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Found 84 results

  1. F-35A Lightning II 1:48

    F-35A Lightning II 1:48 Meng Model Probably one of the (if not the) most contentious and publically berated projects since the beginning of aviation over a hundred years ago, the F-35 in its three guises has been a marathon journey from proposal to production and testing, with the first few going into service this decade. Initially named the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), there were three variants proposed, all of which shared the same overall configuration and look, as well as borrowing technology from the now in-service F-22. Combining a stealthy surface with internal weapons bays, supersonic performance and an in-depth sensor-fusion that provides the pilot with excellent situational awareness and a broader "sense" of the whole battlesphere, the software alone has been a mammoth task. Coupled with the new technologies utilised, and the number of contractors/countries involved, it has gone over time and budget on a number of occasions, with frequent threats and calls to cancel the project in favour of other options. Various customers have also opted in and out of the end-of-project purchase, and numbers of airframes have been chopped and changed by various customers as political wrangling and budget-balancing became involved. Irrespective of the political back and forth, the engineering side of things has progressed through the hurdles, and at the end of 2006 the maiden flight of an A variant was made, followed two years later by the STOVL B variant with its controversial lift fan. Fast-forward to 2015 and the US Marines were happy enough to call it suitable for initial operations. The navalised F-35C will join the fray in 2018 after many issues are resolved around carrier operations. The A variant is the smallest of the three airframes and is aiming to replace the F-16 eventually, although it will have a monster of a job replacing the Falcon in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts, as well as the differences in cost. Great Britain will be taking a number of A and B variants amongst its purchase for "synergy" between forces. Don't you just love management speak? No, me neither. The Kit We've had a couple of kits in this scale of the F-35, with a fairly recent release from another company that I suspect is about to be eclipsed by this brand new tooling from Meng, who have an excellent reputation for quality products. The kit arrives in one of Meng's usual high class boxes with their trademark satin finish, and a handsome painting on the top. On the sides are profiles of the decal choices, as well as an announcement of their collaboration with AK Interactive on new paints specifically to depict the tricky colours of the Radar Absorbent Material (RAM) coatings applied to these and other modern jets. Inside the box are thirteen sprues and two fuselage halves in a dark blue/grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet, a diminutive instruction booklet, and a colour painting and decaling guide in the same narrow portrait format. First impressions are that unlike the companies that issued F-22 kits in this scale a few years back, Meng have got the balance of raised detail about right, with neither too much nor too little, all of which should look good under paint. Speaking of paint, we'll be reviewing a new set of masks for this kit's complex RAM coatings from Galaxy Model soon, so watch this space. I'll put a link to it when it's live. Parts breakdown seems logical, detail is good, and a set of PE belts are included for the cockpit, which is always nice. Construction begins with this area, with a six-part ejection seat plus the aforementioned belts fitting into the cockpit tub, with only rudder, the two sticks making up the HOTAS control system, plus the instrument panel and coaming added last of all. There is an instrument panel decal for the digital panel that takes up most of the room, which should look good once set within the deep coaming. The gear bays must be built up next, as they will be closed up within the fuselage once complete. The nose gear bay is a single part into which the completed single-wheeled nose gear leg fits, with the scissor-link and retraction jack being separate parts, as well as two more that complete the detail. This can be left off until after painting, happily. The main bays are two-part assemblies, and the main gear legs have separate retraction jacks, links and scissor-links, totalling 6 parts each. Whilst these bays should suffice for a great many, a little additional detail would have been appreciated, as they seem a bit simplified on closer nspection. The weapons bays are both 6-part assemblies that depict the large tubing that runs their entire length, and while they too could be considered a little simplified, once you install the supplied GBU-53 small diameter bombs and their pylons in the bays, you'll probably see very little. The intake trunking is full depth, with the two intakes joining in front of the single fan of the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, which is a separate part with the fan face moulded in. The exhaust is relatively short, with a one-piece cylindrical trunk with the rear of the engine at the bottom, into which there are two PE mesh parts added, hiding most of what would otherwise be visible. The exhaust petals have excellent detail and finesse, and should be fine for all but the most detail-conscious, slipping over the end of the trunk and locking within the fuselage bottom on two lips. The port and starboard weapons bays, main bays, nose bay and intake trunking all attach to the lower fuselage half, with only the cockpit tub fitting into the upper half. Two pairs of small holes are drilled through the top in the aft section and then the two halves are brought together, with a few small panels added to recesses in front of the cockpit and on the spine, with the option of open or closed refuelling receptacle. Although the airframe has blended wings, they are separate parts, with a healthy overlap on the topside providing excellent strength of the finished article. Leading edge slats and flaps are added to the two-part wings, with holes drilled out for the pylons if you intend to fit them. Breaking the stealthy configuration allows the carriage of more munitions on the two underwing pylons, with a smaller outer pylon able to take addition air-to-air defensive armament of either AIM-9 or AIM-120 missiles. The elevators can be posed at a 10o droop, or in line with the airframe by using one of two inserts on the booms at either side of the exhaust, into which the completed two-part assemblies fix. The twin fins are also two parts each, with the stealthy lumps hiding all the machinery within. Under the fuselage the built-in laser-designator and various other lumps are added, after which you can choose to close up or leave open any combination of bays by adding or leaving off the hinges on some, or choosing the appropriate closed parts for the nose gear. There are a LOT of doors due to the internal weapons carried, but take your time and it'll all come together. In addition, a pair of AIM-120s can be fitted to the main weapons bays on a small pylon adapter, which deploys the weapon as the doors open. The F-35's canopy is quite heavily tinted with a golden hue, and that tint is sadly missing from the kit part. It isn't difficult to replicate however, simply by adding some clear acrylic yellow (or food colouring) to the Klear/Future that you dip the canopy into. There are numerous tutorials online, and I did just this with my Mig-31 Foxhound build a while back. Don't be tempted to sand off those fine canopy frame lines, as they're supposed to be there, and you'd have a devil of a job doing it because they're on the inside of the part! Clarity of the canopy is excellent, and Meng's inclusion of a piece of self-cling foil to the sprue certainly helps keep it that way until you are ready for it. There is an internal plastic frame part that glues inside the clear part, and this should be painted in anticipation of installation, as should the fine framework mentioned earlier. Masking is the way to go here, and while you are working in the area, you might as well paint the inside of the canopy for further realism. Fitting the canopy in the closed position is simply a case of applying glue to the part and pressing it home, while an open canopy requires the installation of four parts in the coaming, as the whole canopy tilts forward for pilot egress. With that the model is ostensibly completed, apart from adding any exterior stores that you might wish to depict. If you don't use the two AIM-120s in the belly, these can be used on the outer wing pylons, as can a pair of AIM-9Xs that sadly aren't included. The main wing pylons are wired for bombs such as the GBU-13, -39, -53 or -54, all of which are detailed in the final diagram that shows their probable location even though these items aren't included in the kit. There is however a new range of aftermarket styrene weapons sets coming from Meng, which may go at least some way toward explaining the dearth in the box. Markings I can almost hear a chorus of "boring grey jet" from some readers (if they haven't tuned out already), and you wouldn't be wrong about the grey part, to an extent at least. Both decal options are painted a dark grey, with some of the raised panels a lighter grey, both of which weather out a little lighter with use, as can be seen on the F-22 that has now seen some active service. Masking those areas would be a chore, and could drive a modeller insane, so look out for my upcoming review of the Galaxy Models mask set in due course. From the box you can build one of the following: F-35A 13-5071 34th FS, 388th FW, USAF piloted by Lt. Col. George Watkins, Hill AFB, 2016 F-35A 11-5033 33rd FW, USAF, piloted by Lance Pilch, Eglin AFB, 2015 The colours are called out in AK Interactive codes, as well as Acrysion Water Based Color, which is a new issue from the Mr Hobby range that dries faster than their existing colours. