. There are fifteen sprues, two hull parts and upper turret in a grey styrene, one sprue of clear parts, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two decal sheets, and three bags of tracks, with one each for the tracks and their links, plus another for spare links for the turret sides. The instruction guide is in the by-now-familiar Takom format, in landscape A4, with glossy cover and painting instructions to the rear. A separate interior painting guide is provided that works for either turret design, with labels showing which is which. Construction begins with the whe… No, the hull, actually. The lower hull is decorated with cross-members internally, the final-drive housings at the front, and along the interior sides inserts add all the extra detail as well as scale armour thickness that will be visible around the interior parts. Torsion bar bearings are added across the hull in long lines, which receive the two-part axle/torsion-bar combination later on. Various internal equipment enclosures and fuel tanks are added to floor, along with the driver's controls. Even the lower escape hatch is depicted, and has handles and locking wheel added before it is installed in the front floor. The road wheels are built into pairs and attached to the axles, with long bearings on the inner sets and short ones on the outer, so that they all line up. The driver's seat is a complex arrangement that is attached to the floor, with the final drive unit to its right, supplying the motive power to the two bell-housings and drive-sprockets. It also includes the steering column, with a quadrant style wheel on the left. The rear firewall of the crew compartment is then detailed and added at around two-thirds of the way back, creating the engine compartment with drive-shafts and transfer boxes reaching from the bulkhead to the rear of the final drive housing. The engine compartment is split longitudinally into three main compartment, with the power-pack in the central section, a radiator bath with fans on either side, and a pair of slope-sides fuel tanks using up the space over the rear wheels inside the sponsons. Each section is separated by bulkheads, which are inserted before the engine is built up from a large number of parts over a couple of pages of the instructions, with colour call-outs on the interior painting guide. Add some wiring, some grease and grime, and it should look superb. Additional hoses, panels and a final centrally mounted fuel tank are added behind the engine, all of which were interlinked to allow the driver to select where to draw the fuel from, and were even filled centrally from the rear filler cap. Parts of the hosing are included for good measure, although some is hidden from view. The two radiator housings are identical, and are topped off with a fan each, with another fuel tank outboard, as previously mentioned. A tread-plated panel with a large circular cut-out for the turret base is added to the aft of the crew compartment, along with a webbing across the forward section of the area, with ten machine-gun ammo bags attached ready for the bow gunner's use. All of the space over the sponsons is then filled with ammunition storage, which is represented by four trapezoid packs of shells in racks, which are built up from two or three layers of shells moulded to their racks, with PE percussion bases for each one. At this point all the lower hull parts are completed, with only the parts attached to the inside of the upper hull left to install, so that's where we go next. The upper hull has a separate panel including the driver and gunner's hatch, which fits into the hull along a fairly prominent panel line on the real thing. The edges of the insert are recessed and have recessed bolt-holes to allow the modeller to leave it off, or loose to show off the interior. Its underside has detail too, and a few raised ejector pin marks that are near some rivet lines, but away from much of the detail. The underside of the upper hull has some recessed ejector pin marks too, which will need filling level if you are serious about the realism of the interior, which will also behove you to remove the product code from the ceiling to the right of the insert. A selection of pioneer tools are included for attachment to the outer hull sides, and these have been supplied with little PE clasps that you bend into a U-shape to replace the kit lugs to better mimic the latches used by the Germans in WWII. These could have been done completely in PE, but would probably have alienated most purchasers, as they are notoriously tricky to complete, so this is a good compromise that promotes their use, while leaving the PE averse to use the plastic option rather than cut the lugs off. The engine deck is also separate from the upper hull, to allow for the subtle differences between production runs, whilst squeezing the maximum detail out of the area. The central armoured section has a large access panel with two mushroom vents in the centre, and this can be removed entirely (requiring a hoist for the real thing), or the inner section hinged open to reveal some of the detail of the engine. The radiator housing covers both have the circular armoured vent that is covered with a PE mesh guard, plus the two intake ducts, which