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Found 107 results

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Russian SA-8 Gecko 1:35

    Russian SA-8 Gecko 1:35 Trumpeter Built on a fully amphibious BAZ-5937 six-wheel chassis, the Gecko, or Wasp as it is known in Russia, was the first fully independent mobile anti-aircraft missile vehicle that carried everything it needed on board from missile erection and launch systems to the targeting and radar equipment that allows it the capability of firing autonomously, although it can also cooperate with other assets on the field just as well. It carries six missiles in two pods aft of the large radar mount, which has multiple antennae to cope with jamming, with separate frequency bands able to control up to two missiles at one time. The missiles are capable of intercepting high flying targets, but it is not a long-range system, with a maximum speed of almost mach 3, plus impact and proximity fuses to trigger the missile. It is still in service with Russia and some of her former Soviet friends in updated variants, and has seen action in the recent Syrian civil war. The Kit Another new tooling of a big Russian missile platform to accompany the recent stable-mates that have been spewing forth from Trumpeter at quite incredible frequency. Arriving in a medium sized box, the interior is sectioned off to hold the two large hull parts separately, with the aft further wrapped in a foam sheet to protect the upstands there that might otherwise be vulnerable. A wad of small card squares are also taped within the box to gently trap the hull bag in place, again to protect it during transit and storage. It's nice to see a manufacturer taking such care in getting their products to you in good order. Inside the box are a surprisingly low six sprues of parts, plus the two large hull parts and four addition parts of the missile system in separate bags, all of which is moulded in Trumpeter's usual mid-grey styrene. There is also a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a length of copper wire, six flexible black styrene wheels and a substantial (for an AFV) decal sheet. The instruction booklet is printed in black & white in an A4 portrait format, with a separate two-sided colour guide on glossy paper. Looking over the sprues and hull pieces, there has been some substantial use of sliding moulds to produce some very well-detailed parts. It is also clear that someone forgot to tool a missile pack roof part on the main sprues, as there is one within the normal sprues, and one separately. Perhaps I'm being unkind to the designers? If you're familiar with Trumpeter's existing arsenal of large Russian vehicles, you'll know what to expect, and that's a good thing. Plenty of detail, clever moulding, sensible construction that results in a polished kit. Unusually, the build starts with the crew cab, which is linked with the operators' cab and shares the same floor-pan. The driver and co-driver sit up front with the usual range of controls, including steering wheel, seats, pedal box and a very nicely detailed instrument panel which has three decals to busy it up. The rear compartment has three individual seats plus one bench seat, which are used by the operators of the banks of equipment on each side wall. The walls are a single part each, but have masses of equipment realistically moulded in, which is augmented by a substantial number of decals tailored to each box, with scrap diagrams showing their correct location – all 47 of them! Addition of a front and rear bulkhead to the operators' preps the assembly for adding to the lower hull, which has two large circular location turrets to hold it in place. The suspension is built up next along with the six wheels, which have two-part hubs that fit around the flexible black tyres, and lots of rugged tread moulded in. The suspension units fit into the lower hull along with the wheels, and the driver's panel is clipped into the front, which enables it to stand on its own "rubber" while the upper hull is prepared. Small details are added to the inside of the lower hull, including a pair of prominent vents on the top deck, fuel and water filler cut-outs, plus a host of pioneer tools on the rear and a large exhaust tube that exits just above one of the water-propulsion exhausts and is covered by a hinged hatch. The outer skin of the upper hull receives a compliment of hatches; additional panels; grab-handles, mushroom vents, and a bow-wave deflector panel for amphibious use. A pair of PE grilles go on the aft, with a stand-off walkway over the top for access to the missile packs. A rocket-wash panel fits on the roof to protect the glazing, which is also installed from the outside at this stage along with separate windscreen wipers, wing-mirrors and antennae base. At this stage the two halves of the hull are mostly complete, except for the super-structure of the missile and radar installation. This is begun with the framework on which the two rocket packs sit, so you'll build two handed assemblies that sit beneath the launch box, which is depicted in the covered pose, so there is no internal detail. The completed launchers are set aside while the large elliptical rotating surveillance radar is built from a styrene frame into which a curved PE mesh is glued, but as you get two, you don't need to worry if you make a mess of the first one. The mount is built up from five parts, and the receiver is held out in front of the panel by a tubular frame. It pivots by two large axles on the sides of the mount, which are trapped in a base that allows it to fold away for transport. The flat panel engagement antenna is then mounted on a large equipment box that has another axle running through its interior, which the two smaller command-uplink antennae that give it the ability to control two missiles rotate independently outboard of the supports that link it to the rotating base. All of these assemblies then mount onto a highly detailed rotating base, which takes full advance of slide moulding to pile on the detail, but still receives more in the way of grab-handles, equipment boxes and end caps, as well as the floor, which is where the bayonet ring is found. The elliptical dish sits on the highest part, while the acquisition and control panels are mounted on the front on a sloped section, with the two missile containers mounting one per side, inclined toward the front to give clearance on launch. The last task is to join the hull halves together, and twist the combined radar/missile assembly into the turret ring on the roof. The light clusters then get their protective cages made from PE that is bent around jigs that are supplied in the kit. A nice touch to include jigs, and to add them last to avoid crush damage during handling while building. Markings Any colour as long as it's Russian Green? Not quite, but close. There are three options on the decal sheet, which depict one in service green, another in parade finish with white rubbing strips down the side of the hull and the Russian shield emblem on the cab sides. The last option is green over-painted with sand and light blue camouflage, which breaks up the expanses of green at least! The decals are in good register, and colour density seems good on the sheet. The Russian flag seems to have been printed slightly out of register however, but as that's easily fixed by running your scalpel down each side, we'll forgive them that. Sharpness is adequate, although some of the instrument decals seem a bit heavy with the black, but as they're hidden away inside the hull, not much of them will be seen anyway. Conclusion Another welcome addition to Trumpeter's growing range of big Russian missile launchers, and one that has plenty to engage the eye once complete. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  4. OSA II FAC. 1:72

    OSA II FAC Merit International 1:72 History The Project 205 Moskit (mosquito) more commonly known by their NATO reporting name OSA, which mean s Wasp in Cyrillic, are a class of missile boats developed for the Soviet Navy in the late 1950s. Until 1962 this was classified as a large torpedo boat. The OSA class is probably the most numerous class of missile boats ever built, with over 400 vessels constructed in 1960-1973 for both the Soviet Navy and for export to allied countries. The boats were designated as "large missile cutters" in the Soviet Navy. The Project 205 boats are bigger than the pioneering Project 183R (NATO: Komar class) boats, with a mass four times greater, and nearly double the crew. They were still meant to be 'minimal' ships for the planned tasks. The hull was made of steel, with a low and wide superstructure made of lighter AMG alloys, continuous deck, and a high free-board. The edges of the deck were rounded and smooth to ease washing off radioactive contamination in case of nuclear war. The hull was quite wide, but the Project 205 boats could still achieve high speeds as they had three Zvezda M503 radial diesel engines capable of a combined 12,000 hp (15,000 hp on Project 205U onward) driving three shafts. The powerful engines allowed a maximum speed of about 40 knots together with reasonable endurance and reliability. There were also three diesel generators. Two main engines and one generator were placed in the forward engine room, the third main engine and two generators in the aft engine room. There was a control compartment between the two engine rooms. The problem related to the weak anti-aircraft weaponry of the earlier Project 183R was partially solved with the use of two AK-230 turrets, in the fore and aft deck. An MR-104 Rys (NATO: "Drum Tilt") fire-control radar was placed in a high platform, and controlled the whole horizon, despite the superstructures that were quite wide but low. Even if placed in the aft, this radar had a good field of view all around. The AK-230 turrets were unmanned, each armed with two 30 mm guns capable of firing 2,000 rpm (400 practical) with a 2,500 m practical range. Use against surface targets was possible, but as with the previous Komar ships, once all missiles were expended it was planned to escape and not fight. Truly effective anti-surface gun weaponry was not available until the introduction of the Project 12341.1 Molniya (NATO: "Tarantul") class corvettes, with 76 mm guns. The missile armament consisted of four box-shaped launchers (protected from bad weather conditions) each with one P-15 Termit (NATO: SS-N-2 "Styx") missile. This doubled the available weapons compared to the Project 183R, giving greater endurance. The missiles were controlled by a MR-331 Rangout (NATO: "Square Tie") radar and a Nikhrom-RRM ESM/IFF that even allowed targeting over the horizon, if the target's radar was turned on. With all these improvements, these ships were considerably more effective. They had one of the first, if not the first close-in weapon systems (CIWS). The survivability rating was improved to 50%, and the required volley of 12 missiles could be launched by only three ships. Sinking a destroyer was therefore regarded as 'assured' using only six ships (two squadrons of three vessels), making the Project 205 vessels easier to coordinate and even cheaper than would be the required number of Project 183R boats to achieve the same effectiveness. As a result of these improvements, Project 205 boats were without equal in the late 1950/early 1960s. Over 400 were made in USSR and another 120 in China. Some of the improved Project 205U (OSA II) were equipped with the 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO: SA-N-5 "Grail") surface-to-air missiles in MTU-4 quadruple launchers, in an attempt to improve air-defences. This new model also had improved more powerful engines, and new cylindrical missile boxes, with the improved P-15U missiles. The later 205M and 205mod boats had longer tubes for the further-improved P-15M missiles. The Model Having released their OSA 1 last year in both Russian and Chinese variants, the maritime modeller community was pretty assured that an OSA 2 would be released shortly after. Well, here it is, in all its glory. Whilst this and the original Osa 1 kit do share quite a few sprues, there is enough here to justify a completely new kit. Naturally the hull is the same, mast, radar and CIWS turrets, as are the bridge section of the superstructure, propeller shaft assemblies including the rudders and the majority of deck furniture. The biggest difference is in the main weaponry, whereas the Osa 1 housed the missile in large boxy canisters, the Osa 2’s are in much sleeker round tubes which gives the whole boat a less clunky look. The moulding is excellent, particularly the single piece hull, which must require quite a mould on its own, and only needs a quick rub down where it was attached to the moulding sprue. The hull, separate single piece deck, bridge, and rear superstructure, plus the seventeen sprues are all moulded in light grey styrene, there is one sprue of clear styrene, two sheets of etched brass, three metal propeller shafts, some brass wire a length of chain and a small decal sheet. The moulding of all the sprue mounted parts are up to Merits usual high standards, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and only a very small number of moulding pips. There doesn’t appear to be much detail pre-moulded onto other parts, but what there is has been very nicely done. The instructions are very clear and easy to read, and there isn’t too much work done in each step, which helps keep things uncluttered, and is something other manufacturers could take note of. Before starting the build, you will need to remove some of the detail from the hull, as they are only required for the earlier Osa 1. The deck is attached straight away, which will give the hull some rigidity for handling, along with four PE anodes, two, low down on each rear quarter, with four more on the stern, just below the waterline. If you are intent on building the kit as part of a seascape the you can skip the next step, which is the fitting of the three metal propeller shafts, their A frame supports, (3 off each), and the propellers themselves, plus the three rudders. The foredeck is kitted out with various items of deck furniture, the three piece hawse pipe, three piece Jackstaff, capstan, three piece anchor, anchor chain, six piece chain locker hatch, three piece cable drum, five piece magazine hatch, bullring, six bitts, and two mushroom vents. Moving right aft, the three piece Ensign staff, four bitts, another three piece cable reel and the rear blast deflectors are attached. The Bass Tilt radar is a quite simple sub-assembly, yet surprisingly well detailed. The radar drum itself is provided in two halves, which when joined together are detailed with a couple of PE parts and a control box attached to the bottom section. The mounting is assembled from nine parts and fitted with the drum assembly. The radar assembly is then fitted to the mounting base which is also fitted with a PE railing. The now completed radar assembly is fitted to the top of the control box structure, which is detailed with a watertight door and an access ladder. On the aft end of the mounting base there is an aerial base onto which the brass rod is attached and topped off with a cruciform aerial and pommel. The main mast is made up of two halves, fitted with a large three horned platform, which is braced with four support arms on the underside. The top of the mast is the location of the main radar, four large PE parts and one styrene part, whilst the ECM mast that sits behind the radar array, is made from three PE parts and a single styrene part. Two further yardarm platforms are fitted with individual flat plate arrays, each made from a single piece array and twelve di-poles. The yardarms are further kitted out with a navigation light and two support braces. With the various radar arrays attached the mast is also fitted with more light navigational and steaming light fittings, a two piece anemometer and seven individual rungs up the mast. The main armament are obviously the four Styx missiles, each missile body is in two halves, complete with fin/rudder, which, when joined, the wings and horizontal tailplanes are attached, along with the two piece rocket nozzle and single piece RATO rocket which fitted under the tailplane. Each missile is housed in its own cylindrical pod which consists of a two part launch rail, which is glued to one cylinder half after which the other half can be glued in place. The missile assembly is then slid onto the rail the rear panel fitted to the cylinder along with the access hatch. The front hatch is hinged from the top and can be posed open, with the aid of two gas struts allowing the missile to be viewed or closed. Each launcher is then kitted out with fittings, including the hatch actuators, two hand rails, an access hatch, the three piece front support legs and the three piece rear support legs. The four assemblies are now put to one side while other sub-assemblies are built up. The first sub-assembly is, what looks like manual guidance system which consists of a four piece ring sight fitted on top of a pedestal, which itself is fitted with two control handles, a circuit box and a locking wheel. Each of the two CIWS turrets is assembled form the turret base, single piece turret, the two barrels, trunnion and barrel cover, two hand rails, and the framework for the turret covers, (not included). There are two searchlights, one smaller than the other, yet built up in the same way, with the mounting yoke, searchlight, with three separate wing nuts and finished off with a PE handle. The open cockpit will be fitted out with the three piece navigational radar, instrument panel, radio box, and two three lever panels, one is probably the throttle, but the other I’m unable to identify, and all covered with a frame and two clear parts. The cockpit area is finished off with the watertight access door and steering wheel. The two superstructure sections are joined together and the windows fitted, along with the cockpit side plates, cockpit sub-assembly and screen. Two watertight doors are fitted on each side and handrail lengths circumnavigate the whole superstructure. Two roof panels are then attached, followed by the rear watertight doors, rear mounted stowage boxes and two liferings, with their PE cradles. The superstructure is finally fitted to the deck, followed by the three piece after gun mounting, the two piece foreward mounting and two, ventilators. The launcher sub-assemblies can now be glued into their respective positions, along with two, two piece liferafts, pedestal sight, plus its associated rail, main mast, Base Tilt mounting, the two CIWS turrets and a smaller ECM mast, and three whip aerial bases plus aerials. The model is finished off with the fitting of the deck edges parts and the railing stanchions, which come in three different varieties, some two piece and some three pieces, along with four railing sections with canvas screens which are fitted alongside each launcher. The kit does not provide the railings themselves, so it’s up to the modeller how they go about reproducing them. This does allow the modeller to use a more scale thickness that could be produce in styrene or the ubiquitous cotton. If not displaying in a seascape the kit does include a sturdy stand for the model to rest along with a nicely moulded plaque. Decals The small decal sheet provides individual numbers for the modeller to produce any of the class used by the USSR, in addition to a wavey Jack and Ensign. This is probably the only area that is a bit of an anticlimax as these craft have been used by quite a few countries, maybe not as many as the Osa 1’s, but it would have been nice to have the option of at least one or two more. Conclusion The Osa 1 kit released last year was a very nice surprise and while this isn’t so much of a surprise it is still a very welcome addition to the 1:72 catalogue. The kit is very nicely produced and would be a good candidate for modifying it to R/C use as it’s a nice size for use in many boating ponds. It is certainly not a complex kit so should be suitable for any modellers with at least a little experience with etch, yet it is still well detailed out of the box. Very highly recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  5. Gepard SPAAG A1/A2 Bundeswehr Flakpanzer Takom 1:35 The German Army had fielded many different Flakpanzers through WWII, and it was no surprise that they would continue this into the cold war. The Gepard or Cheetah was developed to fill this role in the 1960's with deployment beginning in the early 1970's. The system used the proven chassis of the Leopard 1 tank carrying a large turret carrying the two 35mm auto cannons and radar dishes. The anti-aircraft system combines two radar dishes; a general search radar, and a tracking radar/ There is also a Laser rangefinder. The German systems featured an S band radar for search, and a Ku Band radar for tracking, where as the Dutch systems featured an X and Xu bad radars. The German system having a search & track range of 15kms, the Dutch having a search of 15kms, but track of only 13kms. The gun system fitted is a twin 35mm Oerlikon KDA system. Each gun can fire 550 rounds per minute. They fire a Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot and Armour piercing ammunition with a range of 5.5kms. The usual load is 320 frangible and 20 AP rounds per gun. The German Army would order 377 units, the Dutch 95 and the Belgians 55 which were identical to the German ones. The Germans retired the units in 2010 but they are in storage. The Dutch and Belgian units have now been withdrawn form service. The system is still used in other countries though. Brazil has 36, and Roumania 43 from