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion If you've got this far, you're clearly in the market for a model of an F-35A, and in my humble opinion this is now the one to get if fit and finish is key to your modelling enjoyment. Casting my eyes over the parts in the box, this is a typical Meng product, so will please many. Of course they have gone into competition with another previously released modern tooling of the subject, but Meng have built up a following by providing excellent kits of sometimes unusual subjects, and I for one am a fan. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Air Carried Missiles & Bombs for Post War Jets 1:48 Meng Model Supplier Series You can't have too many weapons in hand when you're building something relatively modern (post WWII) from the Allies with jet engines, as you can almost guarantee that at least some of the items you want to add to your load-out won't be in stock. Most people keep any weapons they don't use for future reference, but sometimes that's not enough, and you have to resort to aftermarket. The old Hasegawa weapons sets are long in the tooth now, and hard to find, and resin isn't suitable for everyone's skillset or pocket, which is why I guess Meng decided to round out their recent Supplier range with three sets of US weapons. These are broken down between missiles of short range, missiles with long range, and guided bombs, all of which are in styrene, which will appeal to a wider audience due to everyone's familiarity with the medium and its reasonable cost. Each set comes in a satin-finish Meng figure sized box, with a delightful end-opening box that everyone loves so much. The front of the box shows diagrams of each item in the box, with construction diagrams on the back, and finally the painting and decaling details on the sides, called out in AK Interactive colour codes. US Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles(SPS-043) This box contains a selection of short range missiles from the early Falcon to the increasingly capable Sidewinder that is used by so many countries today. In the box you get the following: 4 x AIM-4C Falcon 4 x AIM-4F Falcon 4 x AIM-4G* Falcon 4 x AIM-4D* Falcon 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinder 4 x AIM-9E* Sidewinder 4 x AIM-9NP* Sidewinder 4 x AIM-9D* Sidewinder 4 x AIM-9M* Sidewinder 4 x AIM-9X* Sidewinder with adapter rail Each missile body is a single part, with two fins from each set moulded-in, and the others as separate parts. The weapons marked with an asterisk also have a clear seeker head part, and the AIM-9X had an additional exhaust part for added detail to this latest version. The stencils for both missile types are included, and differ between variants, as do their colours. The earlier AIM-4s have at least a portion of their bodies painted bright red, while the AIM-9s are all grey or white. US Long/Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (SPS-044) This set contains the larger missiles with greater range, which are intended to keep the enemy at arm's length and make dogfights a thing of the past. The Sparrow, AMRAAM and the Phoenix missiles are all included, plus training, ECM and instrumentation pods. The box contains: 2 x ACMI Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation Pod 4 x AIM120B AMRAAM Missile 4 x AIM120C AMRAAM Missile 4 x AIM-7M Sparrow Missile 4 x AIM-7E Sparrow Missile 4 x AIM-54A Phoenix Missile 4 x AIM-54C Phoenix Missile 2 x AN/ALQ-188 training pod 2 x EML8222 Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) Pod Again, the Sparrow and AMRAAM missile bodies are single parts with some fins moulded-in, and others as separate parts, plus small adapter rails. The larger Phoenix missiles that were used solely on the F-14 Tomcat are supplied in halves, with a separate tail and two of the fins. The ACMI pod is a single delicate part, while the others are build from separate halves with additional sensors added to the sides or ends. Colours and stencils are copious, and detailed on the box sides, so remember not to throw them away. The AIM-7M hasn't been given part numbers on the instructions, but by a process of deduction we can tell you that they are on sprue B. US Satellite-Guided Bombs (SPS-045) The final set has a raft of different smart bombs of varying sizes, plus the more recent Small Diameter Bombs that have become popular due to the reduced collateral damage from the smaller explosive yield. A pair of laser targeting pods are also included, as follows: 2 x GBU-31-V1 JDAM with Mk.84 payload 2 x GBU-31-V3 JDAM with BLU-109 payload 2 x ANAAQ-33 LANTIRN targeting pod 2 x GBU-54 laser JDAM with Mk.82 payload 8 x GBU-53 precision-guided glide bomb 8 x GBU-39 precision-guided glide "bunker-buster" bomb 2 x BRU-61 that can carry 4 x GBU-53 or -39 The bombs all have two-part bodies, with separate fins and in the case of the GBU-39, separate winglets and tail unit. The construction of the BRU-61 bomb carriers are correctly designated, but when shown mated with the bombs it is incorrectly called out as an AIM-54A. It is also a little frustrating that there sufficient bombs to fill 4 racks, yet only two are included in the box. As with the other sets, the painting and markings guide are shown on the sides, and some complex masking will be needed around the "shroud" that the larger GBUs wear. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Sukhoi Su-30MKK Flanker-G 1:48 Hobby Boss via Creative Models What do you get it you cross an Su-30 with an Su-35? The Su-30MKK could be one answer, as it incorporates some of the avionics advances of the Su-35 and applies it to the basic Su-30 airframe with two seats, and gets the new NATO moniker Flanker-G to differentiate from the Su-30 Flanker-C. The initial customer was China, with an agreement signed at the turn of the millennium and the first of a small order arriving with the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force soon after in 2001. The aircraft is capable of flying all the muntions and pods that the Su-35 can carry, but has different software due to the mission capability requirements of the PLANAF, with carbon fibre and lighter aluminium alloys used to keep weight in check, and additional fuel stored in the twin tail fins to help give it the long range that was required. Fuel capacity elsewhere is also increased, and the increase in nose weight led to the addition of another nose wheel in tandem with the original. Further upgrades have led to the MK2 and MK3 variants that are being sold in small numbers to Vietnam, Indonesia amongst others. The Kit The Chinese juggernaut that comprises Hobby Boss and Trumpeter are on a big Russian/Soviet kick at the moment both in the aviation and AFV scenes, with Hobby Boss releasing some super stuff with wings in 1:48. We've been reviewing them as and when we can, and along comes the Su-30MKK, which is doubtless a subject close to Chinese hearts, as they have a shade under a hundred of them in service thanks to the aforementioned deal with Sukhoi and Russia. Pretty soon they will have filled all the gaps with new toolings of these impressive F-15 equivalents popping out every couple of months with different variants. The kit arrives in quite a large box, and inside is a divider to keep the small sprues rattling about, as well as a tray to which the fuselage/wing halves are attached via a bunch of plastic coated wires that are twisted into place. Both ends of the two parts are wrapped in foam sheet that is taped into place to avoid damage, and this method of protection is seen again in different parts of the package. In the box are seventeen sprues of grey styrene of variable size plus the two fuselage halves, three sprues of clear parts, four rubbery tyres, a small nickel-plated Photo-Etch (PE) sheet , two decal sheets, instruction booklet and two sheets of glossy paper for the markings and weapons stencils, both printed in colour. This is a BIG airframe, and you are greeted with this fact on opening the box, with the majority of the airframe complete in just two parts due to the blended-wing design of the original. Surface detail is good, with restrained engraved panel lines and rows of rivets, plus a number of delicate louvered vents on the fuselage. The weapons provided are also generous, taking up six of the sprues, with plenty to choose from. Construction begins with the two cockpits, which are well-appointed with rudder pedals and control sticks, detailed ejection seats, instrument panels and coamings, plus bulkheads and ejection seat ramps at the rear of each compartment. Decals are supplied for the instrument panels and side consoles, although they aren't mentioned in the instructions until you get to the painting and markings section. The nose gear bay is built at this point too, as is the nose gear leg and wheel, because the leg is trapped against the fuselage by the bay before the fuselage is closed up. The aft portion of the engine, afterburner ring and the initial section of exhaust trunking are also placed within the lower fuselage before the halves are joined, with a small bay for the refuelling probe also added, which if you forget could probably be snuck inside before the nose cone is added later. Flaps and slats are added to the near-complete wings, and the elevators are attached to the rear fuselages, complete with their outriggers that allow them to sit next to the exhaust petals. Speaking of which, there is a choice of either constricted or relaxed variants of the exhausts, which coupled with the separate rudders on the big fins, give you the capability for a bit of variation at the rear end. The air intakes are separate from the main fuselage parts, and are constructed separately before being added. The roof of the intakes are separate, and the drop-down FOD guard is depicted in the mount of the intake, removing any need for trunking, despite there being an engine face part included that won't be seen unless you retract them using whatever modelling skills you possess. These two and the strakes that sit below the elevators are