are also covered over with PE mesh panels, but the right panel holds the extinguisher cartridge, while the left has the wire/bolt cutters lashed to it with another optional PE clasp. These covers hinge toward the centre, and have the hinge-notches laid out to allow them to be posed open or closed to further increase the detail on show just for the hell of it, or for diorama purposes. The array of towing cables are supplied as moulded parts with the barrel-cleaning rods moulded-in, which is perhaps a little retrograde in terms of detail, but makes the job of fitting them a lot easier, and with some sympathetic painting, they should look just as good as braided wire or cord. Flipping the upper hull over, the glacis plate is thickened to scale with an insert that has the kügelblende aperture moulded in, and the side armour is scaled by adding another insert on each side. Externally, the kügelblende's ball-mount is inserted from outside, then covered with a two-part armoured dome, which has the Zimmerit coating moulded into its surface, giving it a faceted look. The sides of the upper hull are coated entirely with Zimmerit patterning, which extends under the side skirt mounting points, which I have seen described as wrong, but after a little research, it appears that it was sometimes done at the factory, although never (or seldom) on the side skirts themselves. These were mounted by paired brackets on the hull, which are present in the moulding, in case you wanted to remove any or all the panels, and the skirts are provided as single parts from each side, with recesses in the back to accommodate the brackets without any cutting. Although moulded from styrene, the skirts have been given a very nice slender edge by chamfering the mould, the trick of which would only be exposed if you decided to remove any sections, or elected to inflict damage to the panels, as was frequently seen. If you intend the former, trimming the thickness at the breaks between panels will see you right, but the latter is probably better done using an aftermarket PE set to obtain the best scale thickness and ruggedness of the metal parts. Inside the upper hull the bow machine gun is installed with a pair of ammo bags of the kind attached to the bulkhead (and the rear of the turret ring too), and the raise/swivel mechanism for the hatch openers are also made up and inserted under the hinge-point on the deck. The front fenders attach to lugs moulded into the upper hull, and have the same chamfered edge to fool the eye into thinking they're thinner than they are. They are attached and have three small PE jointing parts locking them to the sloped edge of the side-skirt, and between them is fitted the single headlight and bracket with a styrene part portraying the wire coming from a small armoured gland on the front of the deck. Two armoured covers for the vision blocks are added to the tops of the driver's rotating periscope and the bow-gunner's fixed 'scope to finish off the upper hull. Tracks can be pretty tedious to put together, and if you ask different modellers, rubber-band, individual link, link-and-length, or full metal workable track links are the only way to travel. Speaking personally, it's only rubber-band tracks that grate on my nerves, as they merely bend around the end-of-run, and you don't get that faceted look that is present on many of the real things. In this kit you get individual links in two bags, as each track link is made from two sections that interlink. They are also handed, and only go on the sprockets one way – fact that isn't mentioned in the instructions, which also omits the number of links you'll need to make a complete run for each side. 96 of each type are included in the bags, so it's a fair bet that it's around 45 pairs per side. Gluing up the tracks into a run using liquid glue along a straight-edge and then wrapping them around the wheels and fixing them in place will usually result in a good finish, but if you want to paint them off the vehicle, it might be as well to build them in two sections so they can be removed. That's up to you of course! Each link has four very small ejector pin marks on the interior surface, which can be buffed off in seconds with a sanding stick, although you'll need a skinny one for the mark between the two guide-horns. Equally, you could just slather the tracks with some muck to hide these from view and forget all about them! With the tracks on, the upper hull is joined to the lower, and the front of the lower hull receives the big armoured plate-ends and final drive protection that incorporates the towing eye holes, with the towing shackles clipping over the holes and giving the impression of the real thing. RB Productions do a lovely set of brass shackles to upgrade the look here if you feel inclined. The rear bulkhead is detailed with the armoured access panels, the C-shaped track tools and jack-block, plus a multi-part jack that fits on long brackets at the bottom of the bulkhead. The exhausts are two parts each, and have hollow tips, but you will need to hide the seamline after gluing, which are then covered by large cast armoured shrouds with separate lifting lugs on their sides. The rear mudguards butt-fit on the bulkhead against the hinge-detail that is moulded