Germany. Jordan purchased 60 from the Dutch. The Kit Like many kits this was earlier kitted by Tamyia, and now the Takom version will battle it out with a Meng kit and a Hobby Boss one. A fairly packed box arrives from Takom here. Along with the main upper & lower hull plus the Turret there are four main sprues of parts, two sprues of suspension/wheel components; and three spures of track components (plus a bag of flexible parts). In addition there is a clear sprue, a sheet of photo etch, two metal tow cable, and a small sheet of decals. Construction starts with the lower hull, various suspension components are added and the wheels are built up. There are two drive sprockets, two idler wheels and 7 pairs of road wheels (on each side). Holes need to be drilled in the lower hull where indicated for attaching parts later on. Normally the next stage is to put the tracks on. Takom have failed to include great instructions for this. The tracks supplied are on 3 sprues of injected plastic with 6 runs of soft vinyl end covers. After some research on the net it seems these are made by a company called Orochi. The individual track links are moulded as one part with the track on one side, and the pads on the other. They clip together with the guide horns. The vinyl end caps are then slid onto pins on the end of the links. The end connectors can be slid on while they are still on their sprues according to what I have read. I could find no information about how many are needed for each side. Following construction of the lower hull, the modeller then moves to the upper hull. The hatches and lights are added along with other parts for the upper hull. These include the engine exhaust grilles, stowage boxes and a large insert which will take the Gepard turret as opposed to the normal tank one. The lower and uppers hulls can then be joined and the rear part of the hull added. Now its onto the main event for the Gepard the turret and guns. The main turret is moulded as one part. The first item to be added is the large main hatch. After this it is the main radar system at the front. Following this the guns are made up. The barrels are two part with different muzzle ends depending on the version being modelled (though not much information on the instruction sheet for this). The main housings either side are built up first and the guns added. Once the housings are added to the hull they join in the middle of the turret to ensure the move as a pair. Once the guns are on the turret the turret floor can be added. The rear radar unit which forms the back of the turret is now constructed and added to the turret. The radar can be in the raised or travel position. Various turret fittings are added and then the complete turret can be fitted to the main hull. Lastly stowage is added to the hull and turret. Decals A small decal sheet is provided as these carries few markings in service. Eight markings options are offered in the kit. German Army - All over green German Army 3 colour camo German Army 3 colour camo - KFOR operations Romanian Army - German 3 colour camo German Army - 3 colour desert camo German Army - Cheetah spot scheme Belgian Army - Overall green Brazilian Army - German 3 colour camo Conclusion This is a really nice kit. Very highly recommended despite the less than great instructions. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  6. Chieftain Marksman SPAAG 1:35

    Chieftain 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. Although the turret could be mated with many different hulls, the British chose the Chieftain tank for trials of this twin 35mm cannon equipped 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 an uprated T-55 chassis. The Kit This is a re-tooling of the new Chieftain kits that were released late last year and were reviewed here. Some of the previous turret parts have been included through necessity and because of their placement on the various sprues, but the majority of the new plastic is SPAAG related. Inside the nicely decorated box are five large sprues, two hull halves and track parts that are common to all the Chieftain boxings, plus three new sprues, three of which are small, specific to the Marksman, with six parts on their own spruelets. The Photo-Etch (PE) is common with the Mark 10/11s, and the decal sheet is new for the kit, with one factual number plate and a couple more for hypothetical, or "what if" schemes. The common parts are identical to the previous issue, and the building of the lower hull proceeds in exactly the same way as before, which you can read about in the previous reviews. The new parts have the same level of detail, and portray the slab-sided Marksman turret nicely, including the turret ring adapter, which hints at the inclusion of the Marksman parts in possible future projects… maybe a T-55M? Speaking of the turret ring, the height of the cylindrical section seems just a shade too short in the vertical. A shim of plastic card between the ring and the bayonet insert should be able to make that good though, if you agree and feel up to the task. Assuming you have the hull completed, there are four bullet-splash protection strips to remove, which are replaced by raised sections that fit to the hull via pegs that fit into holes drilled from inside beforehand. After that the turret adaptor ring is inserted and that's the hull changes covered! 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, which is where the shim of styrene would go if you wanted to raise it a little. When dry the turret is fitted to the hull and twisted to engage the bayonet lugs. Markings As is now traditional with a Takom release, there is a separate concertina-fold booklet for colour and markings instructions that has been done in conjunction with AMMO of Mig Jiménez. There are five schemes in the box, and all bar the green one are fanciful, assuming the Marksman equipped Chiefy had gone into service. From the box you can build one of the following: NATO Green/Sand Yellow camo. NATO Green/Black camo. NATO Green all over. Sand Yellow all over. Green, Grey Blue, White, Olive Drab Berlin Brigade urban scheme. Colour call-outs are in AMMO codes, but the common names are also provided, so if you don't use them or can't source them, you can easily convert the colours. The decals are printed anonymously on a small sheet, but are to a high standard with good registration, colour density and sharpness. They've even printed two small Union flags, which are the right way up… just don't apply them upside down after they went to all that trouble! Conclusion A good use of the existing tooling to create a nice canvas for a What-If, or just a bit of fun with different schemes. Overall the shape of the turret seems good, with the aforementioned narrow band around the bottom, and the quality of the parts matches perfectly with the common parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  7. Chieftain Tank Mark 5/5P, Mark 10 and Mark 11 kits 1:35 Takom The Chieftain tank was Britain's first main battle tank to have composite armour added, in the shape of the well-known, but not so well known about Chobham armour. It was a development of the highly successful Centurion tank, and continued the work done by the Centurion in addressing the apparent under-armoured and under-armed reputation of WWII British tanks. The result was one of the most impressive tanks of its day, and when it reached trials service in small numbers in 1959 they began ironing out the wrinkles, which resulted in a steady increase in all-up weight. As the design progressed beyond initial service with the Mark 2, further upgrades giving rise of the Mark 3, then skipping Mark 4 to reach the final production variant, the Mark 5, which carried NBC gear in the form of an over-pressure system, and a more powerful engine. Further small upgrades led to the Mark 10, which was the recipient of the Stillbrew up-armour package, which resulted in a much altered turret profile, particularly at the front. The Mark 11 was the last minor upgrade with the Thermal Observation and Gunnery System (TOGS) replacing the searchlight. Any further versions were cancelled in favour of the Challenger series of MBTs, which came on stream in the early 80s. The tank saw action in the Middle East only however, in the service of Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Iran, who used it extensively in their long-winded war with Iraq. Kuwait's stocks of Chieftains were almost exhausted due to attrition during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, where they fared badly against more modern tanks for various reasons. The Kit There have been rumours of new Chieftain models in 1:35 for quite some time now, with various manufacturers in the frame, but now we have three variants from those nice people at Takom, which share the same basic hull, but with turret, fixture and fittings changes to differentiate. Because of the broad similarity of a good 60%+ of the parts in the box, we'll deal with those common parts first, then deal with the differences, hopefully avoiding confusing myself as I go along. First impressions? A nicely presented raft of kits, in top-opening boxes with attractive artwork that will doubtless sell quite a few off the shelves on impulse buy. Each box contains seven sprues in mid-grey styrene, plus six more with track-pads, and 200 track-links. There are two turret parts, two hull parts, the latter being standard across all three kits, as are the clear parts. The package is rounded out by the inclusion of a couple of poly-caps, a fret of thin brass Photo-Etch (PE), a gun mask, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklets are A4 landscape with a colour printed cover, and the painting guides are separate A5 booklets, again in colour. The parts are all bagged separately apart from the roadwheel sprues, and the PE could do with a piece of card behind it to save it from damage, as the sheet is rather flexible. Construction begins handily (for me) with the common parts, starting with the road wheels, of which there are twelve pairs, the outer being well detailed from four parts, while the inner wheel is a single part. Two idler wheels are constructed and placed on their stub-axles, and two simple two-part drive sprockets finish off the initial task. The Chieftain mounts these paired wheels on bogies with a return roller on the top-side, with two axles per bogie. These are well-moulded with thick coiled springs visible from the outside, with stand-off brackets holding the lower edge of the skirts under the paired return rollers. Three bogies are fitted to each side of the lower hull, with the idler at the front and drive sprocket at the rear, at which time towing shackles are added to the lower glacis. Tracks are always an important part of any AFV build (the tracked ones, at least!), and here you have two hundred links to build up two runs of 97 links, so not too many spare if the bag count is accurate. Now for the good news. The links are loose in a ziplok bag, and each one has only one apparent sprue-gate, which is on the inner face, and should take only a fraction of a second to deal with. The track pads are separate, and each one has only two sprue gates to shave off, so again; minimal clean-up. They aren't click-fit however, so you'll need to build a run alongside a straight-edge, then drape them over the wheels before they are properly cured, and set their shape by wedging and taping them in place. If you want to paint them off the vehicle you can leave one or two links un-glued, cementing them once you're happy with your work. The upper hull goes on next, and here you have to drill a few 1mm diameter holes unless you're building a Mark 5. The rear bulkhead holds the exhaust box and pipes, as well as some spare track-links and some tools hung off the back. A pair of stowage boxes are built up and installed over the rear fenders. Back to the front of the hull and the light-clusters with clear lenses are made-up, installed and then covered by their protective cages, while some PE strips are wrapped around the front mudguards, and a PE bow-wave deflector is attached to the front of the glacis. The driver's hatch can be posed open or closed by adding the cylindrical upstand and hinging the hatch to one side. The Mark 5 has just the vision block added, while the Stillbrew equipped 10 & 11 have an armour package added each side of the rear hatch area. The sideskirts are attached to the fender edges, and held rigid by the stand-off brackets, while on the rear deck stowage bins, towing cables and a set of PE grilles are applied to the engine deck's louvers along with a number of PE grab-handles. All marks have extra shaped stowage boxes added to the front fenders, plus a pair of large wing-mirrors just forward. From here in the build, each mark differs, with the Mark 5 showing substantial differences in the shape of the turret due to the lack of armour the Stillbrew package. Mark 5/5P The Mark 5 turret is bereft of addition armour on the turret front, so a different turret upper and lower is included in the box, with the majority of the fittings such as the commander's cupola, gunner's hatch, smoke dischargers and the sighting unit on the top of the turret are shared between all marks. A covered stowage bin is added to the right side of the turret along with an open basket made up from styrene tube with a PE floor, with another larger basket on the other side. Another large box containing the NBC pack sits on the turret bustle, and the must-have item for all Cold War tanks; the great big infra-red searchlight sits in a box on the left of the turret, with a clear lens in case you wanted to pose it open, in which case you'd need to create the illusion of the irising infra-red filter (glossy black will do) or the reflector and bulb behind if the filter is retracted. The barrel is split vertically with a two-part muzzle (with a choice of two types – use the smooth one if your references leave you guessing), which slots into the simple hinged sleeve, trapping a small flexible "gun mask", which is the cover that prevents dirt ingress into the breech area. The two radio antenna bases (BAE) fitted to the rear turret deck & forward tight stowage box are actually the latest Clansman bases, so will need to be consigned to spares and replaced with appropriate Larkspur bases, and the armoured box containing the tuning unit should be left off. The antenna sits on a bracket with the cable going straight in through the hull, and the fire extinguisher attached to the bottom of the Clansman tuning box should be cut off and attached to the hull side inverted, if that's the level of accuracy you're going for. As always though, check your references to see which antenna your vehicle had. This picture shows the difference between the two antenna bases, gleaned from unknown sources on the internet Twist the turret into place on its bayonet lugs and you're done. This is a 2-in-1 kit, allowing you to build the vanilla 5, or the 5P that was sold to the Iranians before the revolution. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown unit BATUS 1991 – Sand/NATO Green camouflage, 11B and 001 on the sideskirts with 11B on the turret rear. Iranian Mk.5P Battle of Shalamche, 242nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 21st Infantry Division, May 1983 – All over yellow grey with Iranian roundels on the turret sides and rear bulkhead. Iranian 5P recaptured from Iraqi army by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp - All over yellow grey with green and black symbols on the sideskirts. Iranian 5P Army Day Parade, Tehran, 2001 – Yellow Grey/British Brown camouflage. Iranian 5P Battle of Shalamche, 242nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 21st Infantry Division, May 1983 – All over yellow grey with Iranian acript in red on the turret sides and rear. Kuwaiti Mk.5K Martyr's Brigade, Operation Desert Storm, 1991. All over desert sand, with three white stripes on the sideskirts. D Squadron, 4/7th Dragoon Guards, Berlin, 1983 – White/grey blue/medium brown "Berlin Brigade" urban block camouflage with a NATO green engine deck. The Kuwaiti K was externally similar to other Mark 5s. There's a little conjecture over the BATUS scheme as by 1991 all Mk.5s had been upgraded, so check your references in case it's not appropriate for a Mk.5, given the assumed time period, when no Mark.5s should have been in service. Mark 10 The Mark 10 uses different turret parts to accommodate the Stillbrew armour package, and has a large insert on the left side to get the shapes right. There is a small raised part to the rear left of the turret that you will need to remove, as per the diagram included in the box. The hatches, smoke dispensers and sighting box on the outside of the turret are common, with the addition of a clear convoy light on a pedestal in the rear of the roof. The barrel fits in exactly the same way, except it ignores the smooth muzzle section which was only seen on early marks. A small additional part presses onto the hinge-point, sliding over the "breech" as the upper turret is installed on the lower. Turret baskets on the right side are unchanged, as is the crew-served machine gun, but on the left where the Stillbrew package sits, a new fully open basket of similar construction to the earlier one hangs from the side. The NBC box is unchanged, and the searchlight is still there with its clear lens. Twist the turret into place to finish. Decals provide markings for three real-world options, plus one from the hit TV show The Walking Dead where it was used to portray an M1 Abrams (it fooled me at the time!), which can be depicted with a few modifications noted in the accompanying text. From the box you can build one of the following: The Zombie Tank, Atlanta – US Marine sand, with a black V on each sideskirt. A Squadron, 1 RTR, BATUS 1991 – NATO Green/Sand camouflage with 22 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. Hard Target Chieftain at Warcop Range – NATO Green/Black camouflage with yellow 32 on the sideskirts. C Squadron, 14/20 King's Royal Hussars, Berlin, 1988-91 - White/grey blue/medium brown "Berlin Brigade" urban block camouflage with a NATO green engine deck. For ultimate accuracy on the Zombie tank you'll need to check the remaining equipment fit and replicate some additional stencils on both the sides, front and rear of the tank, so check out the end of episode 1 season 1, Days Gone Bye and the beginning of the following episode. Keep your finger near the pause button around 10 minutes from the end. There's also a good shot of Rick crawling under the tank showing some detail of the underside to good effect. Mark 11 The Mark 11 is broadly similar to the Mark 10 including the small raised part to the rear left of the turret that you will need to remove, as per the diagram included in the box. The ultimate Chieftain adds two small covered stowage boxes aft of the open baskets, plus the deletion of the searchlight in favour of the TOGS unit, which occupies the same space. This builds up into two linked boxes from a fair number of parts with a clear lens at the front if you elect to open the protective cover. A small PE mesh vent on the top rear finishes off the detail, and the unit is spaced from the hull at the top by a large flat bracket. Finally, just twist to finish. Five decal options are provided with this boxing, some of which are partial echoes of the mark 10. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown unit, BATUS - NATO Green/Sand camouflage with white 10 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. A Squadron, 1 RTR Tofrek Barracks, Hildesheim, Germany, 1992 – NATO green/black hard-edged camouflage. 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, BATUS, Canada - NATO Green/Sand camouflage with white 21 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, BATUS, Canada - NATO Green/Sand camouflage with white 30 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – all-over NATO Green, with yellow 31 on a black background on the turret rear. Markings Please see the last paragraphs for each kit for details of the individual markings. The decals well-printed and sealed in separate bags with a thin cover sheet to prevent them sticking to anything. The sheets are small as you would expect, but the registration, colour density and sharpness are up to standard, although as always with yellow and red, do check for translucency before committing yourself and allowing the decals to set up. Conclusion There is a sound being heard across the nation. A scraping of boxes being moved to the back of the stash. The old Tamiya Chieftain that couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to be is now out to pasture, although of course you can still make good use of one if you have the time and after market sets to do it justice. This though, is a thoroughly modern tooling of a truly iconic British Main Battle Tank, which built upon the reputation of the Centurion, and was in turn built on by the succeeding Challengers. Detail is excellent, and it looks to be an easy build, with nothing to trip you up. Take your time to test fit parts, check your references, and paint it well, and you'll end up with a great model or three. One last point – it looks like an error was noticed late in production, and a new part D18 is included in the box along with a small addendum sheet. Make sure you ditch the old part immediately so you're not tempted to use it in error. You can see the replacement part on sprue D in the common photos above - yes, I did stick it in place. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for Kagero's Photosniper on the Chieftain was useful in researching this review, and you can find our review from some time ago here.