added underneath, the former having a ledge in the fuselage to ensure good fit of the rounded joint, the latter fitting using the slot and tab method. The main gear are each made from a tow-part leg, two-part hub and of course the rubbery tyre that I dislike so much but couldn't really tell you why. Perhaps it’s a hangover from the old days where these things would melt over the years and ruin your kits? I've no experience of the modern type doing this, but I'm loathed to find out. I'll be quiet about them now. Gear bay doors with moulded-in hinges and separate actuators are fitted next with a PE AoA probe under the nose, with the large nose cone moulded as a single part fitted to the front with no talk of nose weight to prevent a tail-sitter. Use your judgement there, but at this late stage of construction, you should be able to test its centre of balance by perching it (carefully) on the edge of a rule on your desk and playing seesaw. The small and delicate pitot probe should probably be fitted later, and won't make that much difference to your calculations, but remember there will be weapons and the canopy to install before you're done. The canopy is two-part, and with modern blown canopies that give the pilots better situational awareness, there is the necessary seamline down the outside of each part, which can be sanded away and polished back to clear with some micromesh or similar. The windscreen has a separate IRST sensor part in clear, and the main canopy has internal structure, opener, and a set of four rear-view mirrors in PE. Behind the canopy is the airbrake, which has a two-part skin, and a large actuator, with it shown deployed and nothing mentioned about its retracted position if you were aiming for a "clean" airframe. It shouldn't be too difficult to achieve with test-fitting and a little filler if required. More sensors are fitted to the sides of the fuselage along with the refuelling probe, which is also shown deployed. The Su-30MKK is capable of carrying a significant quantity of munitions, as evidenced by the four pylons under each wing, with another four on the underside of the fuselage. These are fitted in readiness for the weapons, with options for the tip pylons to be replaced by a sensor pod, and the centre station on the wing underside has an alternative pylon style. The weapons capable of being carried are included, and there are quite a few, as follows: 2 x KH-31P Krypton passive seeker air to surface missile 2 x KH-29L Kedge-A semi-active laser guided air to surface missile 2 x KH-29T Kedge-B TV guided air to surface missile 4 x R-27R Alamo-B semi-active radar homing missiles 4 x R-27ER Alamo-C semi-active radar homing missiles with extended range 4 x R-73 Archer A2A missiles 4 x R-77 Adder active radar A2A homing missile The final step shows the pylons that each weapon is fitted to, but you may wish to check your references to see the typical load-outs carried in the real world. Markings Despite the large total size of the two sheets, only two options are included in the box, but with the additional serials that are on the sheet, other airframes could be modelled by consulting your references. From the box you can build one of the following: PLAAF Blue 59 PLANAF Blue 18 With typical reticence, they tell you little else about the subjects, even down to difference in colour used by the two operators. The decals are printed in-house, and overall are in good register, with adequate colour density and sharpness, but with the red Chinese tail markings, there appears to have been an issue with the red on the review sample. It seems to have come very close to clumping whilst drying, and coupled with a slight registration issue between the yellow and red, makes the decals a little bit low quality for such a prominent placement. Conclusion Another appealing big Russian/Chinese fighter that has been slightly let down by the slightly suspect national markings on the decal sheet. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Sukhoi Su-17M4 Fitter-K

    Su-17M4 Fitter-K 1:48 Hobby Boss The Su-17, with its NATO reporting name Fitter was derived from the earlier Su-7 as a project to improve its low speed handling, particularly during take-off and landing. It was Sukhoi's first attempt at variable geometry wings, and when it reached service was the Soviet Union's first swing-wing aircraft in service. To keep the project costs down, the centre section of the wing remained fixed, with the outer able to swing back for high-speed flight, and forward for slow. A pronounced spine was also added to the rear of the cockpit to carry additional fuel and avionics that were necessary with the advances in aviation. The first airframes reached service in the early 70s, and were soon replaced by more advanced models with the designation M3 and M4, designated Fitter-H and –K respectively by the Allies. The M4 was based on a larger fuselage and had additional weapons options, developed further and was considered to be the pinnacle of the Fitter line with a heavily upgraded avionics suite including improved targeting, navigation, and yet more weapons options, as well as improved engines. A downgraded version of the M4 was marketed as the Su-22M4, and was in production until 1990! Although the Su-17 was withdrawn from Soviet service in the late 1990s, it remained in service much longer in its export guise, where it was used by both Iran and Iraq, Libya and Angola to name but a few, where it had variable success, which likely had as much to do with pilot skill and training as the merits of the airframe. The Kit It's London buses time again! We reviewed this same subject by another company in January of this year, and less than half a year later, we're doing it again for the juggernaut that is Hobby Boss. This is a new tooling from them, and arrives in their standard top opening box with just a hint of the cardboard corrugations showing through the lid. Inside are fifteen grey sprues, two clear ones, three "rubber" tyres, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, instruction booklet, and two loose leaves of full colour glossy printed painting and markings guide. The first thing to note is that the fuselage is made from two full-length halves, which will simplify construction and appeal to some over the multi-part fuselage of the other new kit. Detail seems good throughout, although some of the finer stuff is absent to an extent, such as the riveting around the wing strakes, in the wheel bay, and the lack of separate blow-in doors on the nose sides. There are other positives that outweigh these minor issues however, such as a more detailed canopy interior, and the lack of a few extraneous surface details that were visible on the other contender. The nose gear bay is built up first with its gear leg captive from the outset, which I find a little inconvenient, but if you leave off the yoke and wheel, the rest is sturdy enough to survive the build, unless you are really clumsy (like me). Following on close behind is the cockpit, which assembles around a tub part, with a nicely detailed seat, side consoles and sidewalls, plus decals for the consoles and the instrument panel. The exhaust is made up from a number of cylinders and has nice detail, as is the intake bullet with its radome and bright green finish. All these assemblies are inserted into the fuselage as it is closed up, leaving you with a long tube onto which you add the strakes, centreline pylon, sensors and eventually the tail, which has two halves and a moulded-in rudder, but separate blade antennae on each side. This fits in on two pegs, with the elevators using the same method, and the host of intakes that litter the fuselage sides all nestle into their own positions on the port, with their outlines raised on the surface. The inner wing panels are next, with the correct thickness obtained by inserting the one-piece wheel bay sidewalls between the halves, which have the bay roof detail (minus copious rivets) moulded into the upper skin. Strakes and pylons are also added, as are the main gear, which can be left off until later, having a peg/hole fit, two-part hub and those rubber tyres that I'm not all that keen on for no discernible reason. These glue to the fuselage sides with two large pegs fitting into corresponding holes to keep everything aligned. A chaffe and flare dispenser is scabbed onto the rear fuselage on the starboard side, and attention shifts to the outer wing panels. (Specially for Gabor) The outer wings rotate to perform the variable geometry role, and each one has separate slats and ailerons, plus a clear navigation light at the very tip. You use one set of panels for swept configuration, the alternative set showing them in their fully extended low-speed configuration, which is a neat idea, with the same pin/hole fitting between the inner and outer sections. The cockpit needs a coaming, which is built up to include the HUD, which has two clear parts, the display element supported by angled styrene parts. More sensors are added around the nose with PE parts, and the styrene pitot is further detailed with more small PE parts that have tiny slots into which they fit, making for a more robust finished item than you would initially expect. Take some care in aligning everything, and it will look good. The canopy is in two parts, with separate windscreen and canopy, the latter having a combined PE and styrene insert that adds a level of detail that is more pleasing to the eye than simple clear styrene alone. As a bonus, you get a tow-bar with the kit, which is quite detailed, with plenty of parts to add a little more interest to your finished model. Weapons Hobby Boss aren't known for being stingy with these, and as you'd expect there are plenty to choose from on a number of sprues, as you see fit. As always, check your references for likely load-outs if you are going for accuracy, or slap them all on if not. It's your choice! 