into the panel, and the whole assembly is glued to the rear of the hull, being careful to line up the exhaust pipes with the holes in the bulkhead, which also has a couple of ejector pin marks to fill while we're there. Another pair of shackles clip over the holes in the aft of the side armour, and we finally get to the fun part. Who doesn't like a big turret? With a separate roof making removal of the (sadly necessary) ejector pin marks easier, they will be the first task, followed by mating the roof with the side shell and the front. Inside are a number of items such as the fume extractor, periscopes, extinguisher and the interior portion of the commander's cupola, plus the gunner's hatch with optional open or closed positions of the ram that controls its movement achieved by swapping parts, as per the scrap diagram. The large rear hatch was partly for escaping a doomed tank, but was also the only way of extracting the big 88mm gun without dismantling the turret. This version has the pistol port, and attaches to the rear of the turret by two large armoured covers that allow it to hinge down flat to the deck for ease of exit. On the roof the various mushroom vents, shell cartridge ejection port and lifting lugs are all glued in place along with all the track hangers on the turret sides, which fit on little pips moulded into the Zimmerit finish. The topside of the cupola is built up with the covered vision blocks and a mount for the commander's machine-gun, with the lift/rotate hatch fitting neatly in the centre, while the gunner has to slum it with his simple opening hatch as described earlier. The spare track links are bagged separately, but I can see no discernible difference between them and the tracks themselves, so I guess someone put them in as a last minute addition? With most builds, the turret would be almost finished, but with a full interior, the basket, breech and sighting gear are required, and these are built up on a circular base that fits into the bottom of the turret, with a serious amount of detail and plenty of parts making for a good looking assembly. You will need to curve a few PE panels around the inside of the turret aperture, but that's not outwith the bounds of the skills of most modellers, and leaving them off may be noticed. If you've not rolled PE before and don't have suitable tools, just fold up a piece of kitchen roll, place the PE on that and use a cylinder of some kind (pen barrel or X-Acto knife handle) to apply pressure as you roll it over the part gently. Keep testing the fit, and stop when you get there. The glue will hold the parts in place from thereon in, just remember to use Super Glue (CA). The bustle contains a pair of ready-ammo racks with 11 shells on each side of the access-way, which are supplied in the same style as the shells in the lower hull. The finished assemblies fit to panels that mate with the turret floor, and again there are PE bases to each one. The long-barrel Krupp 88mm KwK 43 L/71 was considerably longer than that mounted on the Tiger I, and could propel the shell significantly faster due to the new design, increasing its penetrating power immensely with the new Armour Piercing (AP) shells that were designed for it. Typically, the KT carried a mix of AP and High Explosive (HE), and this is accommodated on the second decal sheet, which includes the correct stencilling and painting guides. The full breech is depicted, and the part count is high, as you'd expect, with the completed assembly fitting unglued between two supports that attach to the floor of the turret to enable it to elevate once completed. With the breech fitted and the glue cured, the upper turret is slipped over the end of the breech and glued together, the circular mantlet is built up from three sections, and the one-piece barrel are both then glued to the breech, with the three-part muzzle brake added to the end of the solid barrel to give it a hollow tip. Before the turret is dropped into place on the hull, a pair of PE mesh panels are added to plastic frames and applied to the front of the engine deck. The turret is just drop-fit, so remember this when you're handling the finished model. Markings You get two options in the box, and of course the decal sheet is small – this is an armour kit afterall. Registration, colour density and sharpness are all good though, and from the box you can build one of the following: Tiger II Ausf.B, 3./s.H.Pz.Abt.503, No.301 Mailly De Camp, France, July 1944. Tiger II Henschel s.H.Pz.Abt.503, No.233 Budapest 1944. Both are painted in Dunkelgelb, Olivegrun and shokoladebraun camouflage but in different patterns, and the colour call-outs are in Mig AMMO, who also drew the profiles, with small advertisements to the sides showing the new paint sets that Takom and AMMO have collaborated on to coincide with this release. We've got a couple of sets in for review, so watch out for that in due course. The second sheet of decals contains stencils for the many shells, the driver's instruments and even the red cross for the first-aid box, all of which are small details that improve the look of any model. Conclusion This is a very nice kit of the lumbering pinnacle of German WWII armour, and there have been some nice examples of attention to detail and careful tooling of the moulds to improve or preserve detail. The full interior is well worth the additional effort, and despite my initial concerns that none of it would be seen, there are plenty of opportunities to leave various panels off that will allow you almost full access without cutting into the model. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  23. British Army AH-64D "Afghanistan" 1:72 Academy The AH-64 Apache was developed from the US Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter programme in the early 1970s. This stemmed from The US Army need to fill its anti armour role, following the cancellation of the AH-65 Cheyenne programme. This was designed to find the replacement for the AH-1 Cobra. Hughes Helicopters developed their Model 77 which became the YAH-64. The YAH-64 first flew in 1977. It features a nose mounted sensor suite containing targeting sensors and night vision equipment. A 30mm chain gun was carried under the forward fuselage and stub wing pylons provided four hard points for carrying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and unguided rocket pods. The helicopter was introduced into US Army service in 1986. The UK operate a form of the Apache license built by the then Westland Helicopters. This is designated the Apache AH.1. The first 8 were built in the US and the remaining 59 in the UK. in 1993 the UK Government had a competition to select a new attack helicopter for the Army. Bids were received from Eurocopter Tiger, Bell with a modernised AH-1 SuperCobra, the AH-64 Apache, the Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, and the Agusta A129 Mangusta. The Apache was selected and contracts signed in 1995 for 67 Helicopters. Unlike American machines all UK Apaches would carry the Longbow radar. Also in typical UK fashion we would change many systems on the airframe and the engines. Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines would replace the GE units. These do give more power and allowed easier operations in Afghanistan than other helicopters. Primary armament of Hellfire missiles and the 30mm chain gun are the same, however the UK Apache carries the Canadian CRV7 rocket system instead of the US Hydra one. The Kit The kit contains the same base plastic as the new tool Hughes AH-64D Apache Block II kit I reviewed here last August. It was a given at the time that this version would be produced. The kit is produced to a fine standard, crisply moulded parts and no defects present anywhere. A great touch is the one part main rotor in the kit so you wont have the often problematic job of aligning the rotor blades to a main hub and stopping them from drooping down! The kit also features fine engraved panel lines, great detail throughout and slide moulded engine pods which are basically one piece. The kit differs from the US Apache kit by having a separate sprue containing the different UK only fittings. Construction starts with the main fuselage halves. Holes must be opened up for various parts to attach later on in the build. Once this is done construction can move onto the cockpit. Control columns are added to both cockpits, along with the main display panels. There appears to be a cyclic control only and no collective. The one part moulded seats can then be added. Coamings are then added to the front and rear panels. The next step is to make up the mount for the main rotor blades. Once this is done the completed cockpit assembly and rotor mount can be added into the fuselage and the halves closed up. Next on the list of jobs is to make up the wings for mounting the weapons systems. Once made up these are attached to the main fuselage along with the top cover for the engine area. A five part assembly each side is required each side for the front landing gear. Once made up these too can be added to the main fuselage. The next major step is to attach the fairings down both sides an underneath which house a lot of the electronics carried as well as the feed system for the 30mm canon. Once the underside part is on the 30mm canon itself can be added. The tail wheel is also added at this point. Rocket pods and/or hellfire missiles can be added to the weapons pylons next (though I suspect these will be left to last by most modellers). Next up are the engine pods. The engine fronts and heat shielding exhaust parts are added and then pods can be attached to the main fuselage. Following this the main sensor package can be assembled and attached to the front of the helo. Now that the man parts of the helo have been assembled it is time to add the myriad of aerials, sensors, handles etc that seem to festoon the exterior. The last steps in construction are to add the main and tail rotors. The main rotor is one part while the tail rotor is a more complicated four part affair. The last item to be added is the mast mounted radar system, though check your references as often this was not carried to save weight in a lower threat environment. Canopy The canopy is a one part one which is a shame you cant open it up and show of the cockpit more. It is clear and distortion free. Decals Markings on these helicopters tend to be sparse so Academy have provided the main basic markings, and serial numbers to do any of the UK Apaches. Decals are by Cartograf so should pose no issues. Conclusion This is thoroughly modern tooling of the UK Apache. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  24. HMS Hood. 1:200