  8. Mig-23BN Flogger-H 1:48

    Mig-23BN Flogger-H 1:48 Trumpeter Designed from the same basic airframes, the Mig-23 and Mig-27 share a lot of parts, with a strong familial resemblance, and when the Mig-23BN ground-attack variant started to experience negative feedback for its performance, the further development was redesignated as the Mig-27, perhaps to eschew the reputation. The Mig-23 was originally to be a fighter interceptor, but during the development process the need for a fighter-bomber was identified, and the Ground-Attack variant of the Mig-23 was born as the B, or Flogger-F as NATO call them. The large radome was replaced by a sloped nose to give better pilot vision, and ground-attack systems were installed in the new forward fuselage, which earned it the nickname Platypus. The Mig-23BN was the half-way house between the 23 and 27, and was produced in large numbers in the 70s and 80s, with over 600 built in total. It was a modernised version of the B, equipped with the latest engines and hardware, plus newer navigation and attack systems to help it carry out its role, but it was still too much of a fighter for many. It was built alongside and eventually replaced by the Mig-27, which had a cut-down featureset to simplify maintenance and running costs, plus a digital navigation and firing system. The Kit Trumpeter have been working their way through the Mig-23 range for a while now, and this is the latest variant to arrive, and of course there are a sizeable number of common parts to be found in the box as you'd expect. There are seventeen sprues in mid-grey styrene, two in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, three decal sheets, instruction booklet in landscape A4, and painting guide on a double-sided sheet of A3 glossy paper, plus another single side of an A4 page, both in full colour. Of these sprues, only two of the airframe parts and a clear sprue are different from the M we reviewed a few years ago, and four of the weapons sprues, as you'd guess. There is a lot of detail packed into each sprue, and a fair usage of sliding moulded to obtain more detail, ease construction and reduce the part count. There will of course be quite a few parts left over after construction due to the modular nature of the sprues, but they may well come in handy elsewhere one day. Construction begins with the KM-1 ejection seat, which is also found in the Mig-21, and this is built up from seven parts into a nicely detailed unit, which is installed in the cockpit tub after adding the rear bulkhead, control column and rudder pedals. There is a decal for the side of the headbox, which is always nice to see, as it adds realism to the finished model. The main instrument panel and two tiny sub-panels are supplied with decals with the instrument faces printed on, and with careful painting should look well. There are two inserts for the cockpit sidewalls that install in the fuselage halves, with more decals provided to spruce them up after painting. The rear part of the engine is next, as it will need to be inserted between the fuselage halves before they are closed up. You get the rear engine face, plus a nice well-moulded and slim rendition of the flame-holder for the burner ring. This fits inside a two-part cylindrical trunk, inside which the two single part aft trunk and exhaust petals fit. The nose gear and intake trunking are the final sections to be assembled before the fuselage is closed up, although the main gear bay is later inserted through the hole in the top where the upper fuselage and wing-glove parts fit later in the build. A pair of nice slide-moulded intake trunks are supplied on separate sprues, with the inner surface and splitter-plates added inside, and a PE insert for the boundary-air grille. Some other small parts and PE bits are added, but may be better left off until later due to their size. The aforementioned main gear well is built up from panels, before the wings and their swing mechanism are built into the upper fuselage insert. These have two cogs that mesh with the teeth moulded into the wing root, and small détente depressions ensure that the wings sit at the standard three points of pivot. How long the little bumps will stand up to repeated use is anyone's guess, but mine would be "not long", so don't fiddle with them too much! All these assemblies are then brought together and a pair of cockpit armour panels are added each side of the pilot's station. A pleasingly sharp-edged rear cone is installed around the engine exhausts, and you have a choice of open or closed air-brakes by using one set of parts or another. The large tail and elevators are also built and added to their respective slots and holes. Coaming and canopy can be glued in at this point, and the clear parts are thin with good transparency, but don't make the mistake of using the windscreen on the sprue with the other clear parts, as it isn't appropriate for the BN, which had a higher pilot's position and deeper canopy than the fighter models. The main landing gear is quite complex, and has a couple of captive bay doors, one of which is PE, so these will be fun to decide on building an painting order, but take your time and everything should turn out ok. They fit on pegs into holes in the main bay, as does the simpler nose gear leg. The tyres are nicely detailed and come in two parts with plenty of moulded-in detail, but would benefit from a swipe with a sanding stick to weight them slightly. The remainder of the gear bay doors are captive to the fuselage and have separate actuator struts. The primary job of the Flogger-H is ground attack, which is why it wears the distinctive radar-free droop-snoot for enhanced visibility, which is separate to the fuselage, and has a number of probes and antennae added to and around it, plus the gun-pack under the belly with two slide-moulded hollow 23mm barrels peeking from inside the aerodynamic fairing. The other aspect of ground attack is the complement of weapons that it carries. It shares some sprues with the fighter incarnation, but has four additional sprues that contain all the ground-attack related stores. In the box you get the following: 2 x R-13M Advanced Atoll A2A Missiles 2 x R-13M1 Advanced Atoll A2A Missiles 2 x FAB-500 bomb 4 x R-60 Aphid A2A Missile 1 x PTB-800 centreline fuel tank 2 x wing-mounted drop-tanks 12 x FAB-100 bomb 12 x FAB-250 bomb 2 x KMGU-2 Cluster Bombs Pylons, multiple-ejection racks, adaptors and sway-braces are all supplied, and the last page of the instructions shows what could be mounted on each of the nine pylons, although you would be best advised to check available references if you are looking to depict a realistic war or training load. Markings As you may have already gleaned from the number of decal sheets, there are a generous six decal options in the box, with varying camouflage schemes and operators. From the box you can build one of the following: Czechoslovakian 9139 in green/sand/dark green camo over light grey and an eagle head motif on the nose. Czechoslovakian 5140 in green/sand/dark green camo over light grey. German Democratic Republic red 15 in dark green/tan camo over light blue. Soviet red 63 in light brown/green/medium green camo over grey blue underside. Soviet red 51 in light brown/green/medium green camo over grey blue underside. Ethiopian 1270 in sand/mid green/dark green/brown camo over grey blue underside. The decal sheets are broken down into three sheets as already mentioned, one of which contains stencils for the weapons, another for the airframe and cockpit, while the larger sheet contains all the aircraft specific decals plus the national insignia. The sheets are printed internally, and have good register, colour density and sharpness, although the Ethiopian roundel proportions are a little off because the yellow band is slightly too wide. If that bothers you, you'll need to either source or print some of your own. Conclusion Whether it's another one to add to your brace of Cold War Soviet metal, or just an impulse buy, there's a lot of plastic in the box, nice detail and a plethora of weapons to use or store for future projects. As the BN was used in harsh conditions, you'll have plenty of opportunity to show off your weathering talents, but if you're clumsy like me, you might want to nip off those moulded-in static wicks and put them back later to save the annoyance of losing them during handling. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  9. Sukhoi Su-9U Maiden 1:48

    Sukhoi Su-9U Maiden 1:48 Trumpeter The Su-9 was a late 50s development of the very similar Su-7, but had a delta wing in place of the earlier aircraft's swept wing because it gave better handling at supersonic speeds, and could therefore carry a little extra fuel. Its NATO reporting name was Fishpot, as it was a fighter, or interceptor that was to take off, climb and intercept Allied incursions at high speed. It was an unforgiving aircraft that took constant concentration to fly, and was very thirsty into the bargain, which gave it a limited range even with drop-tanks. The Su-9U was a two-seat trainer that could also be pressed into service if needs be, as it was still fitted with all the same systems as the single-seater. NATO gave it the codename Maiden to fit in with their coding system. Only 50 were built, and the extra cockpit gives the aircraft an ungainly look and probably did little for the short range too. It wasn't the most capable aircraft, and was soon replaced by more modern designs and more lethal weapons systems, with the last operation airframe drawn down in the 1970s. The Kit This is a revised tooling of the Su-9 kit from last year that we reviewed here. It arrives in the standard Trumpeter box, and inside are most of the same sprues as the earlier version, seven in grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and landscape A4 instruction booklet with a separate colour markings sheet on glossy paper. The additional tooling relates to the fuselage, the doubled up cockpit and the extended canopy. Two identical sprues have been included for the cockpit, which seems at odds with every other two-seater cockpit that almost always have differences from each other – online references are a scant for this sub-variant however. The two tubs, which are quite well detailed are built up alongside the exhaust tube with fan face and afterburner unit, plus the nose gear bay, made up from individual panels for detail. The nose gear is also placed inside the bay before fitting, which shouldn't be too problematic due to its sturdy nature. Everything is then trapped between the extended fuselage halves along with the radome/intake bullet, and the wings are built up from two main parts with landing gear bay detail moulded in, plus flaps and ailerons. The main gear is added with its two outer doors, one of which is captive to the leg, the other attaching at its root. The inner doors of both bays are added once the wings are mated to the fuselage slots, the tail fin and elevators also being added with the numerous intakes that dot the sides of the fuselage. The canopy is a two part unit, which is a little disappointing as it means that your only choices are to leave it closed, or cut it into sections with a fine razor saw. Patience will be a virtue there, and adding Blutak to the inside to add some strength will help avoid disaster. It's a shame that it couldn't have been split, but it's not the end of the world. The Maiden was often seen with two tanks on the offset centreline pylons, and these are supplied in halves with additional sway braces and separate pylon parts. Four beam-rider R2-2US Alkali missiles are included in the box for the four wing pylons, which are built from two halves, two separate fins, a tiny exhaust part, and separate pylons. Nose gear bay doors, the long pitot probe and a few other small parts finish the build. Markings The Su-9U was a bare metal tube with wings, so you'll be breaking out your metallic paints without doubt. There are two markings options included on the decal sheet, in the form of Blue 42 and Red 75, plus the usual Red Stars, and a smattering of stencils. There are also a pair of instrument decals, which include just the dials and faces, so detail painting us up to you. The decals are printed anonymously but seem a little better than some of the recent lower profile releases from the Trumpeter stable in terms of register, sharpness and opacity. The thin, glossy carrier film could do with a little trimming around the large aircraft codes, but that's the work of minutes with a sharp blade. Conclusion With my gripes about the cockpit and canopy aside, it's a nice looking model that should build into a nice replica. References are hard to come by online and off, but the information will be out there somewhere. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  10. German Feldumschaggerat FuG 2.5T Takom 1:35 History In the field the (FUG) is an all-terrain forklift with a max lifting capacity of 2.5tons. Produced by Stein Bock, this field handling equipment was provided by the logistics associations of the Bundeswehr into service in 1983. The main areas of operations for the vehicle, as proposed by the Bundeswehr were the field supply depots. But due to the FUGs excellent all-wheel drive with differential lock and levelling, they have also been used out in the field, helping with the building of secure FOBs. The levelling system allows the vehicle to be used on uneven roads, paths and in light to medium-Heavy terrain. Although generally transported to user areas by truck it is also approved to be driven, with a load along roads at up to 50kph. The two-man crew, the driver and passenger sit in separate booths. The FUG, can carry a load up to 2.5t and lift it up to 3.7 m in height. In addition to use as a forklift, the forks can be removed and fitted with a snowplough blade for light grading or snow removal or a crane arm with up to 1t load. The vehicle has proved to be very popular in service. The Model There doesnt appear to be much in the way of history or details on this vehicle on the interweb other than what I have found above. It certainly is a very unusual kit to bring out, although it will be a useful item to have in a suitable diorama. The kit comes in a very attractive, glossy top opening box, which is quite small, but is full to the brim with seven sprues of dark green styrene, one of clear and five rubber/vinyl tyres. The A5 landscape instruction booklet is nicely laid out, but the use of CAD style diagrams takes a little bit of getting used to even though they are very clear they are not always the easiest to see where each part is fitted. The build centres around the single piece lower hull, onto which the front axle frame is fitted, followed by the centrally mounted two piece transfer box, plus the front and rear differentials. The front differential is a simple three piece assembly, whilst the rear differential starts of as a simple two piece affair, but is then fitted with the two pivoting ball joints, the steering rack and two hydraulic rams. The two driveshafts are then fitted between the differentials and the transfer box, after which the wheels hubs and brake discs are fitted to the axles. The two panels that go between the front and rear wheel arches are attached, along with the front differential protective plates are glued into position. The two rear light clusters are each made of three parts and fitted to the rear wheel arches followed by the rear of the large eye panel between them. The outer face of the towing eye panel is then attached along with the towing eye itself. Three protective panels are then fitted over the driveshafts and differential, followed by the right side central panel and the rear mounted spare wheel, which consists of the tyre, plus inner and outer hubs. The remaining four wheels, complete with inner and outer hubs are attached to their respective drive shafts. The whole model can now be turned right side up, so that the topsides can be assembled. To begin with, you will need to carefully fold the PE storage basket and fit it to the rear left upper wheel arch. Up front, the headlights are assembled from one green styrene part and the clear lens, over which the PE grille is fitted, then glued to the front wheel arches. Three Jerry cans are then assembled, each of three parts and glued to the right side running board. The front end is then kitted out with the fork upright extender strut, a switch/lever beam and a spare set of forks. A two piece footstep is then fitted to the left hand running board, whilst the four piece spare wheel hoist is fitted to the rear bulkhead. In the centre of the vehicle the three piece fork manifold and cover is fixed into position, followed by the rear mounted engine cover and two part air intake. Each of the crew cabins is made up of four panels into which the clear screens are added along with the windscreen wipers. The rear screens have the option of being posed open with the addition of two gas struts. Each seat is made up of a four piece support frame, two piece back rest, and the single piece squab. The cabins are also fitted with wing mirrors, and handles, plus downward looking periscopes for the front panels whilst only the left hand cabin has the steering wheel and binnacle. The completed cabins are then attached to the front hull, one each side of the fork mechanism. The exhaust is then assembled from eight parts, which includes the PE protective cover. With the main body of the vehicle complete its onto the fork assembly. Firstly, the uprights are built up from nice parts, to which the elevating frame, made up of eight parts, along with the elevating hydraulic ram are then slid into position. The main fork framework is built up from three parts and fitted with the hydraulic ram, and cover plate. The assembly is then fitted to the front of the main body. The modeller has a choice of fittings to fit to the fork frame, short forks, long forks, each with a five piece suspension bracket, a seven piece hook beam, for crane work. This can be assembled folded and attached to the left hand running board when not in use. Lastly the model can be fitted with a sixteen piece snowplough. Decals The small decal sheet has markings for four different vehicles, two in overall green schemes, one in three colour camouflages and one in an overall white UN scheme. The decals are well printed, in good register and a clear enough to read without a magnifier. Conclusion This is certainly a bit leftfield, even for a Takom release, as these sorts of vehicles are largely forgotten or have any interest taken in them, as they arent the big frontline vehicles that usually get released. That said, without these vehicles the supply train couldnt work. The choice of the four different fittings is a nice thought. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  11. MiG-21MF Fishbed - 1:48 Trumpeter

    MiG-21MF Fishbed 1:48 Trumpeter The MiG-21 has probably been produced in greater numbers than any other jet fighter. Over the years they have been many variants. The M in MF stands Modernizirovannyy or Modernised. The F standing for Forsirovannyy or Uprated Engine. In effect the MF was the export version of the MiG-21SM where the S referred to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar. As well as an uprated engine an internal 23mm Cannon was provided alongside a considerably updated avionics package. The SM & MF were called the Fishbed-J by NATO. The MF had a greater arsenal of weapons available including the R-60, and later R-60M IR seeking AAM (NATO Name AA-8 Aphid) The Kit It is quite surprising how much plastic Trumpeter manage to get in the smallish box this kit arrives in. There are 10 sprues of grey plastic, a clear sprue, a small sheet of PE and a set of rubber tyres. Construction starts without any surprise in the cockpit area. The ejection seat is built up. This comes as nine parts and builds into a very fair representation of the real thing. The front instrument coaming is built up and the instrument panel added. The ejection seat is added to the cockpit tub, then the sidewalls and rear bulkhead are fitted. The control column is added and the front coaming completes things. Next up the wheel wells are built up. The front well is three parts and you have you add the front wheel/leg at this stage. The main wells are four part affairs and are built now as well. Following this the rear jet pipe is assembled. This has seven parts and again will build up to a good looking representation of the real thing. Once all of these subassemblies are complete they can be added into the main fuselage along with the nose radar bullet and the area in front of the cockpit. Once the main fuselage is closed up various intakes are added to both sides of the rear fuselage. The engine exhaust nozzle can then be made up and added to the main fuselage. The separate one piece vertical fin is then added, along with it's separate rudder. The brake parachute housing can then be added. This is able to be modelled in the pen or closed position. Moving on to the underside of the main fuselage the underside fin is added, along with the internal cannon. The main centre line air brake and two side front airbrakes are added. All the airbrakes can be modelled open. The main gear door on the fuselage are then added along with their retraction struts. The front gear bay doors are also added. A centre line pylon is provided if the modeller intends to use it. This can take either a large or small fuel tanks as supplied in the kit. Construction then moves onto the wings. These are conventional upper/lower parts for each side. The wings are supplied with separate flaps. Two pylons and a landing light are added to each wing. Once the wings are built up they can be attached to the main fuselage. Two PE wing fences are supplied in the kit. The tailplanes are also added at this time. The main landing gear is the next area for the modeller to concentrate on. Two hub parts sandwich the rubber tyres as supplied in the kit (no plastic alternatives are supplied). The prominent brake lines for main gear legs are also supplied. The main gear door which attached to the leg then needs to be fitted, this has to be bent to shape by the modeller. The main gear legs and their retraction struts can then be fitted. The last items to be made up and fitted are the underwing armament. Twin fuel tanks are supplied for each type though I think the large one was only ever fitted on the centre line so the modeller has a spare. References would seem to indicate that if fuel tanks were carried on the wings they were carried on the outer pylons only. UB032 rocket pods are supplied if the modellers wants some air-to-ground weapons. If air-to air is needed then a pair of R-3R and R-3S missiles are included. Markings Here Trumpter have provided markings for six aircraft but provided absolutely NO information about the markings what so ever. The six are; German Democratic Republic Bort #Red 511 USSR Bort #Blue 30 Poland Bort #Grey 6804 Czechoslovakia Bort #Black 8207 Iraqi Air Force - Unknown Aircraft Green/Sand Camo Iraqi Air Force - Unknown Aircraft Brown/Sand Camo Conclusion Whether it's another one to add to your brace of Cold War Soviet metal, or just an impulse buy, there's a lot of plastic in the box, and some nice detail. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  12. Soviet Su-11 Fishpot 1:48