12 x AB-100 Iron bombs on 2 x MER 2 x AB-250 Iron bombs 2 x FAB-500 Iron bombs 2 x S-24B on adapter rails 2 x R-60MK on adapter rails 2 x B-13L rocket pods 2 x B-8M rocket pods 4 x Fuel Tanks The back page of the instruction booklet shows the pylon positions of the various options, but as above, check things over before you proceed. Stencil locations are shown on a separate colour page, with positions and colours all called out. Markings Hobby Boss often supply only one option with their kits, but this one has two, and they have even documented which airframes and timescales they relate to, which is good to see. The decals are printed in house, and are of good quality, although some of the stencils are illegible for one reason or another. The other decals are in register with good colour density and adequate sharpness, although the yellow seems a little pale to my eyes. If ultimate detail appeals, you could supplant the kit details with some stencils from your favourite aftermarket decal company, but as a lot of folks don't relish the thought of adding hundreds of tiny decals, it shouldn't be seen as mandatory! As usual with Hobby Boss, the colours are given in Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol numbers, with a few gaps in the non Mr-Hobby ranges that will require a bit of research to fill. From the box you can build one of the following: Su-17M4 Yellow 27, 20th GvAPIB, Templin (Gross Dölln) Air Base, April 5, 1994. Su-17M4R, 886th ORAP, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, December 1998. Conclusion Hobby Boss's Russian aircraft are often better than their western kits, with the FAA kits of a few years back being the major exception. I expect this kit to build up pretty easily with no real fit issues due to the relatively simple breakdown of parts, and with a little access to my references, as well as our Walkaround, it does a good job of convincing me that it is reasonably good shapewise, but it is always a bit tricky to make statements like that without first building the kit. I'd have preferred a bit more detail, but it's nothing too major, and if you have some Archer 3D rivets you could have the missing rivets done in a modelling session. The captive rudder shouldn't be too difficult to liberate from the fin if you are minded, but remember to leave the bullet at the bottom attached to the fin if you do. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. US T29E1 Heavy Tank 1:35

    US T29E1 Heavy Tank 1:35 Hobby Boss Toward the end of WWII when the almost invulnerable (if temperamental) King Tiger reached the battlefield, the Allied began a scramble to complete existing heavy tank projects, and initiated some new ones. The delayed Pershing project did manage to play a limited part in the final days of the conflict, but was considered too light to be effective counter to the Tiger II, which resulted in a larger chassis, a lengthened Pershing hull being mated to a huge turret that could house a previously unbeaten 105mm gun. The all-up weight was around 64 tons, with armour that was almost 100mm thicker than the King Tiger on the front, so would have been able to march right up to one and knock on its glacis plate with its high velocity 4.1" diameter rounds, driven along by an engine putting out in excess of 700hp. Sadly for the designers, the T-29 was unfinished by the end of the war, and as such became somewhat extraneous to requirements, ending its days as an engineering exercise for pushing the envelope in terms of tank design. The Kit Another new tooling from Hobby Boss, who seem to be enjoying kitting the many "almost" projects that were either made in small numbers, or barely got to the prototype stage. As someone that enjoys seeing the unusual and odd, I'm enjoying this phase of theirs too, so always look forward to seeing what's around the corner. The box is standard Hobby Boss, and inside are nine sprues and three large parts in grey styrene, eight sprues of track links in brown styrene, decal sheet, instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide. The standout part in the box is the massive upper hull, which is… well, BIG. The turret parts are also pretty large, and have a nice casting texture that should look good under a few coats of paint. The tracks look like they could be a little fiddly, but we'll take a proper look at those later in the review. Wheels. Lots of them. Every tank has this to a greater or lesser extent, and there are 18 pairs of road wheels to make up, which have a styrene (not poly-cap) collar between the halves that has a friction fit with the axle. Careful gluing is the order of the day if you want them to remain freewheeling. The drive sprockets are similar, but with more parts, and the idler wheels are included in the road wheel set, as they are identical. The drive sprockets are at the rear, and a portion of the lower hull is made up with the final drive housings and rear bulkhead attached, which is fitted to the back of the one-piece hull after removal of a couple of pegs from the top sides. Suspension parts are then studded all over the hull sides, with bump-stops, dampers and stub-axles of various types added, and a run of seven two-part idler wheels on each side, with nine road wheels and the drive sprockets added to complete the underside. Tracks come later. The upper hull is structurally complete, but with gaps for the gratings on the engine deck, and all the usual light clusters, pioneer tools etc. The fenders are also moulded in, and the starboard side has the exhaust and stowage boxes added, plus the bow-mounted machine gun barrel in its ball mount. 12 little shackles are added to the edges of the fenders, after which the upper hull is set aside while the tracks are constructed. 113 links per side are needed, with a jig supplied to ease construction. Five links are constructed at a time, with two separate end-caps to the links, which fit onto two pins projecting from each side of each link. The instructions tell you to glue these to the tracks, but if you do, you will be left with a flat length of track that isn't much use to you. I tried gluing one side of each pin to see whether I could obtain a workable link, but this failed due to the glue seeping across to the other side. You could create the links in batches of five, wrapping them immediately around the wheels, but remember that the outer caps have a spade-like extension to give the tracks extra width, which the instructions don't mention. I'm hoping for aftermarket tracks to become available before I build this, but with the addition of the sideskirts, less track would need to be used if you find it a chore, creating only enough to be seen. The travel-lock for the main armament finishes off the hull, and we move onto the turret. The turret halves are brought together immediately, and care will need to be taken in aligning the seams, and creating a realistic joint, which was a rough curve in places, and sharp in others. Check your references and reinstate any lost texture using glue and a stippling paint brush. The mantlet is in two parts and glues into the front of the turret, leaving the outer mantlet free to move, and the barrel is a two part moulding that fits into a keyed hole in the mantlet. There are three hatches on the top of the turret, with no clear parts, so you'll have to paint the vision blocks a suitable colour to give it some realism, plus of course a .5 M2 derivative on a mount at the front of the turret, and aerial mounts at the rear. The turret attaches to the hull with a standard bayonet fixing that you drop in and twist to lock, leaving it free to rotate. Markings Don't get too excited, as there are four decals on a tiny wee sheet, and all of them are white, and all of those are type designations for the front glacis and rear fenders. Olive drab is the scheme, but there's nothing to stop you from going off-book and doing a speculative scheme as if it had entered service either at the end of a longer WWII, or in Korea to name a couple of examples. Imagine a Maus and a T29 going head-to-head in Berlin! Conclusion A real monster of a tank that didn't go beyond prototype, but is still an interesting dead-end that shows how worried about the King Tiger and whatever was to come next from the Nazi War Machine. It's available at a fairly pocket friendly price too. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Soviet Assault Infantry 1:35 MiniArt MiniArt have a great selection of figures in their catalogue, the latest set is of five Soviet assault infantry with winter camouflage cloaks. Each of the five men are in different poses, which look similar to tank rider positions. Only the figure with the DP light machine gun is really in a firing position, although two others look in a pretty high state of readiness, whilst the other two look more relaxed. Each figure is made from multiple parts, with separate torso, legs, arms and head. To the assembled body, there are three parts for the hood of the cloak and the various weapons each is holding. There are a number of different styles of pouches, but these aren’t used on the figures, but could be used separately, hanging from a tree or armoured vehicle. There are three different weapons included, the PPSh-41 with its distinctive drum magazine a separate part. Four of these assault weapons are provided, but you only need to use them with three figures. The DP light machine gun is assembled with a separate disc magazine, front sight and bi-pod, with the option of pose extended or folded. There is another light machine gun, which I cannot identify in the kit, very similar to the DP, but with a metal, folding stock should you wish to use it. There are three rifles provided, two Mosin–Nagant rifles, one standard, with separate bolt section and one PU sniper rifle with bolt section and separate telescopic sight. There is also a Mosin–Nagant carbine, but not used. Conclusion The parts are nicely moulded, but there does appear to be some seams that will need removing and quite a few moulding pips. Assembly is pretty straight forward and they will look great in a winter scene diorama. The biggest headache will be painting them to look realistic. Review sample courtesy of