    HMS Hood Trumpeter 1:200 HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, she was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, Hood had serious design limitations, though her design was drastically revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. For this reason she was the only ship of her class to be completed. As one of the largest and, ostensibly, the most powerful warships in the world, Hood was the pride of the Royal Navy and, carrying immense prestige, was known as ‘The Mighty Hood’. She was involved in several showing the flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to Britain in 1939 for an overhaul. By this time, advances in naval gunnery had reduced Hood's usefulness. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades. When war with Germany was declared, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea for German commerce raiders and blockade runners. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Relieved as flagship of Force H, Hood was dispatched to Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet. In May 1941, she and the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded and sank. Due to her perceived invincibility, the loss had a profound effect on the British people. The Royal Navy conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship's quick demise. The first, held very quickly after the ship's loss, concluded that Hood's aft magazine had exploded after one of Bismarck's shells penetrated the ship's armour. A second inquiry was held after complaints that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship's torpedoes. It was more thorough than the first board and concurred with the first board's conclusion. Despite the official explanation, some historians continued to believe that the torpedoes caused the ship's loss, while others proposed an accidental explosion inside one of the ship's gun turrets that reached down into the magazine. Other historians have concentrated on the cause of the magazine explosion. The discovery of the ship's wreck in 2001 confirmed the conclusion of both boards, although the exact reason the magazines detonated will always be a mystery since that area of the ship was entirely destroyed in the explosion. The Model I think I’m right in saying this is one release that maritime modellers have been really looking forward to. Since Trumpeter started their 1:200 scale product line, the Hood was one ship that was always mooted to be included. Well, here she is in her beautiful, enormous glory. Arriving in a huge box with a great painting of the mighty Hood at sea on the front the sheer size of the box gives a hint at what is inside. Once the lid has been prized away the modeller is confronted with three smaller boxes and a flapped area which covers the single piece hull, the mould for which must be amazing to see. The hull is well protected by two cardboard supports and foam pieces at each end to ensure the delicate bow and stern aren’t subject to transportation damage. Inside the other three boxes are four separate deck sections, three for the main deck and one for the shelter deck, twenty sprues, eight separate superstructures/deckhouses and four separate propellers, all in a grey styrene. There are also seven sheets of etched brass, four metal rods, a length of chain, and a smallish decal sheet. As with most Trumpeter kits the moulding of all the parts is superb, with no signs of flash or other imperfections, which is quite amazing considering the size of some of the parts, although there are quite a few moulding pips which will require extra cleaning up and the propeller blades have a slightly annoying tag on their outer edges, as you will see in the accompanying photographs. Unfortunately, also as with a lot of Trumpeter kits there are some really annoying inaccuracies, which is strange, since they did so well with their 1:350 scale kit. Whilst some are easily handled, like the rubbing down of the rather too prominent hull plates, although the hull itself is generally correct, there are also those which are a bit more difficult to rectify, namely the different sized funnels where they should be the same. Hopefully someone will release a fix for this, or it may be time to try some scratch-building. Over it is pretty accurate though, with a few minor problems, which are best noted in the excellent review by the HMS Hood association, HERE Construction begins with the fitting of the six strengthening braces into the hull; topped off with the fore deck, centre deck and quarterdeck. On the underside the propeller shaft exit glands are attached, followed by the metal shafts, A frames, propellers, ensuring you have the correct propellers on each side as they are handed, and the single rudder. Turing the hull the right side up, six parts of the rear superstructure are attached to the rear of the centre deck, along with four cable reels which are a combination of PE and plastic, followed by a selection of vents, hatches and upper deck supports. The large, single piece shelter deck is then fitted atop of the superstructure