    Soviet Su-11 Fishpot 1:48 Trumpeter The Sukhoi Su-11 was part of the rapid development of jet fighters after WWII and was developed from the Su-9, which we reviewed here not so long ago. It was meant to be an improvement, but despite a bigger engine and radar, it was still heavily reliant on ground control to find their targets, and had only limited interception capability, carrying two R-98 missiles and having no cannons. Only around a hundred were built, and they were quickly phased out in favour of other models, to be left standing in museums with a few exceptions that soldiered on into the 80s. The Kit Following on from the Su-9 reviewed by my colleague recently, the new kit shares very little in the way of sprues with the older one, although the cockpit parts have been copied and pasted directly from the CAD files for the earlier kit. A set of additional fuel thanks have also been included that are shared between the two aircraft. The kit arrives in a standard box with a painting of the eponymous contents on the top, five sprues in mid-grey styrene, a small clear sprue and a decal sheet, plus the instruction booklet in landscape A4, and separate colour painting guide on two sides of A4. Although it bears a resemblance to its forebear, all the exterior parts are different, even if only subtly so in cases. The common cockpit is first in the construction process, and has a reasonable level of detail plus a decal for the main instrument panel. The ejection seat is slide-moulded to incorporate most of the detail in the main part, with only two additional parts required to finish it off. The exhaust trunking is next, with a styrene afterburner ring and engine face, which appears to be the wrong way round, as it faces the font of the aircraft, leaving anyone looking up the exhaust tube seeing its back face through the burner ring. To be honest, it's unlikely anything will be seen from either the nose or the tail, in fairness. The nose gear bay is built from individual panels, and traps the detailed gear leg in place in holes in the side walls, so it can't be left off until later. With the addition of the radome, which is built up from a cylindrical rear and tapered cone, the fuselage can be closed up, and a pair of main bay inserts added to the sides of the fuselage. The delta-wings of the Fishpot are wafer-thin, so the gear bay roof detail is moulded into the upper wing, and the flying surfaces are all mobile, so can be posed at your whim, but don't forget to drill out the holes for the pylons if you plan on using them. The main gear legs have separate pivot lugs and retraction jacks, and are topped off with two-part wheels and two captive gear-bay covers, although these can be left off until after painting. The wings attach to roots on the fuselage via the traditional tab and slot method, with three in total per wing to help get the very slight anhedral of the real thing. The large fin is attached to the aft fuselage by a pair of pins, and the elevators fit with just one pin each on a nicely detailed fairing. The most obvious difference between the Su-9 and Su-11 is the long external fuel pipe fairing that runs over the wingroot on the port side, with another on the underside, both of which are supplied as separate parts. A couple of auxiliary intakes are added to both sides of the aft fuselage, and the two-part canopy is placed over rather flat and featureless coaming and turtle-deck behind the pilot, which isn't at all how it should look. The clear parts are very nicely done however, with crystal clear glazing, and a satin patina to the metal frames and fairings. This is probably a cockpit that is best left closed unless you wanted to add some detail to these areas. The Fishpot usually carried a pair of R-98 Anab missiles, one of each of the semi-active radar (MR) and infrared (MT) seeker types, to give it the best chance of bringing down its chosen target. Unfortunately, only the former type has been included, so if you wanted to show an accurate load, you would need to shorten one of the missiles and round the tip to accommodate the infrared seeker lens. A pair of fuel tanks are also included that hang side-by-side from the belly between the main gear legs. The underside of the nose is dotted with a few additional sensors, the slender nose gear bay covers, and flipping the kit over, the long pitot probe is slid into a recess in the nose that has a delicate fairing moulded-in. Markings The Su-11 flew in a protective coat of aluminium lacquer, so it's any colour as long as it's silver, and do check your references before you decide whether to vary the panel colours to add a little extra interest, as this effect varied with the age of the paint. There are two options from the box, and as usual with Trumpeter, they give you precious little background information. From the box you can build either red 14, or blue 10, both of which share the same national markings and a few stencils on the rear of the fuselage. Decals are printed in-house, and register, colour density and sharpness seem good, but the blue of Blue 10 seems a little purple in tone. Fishpots weren't renowned for wearing fun and interesting schemes however, so it won't get much more fun than the kit decals. Conclusion This is a curious kit, which has some areas that are nicely done, while the finishing of the cockpit leaves a little to be desired. With care and painted sympathetically, it should look great in your cabinet. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  13. VH-34D "Marine One" HMX-1 Presidential Flight 1:48 Gallery Models Developed and manufactured by helicopter pioneers Sikorsky, the H-34 Choctaw on which this Presidential chariot was based were ubiquitous throughout most of the Cold War, even in Great Britain where it was re-engineered and re-branded as the Westland Wessex. First flying in the mid-50s, it saw widespread service with many nations including the US military in various versions from military transport (passenger and cargo) to Coastguard and even civilian uses. Powered by a piston-engined Wright Cyclone engine, it was a versatile airframe that lent itself to many tasks, not least of which was the carriage of VIPs by the Marines. The VH-34D had an executive cabin fit that eschewed the simplistic canvas bench seats for a suite of comfortably upholstered chairs in the centre, with less luxuriant but still upholstered bench seats around three of the sides for aides and presidential entourage. The H-34 was used from 1958, initially using A models, which were phased out in favour of the newer D model, which were in-turn phased out in favour of Sea King airframes in due course. The Kit The Choctaw has been fairly well neglected over the years in 1:48 scale, although MRC's brand Gallery Models intend to fix that, having already released a slew of kits of the differing variants of this well-known aircraft. This one is of course the Presidential limo, and has additional parts to allow you to model it as such, or a more pedestrian US Coastguard machine in yellow. We understand that a well-known helicopter expert was heavily involved in the development of the kit, and as such accuracy should be good, and it looks like the moulding, instructions and boxing has been outsourced to a well-known Chinese manufacturer. The box states clearly that this is a special edition, so don't hang around if you're thinking of buying one, as it may not be available for ever! Inside the box are twelve sprues in mid grey styrene, three sprues plus a separate windscreen in clear styrene, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE), a medium-sized decal sheet, instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide. There are a number of options that relate particularly to the interior, as you can build it as either the President's ride, or the more austerely upholstered Coastguard bird, as already mentioned. The instructions for these could do with slightly larger "Option" text and symbols, as it's not immediately evident due to placement and having three options. More on that later. Construction starts with the engine, which is very nicely appointed and could be shown off with a little extra detail and some changes to the cowlings. Moving back is the flight-crew cab, which has a four-part tub, centre console that supports the clear instrument panel (with instrument decal), from which the pedals hang, and on top of which sits the small coaming. The pedals have small PE foot-rests, and the crew seatbelts are also supplied as PE, which fit onto two multi-part seats that affix to the quilted rear bulkhead along with an extension to the centre console. A pair of PE parts are curved into tunnels for the cyclic stick's control linkages, which brings me to a slight omission. There's no collective stick included in the kit, so you'll need to fabricate one from rod into a fancy handbrake-shaped contraption, using your references or internet pics as a guide. The passenger compartment is where your options start, and you choose one of three interior fits, depending on which decal option you have chosen. The presidential cab has luxurious seats with arm-rests and lap belts with room to move about, while the two coastguard options have two rows facing each other down the sides of the cab. The webbed-back option has only ten seats with lap belts in PE, while the solid material backed seat option has eight on one side, with seven on the other. They all use the same floor, so take care drilling out the correct holes for your chosen option, or have some rod on hand to block up any accidental holes later. The rotor base is housed above the passenger cab, and a basic assembly is included in the kit, which sits on a floor with rear bulkhead along with a small radiator panel, which fits to the topside of the cabin roof, while the engine clips into slots in the front of the cab floor. The interior walls for the Presidential cab as almost smooth, with a layer of insulation behind them to cut sound and heat loss, so the inserts are quite simple. The operational cabs have bare walls with ribbing visible, as well as some of the internal workings such as a heating conduit near the ceiling. It also doesn't have the luxury of a double ceiling between it and the rotor base, so has a rear ceiling section that fills the gap. The cockpit assembly slots into the top of the short forward bulkhead on both options, overhanging the cab quite a bit. With your choice on internals completed, the fuselage sides are prepared with windows, PE grilles around the engine compartment and crew steps up the elevated cab doors. The in-service passenger cab has an open door at the rear, which is "closed off" by a web of cargo strapping, which will allow theoretical viewing of the interior of the tail boom. As the fuselage is closed up, a simple floor and another bulkhead with hatch is added to the ribbed fuselage interior, with a choice of either the aft bulkhead for folded rotor, or a flat bulkhead that just provides extra strength to the assembly. With the fuselage closed, the underside of the fuselage has a long rectangular panel added with PE or styrene mesh insert, and here you will need to take care preparing the fit and finish before applying glue, to ensure the panel is flush with the sides when set. The bulbous nose cowlings around the engines have a few PE grilled and parts added before they are glued into place, but I suspect that some folks will be tempted to pose them open to show off the engine detail. At this stage the cockpit is a bit draughty, but a single-piece clear moulding is provided to create the main panels and their framing, with two side windows separate to allow flexibility of moulding flat or blown panes for different variants. An overhead console fits inside the roof, a pair of PE windscreen wipers and styrene antenna complete the exterior. Behind this the rotor compartment is closed off with some very nicely moulded louvers that do actually allow the viewer a vague glimpse into the interior in the right lighting conditions. Various external fixtures and fittings are added such as pipes, steps with PE treads, winch apparatus, and the two options for the passenger cab door, the presidential version having a larger widescreen window. The door glazing is moulded flat, however the aircraft has been pictured with a blown panel, so check your references if you plan on depicting it at a particular time in service. Curiously, the box art shows it as blown. The fixed main-gear each comprise two struts and a two-part wheel, with the tail-wheel suspended on a substantial piece of lightened metal on a single-armed yoke. Under the tail are optional bump/flotation bags with a soft serrated underside. The tail and its rotor are the built up with either the bulkhead fitted if folded, or nothing if not. More mesh and a small stabilising fin are added before it is attached to the fuselage in the folded position with the help of three hinge-pieces and two mounting plates for stowage, or as a simple butt-joint with overlap if you are posing it in flight configuration. The main rotors have been moulded with their characteristic "pre-composite era" sag, and fit to a four-piece rotor-head on large pegs. The top panel of the fuselage is supplied as a four-pane frame with a central(ish) hole, the panes of which are filled with PE grilles, with the central hole mounting the rotor-head using a spacer and a styrene tube that holds the rotor axle in place once glued. A lot of helo modellers leave the rotors free for stowage/transport, so either leaving the panel unglued, or not using the retaining tube seems to be the way to go here. Optional floatation gear in the shape of a pair of paddling-pool shaped boots for the main gear, plus a "drop-tank" affixed to the port side by tubular supports. Markings As already mentioned, there are two decal options supplied with the kit, one being for Marine One, with a green lower and white upper with white MARINES on the sides. The other is the more mundane US Coastguard scheme in a rather fetching overall yellow and the words US Coast Guard in black on the sides. If you want to do any weathering of this model, your only option is the coast guard scheme, as Marine One was doubtless kept scrupulously clean during its service as presidential cab. As usual the colours are given in Mr.Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya or Humbrol, which caters to most localities and their paint availability. The decals are well-printed, although some of the stencils have been portrayed as blocks of colour rather than words. The blue of the stars-and-bars is a bit light too, and I'm not sure about the inner terminator of the bars following the curve of the central circle, as the pictures I have seen show a vertical demarcation. There are two decal layouts for the President's airframe, as there appears to have been some variation over time when an aircraft code was added. The Presidential Seal is sometimes set in a rectangular blue background too, whereas it is provided in a circular background with the kit. Marine One shone like a new pin, so you'd better get your gloss varnish ready for the finishing touches. Conclusion A nice kit with a few things to watch out for in terms of details if you plan on building Marine One. There's a lot of detail moulded-in, and if you Google Marine One you should be able to come up with some pictures of the interior and exterior of this Cold War Executive Taxi. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  14. Soviet Soldier – Scud B Crew 1:35 Trumpeter This kit is designed to be used with Trumpeter's recent Scud B kit we reviewed here a little while ago, and although it is marketed as a figure set, it is a little more than that. The box that it arrives in gives the first clue that there is more to it, as it is an awful lot deeper than your average figure box. Inside are three figure sprues and one sprue relating to the missile itself, all in grey styrene, a black sprue of AK-47s, a flexible sprue in sand coloured styrene, a substantial length of black flexible hose, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a small decal sheet. There is also an instruction sheet that relates to the missile parts, which allow you to replace the standard warhead with one of two different types, as well as adding a number of scabbed-on PE panels to the body itself. You will of course need to remove the original warhead from the missile body, but the cut-point is marked on a scrap diagram to help you with this. A painting diagram shows the correct colours of the two options, which are the 9N33 nuclear and 8K44 conventional warheads. More PE parts are used around the launch cradle, adding brackets, control-wheels, more realistic shrouds to the lighting, as well as the tie-downs for the vinyl hosing that is also included, although the location of the ducting isn't well documented. The flexible tan coloured sprue is full of cold-weather gear for the vehicle, which includes a radiator cover that has two cut-outs that can either be posed closed by applying the two quilted square "cushions", or open by adding the rolled-up parts. There is also another similar though smaller set for The black sprue contains a number of exceptionally well-moulded AK-47s, four of which have fixed wooden stocks, the other two with metal folding stocks in the closed position. These are shown slung over the backs of many of the crew members, but no sling material is provided because the straps are moulded into the torsos of the figures. The crew figures themselves are well sculpted, but appear on the large side of normal, and scale out at over 6' in old money. There are seven figures in the box, with five of them standing, some based on similar basic parts, but with different arms and detailing parts. One of the remainder is stepping up into a cab or onto ladder, while the other is bending over with his hands on his knees looking at something near the ground (or throwing up!). Markings The markings consist of a number of stencils and a large black band for the warheads, but it would have been nice to see some uniform badges and insignia for the crew as well. Conclusion An interesting and misleading set that contains a lot more than you'd think, which makes it a lot better value for money. The crew are a bunch of big strapping lads, and the addition of the cold weather gear is a bonus, although it won't always be appropriate to your needs. Better instructions for all those hoses would have been appreciated too. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  15. T-14 Armata Russian MBT 1:35