  7. USMC/US Army M1A1 AIM Abrams TUSK Main Battle Tank 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models 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. 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 safety, as the firing team could pop up and disappear in between shots. The problems of 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 USMC have substantially different requirements to the Army, and amongst the changes made for their original HA (Heavy Armour) which were carried over to the later homogenised chassis were the Missile Countermeasure Device (MCD) on the top turret, and the deep water wading kit, which consists of a number of tubes ducting air in and exhaust out of the engine compartment. The Kit Although Meng have already released the TUSK II boxing that we reviewed here, this ostensibly similar boxing is substantially different once you get to the nitty-gritty. A lot of parts are similar, but the sprue layout and detail parts are so different that it's not really even worth reusing any of the historically newer but older boxing's photos. Dammit! The box is standard Meng and exudes class, with a nice painting on the front, and plenty of plastic inside. A more modular approach has been taken with the sprues on this boxing, so the sprue count is higher at ten plus the lower hull in sand coloured styrene, plus three clear sprues and four in black containing the track parts. Two runs of poly-caps, two nickel-plated Photo-Etch (PE) frets and a decal sheet complete the parts list, with the instruction booklet in black and white, and painting/decaling guide printed separately on glossy paper in full colour. Construction begins with the running gear, as you'd expect. Each of the paired road wheels have a polycap trapped inside, as do the drive sprockets, which are also two-part assemblies. The idler wheels are the same as a road-wheels, which makes repair easier both in the workshop and on the field. The torsion-bar suspension is made up from styrene parts and inserted through the hull into cups on the opposite side of the hull, to be joined by the final drive housing and a number of stand-off struts for the side skirts that will be installed later. The wheels just push onto their axles and can be removed for painting at your whim, and at this stage the shallow keel armour is installed before the hull is flipped over to accept the upper parts and their PE meshes. Various assemblies are built up to be added to the hull, such as the light clusters, driver's hatch, engine exhaust grilles, battery hatch and a quantity of lifting or towing eyes. The rear vents for the turbine engine's hot gases are built up in layers, with the option of the snorkel needing a few changes, and inserted into the rear of the hull along with the telephone box and rear light clusters. Side skirts are optional, so build up wither the slimline original skirts, of the ERA box-encrusted TUSK skirts as you see fit, duplicating the work on both sides. These get fitted after completion of the tracks, which are styrene and of the individual link type, which can remain workable if you are prepared to forego most of the glue. This adds a little complexity and increased parts count to the build, but with a little patience, you will be rewarded with a very realistic looking track-run. The supplied jig and carefully laid out parts allow you to make up five links at a time without scattering small parts everywhere, ensuring that the track-pins are first glued to the guide-horns whilst still on their sprues. Ten bottom track pad halves are then laid out on the jig, and the pin/horn combo is placed on top after releasing the now dry horns from their runners. The inner parts of the track pads are then added, then you release the track-pins from their sprues, as there are two friction-fit pins that hold the inner and outer track-pads together. Be careful after construction, as any side-force on the pads could result in the pin ends popping off, as happened to me on my first test. The majority of your time will be spent cleaning up the sprue gates, and take care when cutting the pads, as they can burst if you cut them too closely, leaving you with a messy joint to clean up. Another tip is to ensure that when linking all the lengths together, you arrange the clean ends with the hollow track-pin ends on the same side, as these can then be placed on the outside of the runs, because the pads are omni-directional. Repeat that process until you have two runs of 81 links and you're done. Zone out and put some good music on to make the time go faster. The snorkel kit is all attached to the hull, with one tube fitted to the rear, deflecting the hot gases from the engine upwards, while the intakes are on the engine deck to the left of the turret bustle, and have two tubes servicing the long panel that is found there. They stand up a good 3cm from the engine deck, above the level of the commander's cupola so he drowns before the engine does. The turret is next in the queue, and again a few variant specific holes are drilled in the upper, while the simple gun pivot is added to the lower with polycaps supplying friction damping on any barrel movement and allowing it to be posed at will. The big blow-off ammo storage doors, radio masts and lots of conduits, bases for the crew-served weapons are added, and the gun barrel are made up, the latter being split vertically with a hollow muzzle and a key in the rear to prevent the fume extractor bulge ending up the wrong way. The mantlet has a dust cover that you are told to tape from inside to allow it to move during elevation, but I would consider using glue to hold the tape in place, in case old age takes its toll on the adhesive. The mantlet pushes into a large socket in the pivoting base, and the sides of the turret are adorned with a large pair of stowage boxes and smaller boxes of extra cartridges for the smoke dischargers. The simple loader's hatch as clear vision blocks, as does the commander's more complex cupola, and the TV box on the right of the turret roof, plus the CITV (not the children's channel) on the front left. The smoke dischargers with covers or cartridges installed are fitted, as is the coax M2 derivative machine gun, the TV housing, the CITV turret, and the armoured conduit to the CITV. More stowage area is supplied in the form of tubular framed bins on the left and right, with more to the rear, part of which is taken up by the air conditioning unit. An additional basket can be added to the rear of the bustle, and all of these have PE mesh floors. Under the turret lower the extra armoured conduits for the AC and other hardware are scabbed onto the surface, showing how much the Abrams has changed since its early days with sleek slab sides. The MCD box fits on a bracket over the front left in an armoured enclosure with large vertical fins projecting slightly from the front, and another smaller box to the side of the TV box on the right. The commander's cupola on the TUSK variant is almost a turret in itself, having full field vision in the shape of an octagonal set of clear vision blocks set into a styrene frame. A wash of clear blue/green will give them the correct bullet-proof hue, and don't forget to mask them before it gets too cluttered. The vision blocks are dropped onto a gun-ring and the bullet-proof panels that protect the commander are built up around the sides, sitting on top of the vision blocks without impeding their view, but leaving his back exposed. The M2 machine gun is fitted to a bracket with a glazed shield preventing bullets or shrapnel sneaking past the gap. The loader's shields are slightly less impressive, and his gun is an L249 derivative, but he benefits from the protection of the commander's cupola on one side, although this was improved in the later TUSK II kit. A coax M2 machine gun is mounted on a bracket atop the mantlet, with a big box of ammo reducing the need for risky reloads under fire. Various antennae and countermeasures masts are installed to the rear of the turret along with extra ammo and fuel cans, which completes the build save for the addition of the turret to the hull. I found the equipment fit a little confusing from scanning the instructions, so choose your decal option, note down which assemblies are fitted, and put a line through those you don't need, or you'll have leftovers when you're done. Markings There are four markings options from the box that are different both in terms of colour schemes and equipment fit. The decals are printed in China, but appear to be good quality, sharpness and colour density. Registration isn't an issue, as only two decals are two colours, and they look fine. From the box you can build one of the following: A Company, 8th Tank Battalion, the II Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Task Force Tarawa), US Marine Corps., Iraq 2003. 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marines Division, US Marine Corps. D Company, 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marines Division, US Marine Corps., Helmand Province, Afghanistan, February 2011. B Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armoured Regiment, US Army, Iraq, July 2008. Conclusion Another awesome Abrams kit from Meng, with slightly confusing instructions for the hard of thinking (me), and plenty of options to go off-piste with the decals to model many other vehicles from the busy period in the Middle East. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Modern German Tank Crew (HS-006) 1:35 Meng Model With the plethora of modern German armour coming from Meng as well as other model companies, it was only natural that someone would produce a crew set to accompany them, and it seems natural that Meng should be at least one company that would do so. This is their set, and it arrives in a traditional end-opening figure-sized box, with a single sprue in sand coloured styrene within, and build/painting guide on the rear of the box. There are four figures in the box and two are dressed in Temperate with two more in desert clothing, which will be useful for crewing at least two tanks, possibly more if you use one figure per vehicle. The desert crew have their sleeves rolled up, sunglasses on, and pistols on their thigh panel holsters. They are also wearing operator-style gloves and a tactical vest with MOLLE-like loops all over it. One figure wears a boonie-style floppy brimmed hat with his hands resting on the turret lip, while the other is sporting a tanker helmet with one elbow on the turret lip, and the other up to his headphone as if he is communicating. The European based figures look quite miserable on the box, but then it does get cold in Germany in the winter. They both have the soft helmets with comms built-in and are wearing a hooded smock over combats. The full figure is stood high in the turret with one hand on the turret lip, while the other is absent below mid-thigh, and has his hands resting on the cupola, looking off to his side. German soldiers wear Flecktarn camouflage pattern, and it's a complex scheme that will be taxing to reproduce in scale, but study an online sample swatch before you start, and you'll do a much better job. The base for the desert scheme is a sandy colour with green and tan pattern, while the Temperate is a dark green, with brown and green splodges densely packed together. In addition there are two pairs of binoculars, a couple of MP2 SMGs which are licensed copies of the Uzi, and there paddle-holstered pistols, meaning one for spares. The figures are broken down with separate torsos and legs (bar the part figure), heads and helmets, plus separate arms for maximum detail. The hoods on the smocks are also separate to give a more natural look. Sculpting is excellent as always and although the mould seam lines are heavy (as is often the case with Meng figures), which is accompanied by some flash, there is no evidence of mould slip, so clean-up should be pretty easy, especially if you use this handy tool that we reviewed a couple of years back. The painting guide uses their own AK produced paint codes with no alternatives given, but it shouldn't be too hard to find codes for your preferred brand using the table on the side of the box which gives the colour names to assist you. Review sample courtesy of
  9. All too often these days we seem quick of the mark in complaining when things don't go the way we expect. Is never been so easy to vent our frustrations quickly and some times with out thought. So what happens when things exceed our expectations? Do we offer positive feedback in the same rapid fire mode, maybe not. Its quite refreshing there for that I do pass on my positive comments in this case to all at Creative models for offering a superb level of service. The latest example of which saw the item ordered at 1300hrs and the kit was in my hands less than 24hrs later, post free as well (if ordered over £30 in value). Every order to date I have placed has seen the same timely delivery with exception over a weekend. Great work and thank you, Rick G
  10. Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Interior (Henschel Turret) 1:35 Meng Model We reviewed the new King Tiger kit from Meng in May 2017, which you can see here. So what? Well, you're going to need one of those if you're planning on buying this set/kit, because this is the interior for that kit (TS-031) in case you hadn't read the title and put two-and-two together. It arrives in a box that is exactly the same size as the kit box with a cut-away drawing of the tank on the front, showing what delights lie inside. The box size isn't just frippery either, as it is pretty full of sprues – eleven to be precise, in a mid-grey styrene. There is also an instruction booklet, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE), a decal sheet containing interior stencils, plus a small spring. The instruction booklet is quite clever, as it replaces the majority of the first parts of the original kit instructions, but you have to read the annotations carefully to ensure that you don't make a mistake, or omit something. When you're gluing assemblies together and batch-painting things, this is likely, so ensure you make notes and don't rush things. Construction begins with the lower hull, creating the gridwork of ribs between the torsion-bar suspension. The suspension arm and brake drum with PE surround are added to replacement inner skins, along with another two damper arms that help the rest of the suspension over difficult terrain. A pair of stringers are laid along the length of the hull, with holes for the bars to slide through, and the driver's controls are started, to be finished after the torsion-bars are complete. Various other boxes and pieces of equipment are added to the floor over the torsion bars along with a highly detailed firewall between the crew compartment and the engine bay, plus the tread-plate that fits around the turret basket in the centre of the compartment. Attention switches to the engine, which is built up from many parts over the next page of instructions, and inserted in the aft portion of the hull, then flanked by the radiator baths and the manual starter behind the engine, which is accessed by the crew through an armoured hatch on the rear bulkhead. Fuel tanks and plumbing fill up the rest of the bay, and are enclosed by the addition of the inner rear bulkhead, and a PE surround for the engine access hatch. The transmission is the assembled and placed in the forward hull next to the driver, with the two-part drive-shaft and power transfer box under the centre of the turret basket. More boxes, ammunition stowage and even a first aid kit are added around the area, plus radio gear that sits atop the transmission box, making for a claustrophobic interior, even before the bracing struts and main ammo storage are added. The ammunition racks are shaped to fit the confines of the over-sponson area, with individual shells slotting inside, which is where most of the decals are used up, providing the identifying stencils applied to each one. They are applied to the tops of the sponsons in rows of three, ready to be hemmed in by the upper hull frame. The bow mounted machine gun is constructed in three steps with face-cushion against the optics, and twin dump-bags for the spent brass, sliding into the aperture in the glacis plate before the upper hull is joined to the lower. The top of the hull is detailed with periscopes and spare dump-bags for the machine guns, and the front hatch panel is prepared with the opening mechanisms for the lift-and-swing hatches, which projects far into the hull. The engine intake and cooling covers are last to be added to the upper deck along with the lift-off engine hatch, with all the exterior detail being added after reference to the instructions for the main kit. The turret is equally cluttered, with hatch operating rams and various other parts added before the huge breech is installed. The turret basket is fully depicted, which drops through the two-layered turret floor to hang below it, after which the floor itself is decked with racks, spare periscope glass, an additional seat. The breech is a complex assembly, and includes a spring that will allow the gun to recoil if installed correctly. The coax machine gun and its ammo feed fit to the right side, and yet more ammo racks are made up, fitting into the tapered bustle area behind the crew. With the breech glued to the lower turret, the upper turret (from the kit) is slid over it, and the rear turret hatch is built and then added. From here on, you are back to using the kit instructions, although I would have liked to see an downloadable version of the instructions that amalgamated both kits to create one continuous booklet that removed any confusion. Markings As well as the stencils for the shells, there are also dials for the controls and stencils for the various boxes on the interior. The decals are printed in China, and are of good quality, legible and where registration is apparent on the dials, it appears good even under magnification. Conclusion Apart from the chances of mild confusion from switching between instruction booklets, this is an awesome addition to the base kit, and if you didn't understand why it was separated from the kit before, you probably will now. That quantity of plastic would be utterly wasted if it found its way into the stash of a modeller that doesn't do interiors, and as they would also have paid for it, that's got to be a win. The kit has hit the market with a competitive price-point, and this additional set/kit will too, giving the modeller the option to spend a little more for a lot more plastic. Detail is excellent, the instructions as comprehensive as they can be, and colour call-outs throughout help immensely. Can you say "cut-away"? Very highly recommended. Due to the level of demand, initial stocks are depleted, but check back with Creative for a restock soon. Review sample courtesy of
