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Found 112 results

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

    Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG Takom 1:35 Following WWII and with the advent of the cold war the Soviets found themselves facing a potential enemy with good ground attack aircraft, they realised that a dedicated Anti-aircraft gun mounting auto cannons not machine guns was needed. To keep up with armoured forces this would also need to be tracked. Using the newest tank chassis the T-54 it was proposed as objeck 500 and would mount a twin 57mm S-68 automatic cannon. Development began in the late 1940's with updates in the early 1950's, finally entering service in 1955. The system relied entirely on optical/mechanical computing and carried no radar system which proved to be a major weakness. There were proposals to upgrade the system but these did not come to fruition as newer systems would come online. These guns would be retired on the early 1970s to be replaced by ZSU-23-4s. Like many Soviet systems of the time they would be supplied to their sattilite states and the system was used by Cuba, Finland, Iraq and Egypt as well as the normal Warsaw pact countries. In combat they were using Vietnam and the Middle East. Lastly in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, and the invasion of Iraq. The Kit Like many kits this was earlier kitted by Tamyia, and now the Takom version will battle it out with a Trumpeter kit. Takom are making full use of their T-54/55 kits by producing this kit which utilises the same chassis. A fairly packed box arrives from Takom here. Along with the main lower hull plus the Turret there are five main sprues of parts, four sprues of suspension/wheel components, two sprues of gun parts, five sprues of ammunition; and a bag of track components. In addition there is a clear sprue, a sheet of photo etch, a metal tow cable, a flexible part which is the stowed canvas cover; and a small sheet of decals. The turret on this vehicle is open and you get a full interior and ammunition load. Construction begins with the running gear of the tank. The suspension comments are added to the hull. The main wheels feature an inner and outer wheel, here Takom have moulded the rubber tyre as a separate part which needs to be added to the outside of the steel wheel. Eight main wheels in total are made up along with a two drive sprockets and two idler wheels. Once all the wheels are constructed they can be added to the lower hull. Once the lower hull is complete construction moves to the upper hull. The hatches here can be left open, but as there is no interior there is little point. The rear grill is added along with spare tracklinks carried on the hull. The tracks are the next major parts to be added. Here you get individual track links, but they are not the type you click together, you will have to glue them. I suspect the best way is to do the lower run first and let it dry. The upper parts can be constructed, and when your glue is going off they should still be flexible enough to drape around the wheels to get the run looking right. Not the best solution. There are 92 links per side. The upper side covers for the tracks can now be built up. These feature equipment boxes on both sides with the front and rear mud guards being added. Once made up they can be attached to the upper hull. There are different configurations or the side parts depending on the country of the vehicle being made. The instructions are as clear as mud here, with a couple for the options being named, but the rest not. Given the various combinations of lockers etc the modeller should consult their references for the vehicle being modelled. Various grab handles, lights, cables etc can now be fitted as needed. There are also various tools and a ditching beam to add to the model. Once the main hull is completed then we move onto the main event for this kit, the turret with its twin 54mm guns. This is highly detailed with a full interior. Construction starts with the central mounting platform. This is the core of the gun system. All of the sighting and control systems will mount to this. The lower controls and sighting systems are built up and added to this central part. Crew seats are added, then the barrels go one, these are one piece each with well moulded muzzle brakes. Attention now moves to the inside of the main turret. The turret basket is made up. A full ammunition load is made up and added to the turret base, along with crew seats and controls. The turret basket can be added to the lower side and then the guns mounted. Additional ammunition is then added inside the turret. The main upper part of the turret is the next to receive attention. This single moulded part receives more ammunition stowage on the inside, and a series of grab handles on the outside. The rear turret basket is made up from photo-etch and added. The upper and lower turret parts can then be joined and fitted to the hull. The flexible cover can then be added to the rear of the turret. Decals These vehicles carried little in the way of markings, and even with a small decal sheet you are able to build 11 versions out of the box. Egyptian Army - Six Day War Finnish Army Iranian Army - Iran Iraq War Iranian Army PKK North Iraq/Kurdistan East German Army Red Army - Moscow Parade 1960 Serbian Army - Balkan War 1991 Syrian Army - Yom Kippur War 1973 North Vietnamese Army - Vietnam War - 2 different variants Conclusion This is a really good kit, just be careful with the tracks, and consult your references as the instructions are a little vague in places. It is good to see other tracked vehicles apart from tanks now appearing for modellers. Overall highly recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  6. British Army AH-64D "Afghanistan" 1:72 Academy The AH-64 Apache was developed from the US Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter programme in the early 1970s. This stemmed from The US Army need to fill its anti armour role, following the cancellation of the AH-65 Cheyenne programme. This was designed to find the replacement for the AH-1 Cobra. Hughes Helicopters developed their Model 77 which became the YAH-64. The YAH-64 first flew in 1977. It features a nose mounted sensor suite containing targeting sensors and night vision equipment. A 30mm chain gun was carried under the forward fuselage and stub wing pylons provided four hard points for carrying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and unguided rocket pods. The helicopter was introduced into US Army service in 1986. The UK operate a form of the Apache license built by the then Westland Helicopters. This is designated the Apache AH.1. The first 8 were built in the US and the remaining 59 in the UK. in 1993 the UK Government had a competition to select a new attack helicopter for the Army. Bids were received from Eurocopter Tiger, Bell with a modernised AH-1 SuperCobra, the AH-64 Apache, the Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, and the Agusta A129 Mangusta. The Apache was selected and contracts signed in 1995 for 67 Helicopters. Unlike American machines all UK Apaches would carry the Longbow radar. Also in typical UK fashion we would change many systems on the airframe and the engines. Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines would replace the GE units. These do give more power and allowed easier operations in Afghanistan than other helicopters. Primary armament of Hellfire missiles and the 30mm chain gun are the same, however the UK Apache carries the Canadian CRV7 rocket system instead of the US Hydra one. The Kit The kit contains the same base plastic as the new tool Hughes AH-64D Apache Block II kit I reviewed here last August. It was a given at the time that this version would be produced. The kit is produced to a fine standard, crisply moulded parts and no defects present anywhere. A great touch is the one part main rotor in the kit so you wont have the often problematic job of aligning the rotor blades to a main hub and stopping them from drooping down! The kit also features fine engraved panel lines, great detail throughout and slide moulded engine pods which are basically one piece. The kit differs from the US Apache kit by having a separate sprue containing the different UK only fittings. Construction starts with the main fuselage halves. Holes must be opened up for various parts to attach later on in the build. Once this is done construction can move onto the cockpit. Control columns are added to both cockpits, along with the main display panels. There appears to be a cyclic control only and no collective. The one part moulded seats can then be added. Coamings are then added to the front and rear panels. The next step is to make up the mount for the main rotor blades. Once this is done the completed cockpit assembly and rotor mount can be added into the fuselage and the halves closed up. Next on the list of jobs is to make up the wings for mounting the weapons systems. Once made up these are attached to the main fuselage along with the top cover for the engine area. A five part assembly each side is required each side for the front landing gear. Once made up these too can be added to the main fuselage. The next major step is to attach the fairings down both sides an underneath which house a lot of the electronics carried as well as the feed system for the 30mm canon. Once the underside part is on the 30mm canon itself can be added. The tail wheel is also added at this point. Rocket pods and/or hellfire missiles can be added to the weapons pylons next (though I suspect these will be left to last by most modellers). Next up are the engine pods. The engine fronts and heat shielding exhaust parts are added and then pods can be attached to the main fuselage. Following this the main sensor package can be assembled and attached to the front of the helo. Now that the man parts of the helo have been assembled it is time to add the myriad of aerials, sensors, handles etc that seem to festoon the exterior. The last steps in construction are to add the main and tail rotors. The main rotor is one part while the tail rotor is a more complicated four part affair. The last item to be added is the mast mounted radar system, though check your references as often this was not carried to save weight in a lower threat environment. Canopy The canopy is a one part one which is a shame you cant open it up and show of the cockpit more. It is clear and distortion free. Decals Markings on these helicopters tend to be sparse so Academy have provided the main basic markings, and serial numbers to do any of the UK Apaches. Decals are by Cartograf so should pose no issues. Conclusion This is thoroughly modern tooling of the UK Apache. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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