    T-14 Armata Russian MBT 1:35 Takom First seen at the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, with its turret and gun shrouded for secrecy, but it has now emerged from the shadows, although some aspects of its performance are necessarily unclear at this time. It is based upon the Armata chassis that is to be a common base for Russian armour, which simplified maintenance, spares and familiarity of the crew, as well as saving on development costs. The turret is unmanned, which obviates the need for a fume extractor on the barrel, as the crew are salted away in an armoured compartment in the forward hull. They are connected electronically to the auto-loading 125mm smooth bore cannon, sighting equipment and even a remotely operated 12.7mm Kord machine gun, so the turret can be that much smaller. The gun can fire quicker than it could be manually loaded, although barrel heating would mean that the maximum rate of 10-12 round per minute couldn't be sustained for long, even if shells continued to be available. A new discarding Sabot round of almost 1m in length is being developed for the gun, which has a horrific penetrating power over long distances, and it can also fire guided missiles, making it a true fifth generation tank. It is in its early service days, so likely to undergo many changes before it reaches the definitive variant, but even without the planned upgrade to a 152mm gun, it looks to be a formidable opponent on any battlefield. The Kit Takom must have friends in high places, spies in Russia or some serious crystal ball technology, as we only saw the initial vehicles in the summer of 2015, and it's still autumn as I write this. However they did it, the kits were flying off the shelves at Telford this year, which is a good sign for all involved. The kit arrives in a by now familiar white themed box with an attractive painting of the T-14 on the front. Inside are eleven sprues in mid-grey styrene, plus two hull parts, turret top & skirts in the same colour. There is also a small clear sprue, a run of six poly-caps, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a small decal sheet. The first thing that strikes is the size of the hull. It is a substantial vehicle, although it doesn't look that large from a distance, which is perhaps down to the smaller turret. Detail throughout is crisp and nicely done, with a fairly straight forward build process that naturally starts with the lower hull and suspension arms, onto which fourteen paired wheels are added, plus the three part drive sprockets (2 of) and three-part idler wheels (2 of). If you don't like painting rubber tyres, you'll be groaning when I tell you that all the road wheels (28 of them) have rubber tyres to paint, unless you go down the heavy mud route. An appliqué armour panel is added to the rear bulkhead onto which extra track links and tow rope are added, plus a pair of short mudguards and some pioneer tools. Tracks! You'll be making two runs of ninety-five links each, and they're all individual links with separate guide-horns, so you will need to nip each of the five sprue gates off the links, and two from the guide-horns, clean them up and then glue them together into a long run using liquid glue. Drape them around the wheels while the glue is still curing, and hold them in place with whatever you have to hand until they're dry. If you leave a link unglued, you could paint them off the hull if you prefer. With the tracks on and hopefully dealt with, the upper hull can be added, after the exhaust port is pushed through from the inside of the lower hull wall. Mud guards, vision blocks, light clusters and hatches are added to the upper surfaces, with the ERA block encrusted side-skirts attached to slots and pins on the sides of the hull. At the rear a set of slat-armour panels protect the engine compartment, which fix to the sides on hinging brackets on the real thing, but these look to be non-functional on the kit. Gaps in the slats allow the baffled exhaust to exit the sides of the vehicle. The turret is a mass of angles to reduce observability and accommodate ERA armour to protect the delicate mechanisms inside, so the turret top has a number of small sections added before it can be joined with the lower turret, which has a separate turret ring, and houses ten Afghanit hard-kill dispensers for the self-protection system low down in a recess on each cheek of the turret. It also has the 125mm gun installed, which splits vertically and has a separate hollow muzzle and two shroud parts at the rear, which link to the simple breech part that hinges on two poly-caps to give you a poseable gun. This is enclosed in a sharply angles mantlet and dropped into the lower turret, which the upper turret traps in place. With no hatches to add, sensors and aerials are added to the turret roof, plus the two NII Stali upper hemisphere protection turrets, which house twelve missiles each. Two more packs are set into the roof with only the tubes showing. The main sensor bin looks one-part Dalek, one-part upturned waste-paper basket, and sits right of centre to the rear of the turret, and can be left to rotate by the use of a poly-cap. The 12.7mm machine gun with covered ammo stowage sits on a ledge to the rear of the sensor bin, and turns in unison, without blocking the view of the crew. The turret bustle has an integrated stowage basket that has hard sides, and a tubular rear frame that is covered with a PE mesh panel, with a couple of spare track-links stowed inside in a semi-folded position. Add a rearward facing searchlight to the back corner, and twist the turret into place to lock it on the bayonet fitting. Markings Mig Jimenez's AMMO have provided the colour profiles and paint codes for this release, as is becoming the norm for Takom, and due to the newness of this vehicle, Only one of the four markings options are factual. From the box you can build one of the following: WWII Victory Day Parade, 9th May 2015 – Russian Green with the new dynamic red star and orange/black stripes on the side skirts. What-if Desert pattern – Sand, mid brown and dark brown splinter camouflage. What-if T-90 pattern – Sand, mid green & dark green camouflage. What-if pattern – sand, mid green and mid brown camouflage. The paint codes are from the AMMO range as you'd expect, and the decal sheet caters for three of the schemes, including that of the May parade, with 143 and 623 turret codes in white, and the outline red star with black/orange stripes to the sides. Registration is good, but the orange seems to suffer from a little bleeding at the edges on my review sample, but that can be cured by either a sharp scalpel or not getting too close to the model when finished! There are also a pair of decals labelled (5), which aren't mentioned in the instructions, but I suspect are there to depict LED lamps inside the headlamp lenses. Conclusion It's difficult to know at this stage just how accurate this kit is, or will be when the vehicle reaches service units in large volumes, but if you want a T-14 Armata, this is a good-looking kit with plenty of external detail, and a certain appeal to it (to me at least). No doubt we'll see some of the sprues being used in other Armata based vehicles down the line. If Takom are listening, I'd also like to see them keeping pace with the development of the T-14, updating with new parts where appropriate. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  16. Russian T-62 Mod. 1975, (Mod 1972 + KTD-2) Trumpeter 1:35 History The T-62 was produced between 1961 and 1975. It became a standard tank in the Soviet arsenal, partly replacing the T-55, although that tank continued to be manufactured in the Soviet Union and elsewhere after T-62 production was halted. Its 115 mm gun was the first smoothbore tank gun in use. It could fire kinetic penetrator rounds, a new larger turret and ring, which in itself required a re-designed larger hull. Additional armour was incorporated in the re-design, but this was concentrated in the upper hull at the expense of the lower hull and roof area. Once in service the tank underwent a seemingly endless upgrade process, of which the Mod.1975 was a T-62 Obr.1972 equipped with a KTD-1 or KTD-2 laser rangefinder in an armoured box over the main armament. It also has concealed bolts around the commander's cupola. The kit represents a MOD 1975 fitted with a KTD-2 laser rangefinder. The Model Yet another T-62 release from Trumpeter, they really are getting their money’s worth from the moulds. The boxart shows a vehicle on the road during a parade in the standard Indian colour scheme for this type. Inside there are ten sprues of light grey styrene, separate lower hull, seven of brown styrene, five of black styrene, one of clear, a sprue of a rubbery material, a bit like Dragons DS material, three sheets of etched brass, a turned alluminium barrel, plus a length of copper wire and decal sheet. 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 road wheels: each wheel consisting of the wheel and separate tyre. The wheels are then paired up, the outside wheel being fitted with a central hub part. The idlers are of similar construction, whilst the sprockets are made up from three parts. The rear bulkhead is then fitted to the lower hull and detailed with a spare length of track and the four rear lights. The modeller is given a choice of lower glacis plate, which is then fitted to the lower hull, along with the torsion bar suspension, onto which each pair of wheels is attached, and gear covers onto which the sprockets are fitted. The tracks are made from individual links, unfortunately the instructions don’t tell you how many are needed per side, so it’ll be a matter of trial and error. With the tracks fitted the upper hull requires some holes to be drilled out before being fitted out with periscopes, towing hitches, turret ring rails, headlight and other small fittings. The engine deck hatches are now assembled, consisting of a mixture of styrene with etched grilles. The upper hull deck and engine deck sections are then glued into position. The two track guards are then fitted out with the various storage boxes and spare fuel tanks, as well as the front and rear mudguards, the completed items are then fitted to the hull. The two rear mounted fuel drums, each made from six parts and are fitted to the rear bulkhead. The searchlight and hatches are now assembled; the hatches have detail on both the internal and external faces. The upper turret section needs some hole being opened up before going any further. Once they’re done the vision blocks are fitted from the inside, whilst on the outside the hatch rings and side mounted hand rails are fitted, along with the aerial base. The hatch assemblies are then glued into position, followed by the commanders sight, searchlight, periscopes and numerous other fittings. The upper and lower turret sections are then joined and the snorkel assembly attached to the rear. Two more searchlights are then attached to the turret roof, followed by the ten part thermal sight. The barrel is then assembled, provided in three sections, with each section moulded in two halves. If you don’t want to use this method, Trumpeter have kindly provided a metal barrel which just need the muzzle gluing on to the end. Whichever you use the barrel is then slid through the mantlet cover and onto the turret. The heavy AA machine gun is made up from nine parts and when complete can be fitted to the commanders hatch ring. The completed turret is then fitted to the hull completing the model. There is only one decal option, that of Tank 720 in overall Russian Tank Green or similar. Rather unusually for Trumpeter they have included four crewmen in this kit. There are three standing, and one squatting, AK in hand. Whilst the figures are in normal styrene, their helmets are in the DS style material, which look quite realistic. There is also a sprue of weapons, four AK’s with separate magazines, two with folded stocks and two with extend stocks. Conclusion Yes, Trumpeter have release4d another T-62 variant. At least you can’t say you haven’t got a choice if Russian tanks are you thing. I’ve built a few Trumpeter and Hobbyboss AFV’s and haven’t ever had a problem with the build, although I would probably change the tracks for a set from Friulmodel or the like. If you like tanks then you need at least one of these in your collection, highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  17. British WWI Mark I Tank 1:35 Takom Following the first foray by the British Army into "Landships", which went by the name "Little Willie", the Mark I was a developmental successor, which saw the first use of the rhomboid track arrangement in an effort to lower the centre of gravity that would enable it to roll up and over German trenches, aided initially by a trailing "limber" that helped it cross wider trenches. It was by no means perfect and struggled with reliability plus the perennial problem of carbon monoxide build-up in the cab, as well as the penchant for the fuel tanks to go afire when hit. All of these problems were at least partially addressed in later marks, with only 150 built in total, and split 50/50 between Male and Female variants. The Male tanks carried a 6-pounder naval gun in each side-mounted sponson, while the female was equipped with four Vickers Machine guns in the same positions. Both types also had a number of .303 Hotchkiss machine gun in various positions, which varied between types. Due to the rapid process of trial-and-error, the Mark I was replaced by the Mark IV in May of 1917, which is the Mark that everyone thinks of when WWI Tank is mentioned. The Kit Takom have produced two kits, one each for the Male and Female, rather than including large quantities of styrene that would never be used in one kit. While the hull is ostensibly the same, the sponson design varies sufficiently for separate parts to be needed. Each kit also has some specific additions to differentiate the variants, as well as adding value to the box. The Male has a trailer for the detached sponsons, sponson crane fittings as well as the trailing wheel assembly, while the Female has the trailing wheels, plus a tent-shaped mesh panel on the roof, which was designed to deflect grenades thrown by the enemy. The Male boxing has sixteen sprues in mid grey styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, 190 track links, 8 poly-caps on a small sprue, two lengths of metal chain, plus a small decal sheet, instruction booklet and painting guide. The Female boxing has fifteen sprues, a large sheet of PE, 190 track links, six poly-caps, a small decal sheet, plus the booklet and painting guide. Common Parts The driver's compartment is first to be built up with two vision slots and one machine gun port between them on the front, with pistol ports moulded into the sloped sides, and topped off with a riveted roof. This is then added to the hull, which takes shape with the roof, floor, front and rear panels, all of which mate using long shallow tabs and slots in the edges. The Male needs some holed drilling if you are attaching the crane, while the female has them drilled to attach the grenade netting. The hull is detailed with a round hatch on the top, plus the three exhaust outlets and three roof stiffeners running laterally, with three triangular PE parts added over the exhausts to prevent them getting blocked. The rhomboid track sponsons are next, each being a mirror image of the other. The assembly is all done on the inner surface, including the idler, drive sprocket and the myriad of road wheels that must be organised according to type. A pair of inner plates blank off the interior of the sponson, and the outer skin is added last, trapping the wheels in place. Each side takes 90 track links, and you'll be pleased to hear that they are already off the sprue and in a ziplok bag, with only a very slight clean-up required on the traction ridge, which is not going to take very long at all! The inner face of the links will be unseen unless you are doing a "brewed up" diorama, in which case you might want to slice off the raised (and numbered) ejector pins in the centre, at least for any links that will have their underside exposed. Both kits have the trailing wheel assembly in the box, and this builds up from a fairly well detailed frame with masses of recoil springs at the front, and two spoked wheels at the rear. The wheels have their spokes moulded-in on one side, with the other side as a separate part, and mating these traps a poly-cap in position to allow later removal. A small suspension unit is then added to the rear of the hull with armoured panelling protecting it, while the springs attach to mounts on the inner face of the track sponsons. They weren't particularly effective by all accounts, but they do add a rather olde-worlde charm to the model. The kits diverge from their core components at this stage. Male Specific Parts The breeches of the two 6-Pounder guns are built up first, with breech blocks, winder and the twin-recuperator tubes on top, and the sighting gear on the right side. The mounts are added to the sides, and the rotation of the base is maintained by the addition of a poly-cap trapped between the top and bottom parts. elevation and trigger mechanisms are installed on a panel on the left of the breech. The breech and mount are then added to the gun-shield, with the inner shield a single part, while the outer lateral shield is two parts that mate in the centre. With the shield in place the single part barrel can be glued into the breech, and this has only a moulding seam to scrape away, with a nice deep slide-moulded muzzle added for good measure. Each gun sits in a box-like sponson with a sloped front, where the 6-pounder sits in a cut-out. The .303 machine gun pokes through a hole in the side, and the base for the gun doubles up as ammo stowage, with a nice thin PE panel perforated to accept shells. Shells that aren't included in the kit, sadly. The walls are built up with a door in the rear, and a reinforced roof added last, repeated for the other side in mirror image. If you build your model with the sponsons off for transport, the detail within will be seen, but if you attach them to the tank, the majority will be lost forever unless you open the door in the sponson rear. More on that later, however. The Gaza Strip marking option uses a pair of girders mounted on the roof to remove the sponsons for transport, and these are included in great detail, which is what the chain is used for. Styrene hooks, the geared wheels on the ends of the jib, and the attachment bolts are all provided, and these attach to the same holes used on the female boxing for the anti-grenade net. Because of the vehicle's width, the sponsons were removed for travel, and could be carried behind the tank on a four-wheeled trailer. This is happily included in the box, and has the framework chassis, load-bed, and steering axle included, plus a quartet of wide steel wheels that have a poly-cap buried between their halves. A pair of open topped stowage boxes fit over the front axle, with the towing frame, and three PE brackets are added to the flat-bed. The first thing that springs to mind when considering this format is that although the sponsons are well detailed within, the main hull is devoid of any interior, so this would make the project a much more involved affair until you think that canvas covers would most likely be hung over the apertures to keep the weather and snooping eyes out of the tank interior. This would probably also ring true for the sponson backs, so some tarp replicas will solve the problem quite easily. If you prefer to mount the sponsons on the tank, they simply glue in place on the sides of the hull, and should stay put while setting up with the application of a few pieces of tape. Female Specific Parts The Female sponsons contain two "turrets" with armoured Vickers machine guns per side, allowing almost a full spread of fire, with only the direct front and rear lacking cover. Each one has a two-part shield with brackets converging at the centre, through which a two-part Vickers with armoured cooling jacket project. The brackets attach to the base, which incorporates a poly-cap to maintain rotation after assembly, and a strengthening hoop fits at the rear over the gunner's head. Two of these assemblies are placed on each sponson floor, and the walls are built up around them, with a narrow slit allowing for traverse, while extra armour between each turret prevents shot incursion within the sponson. The roof is the last part to be added, after which they can be added to the hull. The Mark I and subsequent variants all suffered from flat top decks that attracted grenades, which could possibly breach the armour, so crews often added framework pitched rooves that were covered in mesh to fend off the aforementioned grenades. The framework is all styrene, while the mesh is PE and has diagonal stiffening laths etched in that prevented grenades getting caught up due to their weight. Markings Each boxing includes three markings options, with a wide variety of schemes that might make a few of you scream at the thought of masking. The decal sheets are tiny, and all the markings are white, so there's no worry about registration, while colour density and sharpness are good. There is no note of who printed the sheets, but they look like Cartograf, but don't quote me on that. The colour profiles have been done by Mig's AMMO, and a small picture on one of the pages advertises the fact that his company have created a paint set specifically for WWI British Tanks, which may be worth looking up if you're struggling to find the right colours in your own stocks. From the box you can build one of the following: Male Mk.I "HMLS Sir Archibald", Palestine Gaza Strip, 1917 – all over Khaki Brown. C19 "HMLS Clan Leslie", Battle of the Somme, Autumn 1916 – grey/brown/green/tan camo with black line demarcation. C Company, Somme River, Autumn 1916 - grey/brown/green/tan camo with black line demarcation. Female Mk.I A Company "HMLS We Are All In It", Somme River, Autumn 1916 - grey/brown/green/tan/black camo. Somme River, Somme, Autumn 1916 - grey/brown/green/tan/pink camo. Somme River, Autumn, 1916 - grey/brown/green camo. An addition page on the Male guide shows the correct colours for the trailer for the sponsons. Conclusion Apart from a full interior, there's not much more you could want from these early tanks, and speaking as a fan of WWI armour, it's great to see the first active tank being kitted in such detail. The only problem is, which one to get? The answer there is both of them of course! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  18. Russian GAZ-66 With ZU-23-2 Trumpeter 1:35 History The GAZ-66 light utility truck entered production in 1964 at the Gorky Automobile Plant, where it replaced the earlier GAZ-63 on the lines. Originally produced for both civilian and military use, the military versions gradually became paramount. The overall design follows the usual Soviet guidelines of relative simplicity, strength and versatility. There are no design frills on the GAZ-66 as it is an orthodox forward control design capable of being produced in, or modified into, many different versions. This truck had been produced for 35 years. It's production ceased in 1999. Nearly 1 million of these trucks were built. The GAZ-66 is still used by the Russian Army, many ex-Warsaw Pact armed forces and wherever Soviet influence has spread. Many are used throughout the Middle East and nations in Africa. The GAZ-66 was simple in design and technology. Also it was easy to maintain. The basic cargo/utility model has an all-steel cargo body with an optional canvas cover over bows mounted on a chassis frame that can be arranged to carry any number of body styles. Cab is mounted over the engine and provides seating for the driver and one passenger. Standard equipment of the GAZ-66 includes a powerful cab heater and an engine pre-heater but these are omitted on models intended for tropical use. The GAZ-66 is powered by a 4.2ltr V8 petrol engine developing 115 hp. The truck has a full-time all-wheel drive and made a name for itself as a superb cross-country vehicle. Models produced from 1968 onwards, the GAZ-66A, have a central tyre pressure system and may feature a soft-top cab. Different variants have been produced specifically designed so that, over the range of vehicles, they can operate in climatic conditions ranging from -50°C to +50°C. There are numerous sub-variants of the GAZ-66, with or without winches, and with many equipped for special roles such as a twin 23mm AA gun carrier, the subject of this kit. A follow-on GAZ-3308 Sadko was developed as a replacement, however Russian Army preferred the KRAZ-4350, which offers more payload. However the GAZ-66 remains in widespread use and full replacement may take some time. The Model The kit comes in a sturdy top opening box with a artistic impression of the vehicle with the twin 23mm gun in use in a rather desolate landscape. Opening the box reveals ten sprues in various sizes in a nice light grey styrene, three sprues of green styrene, one sprue of clear styrene, three small photo etched brass sheets, two brass tubes, seven vinyl tyres and a small decal sheet. The mouldings for all the parts are superb, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and very few moulding pips. As with most truck kits there are a lot of parts that will probably never be seen, particularly the nicely detailed chassis, suspension and engine, but in my view it’s better to have them than not. There also lots of very thin parts such as the guns mountings rails across the top of the breech sections, so care will need to be taken when handling these parts. The build begins with the several sub-assemblies, beginning with the superbly detailed V8 engine. The engine block is provided in two halves, which, once joined together, are fitted with the sump and intake manifold. Each of the exhaust manifolds are provided in two pieces, these are fitted to the upper sides of the engine block, with the two cylinder heads fitted above them. The crank case and two piece starter motor are then attached to the rear end of the block, whilst the ancillary drive plate is fitted to the front. The two piece alternator is fitted to the right hand front with the water pump fitted to the front. On the top of the engine the six piece throttle body, three piece oil filter and single piece distributer are attached. The inner drive belt is fitted along its idler and tensioner wheels, followed by the outer drive belt and its idler and tensioner wheels and completed with the fitting of the cooling fan. The last part of the engine is the air filter, and this is made up from six parts before being fitted to the top of the engine. The next sub-assembly is for the pedal box, which consists of two halves, between which the brake and clutch pedals and a spacer bar are sandwiched. Each of the pedals are then fitted with their respective pads. Support bracket and box structures are then attached to the top of the box, followed by the steering column and steering wheel. The centre console of the cab is the fitted with the lid of the large storage box, whilst the two seats, each made up form three parts are also assembled. Each of the cab doors are also assembled, each with from the outer skin, clear part, door card and associated handles. The centre console is attached to the single piece floor moulding along with the accelerator pedal and seats. On the outside of the cab, just behind the rear of the centre console a selection of five levers which make up the oil tank pump controls are fitted. The instrument binnacle is fitted out with the various instrument decals, gear stick and the co-drivers grab handle before being fitted to the raised section of the floor moulding in front of the centre console. The single piece cab is then fitted with the two door assemblies, two windscreens, two rear screens, two quarter screens, a vent cover and the grille. The cab and floor assembly are then attached before the roof is fitted, followed by the headlights, with their clear lenses and side lights. To finish off the cab, two, two piece frames for attaching to the chassis later on, are attached to the underside, followed by the windscreen wipers, mud flaps, spotlight and two, three piece door mirrors. The completed cab is then put to one side to dry properly. Moving on to the running gear and each of the five tyres are fitted with their two piece rims, with the driving wheels also fitted with centrally mounted caps. The spare wheel frame is now assembled with the two frame rails joined together by seven crosspieces and two wheel supports and trough. The frame also carries the three piece electrical box for the gun mounting and a two piece tool box, oh and the spare wheel, or course. The next sub-assembly is that of the winch unit. This is made up from the drum, to which a universal joint if fitted, this attaches to the four piece gearbox and three piece support frame. The front and rear differentials are assembled next, each from two halves, and fitted with the over and under spring clamps. There are two large air accumulators, and each of these are made up of two halves, to which a two piece valve is fitted as well as the support frame. The truck bed is assembled next, with the single piece bed fitted with eight cross beams on the underside. The rearmost pair are fitted with the rear light clusters and mud flaps respectively. The bed sides come complete with the upper rails. These rail need to be removed, before the sides are attached to the bed itself. The front and rear panels are fitted with the numerous hooks for the tilt ropes to tie onto. The rear, opening panel is also fitted with the hooks, along with the foot rests and grab handles, before being attached to the bed, along with the two wheel arch covers. Usually assembled at the beginning of most truck kits the chassis construction finally takes place. Each of the chassis rails are fitted out with the air accumulators, cab suspension springs, suspension mounts, and two, two piece oil tanks. They are then joined together by five cross members, with the front capped off by the winch assembly and the rear capped off by the hook mounting strut and its associated braces. The engine assembly is mounted to the front cross members, followed by front bumper along with its PE brackets, a PE footplate and a PE tow eye. There is a small power take off box fitted to the rear of the engine which will eventually connect to the electrical unit on the spare wheel frame. On the underside of the chassis, the four leaf spring units are attached along with their respective clamps. The exhaust pipe is then attached to the exhaust manifolds of the engine and clamped to the right hand rail about half way down the chassis. The front differential is fitted with the two, five piece hubs and ball joints, along with the steering rack. The two differentials are then glued into position along with the three piece transfer box and joined together by the three drive shafts, each with separate universal joints. The radiator housing is made up from the housing, radiators rear mesh, front mesh, and top cap, along with the intercooler and two support struts. The assembly is then fitted to the chassis in front of the engine. On the upperside of the chassis, several support frames are attached, along with the rear PE bumpers, which need to be carefully bent to shape using the jig provided, as well as the four shock absorbers, and anti roll links. Each of the two petrol tanks is made up form top and bottom halves, two piece filler caps and their respective pipes. These are then fitted to the support frames fitted earlier. Two small tow hooks are fitted to the rear chassis cross member via two PE plates. The truck really starts to come together now, with the fitting of the four wheels, truck bed, spare wheel rack and finally the cab assembly. There you have it, one complete GAZ 66 model. But that’s not where this build ends, oh no, there’s still the twin 23mm gun mount. Each of the guns are made up from eight styrene parts and two turned brass tubes that are fitted to the muzzles. The gun frame is is assembled from seven parts, to which the guns are then attached and further detailed with an extra eight parts. The large trunnion wheels are then assembled, each from four parts, the centres of which can be left unglued if the modeller wishes to change their elevation every now and then. The trunnion mounts are fitted to the mountings floor plate and the gun assembly fitted between them. The complex sight/control block is made up from no less than twenty three parts, so be patient as you could easily miss a part or two out. The gunners seats, each made from five parts, and the two seven piece ammunition boxes are fitted to the mounting, followed by the sight/control block and rear gun plate. The mounting is finished off with the fitting of the foot controls, manual rotation wheel, guard rails, and wheel arches, complete with lights. The gun base is then made up from upper and lower halves, before being fitted with the fixed part of the axle arms, adjustable ground plates, movable axle arms, wheel hubs, wheels and towing hitch. The gun mounting is then fitted to the base unit before the whole assembly is placed onto the truck bed. The model only comes in one colour scheme; that of overall light green with a black chassis. Decals are provided for four different number plates and a few placards for the gun mounting and the instrument cluster for the cab. Conclusion I’ve always had a soft spot for the Gaz 66, ever since, as a teenager, I used to do wargaming with 1:300 scale metal vehicles. This is a lovely, well detailed kit of this vehicle and the addition of the big twin 23mm gun mounting makes it even more interesting as it seems to have been a common addition to quite a few battlefields. If you want, there are parts included in the kit which will allow the modeller to produce a vehicle with a standard truck bed, complete with tilt rails, (but no tilt, although this can easily be scratch built), thus leaving the gun as a separate entity for use in a diorama? Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  19. Camouflage Netting (Green or Tan) Pegasus Hobbies Armour modellers occasionally need a source of camouflage netting that looks good enough in scale to pass for the real thing. There are a number of DIY techniques, but they can be time-consuming, especially for the novice. These packs from Pegasus give you the basics that you need to begin, and they have been pre-dyed in either green or tan to take away one of the most messy stages of the task. Each pack comes with approximately 30cm x 40cm of the cloth, folded up to the size of the bag, and they have differing texture to the threads. The tan pack is more or less an evenly-spaced mesh, while the green is more uneven, giving a tiger-stripe look. Both are quite transparent when used in a single layer, but this increases with layering, as you will hopefully be able to tell from the pictures. They could be used with 1:48 and above, but at smaller scales the threads may start to look overscale. You can add your own embellishments in the shape of tie-on squares or glued on mixed herbs for additional texture, and the colour can be varied further by airbrushing additional colour onto it. Conclusion A good starting point for any camouflage netting if you're looking to add some to the stowage of a vehicle or diorama. Watch out for stray fibres though! Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  20. Russian Su-33 Flanker D 1:72 Trumpeter Instantly recognisable to enthusiasts of Cold War or modern jet aircraft, the Su-27 Flanker has formed the backbone of the Soviet Union/Russian Air Force's air superiority fighter force for much of the last thirty years. The design marked a departure from previous Soviet 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. Now Trumpeter have released an all-new kit along with a typically generous selection of ordnance. Inside the large top-opening box are 230 parts spread across fifteen 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. Trumpeter seem to be in something of a purple patch with their recent 1:72 releases, and happily this kit continues that run of good form. 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 will 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 I'm made up 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. 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. 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; A choice of two schemes is provided on the decal sheet - 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. No doubt this kit will find its way into the collection of a great many modellers, and justifiably so. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  21. Pocketbond news | 6.1.15

    New releases available now! 1/35 US Presidential Helicopter and US Navy Rescue Helicopter from Gallery Models! 1/350 USS John F Kennedy from Merit International! 1/72 R-R Armoured Car from Roden 1/35 Scud Crew figures + missile warheads from Trumpeter! 1/16 PzBeobWg Ausf J from Trumpeter! 1/35 GAZ-66 with ZU-23-2 AA Gun from Trumpeter! 1/35 T-62 Mod 1975 with 4 new figures from Trumpeter! 1/48 Su-11 Fishpot from Trumpeter! 1/700 HMS Dreadnought 1918 from Trumpeter! Ask at your model shop for all these and more!
  22. Tupolev G-5 MTB Merit International 1:35 The G-5 was a Soviet motor torpedo boat built before and during World War II. Approximately 300 were built, of which 73 were lost during the war. Four were exported to the Spanish Republican Navy during the Spanish Civil War and others were transferred to North Korea after the war. Three were captured by the Finns, but only two were used before all three had to be returned to the Soviets after the Moscow Armistice in 1944. The class was an improved and enlarged version of the Sh-4-class motor torpedo boats which were derived from a design by Andrei Tupolev, the noted aircraft designer. It was intended to use Soviet-built engines and carry larger torpedoes than its predecessor. A prototype was designed and built by TsAGI the Central Aero-hydrodynamic Institute) in 1932–33. As its intended engines were not yet available two 1,000 bhp (750 kW) Isotta-Fraschini engines were imported from Italy. Unarmed, and with a partial fuel load, it achieved a maximum speed of 63.5 knots (73.1 mph; 117.6 km/h) during its trials in the Black Sea during 1933 and the decision was made to place it into production. The G-5 used a single-step, hydroplaning design with a whaleback upper hull. It was mainly built from duralumin which saved a significant amount of weight, but greatly complicated its use in service because of duralumin's susceptibility to galvanic corrosion in salt water. One captured Soviet torpedo boat commander said that G-5s could only be kept in the water for 5–7 days during the summer and 10–15 days during the winter before it had to be removed from the water and treated with anti-corrosion measures. The hull was divided into three compartments by two transverse bulkheads. The superstructure was very small to reduce top-heaviness, and crewmembers could not stand up inside it. Designed to use a version of the Mikulin AM-34 aircraft engine adapted for maritime use as the GAM-34. The two engines were fitted in the forward compartment of the hull. Each engine had its own transmission and drove a bronze propeller .67 m (2 ft 2 in) in diameter. The initial version of the GAM-34 was less powerful than planned at only 675 bhp (503 kW) and the initial Series 7 boats could only reach 45 knots (52 mph; 83 km/h). However the minimum speed was 18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h) which caused a great deal of trouble when trying to moor and when manoeuvring in close proximity. The two torpedoes were carried in troughs set into the rear deck in a manner derived from that used by the British WW I-era coastal motor boats captured by the Soviets during Russian Civil War. The torpedoes were pushed off the stern by an arbor with a bell-shaped head that was activated by an explosive charge, but the torpedo motor was not activated until a wire trailing from the boat snapped, giving the boat time to turn away from the target. This launching system was very light, but it required additional training to properly aim the torpedo and prior coordination when making massed torpedo attacks to prevent the boats from ramming each other or the torpedoes. The gun armament initially consisted of a single 7.62 mm (0.300 in) machine gun, but this was upgraded to a 12.7 mm (0.50 in) DShK machine gun in later models. Some later boats carried two DShKs although the mounts varied; some were placed in a tub in the forecastle, but others carried theirs in a rotating turret behind the superstructure, above the torpedoes. Some boats carried 82 mm (3.2 in) ROFS-82 or 132 mm (5.2 in) ROFS-132 rocket launchers in fixed mounts above and behind the wheelhouse. The Model When this kit was first announced it was met with a fair bit of surprise, be it a very welcome one. The kit comes in quite a small box for the scale, as it’s not a very big craft, especially when compared with the similarly scaled Vosper and US PT boats released by Italeri. What there is though is beautifully moulded, with some very fine detail on the hull and small superstructure. On opening the box the modeller is confronted with six sprues of grey styrene, the two part hull, the moulds of which must have taken some machining to get all the well rendered curves reproduced, a single piece bridge structure, a sprue of clear styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a smallish decal sheet. The biggest disappointment is the complete lack of internal detail, which seems to be coming a bit of a trademark for Merit. It’s like they get bored of a subject and just release as is, without any further thought on what the modeller might like to see in a kit. This does give the scratch builders and aftermarket companies something to do, but it would have been nice to have some included. Construction begins with the fitting of a small cross member just aft of the bridge opening on the inside of the upper hull, and the opening up of three holes on the upper deck. The upper and lower hulls are then joined together before being turned upside down for the two propeller shafts, which are moulded complete with their support bearings, and the two propellers. The hull is turned right side up and the two rudders, with their separate steering wire attachments fitted. Each of the three rear mounted torpedo rails are made up of two parts. These are then fitted to the centre and sides of the torpedo troughs. The transom mounted support braces are then attached, followed by to access hatches and the torpedo support cradles. The engine compartment hatch, front machine gun tub ring and forward access hatch are all glued into place, whilst along each side there are two hull strakes fitted. The various vents, hatches are attached to the sides, with the engine room clear skylights and hatch handles being fitted to the deck. The deck is also fitted with the various cleats, bollards, handrails, and boat hooks. Staying with the deck fittings, the ventilators, jack staff, torpedo trough fittings, ensign staff and the two fuel tank racks are glued into place. The three fuel tanks are each made up of upper and lower halves, which, when assembled are fitted to the racks fitted earlier. The tanks are then fitted with the eight sections of pipe work, six of which lead to the inside of the deck via the torpedo recess. Each of the long exhausts are then assembled from fourteen parts and attached to each side of the deck. At this point, we finally get to build the primary weapons of the boat, the two torpedoes. Each of them is made up from upper and lower halves, four part contra-rotating propellers, (the propellers blades being etched brass). The propellers are sandwiched between the two halves of the body, with the separate upper and lower propeller guards being attached. Each of the two DShK heavy machine guns are assembled, each made from a single piece barrel/breech, to which the rear mounted firing handle is attached, along with two fittings for the mount. The triangular mount is then fitted, along with the counterweight and three piece ammunition tank. The large searchlight is then assembled, with the mounting cradle made up from four parts and the searchlight from another three. The bridge structure is then fitted out with the five windows and top mounted screen, followed by the torpedo sighting plate, various vents, navigation lights and four hand rails. The torpedo sight is then fitted to its plate, followed by the searchlight, four piece mast, and the rear mounted gun tub, made from four parts, to which a previously assembled DShK is fitted. The forward gun tub is made from five parts and fitted with the remaining DShK. To complete the model the torpedoes, bridge and forward gun tub assembly are all fitted and the model displayed on the five piece stand, which comes complete with nameplate. Decals The smallish decal sheet contains a pair of Soviet Naval Ensigns, one straight, the other slightly wavy. The rest of the sheet contains three of each number 1 – 9 and ten zeros, to make up any numbers the modeller wishes. Although the boxart shows the two boats without numbers, it will require some research to determine what numbers were used. Conclusion This is a great looking kit, and from the build progressing on Britmodeller as I type, it looks like it goes together well. As mentioned above, you will have to add some interior as there are a few areas that make the whole boat see through. Fortunately there are some photos available that will help with this. All in all though, this will make into a very interesting and unusual model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  23. German Pz.Kpfw IV Ausf J Medium Tank Trumpeter 1:16 History The Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf J was the last version of the Panzer IV medium tank to enter production before the end of the Second World War. By the time it entered production in the summer of 1944 the Panzer IV had declined in importance as a battle tank, and so of the three factories that had produced the Ausf H only Nibelungenwerke produced the Ausf J, while Krupp concentrated on the StuG IV and Vomag on the JadgPanzer IV. Despite this a total of 1,758 Panzer IV Ausf Js were produced, along with 278 chassis for the Panzer IV/70(A) and 142 for the Brummbär. The main change made to the Ausf J was the removal of the electric turret traverse and its associated auxiliary engine. To compensate for this a dual speed hand-traverse was installed. The space saved was used to fit an auxiliary fuel tank, which added 30 miles to the Panzer IV’s cross country range. The Ausf J also saw the addition of a Nahverteidigungswaffe (Close defence weapon), capable of firing either smoke or high explosive grenades to defend the tank against very short range infantry attacks. During the production run of the Ausf J the pistol ports were removed from the turret rear and side doors, thicker armour was added to the turret and superstructure roof, on some tanks wire-mesh skirting replaced the solid armour skirts on the sides of the tank (to save weight), and in December 1944 the number of return rollers was reduced from four to three (to speed up production). By the time the Ausf J entered production the Panzer IV had passed its heyday. The Panther had replaced it as the best German medium tank, and Nibelungenwerke’s production of the Panzer IV Ausf J was not enough to replace combat losses. As a result in November 1944 the number of Panzer IVs in each company was cut down to 17, 14 or even to 10. By the end of the year the eight panzer divisions involved in the Ardennes offensive had 259 Panzer IVs but 399 Panthers. Despite this the Panzer IV fought on to the end of the war. The Model Naturally, being a 1:16 scale kit, you’d expect it to come in quite a big box, and although not quite as big as Trumpeters King Tiger of the