  11. T-54-2 Mod 1949 (37012) 1:35 MiniArt The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and an amalgamation of all the alterations were incorporated into the re-designed T-54-2, which saw the fender machine guns removed and replaced by a more modern bow-mounted single gun, the tracks widened, and the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, eliminating the shot-traps on the turret sides, but retaining the more modern gun and sighting improvements that had been made to the dash-2 toward the end of production. The requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. The Kit We reviewed the T-54-1 here recently, and although this kit bears a striking resemblance, there are a large number of parts that are different in minor ways, and although the interior is included in this boxing too, the engine parts are no-longer there, and the kit isn't billed as an "Interior Kit", perhaps indicating that interest in that area wasn't sufficient to justify providing the complete internals. Who knows? The quality of moulding is identical (i.e excellent) to the earlier kit, and inside the box are forty eight (yes, 48) sprues in mid grey styrene, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a small decal sheet and a glossy bound red and white booklet that mimics the striking design of the box. Construction is almost identical to the earlier boxing, excepting right at the beginning with the engine omission. The lower hull has some minor differences, and the sidewalls require a little modification at the top to introduce a chamfer at the very top, and the ammo storage area is omitted, but sufficient detail will be seen through the opened hatches if you decide to go that way. The engine compartment is of course empty, but with the access panels fitted it wouldn't be seen anyway, which is a similar story to the other omitted internals. The running gear is identical, as are the individual links provided on 10 small sprues, while the upper deck is different in shape, but constructed in the same manner, from individual sections at the front, turret ring area, and the engine deck. The fenders are different due to the removal of the gun "emplacements", with stowage and spare track links taking their place. The turret is a new moulding, and has reduced levels of detail, omitting such things as the ready-ammo, reduced detail on the main gun breech etc., but as this isn't the bells & whistles boxing, you are still getting plenty, such as the coax machine gun, a highly detailed cupola and of course the Dushka (DsHK) on the upper surface. Finally the driver's "hood" that fits over his hatch for inclement weather operations can be posed stowed or in situ for that comedy look. If you are stowing it, there are some PE straps to tie things down on the bustle. Markings The decal sheet consists of predominantly white digits, with a couple of diamonds that have black backgrounds, so registration although minimal is in good, colour density and sharpness being similarly so. From the box you can build one of the following, all of which are in Russian Green: Soviet Army 50 Years – white 649 with black diamond and Roman III in the centre Soviet Army 50 Years – white 003 Soviet Army 50 Years – white 332 Soviet Army 50 Years – white 84 Soviet Army 50 Years – white 534 Soviet Army 50 Years – white 415 Not the most inventive decal choice, but as they're all Russian Green anyway, it's not the end of the world. Some of the options show the Dushka, while others do not, so take care if you are going for accuracy. Conclusion It's another great early T-54 from MiniArt, without the mass of additional parts on the interior, so it should be a quicker build than its stablemate. Detail is first class, and symptomatic of MiniArt's continued growth as a company constantly striving for excellence. Highly recommended. http://www.britmodeller.com/reviews/graphics/bin.jpg Review sample courtesy of
  12. T-54-1 Medium Tank 1:35

    T-54-1 Medium Tank 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models The WWII T-34 was an excellent all-round tank, combining armour, speed, hitting power and manoeuvrability into a war-winning package that served the Soviet Union well until the end of the war. After the war a new design was needed, and this was based upon the T-44 that had been in development during the final years of the conflict. It was decided that a larger 100mm gun was needed to counter the new tanks that were being developed in the West, but the T-44 chassis couldn't handle the turret that would be required. A new enlarged chassis was designed and was named the T-54, which went through such rapid development and many changes that it soon became a new prototype, the T-54-1. That too suffered teething troubles and after fewer than 1,500 units, production transferred quickly to the T-54-2, and then the T-55, which we've all probably heard of. The T-54-1 kept many of the successful traits of the T-34/85, but with a larger turret the shot-trap was significant, which ultimately led to the familiar domed turret of the T-55. Although outdated, the T-54 stuck around in smallish numbers for quite some period in a number of guises, although by the time the last operational vehicles were drawn down, it was seriously outclassed in every way. The Kit This is a complete new tooling from the good folks at MiniArt in the Ukraine, and it is a major new tooling because it has a complete interior within the box, which is weighty beyond usual expectations. On lifting the lid you are greeted by a glut of sprues, many of them quite small because of the tooling's modular nature, with quite a few parts going unused for this boxing. There are sixty two sprues in grey styrene plus another twelve for the tracks (in the same colour), a sprue in clear, plus two frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, the decal sheet and finally a rather thick and glossy colour instruction booklet with painting guide included to the rear. That little lot fills up just about all the space in the box, leaving only room for air between the sprues – quite daunting to repack too! When MiniArt say "interior" they're not just referring to a couple of seats for the crew and a few black boxes. They really do mean full interior. This starts with the V-54 engine that is built up from crank-case through rocker-covers and is sat upon a trestle engine mount, with a high overall part count. The lower hull is then constructed so that it can take all the interior parts, with the torsion bars and suspension arms slid in and located at the opposite ends in pairs, after which the floor under the turret is slipped over the top of the centre bars, and ancillary equipment is piled in along with more suspension details. The driver's control levers are built up and added to the left front of the hull floor, with a surprisingly comfortable-looking seat added next to the bulkhead that forms a wall of the shell magazine later on. The hull sidewalls are added with interior skins providing the detail and thickness, with yet more equipment studded along their lengths, and some holes need opening up for the shell racks, as shown in a scrap diagram. The two perforated frames attach at the front of the starboard sidewall, and individual shells slot inside the holes, with drop-down gates holding them in place during transport. You could probably get away with painting only the percussion caps and the ends of the shell casings for those that will be stuck in there, so don't go mad unless you will be going for a cut-away in that area. The engine is then added to the rear of the hull on its mount that latches into slots in the floor, and a pair of box-like air intakes are added at the starboard end. A firewall is then constructed with fan, extinguisher and other boxes to fit between the two areas, after which the port side is added, and the glacis plate is fitted into place, the latter having a scale thickness armour panel, foot-pedals and periscopes for the driver installed. The roadwheels are made up in pairs with a central hub-cap, and ten pairs are made up, with five per side held in place by a pin and top-cap in the same way as the two-part drive sprockets are fitted at the rear. The idler wheel is installed right at the front of the hull on an tensioner axle, and is made from two parts, held in place by a pin and top-cap like the rest of the roadwheels, although it is noticeably smaller. The rear bulkhead has two sets of brackets for additional fuel drums, which are included in the box, and this assembly is installed at the rear along with two other small facets, one of which has the rear light cluster mounted. The hull roof is fabricated from shorter sections to preserve detail, starting with the turret ring, which has the driver's hatch within, and once in place, armoured periscope protectors, rotating hatch and pioneer tools are added around. The engine deck is split into three main sections, within which are access hatches, grilles and louvers to allow the engine to breathe and be maintained. The louvers are covered by an additional layer of PE mesh, and the extra fuel drums are strapped in place by a pair of PE straps each if you decide to fit them. The fenders are festooned with stowage of various types, which are loaded up before being added to the sides of the hull along with the obligatory unditching beam and spring-loaded mudguards at the rear. Some PE parts are used as tie-downs and handles here to improve the scale effect of details. Additionally, a pair of ender mounted machine-guns are added in small casemates, one on each fender at the front, with a removable lid for repair and maintenance plus reloading. You get the full breech and interior, which leaves you with some options. Spare ammo cans are stowed next to simplify crew reloading, although doing that task under fire would be no fun! Tracks. Always a divisive subject, as some like band-type, others like individual links, link-and-length, or metal. The list goes on. You might have noticed already that this kit provides individual link tracks of the glue-together variety, which don't do anything fancy such as click in-place. The tracks are built up in segments of 9 links, with 8 links having guide-horns, and one without. All you need to do is remove each link from the sprues via their four gates, trim them flush, glue the parts together in batches of 9 in a run of 90 links each side, and whilst still soft, wrap them around the roadwheels and set the sag with sponges, cotton buds or whatever is to hand to hold them in position. When dry they can be removed with care, especially if you have left an idler or sprocket loose to facilitate. Take care when prepping the track parts, as the plastic is quite soft, and easily marred with careless handling. With the tracks done, the fenders go on, with the duck-bill shaped exhaust crossing the port fender in the rear, with a deflector attached over it. The turret will be a focus of attention for most viewers, and it is filled with detail. The two layer turret ring is added to the lower turret part, and the inside of the turret is then strewn with equipment on both sides, with a stack of ready-ammo at the rear of the bustle in a compact rack that hold seven shells. Crew seats are added, dipping down through the aperture, and the breech of the 100mm gun is constructed from