parts, also covering the join between the foredeck and centre deck. The lower bridge structure is fitted with bottom sections of the mast supports, a pair of three piece paravanes, six boat booms, four Carley floats and some small platforms, before being glued into position. The shelter deck is then fitted out with numerous ventilator mushrooms, inclined ladders, and derricks, whilst a large boat boom is fitted to either side of the hull amidships. The cradles for the ships boats are then added to the shelter deck, followed by yet more ventilators, chimneys and a pair of large ammunition hatches. The sixteen small ready use lockers and seventeen cable reels are then assembled and glued into position, followed by the thirty five large ready use lockers. On the foredeck, the anchor chain windlasses, four smaller windlasses, and main breakwater are attached, along with the breakwaters either side of B turret. Then more mushroom vents, windlass, lockers and chain pipes are fitted, followed by the large vents around both B turret barbette and the armoured control tower base, which also has three winches fitted to the deck around it. The four piece anchors are then assembled and fitted to the hawse pipes, followed by two lengths of chain and two deckhouses attached to the rear of the main breakwater. The quarterdeck is similarly fitted out with mushroom vents, although not quite so many, winches, large vents around X turret barbette and the prominent inclined ladders either side of the rear superstructure, as well as the square scuttles sited nearby. Back on the foredeck there are several derricks fitted, along with the Jackstaff, cleats, and bollards. Similar fittings are attached to the quarter deck, along with the Ensign staff, as you can see the instructions bounce around a little. The build then moves onto the superstructure, with the assembly of the sundry parts fitted to the rear funnel base, as well as Carley floats, winches and two of the smaller ships boats, a smaller tower structure is attached, and fitted with two, two piece wireless arms. The after tower structure at the end of the shelter deck is a single piece item and is fitted with a number of platforms and their associated supports, the after main armament director, made up from nine parts, two large intakes, two six piece searchlights and one of three, eleven piece AA directors, one large and two small Carley floats. The two structures are then glued to their respective positions. The shelter deck is then fitted with more hatches, intakes and five deckhouses. The four searchlight platforms, two either side of the aft tower and two alongside the aft funnel are fitted along with their searchlights, whilst the aft PomPom platform and two quad machine gun platforms along with their seven piece mounts are glued into position. The base of the bridge tower is attached to the tops of three deckhouses, behind which the four flag lockers are fitted on either side of the forward shelter deck there are two observers binoculars, and aldis lamp, a large signal lamps, a semaphore pole and a quad machine gun mount. Two large and two small directors/rangefinders are also fitted near the signal lamps. The armoured tower and deck structure are then glued into position, followed by the tower roof and the large six piece director/rangefinder. Onto the deck, three deckhouses are fitted, along with four inclined ladders and a vertical ladder. The bridge itself is a single piece part, and is fitted out with sixteen observers binoculars, two AA directors, two searchlights, three further decks the lower mast supports, foremast, the complex PE foremast starfish structure, top mast, lower yardarm, inclined ladders, vertical ladders, and main armament director. The funnels are next on the assembly line, and whilst the rear funnel is the wrong size, most modellers will probably overlook this and build the kit straight out of the box. Each funnel is in two halves, which are then glued to the base, and fitted out with PE hand/foot rails, internal platform, spacers funnel cap and grilles, followed by the numerous uptakes fitted to the outside of each funnel. The main mast is next up and whilst the mast itself is a relatively simple build, the various fittings for the boat crane are PE parts, as is the complex starfish platform. The upper mast is attached to the platform and topped off with the Type 281 radar array. The crane is a single piece jib, PE hook assembly and PE cable assembly. Once complete the funnels, foremast and mainmast assemblies are glued to their respective positions, as are two smaller boat cranes fitted one each side of the rear funnel. There are thirteen large ships boats provided in the kit, a mixture of cutters and motor boats and each is made up from multiple parts, including propellers, propeller shafts, rudders, etc, but strangely the rowing boats are not provided with any oars. They may have been stored elsewhere when cruising, but it would have been nice to have some for interest. The completed boats are then attached to their respective cradles. Finally we come to the armament. There are four, six piece UP mountings, with the option of using PE or plastic parts to build them, six, seven piece four inch secondary turrets, and three, eighteen