same scale, the box is still the size of medium suitcase, complete with carrying handle. Inside the hinged lid you’ll come across four other boxes, each one filled with sprues of styrene and other media. In total, (including all the smaller sprues), there are seventy five sprues, plus the separate inner floor, upper hull, lower hull, turret, turret side screens and bustle storage bin, all of medium grey styrene, three of which have aluminium panels integral to the moulded parts, one sprue of clear styrene, five sheets of etched brass, four metal springs, two metal axles, a turned aluminium barrel a length of brass wire, 228 individual track links and two quite large decal sheets. The large number of sprues, and consequently, the number of parts is due to the fact that this kit includes a full, and I mean FULL interior. The mouldings are superb, with crisp, clear detail throughout, no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are a lot of moulding pips which will impede cleaning the parts up a bit. There doesn’t appear to be much that the aftermarket can add, unless they can find a kitchen sink to throw at it. In fact the only parts I can see that do need to be added are the ancillary drive belt and the pipework around the engine bay. The idea of the aluminium mesh for the Schürzen being added to the moulds so that their frames are moulded to the metal parts is genius and really looks the part. Even with a cursory eye, this looks like it will be a superb kit to while away the winter months, it may take you that long just to go through all the parts, (did I say that there is a lot in this kit?). So, where the heck do you start with one of these monster kits, well, in this case it’s with the engine. The block, which is moulded in two halves is joined together, and then fitted out with the two heads, each of which is made up from eight parts, followed by several brackets and fittings. The three piece supercharger is fitted to the right hand side whilst on the left is the generator unit also made up from three parts, followed by the two piece magneto fitted to the top of the engine along with a hoisting eye. There as a toothed flywheel attached to the rear of the engine, and fitted with a universal joint. The three piece air inlet is fitted to the top of the engine and connected by a pipe to the supercharger. The ancillary drives are then attached followed by the eight piece exhaust manifold. Before the gearbox assembly can begin, the fuel tank is built up from the base section, which is moulded such that includes the front and rear faces, to which the end plates, top plate and two support brackets are fitted. The gear box is moulded in two halves, which when joined together is fitted with the gear links, end plate and cooling fan. Now this is where my knowledge of tank engine systems comes unstuck, to the end of the gearbox, a six piece unit that looks like a turbocharger and includes a long pipe is fitted. The gearbox assembly is then fitted out with the instrument box, with the instrument supplied as a decal, the gear stick, front end plate, which has a two piece fan unit attached and finished off with a small bracket at the front. The single piece floor is fitted with the box like turret base unit on which the turret pinion and chequer plate floor is attached. The batteries fit onto the floor, in the cut-out section of the box structure. The rear cross beam is then fitted, followed by the drivers steering columns and three ammunition lockers. Each locker consists of a single piece section, which is moulded to include the back, base and sides of the locker. Into this part three shelves of PE are fitted, each with their edges bent to shape. There is a full complement of shells included and each shell/cartridge is moulded as a single part, onto which the PE base is glued. Each locker contains eight shells, which when fitted the locker lid and front are attached, although these may be left off or open to show off the shells. The firewall between the fighting compartment and the engine bay is fitted out with a number of brackets and fittings before being glued into place. The drivers and front machine gunners seats, each made from three parts are glued to the front cross beam, whilst the drivers pedals are also glued into their respective positions. Behind them a low end plate is glued to the turret mounting structure, followed by the fuel tank assembly to the left hand side of the engine bay. The engine assembly can now be fitted to the engine bay, whilst the gearbox assembly is fitted to the front of the vehicle, between the driver and machine gunner via to support rails. The engine and gearbox are then connected by the drive shaft which needs to be slid through the turret support structure. Before fitting the floor assembly to the lower hull, the then tabs on the top of the hull sides need to be trimmed off and the floor glued into place. Work now begins on the idler wheels and their fittings with each of the four wheels being fitted with their inner rims. Each of their axles are made up from five parts before the inner wheel is attached, along with its associated hub cap and outer wheel. The completed assembly is then attached to the separate rear hull panel. The two exhausts are then assembled, each from five styrene parts and one PE part. These are then also attached to the rear panel along with two cross plates the five piece towing hitch, and two angled brackets. The completed rear plate is then attached to the lower hull, followed by three return roller axles per side. Returning to the interior for a bit, the two brake drums for the sprocket wheels are assembled. Each brake drum consists of seventeen parts which includes the pads, drive shafts, cooling ducts and control levers. Back to the external parts, on the left hand side, either side of the middle return roller, the two small refuelling hatches are glued into place. There are four bump stops fitted to each side, each unit consisting of four parts. The build then turns to the road wheels, with each of the sixteen wheels made up from inner and outer hubs and a separate tyre, the completed wheels are then paired up. Each of the twin axles are made up from eight parts, after which they are fitted with two of the road wheels and their central hubs, making eight units in total. The completed units are then attached to the lower hull. Whilst another ammunition locker, made up from six styrene parts and two PE parts, not including the twenty three styrene shells and their PE bases, and fitted to the interior just aft of the drivers seat. And the build goes on. The inner section of the drive wheel is fitted to the gear box cover via a centrally mounted pin, after which the outer sprocket is attached. With two of these assembled the can be fitted to the front of the lower hull. The front upper glacis plate is fitted with three hatches, plus their associated hinges and handles from the outside, whilst inside there are the drive and gunner hatch locking levers and the three piece accelerator pedal. The plate is then attached to the lower hull and fitted with seven spare track links, their connecting pins, plus the lockdown brackets and pins. The front plate that is sited beneath the glacis is also assembled, with two locking bars, latches and handle internally, whilst on the outside there is a support bar for another length of spare track, this time ten links long. When complete this is also added to the hull, followed by the three two part return rollers and the idler wheel mud scrapers. The main tracks can then be assembled, each of ninety-nine links and their connecting pins, and fitted to the model. We now move the track guards. The right hand guard is fitted with the front and rear mud flaps, the front one being fitted with one of the metal springs included in the kit, a support bracket, an axe, with PE clamps, a long pry bar, what looks like a starting handle, also with PE straps, four wing nuts and two five piece ammunition lockers, complete with three rounds apiece. These will actually be on the inside of the tank once the upper hull has been fitted over them. The large jack is assembled from eight parts and fitted to the guard with two clamps, whilst the large nut wrench is glued to the rear of the track guard, along with a larger spring which is affixed to the rear mudguard. Two more ammunition lockers are now assembled, each of five parts and filled with nine rounds each. These are then fitted to the left hand track guard, which is also fitted out with front and rear mud flaps and their associated springs, the wire cutters, plus its clamps, four piece fire extinguisher, two track clamps and their support cage, plus the six piece headlight. Each track guard is also fitted with six Schürzen brackets and a grab handle. The completed guards are then attached to the lower hull assembly. The large radiator unit is fitted to the engine bay and fitted with its filler cap, before construction moves to the upper front panels, (inner and outer), which includes the machine gun ball and outer cover, drivers three piece viewing port and the 12 piece MG-34 machine gun and mount. This is put to one side whilst the build moves to the engine cooling fan unit. The fan support structure is made up from five parts, whilst each of the fans consists of three parts. The two fans, one fitted to their support are joined by two multi part shafts. The front plate and fan unit are then fitted to the upper hull, along with the gun cleaning rods with their PE brackets, aerial base on the left rear quarter and a storage box, with its bracket and handle to the front left quarter. The two metal shafts in the kit are used to mount three spare track links each. These are then joined together vertically by to brackets. The radio sub-assemblies are then constructed, and these include plenty of PE and styrene parts to construct the frames before the three radio sets are added and finished off with a comprehensive set of decals. The upper hull section is now kitted out with the drivers and gunners hatches, complete with separate locking mechanisms, followed by the engine deck hatches, rear panel, completed with brass wire tow rope and associated clamps, a shovel, side lights, and the spare track links made earlier. Inside the upper hull the radio sub-assembly is fitted to the machine gunners side whilst at the rear, over what will be the engine bay, the two large vent structures are fitted along with their access doors. The upper hull can now be joined to the lower hull and it’s finally beginning to look like a tank. The outside of the hull is finished off with the fitting of the aerial, spare wheel rack, complete with two spare road wheels, which are made in the same way as the others constructed earlier in the build. The Schürzen support poles and associated braces are glued into position, followed by the Schürzen plates, (made in a similar fashion as the track guards), themselves, once they have been separated and fitted with their fixtures and fittings. The panels that fill the gaps between the large vertical panels and the hull are then attached. The hull assembly can be put to one side whilst the build moves onto the turret. The turret consists of a single piece upper section which is kitted out with the various lifting eyes, bracket plates, side hatches, their hinges and internal frame, grab handles, and internally mounted vent. The 75mm main gun can either be built using the styrene halves or the turned aluminium barrel Trumpeter have kindly provided. The barrel is fitted to the nine piece breech and slide through the three piece trunnion mount and two piece front plate. The breech is then further detailed with the fitting of the breech guard elevation arms and gears, plus the cartridge basket. The three piece mantlet is then slid over the barrel and glued to the internal section of the trunnion mount, followed by the four piece muzzle brake. Alongside the main gun is seven piece machine gun mounted co-axially on the right hand side, whilst on the left the four piece sight is attached. The lower turret section is the then fitted with the turret ring and both this and the gun sub-assembly is put to one side whilst construction moves to the turret floor. The turret floor is fitted with the three four piece support frames, one with the gunners seat, one with the loaders seat and one with the commanders seat. Three equipment boxes, a ready use ammunition box, made entirely form PE parts, and filled with four shells, are also fitted to the floor along with an odd pump like unit. The floor structure is then fitted to the lower turret section, whilst the gun assembly is fitted to the upper turret. Before joining the two, the turret rotating gear box, made up from eight parts, a secondary turret rotating unit, complete with handle, commanders upper seat, ranging instrument unit and two spare machine gun magazines need to be fitted around the turret ring. The outside of the turret is then fitted with the rear bustle stowage box, with two part lid, Schürzen support brackets, Schürzen panels, outer vent mushroom, and cupola ring are attached. The large commanders cupola is then assembled from upper and lower sections, five, two piece outer viewing ports and five six piece inner viewing ports, plus two head pads. The cupola is finished off with the fitting of the hatch surround, hatch and another MG34 complete with five piece mount, before being attached to the turret roof, after which the Schürzen doors, cupola mounted armour plate and turret mounted periscope are fitted , before the finished turret can be mounted onto the hull, completing the build. Decals The two, moderately sized decal sheets, one for the vehicle markings and one for the placards, instruments and stencils for both inside and outside of the vehicle plus the ammunition. They are very nicely printed. They appear to be in register, with good colour density and whilst the carrier film is respectably thin, you will need to prepare the surface well especially for the vehicle identification numbers. The colour chart provides schemes for four vehicles, three in standard dark green, red brown and sandy brown paint, whilst the fourth would have been the same before it was whitewashed. Unfortunately Trumpeter don’t give and information on which unit and where these vehicles fought, but I guess with a little bit of research the modeller should be able to find out. As it si the vehicle identification numbers are:- Black 615 Red 515 White 433 White 431 Conclusion Well, what can I say? This is a an amazing kit, with so much detail it will take many weeks if not months to build in a fashion it deserves. Now, being a premium kit, it does command a premium price, but if you break it down to pounds per hour, then I’m sure you will be getting your monies worth. I admit to not being an expert on the Panzer IV, but with the rather limited research I’ve done it does appear to be pretty accurate, although there are bound to be some more knowledgeable modeller out there who would be able to point out the finer faults. To me though it really looks the business and with a nice paint job, will look fantastic in any collection. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  24. M-ATV MRAP. 1:16

    M-ATV MRAP Trumpeter 1:16 History In the summer of 2008, the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) began to examine the possibility of developing and procuring a lighter-weight, all-terrain capable MRAP variant to address the poor roads and extreme terrain of Afghanistan. Source selection activity considered responses from more than 20 companies to a Request for Information (RfI)/Market Survey dated 21 August 2008 and in mid-November 2008 the U.S. government issued a pre-solicitation for an M-ATV. In early December 2008 the M-ATV formal Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued. The original M-ATV program requirement was for between 372 and 10,000 vehicles, with the most probable production quantity stated as 2,080. In March 2009, it became known that two each of six different vehicle types (from five manufacturers) had been delivered to the U.S. Army for two months of evaluation, at the conclusion of which up to five ID/IQ (Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity) contracts would be awarded. In addition to Oshkosh's proposal, BAE Systems submitted two proposals, these being a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) derived design and an FMTV-based Caiman derivative. Force Dynamics (a Force Protection/General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) joint venture) offered Cheetah, GDLS-C (Canada) offered an RG-31 MRAP derivative, and Navistar offered an MXT-based solution. After GDLS-C's RG-31 was eliminated from the competition in May 2009, it was announced that the five remaining bidders had been awarded ID/IQ contracts, and were each to deliver three production-ready test vehicles for the next stage of the competition. At the completion of testing, the U.S. DoD stated that it planned to select a single M-ATV producer but could, at its discretion, place production orders with multiple producers as it had done with the initial MRAP procurement. On 30 June 2009, the M-ATV contract award was announced with a single ID/IQ contract award to Oshkosh. Brigadier General Michael Brogan, United States Marine Corps program officer for MRAP, stated that the Oshkosh M-ATV was chosen because it had the best survivability and Oshkosh had the best technical and manufacturing capabilities of all the competitors. The Oshkosh bid was also the second cheapest. The initial M-ATV delivery order was valued at over $1 billion and included 2,244 M-ATVs. The overall M-ATV requirement had increased in early June from 2,080 to 5,244 M-ATVs, these split 2,598 (Army), 1,565 (Marines), 643 (U.S. Special Operations Command), 280 (Air Force), 65 (Navy), and 93 for testing. In July 2009, the first 46 M-ATVs were delivered, and in November the 1,000th M-ATV was handed over. Oshkosh reached its contractual obligation to produce 1,000 M-ATVs per month ahead of schedule in December 2009, and by using its existing manufacturing facilities in Oshkosh, WI (50%), and making use of its recession-hit JLG telescopic handler facility in McConnellsburg, PA (50%). The first vehicles arrived in Afghanistan in October 2009 and were to be all delivered by March 2010. In total 8,722 M-ATVs were delivered to the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) for use in Afghanistan. M-ATVs were delivered in two main variants. The base model is designated M1240 with the Objective Gunner Protection Kit [OGPK] manned turret); it is designated M1240A1 when fitted with the Under-body Improvement Kit (UIK). The second main variant is designated M1277 and is fitted with M153 CROWS remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS). Produced in smaller numbers, the SOCOM-specific variant is designated M1245; M1245A1 with UIK fitted. As part of the overall divestiture of the wartime MRAP fleet, the U.S. Government will keep about 80% (around 7,000) of the M-ATV fleet, 5,651 of these (inc. 250 for SOCOM) to be retained by the Army. Work is currently underway at Oshkosh's Wisconsin facility and the Red River Army Depot to reset the around 7,000 M-ATVs retained to a common build standard. Oshkosh was awarded an initial 500-vehicle M-ATV Reset contract in August 2014. Three additional contract options for 100 vehicles each were awarded in December 2014. Total contract value is in excess of US$77 million. Deliveries are under way and will continue through September 2015. Reset work centres on returning vehicles to Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) 22 standard: essentially the build standard for the final M-ATV production batch. LRIP 22 includes upgrades such as the UIK and enhanced Automatic Fire Extinguishing System (AFES). Reset work also adds Engineering Change Proposals (ECPs) that include acoustic signature reduction (muffler), Modular Ammunition Restraint System (MARS) ammunition storage, and some Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) relocation. On 28 May 2015, Oshkosh announced the U.S. Army had awarded it a contract modification for the reset of 360 additional M-ATVs. The modification includes options for the reset of up to 1,440 additional M-ATVs. Deliveries for this latest modification are to start is October 2015. Oshkosh is on contract to reset a combined 1,160 M-ATVs with a total value of over $115 million. The Model The first thing you will notice about this kit is that it comes in a very big box with an artists impression of the vehicle on the front. Originally released as a ready built model by Merit International, sister company Trumpeter have now released it as a kit. On lifting the lid of the box off, you are confronted with a sea of plastic and a second box which contains both the larger single piece items and the small parts, to keep them safe. In total there are ten sprues of grey styrene, two of clear styrene, eight separate parts, also in grey styrene, one small sheet of etched brass, four metal springs, eight metal shafts, one metal link shaft, twenty three screws of various sizes/types, five large vinyl tyres, each three inches in diameter, and a smallish decal sheet. The moulding of all the parts is superb, particularly on the large separate parts that make up the chassis and body parts, with crisp details, such as bolt heads. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections, such as sink marks on even the largest parts. Although it appears to be quite a small vehicle, the completed model measures out at 386.3mm long and 159mm wide so will take up quite a lot of display space. Construction begins with the with the wheels with the four central hubs being fitted with two inner hub parts before having the large vinyl tyres slipped over them. The inner hubs and brake accumulators are then attached. The wheels are then put aside whilst construction concentrates on the chassis. The large single piece chassis is fitted with the four suspension mounts, each pair fitted with two piece differentials which include the drive shafts for each wheel. Each suspension mount is then fitted with upper and lower wishbones and ball joint. Between the two wishbones a metal sprint is fitted, before the whole assembly is fitted to the mount, followed by the shock absorber and wheel assembly. The steering rack is then attached to the front axle and the large transfer box is fitted on the centreline, attached to the rear cross-member and the drive shaft fitted between the transfer box and rear differential. The front bumper is fitted with two uprights and attached to the front of the chassis. On the underside of the bumper there is a large crossbeam which is attached via two brackets. Whilst on the underside, the two scuff plates are fitted over the front and rear differentials. The build moves onto the cab, with the firewall being fitted with the two foot pedals, followed by the instrument binnacle, to which the instrument panel is attached and detailed with the appropriate decals. The steering column is added next, followed by the navigation screen which has a map represented by a decal, on view. The cab floor is fitted by the two racks that make up the centre console between the seats. The three passenger seats are each made up of a squab and backrest, whilst the drivers seat is mostly moulded in one piece, with just the base frame and headrest to be fitted. With the seats in place the front bulkhead/instrument panel is fitted, along with the door frame uprights and metal steering link shaft and put to one side. The next major component to be assembled is the CROWS II gunners/commander cupola. The upper, armoured section of which is moulded in one piece, to which the lower section, which has been fitted with the access hatch, is added, along with the clear parts that represent the armoured glass. The 50cal heavy machine gun is a super bit of moulding and only requires the fitting of the pintle mount, two piece ammunition box, breech to plate and shield attachment fitted before it can be added to the cupola. The splinter shield is then fitted with the two armoured glass parts before being fitted to its mount on the machine gun pintle. The instructions now tell you to add the cupola to the single piece main body section, but it may be possible to leave this off till you’ve finished painting, although it does require a fixing ring to be fitted from the inside. The armoured windscreen parts are then fitted from the inside to the body section, along with the PE grille screen, and three boxes associated with the cupola rotation. The cab assembly is then fitted from underneath the body, along with the inner wings and the door hinges fitted to the door posts. Each of the four doors are fitted with their associated armoured glass parts, door cards and hinges. Each of the doors can then be hung on the opposite hinges allowing them to be opening if so desired. The front doors are then fitted with large wing mirrors. The main cab/body section is then fitted to the chassis assembly, along with the large single piece under chassis angled plate. The next stage is the fitting of the rear mud flaps and large equipment frame/truck bed. The upper beams of the frame are closed off with a single part that covers the three sides, whilst the storage lockers are fitted to the single piece wheel are section. The upper frame is then attached and is fitted with the three aerial bases. The assembly is then attached to the rear of the chassis and fitted with mudflaps, radio box with another aerial base, grab handle and reflectors. The three piece towing hitch is then attached, as is the spare wheel mounting frame, and step frame. The large exhaust is also fitted, along the right hand side of the vehicle. The thick DUKE aerial is fitted to the right hand side rear wheel arch, whilst to the rear the spare wheel, with two part hub is attached to its mounting frame. At the front the two piece headlights are attached, along with the two reflectors. Finishing off the build the modeller just needs to fit the roof mounted floodlights over the drivers and co-drivers positions, rear door mounted floodlights, two more aerial bases, one on each side of the scuttle, with the right hand one fitted with a two piece flat plate aerial. There is a two piece camera unit fitted on the centreline of the scuttle, between the two windscreens, whilst at the front the flag shaped anti-IED device is fitted to the mounting plate on the bumper. Finally the two three piece access steps are added to each side. Decals There is only one colour scheme provided, that of overall sandy brown. Most of the decals provided on the sheet are for the various instruments and placards inside the vehicle, with just the vehicle ID numbers on the front, rear and sides and a couple of caution/tie down markings on the sides. Only one vehicles ID marks are provided. Conclusion Having seen the built model at Telford in November, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this kit. But from what I’ve seen in the box I really like it and it actually screams, BUILD ME, so it could end up jumping to the top of my build pile. Although quite large, the model doesn’t seem overly complicated, but with enough detail provided to make an out of the box build worthwhile. For those who wish to go the extra mile there is plenty of scope to add further details, such as maps, bottles, ration packs, personal kit and weapons. It’s certainly a good size to display, either at home or at a show. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  25. USS Enterprise, CV-6 Merit International 1:350 Enterprise sailed off the South American for her shakedown cruise and operated off of the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea until Apr 1939. Transferred to the Pacific, she trained navy pilots on carrier operations. When Pearl Harbor was struck by the Japanese in Dec 1941, she was en route from Wake, thus escaping potential damage or destruction. Her aircraft scouted the area for retreating Japanese vessels but failed in the search attempt. They did, however, find and sink submarine I-70 on 10 Dec 1941. In late Dec 1941, she sailed for Wake to assist the defending the garrison, but it was already too late to make a difference. Beginning in Jan 1942, she began operating in the South and Central Pacific. On 1 Feb 1942, her task force struck the Marshall Islands, dealing significant damage, although the Enterprise received minor damage herself. During Feb and Mar, she continued to supply the aircraft that attacked various Japanese bases in the Central Pacific. She returned to Pearl Harbor in late Mar 1942 and received repairs. In Apr, she provided air cover for the USS Hornet to launch the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities. In early May, Enterprise sailed south in anticipation of what would become the Battle of Coral Sea, but she arrived too late to participate in the action. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May, and immediately began to prepare for another anticipated action somewhere off of the Hawaiian Islands. On 28 May, she set sail from Pearl Harbor as the flagship of Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance "to hold Midway and inflict maximum damage on the enemy by strong attrition tactics." On 4 Jun 1942, a combination of luck and skill on the part of pilots from three American carriers led to the discovery and sinking of four Japanese fleet carriers. Enterprise's pilots were given credit for the sinking of Soryu and Akagi. She returned to Pearl Harbor undamaged on 13 Jun. On 15 Jul 1942, Enterprise sailed for the South Pacific. As a part of Task Force 61, her aircraft support the landings on the Solomons Islands on 8 Aug. On 24 Aug, she participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. With Enterprise's aircraft lured to a sideshow by light carrier Ryujo, aircraft from Shokaku and Zuikaku passed the anti-aircraft curtain laid down by North Carolina and other ships and attacked Enterprise. One of the three bombs that hit Enterprise passed through several decks aft and exploded deep in the carrier and caused serious fires and casualties. However, effective damage control kept her from being disabled. She was able to restore use of the flight deck briefly while the Japanese aircraft returned for fuel. Enterprise managed to transfer the majority of her aircraft to Henderson Field at Guadalcanal before limping away to the southeast to fight another day. During this confrontation, Enterprise's aircraft also disabled the Japanese seaplane carrier Chitose, though she would be saved. After down time between 10 Sep and 16 Oct, she returned to Task Force 61 in late Oct. On 26 Oct, she engaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands with carrier Hornet. Initially hidden in a squall, Enterprise was hidden from Japanese detection, leading to Hornet bearing the entire weight of the attack by herself. But by 0930 that day, Enterprise's aircraft found the Japanese carrier Shokaku and commenced their own attack. Without adequate fighter cover, Enterprise's dive bombers suffered heavy losses, but did successfully plant several 1,000-lb bombs on Shokaku causing damage so heavy that she was to be placed in repairs for nine months. At 1000, Japanese aircraft found Enterprise, and just like Enterprise's aircraft they mounted an uncoordinated attack on the enemy vessel. Out of the 23 bombs released, only two landed on the Enterprise. The first hit exploded 50 feet under the forecastle deck, and the second crashed into the third deck before exploding. Despite damage, Enterprise was not disabled. The Japanese sank the carrier Hornet and sailed away with a tactical victory. On 30 Oct 1942, Enterprise made port call at Nouméa, New Caledonia for repairs. On 11 Nov, she sailed prematurely for the Solomon Islands again with repair crew still on board due to war demands. She arrived at the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, in which battle her aircraft helped in the sinking of 16 ships (including helping to sink the battleship Hiei) and damaging 8. She returned to Nouméa on 16 Nov to complete her repairs, and spent most of Dec 1942 and Jan 1943 at Espiritu Santo for training. On 30 Jan 1943, Enterprise's aircraft flew air cover during the Battle of Rennell Island. Between 1 Feb and May 1943, she covered troops and supplies being shipped to the Solomons Islands. On 27 May 1943, she received the first Presidential Unit citation won by an aircraft carrier. On 20 Jul 1943, she made port call at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an extensive overhaul. Returning to action in Nov 1943, the Enterprise provided air-support during the landing on Makin Island. During the night of 26 Nov, she launched the first carrier night fighters of the United States Navy. She returned for Pearl Harbor after launching an aerial attack on Kwajalein on 4 Dec. Between 29 Jan and 3 Feb 1944, the ships aircraft, as members of Task Force 58, attacked the Marshall Islands and Kwajalein. On 17 Feb, she attacked Truk in the Caroline Islands. Three days later, she launched a strike on Jaluit Atoll. From this point on, she provided air cover and close ground support on nearly every landing operation, large or small, in the Pacific. One of the major engagements she participated during this time was the Battle of the Philippine Sea between 19 and 20 Jun 1944, where she provided air cover for the landings at Saipan. At the end of that battle, 429 Japanese aircraft were shot down at the total cost of 29 American aircraft. Between Oct 10 and 20 1944, Enterprise attacked Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippine Islands in preparation of an invasion of the Philippines. During the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, her aircraft played a major role in the sinking of several major Japanese vessels. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 6 Dec 1944 after another month of support in the Philippines area. She returned to the Philippines at the end of the year, performing raids on Japanese shipping as well as providing day- and night-time fighter escort for bombers that headed for the Japanese home islands. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, Enterprise's aircraft provided air cover between 10 Feb and 9 Mar. On 15 Mar, she departed Ulithi for attacks on Kyushu, Honshu, and Japanese shipping but was turned back on 18 Mar after receiving damage from a Japanese bomb. Between 5 Apr and 11 Apr, she supported the Okinawa landings and received damaged from a kamikaze aircraft. She returned to Okinawa once again on 6 May after receiving repairs at Ulithi, but was once again damaged by kamikaze on 14 May 1945. She sailed for repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard and remained there until the end of the war. After the war, Enterprise participated in Operation Magic Carpet that brought troops back to the United States. While in Britain, she received the British Admiralty Pennant, the only ship outside of the Royal Navy to receive the honour. Enterprise was decommissioned in Feb 1947 and after a bid to save her for use as a museum ship failed, she was sold for scrap to the Lipsett Corporation of New York City. The Model At last, those of us who build maritime models in 1:350 have a kit of the USS Enterprise from WWII. It’s been an awful long time coming, but has the wait been worth it. Well, we shall see. The kit comes in quite a large oblong shaped top opening box, although not as large as one would expect. Inside there are seventeen sprues in a light grey styrene, which is also used to produce the single piece island, central hanger roof section, two hanger floor sections , two flight deck sections and of course the magnificent single piece hull. In addition there are fifteen sprues of clear styrene for the aircraft, five sheets of relief etched brass, a large decal sheet and a large black stand. As we have come to expect from the likes of Merit, the moulding of all the parts is superbly done, and there is only one small area with an imperfection, and that is a small sink mark on the single piece hull, around the area of a sprue gate, as seen in the close-up picture of the bow., Of course there is no flash, but there are quite few moulding pips, mostly on the smaller parts. For those who wish to build this kit as a waterline I’m afraid that you’re out of luck, unless you wish to take a Dremel to the hull. Speaking of which, the hull plates do look a little over done, but it’s nothing a bit of sanding can’t cure. What is nice is that much of the interior of the hanger deck is included, although it’s not overly detailed, so will give those super detailers something to do. Taking the hull in hand, construction begins with the fitting of the four propeller shafts. Each shaft is attached to the hull via two A frames and a propeller. Once the single rudder has been attached the hull can be turned over using the steadying nature of the large base the main hanger deck, along with the separate foredeck, with two holes opened up from the underside, can be glued into place. The foredeck is the scene of the next four steps in the instructions, with the fitting of the four capstans, eight cleats, eight bitts and two hatches. The six flight deck supports are attached, along with the anchor chains, two 20mm cannon and the Jackstaff. Now, although the instructions call for the PE railings to be added to the foredeck at this point, it would probably be best to leave them till later in the build as they would be prone to being knocked off. The two, two piece platforms are assembled and glued into position and fitted with their PE railings. The three inner panels for the foreward lift are fitted. The ships weaponry is built up in a series of sub-assemblies, with the twenty three 20mm Oerlikons made up from the cannon/pedestal, and PE gun shield, the quad 1.1” machine guns are made up from 3 styrene parts and the eight 5” mounts consist of the single gun barrel, breech mechanism, railings and gun captains stand. The foreward superstructure, consisting of three parts is glued to the foredeck, with the port and starboard 5” gun decks attached four of the 5 gun assemblies can be glued in place, along with the quad 1.1” machine gun mount, its platform and two support legs, which is glued right on the prow, just aft of the Jackstaff. The foredeck flight deck supports fitted earlier are now fitted with the flight deck strengthening beams, moulded as a single part, (This area is ripe for the aftermarket companies to reproduce in PE, much like Hasegawa did with their carrier detail sets). The port and starboard bow catwalks are assembled and attached to the crossbeams and the side of the hull, with a PE catwalk folded to shape and fitted to the foreward beam. Much like the foredeck, the quarterdeck area is kitted out with the various deck fittings, capstans, bitts, cleats and hatches, followed by the rear bulkhead, flight deck supports and crossbeams. The rear 5” decks and their guns are glued into position, along with the aft catwalks and stern mounted PE catwalk. The starboard hanger walls are each made up form two halves, providing detail for both the interior and exterior. These are then detailed with various styrene catwalks and PE platforms, whilst the hanger side openings are fitted with their respective shutters. Although the shutters are moulded in the closed position, it wouldn’t take much to either cut a number off the block of shutters, or leave them off altogether and fashion rolled up versions out of spare PE or even paper and scratch build some supports. The port hanger walls/hull side plates are quite a bit different form their opposite halves, but are again detailed using a mix of styrene and PE, and also have the shutter parts in the closed position, (see above for solution). Both hanger walls/hull side assemblies are now glued into position on the hanger deck, along with a boat davit on the port side. Before the flight deck can be attached, the interior of the hanger deck is further detailed with the addition of some trunking and wall sections, whilst on the exterior the numerous inclined ladders of varying lengths are fitted between the various platforms and decks. The four ships boats each consist of the upper and lower hulls, and which once assembled are each glued to their respective six piece cradles, and into position on the ships side decks. Along with the two aft mounted cranes, each made up form three PE parts. The hanger roof structures, consisting of three large individual parts are glued to the hull sides, covering the hanger. The two flight deck sections, the largest of which requires certain holes to be opened up, are glued into place, along with the PE railings on the exposed main deck areas. With the flight deck on, she’s beginning to look like a carrier, but there’s quite a few parts to add before she’ll really look the part. These include the three lifts, the bow anchors, crash barrier, three gun tubs, two director tubs, the eleven piece deck crane, which, apart from the king post, is made up entirely from PE and the three quad 40mm bofors mounts, each consisting of four parts. The rest of the catwalk railing can now be attached, and the ships light AA weaponry fitted into their positions along the catwalks. The degaussing cable run is made up from several lengths of PE, which needs to be carefully fitted around the top of the hull, just beneath the main deck level. The two Mk 37 directors are each assembled from four styrene and seven PE parts, whilst the main CXAM radar array consists of five styrene parts and five PE parts. The foremast is now built up for the main platform onto which the multiple arms of the PE supports are attached to the underside, along with the three support legs, and long vertical ladder. There is a second platform fitted on support legs, and window framework attached to the topside of the first and the mast top, with yardarm, along with the CXAM radar are glued to the top platform. Two more yardarms are attached between the first and second platforms. The single piece island is fitted with the Admirals and control bridge decks, then festooned with styrene platforms, searchlights, and other deck fittings, plus a the associated PE railings The funnel cap is glued into place and fitted with three PE funnel caps and a length of railing that surrounds the entire cap walkway. The two Mk37 directors are fitted, one on the foreward end and one of the aft end of the island structure, these are followed by the foremast assembly and the main mast. The completed island assembly is then glued into position on the starboard side of the flightdeck, completing the build of the ship. But what of the aircraft I hear you ask, well, each of the three types, TBD-1, SBD-3 and F4F-4 each come in multiple parts, the two fuselage halves, separate wings, horizontal tailplanes, cowling, undercarriage and propeller. There are five aircraft of each type, if you want to fill the flightdeck, then Trumpeter already do separate packs of these aircraft. The wings of the F4F-4 and TBD-1 can be posed folded, whereas the wings of the SBD didn’t have the option to fold. Decals The very large decal sheet, which unfortunately was curled up in the review sample as its only just smaller than the box is wide and it got a bit squished, is actually very well printed. There are a full range of markings for the flightdeck, including the lift surrounds and three dotted lines. Two that extend the full length of the deck and the middle one extends aft from the bow to just aft of the middle lift. The large flightdeck id numbers could be used, but these were generally painted out during the war, or at least painted black, whereas these are a very bright white. There are also examples of the Stars and Stripes plus Jacks in wavey or straight forms. Each of the aircraft is provided with a full set of stars, plus individual aircraft codes. The decals look suitably thin, so great care will be need when laying the flightdeck stripes down, they appear in good register and nicely opaque, which will be handy if you use the large deck numbers. Conclusion It’s great that, at last, the maritime modeller can now build all three US carriers used at the Battle of Midway. It has been a long time coming, and they say patience is a virtue, particularly for a modeller. Well that patience has been rewarded with a super looking kit. I’m not a huge fan of clear styrene for use with the aircraft, preferring them to be made from standard coloured material, but I guess I’ll have to live with that, as there’s no other option at the moment. From what I’ve seen during the research for this review, the hull looks to be ok in shape, only the plate detail may be a little on the heavy side, which will be a relief to those that found the Trumpeter Hornet kit a let-down with the hull. I’m sure that once built it will make an excellent addition to any collection. Very highly recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for