piece octuple 2pdr PomPoms. The main turrets are very nicely moulded, although perhaps a little deep. Each turret is made up from the turret, turret base, trunnion mounts, and two slide moulded gun barrels. Each turret is then fitted with a four piece rangefinder mounted to the rear, but only B turret is then fitted with a UP mounting platform that sits astride the rangefinder and X turret is fitted with two platforms that are attached to the starboard side of the turret roof. The completed armament is then fitted to the model. To complete the model, a full ships worth of railings is provided in PE, as well as four accommodation ladders, four Jacobs ladders and a pair of lifering quick release racks. Oh and of course the rigging and painting to the modellers taste. Decals For the size of the model, the decal sheet is actually quite small and contains only the ships two nameplates for the rear quarters and a selection of Union Jacks and White Ensigns in different sizes and in straight or wavy form along with two Vice Admiral’s pennants. They are nicely produced and appear to have a nice thin carrier film and to be in register. Conclusion It’s been a little while since this kit has been released, and its popularity has meant that we have only now been able to get hold of it. Overall impressions are very good, with the hull and most of the structure being pretty accurate overall. It’s just a shame that Trumpeter, once again, have snatched defeat from what would have been a great victory with the difference in funnel sizes even without the smaller discrepancies. It’s still a wonderful kit and with a super detail set from the likes of Pontos, who look like they are including a new resin funnel, and Mk1 Designs you can relatively easily produce an amazing, museum standard model. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  25. British Armoured Car (Pattern 1920 Modified w/sand tyres) 1:72 Roden The 1920 Pattern Armoured Car was a mild revision of the original 1914 Armoured Car, which had been used in the First World War, most notably by T.E. Lawrence during the Revolt in the Desert. Based on the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost chassis, it was powered by a water-cooled straight six engine developing 80hp. The 1920 pattern revisions saw the introduction of new wheels and thicker armour for the radiator, while subsequent revisions included the addition of a commander's cupola. The original Vickers Gun was retained as the main armament, although some vehicles were fitted with a Maxim Gun instead, and some were adapted to carry the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle or the Bren Gun instead. During the Second World War, the 1920 Pattern Armoured Car was used in the Western Desert campaign and the Middle East, until being withdrawn due to the availability of more modern types. Three original examples exist today, one at Bovington, one Maintained by the Irish Defence Forces and one in private hands. A number of replicas have also been produced. Following hot on the heels of their FWD truck (and their slightly older 1:35 scale Rolls Royce Armoured Cars) comes this all-new kit from Roden. As is their custom, the kit is packed into a compact end-opening box adorned with the kind of high quality artwork that we've come to expect from the Ukrainian manufacturer. Inside the box are four sprues of grey plastic and a small decal sheet. The mouldings look to be up to the usual Eduard standard, with plenty of fine detail. Construction starts with the running gear, and Roden have done a good job, with each component picked out individually. The double rear wheels fit into the rear axles and drive shaft, while the front wheels have to be joined to the steering mechanism. The fuel tank and exhaust system are moulded separately, while the leaf spring suspension is moulded in place with the sides of the chassis. Some nice details, such as the starting handle, have been provided too. Construction moves on to the upper portion of the vehicle, but before the bodywork can be assembled, Roden suggest stowage boxes and spare fuel container. The tool box actually folds up from a single piece of plastic, which is an unusual approach but should work well with what would otherwise be a fiddly part to assemble. The rest of the armoured bodywork is made up of various flat-ish parts, while the turret is made up of ten parts. The wooden area at the rear of the vehicle is nicely detailed and could be used to hold all sorts of bits and bobs to add visual interest. There is no interior detail, but extra details such as the headlights and spare wheels are all present and correct. Two examples are provided for on the decal sheet: "Vulture" No.1 ACC No.1, 2 or 3 Section RAF, Iraq 1936 (overall Green)With recognition roundel on top. "Tigris" No.1 ACC No.4 Section RAF, Iraq 1941 (3 tone camo) Conclusion This looks to be a really neat little kit that will no doubt be even more impressive when built. The overall level of detail, including the running gear and the way the bodywork has been depicted with dozens of tiny rivets, is excellent and it will make a fine addition to a collection or diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
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