a host of parts, with two being left off if you wanted to move the barrel later. This is mounted between two brackets that sit on the front lip of the turret, with the sighting gear and a stack of four ammo cans to feed the coaxial machine gun slung underneath. The upper turret is similarly bedecked with equipment inside, and at this point a large portion of the roof is missing, being made up in a later step with the crew hatches, periscopes and mushroom fume vent, plus an antenna base. The gunner's cupola has a ring fitted to it that mounts a huge DShk "Dushka" 12.7mm machine gun, which can be used with great effect against soft targets or as an anti-aircraft mount. It is made up from a considerable number of parts, with scrap diagrams showing how to mount the ammo box to the breech with a number of PE parts as well as a length of link for good measure. The upper turret, mantlet armoured cover, coaxial machine gun and the mantlet itself are all brought together at the end to finish the turret main construction, after which a large rolled tarpaulin is draped over the rear of the bustle, with a choice of one of the two driver's "hoods" strapped to the top of it for safe-keeping. There is a low profile and higher profile variant included in the box, with the choice of either or none left to the modeller. Markings There are three options available from the box, with a variety of schemes that should suit most tastes. From the box you can build one of the following: Soviet Army 50s – Soviet green with white 224 on the turret sides. Soviet Army 50s – Winter distemper paint over green and white 222 on turret sides. Soviet Army early 50s – Summer camouflage. Green sand and black soft-edge wavy camouflage and no unit markings other than a small red star. The decal sheet is small and mostly white, with only the red stars to break up the colour (excluding the red border to the sheet). The registration between the two colours seems good, sharpness is too, but I suspect the codes may be slightly translucent when applied to dark colours. They can easily be used as a guide to touch in with a little diluted white on a sharp brush though, as these markings were usually hand-painted. If you wanted to see what can be done with this kit, check out Dmytro Kolesnyk's superb build here on Britmodeller, which you can see more of here. Conclusion Quite a box load! The sheer quantity of parts and the detail therein makes this easy to recommend, and there are endless possibilities for exposing the innards of the beast, which might need just the odd wire or hose added along with some grime to make it look real. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret) 1:35 Meng Models via Creative Models The King Tiger needs little introduction to any armour lover, as it became one of WWII's iconic AFVs, even though it only saw limited action in the closing months of the war, and had a few serious flaw that were never fully fixed due to its short time in service before the fasctories and the Reich were over-run. As with any new equipment, Hitler stuck his oar in and always wanted bigger, which resulted in a heavily armoured tank with a massively powerful gun, but weight problems (I know that feeling!) that put undue strain on its running gear, resulting in a high maintenance rate and frequent breakdowns on the battlefield. It has been said that more King Tigers were lost to crews having to abandon a broken down vehicle than were knocked out in battle. The design was complex, and although the simpler Henschel turret design was chosen over the alternative and more complicated Porsche offering to ease construction, it still took far too much time and valuable resources to create one. The Porsche company had already built a number of turrets however, so they were used up in the first batch of tanks, and the Henschel design should by rights be the "production turret", as they designed the chassis too. It took bravery on the part of the Allied tankers to take out a KT, as they had to get well inside the killing zone of the mighty 88mm gun in order to penetrate the frontal armour, and even the sides weren't easy to breach. The Kit We have had many King Tiger models in 1:35 over the years, and more recently the market has become a little more crowded with new kits coming out to broaden the modeller's choice. As is often said, X's King Tiger doesn't make any money for Y, and Meng now have their hat in the ring with this new kit that has been produced in conjunction with the Tank Museum in Bovington as well as their magazine, AFV Modeller. They have opted for a modular approach to this kit, which they premiered with their Bradley M3A3 with Busk III, having the same optional interior set for those that would wish to model the interior of this beast. There is also a track set available in case you're not overly fond of the link-and-length tracks that are included in the box, and a set of Zimmerit decals too. Of course this will add to the purchase price, but if you aren't interested in those optional extras, at least you're not paying for plastic that will stay in the box and clutter up your spares bucket for years to come. So what's in the box? Quite a lot, including ten sprues in primer-red styrene, a grey sprue containing two figures, a clear sprue, turned aluminium barrel, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) grilles, some poly-caps, a decal sheet, and of course the instruction booklet with integrated black and white painting guide. A peruse of the sprues shows plenty of detail, and all of the armoured panels have a delicate rolled-steel texture that looks great, although if you're a bit heavy on the paint, it could well disappear under multiple layers. There are a few parts that aren't needed if you are assembling the tank with the interior, so take care and read the instructions fully before you start gluing, as some of the differences are quite notable. The red primer styrene colour is actually quite clever, as if you ever wear through the paint with handling, it will still look authentic after a fashion, a feature that could be done deliberately if you so choose. Inclusion of a metal barrel is great news, as it removes a tiresome seam-filling chore from your task list, but if you really really hate metal barrels, there is a styrene alternative there just in case. The tracks being link and length will delight and horrify modellers in equal measure, as you can't please all the people all the time, especially with track technologies. Suffice to say that the detail is excellent, but if you would prefer a workable track, there is the extra track pack from Meng, or you could opt for some from Friul. Construction begins predictably with the road wheels, which have a poly-cap hidden between the two, and a choice of two types of cap for both inner and outer pairs. The three-piece idler wheel and two-part drive sprocket also have poly-caps at their hearts, which will help when adding the tracks and during painting. The lower hull is fitted with a pair of inserts behind the suspension ports, which is only applied if you aren't building the interior, which has the torsion-bars included as part of the set. Final drive armour and towing eyes are added to the front on each side of the lower glacis, and a pair of bracing bulkheads are inserted into the hull to give it rigidity in the absence of the interior. The swing-arms then fit onto the pins in the suspension ports, and these parts are again only appropriate for the fixed suspension option. The wheels can be fixed onto the stub-axles at this point, and the rear bulkhead is then built, studded with track joining tools, the twin armoured exhausts and some small PE parts for the jack that will be fitted later. This slots into the hull from above, and is joined by another brace that fits near the front of the hull roof, plus the front towing shackles that dangle permanently from the front of any KT. The tracks are link-and-length, as previously mentioned, and are also handed, so care is needed in construction. The exploded diagram shows which parts are fitted where, and the top run will have a degree of natural sag that has been engineered in thanks to the construction jig supplied for this section. The individual links create the sharper curves around the idler and drive sprockets, and here each link is made of the two parts to give extra flex to the shape, which is as it should be. The track pack that's available separately renders all this obsolete of course, and we'll try to get hold of a set in due course to see what's included and how it changes the build process. The upper hull has a separate engine deck, and under this a bracing part is fitted, which would be replaced by the interior set if you opt for it. The upper glacis exterior is moulded into the upper hull, and is backed up by another internal part to give it a more realistic armour thickness. The rest of the hull roof is then fitted, which includes the turret ring and a cut-out for the separate insert with the driver and machine-gunner's hatches. The ball fitting for the bow-mounted machine gun is held in place behind the armoured bulge of the kugelblende, with the barrel sliding through the centre minus breech. At the rear of the upper hull the correct armour thickness is portrayed by the addition of a pair of extra parts that make up the difference without risking sink-marks. The engine deck is split like the real thing, with the radiator baths on each side and PE mesh covers for each outlet, plus a scattering of lifting lugs and pioneer tools. The central panel is for engine access, and has a number of armoured mushroom vents, lifting lugs and grab handles added along with the "easy" access hatch within it for daily preventative maintenance. The final panel is the driver's compartment, which has two more mushroom vents, more lifting lugs, and of course the two hatches with grab handles for the crew. The remainder of the pioneer tools and towing ropes are then installed on the sloped sides of the hull, and the curved PE grilles are shaped around a two-part jig before being glued to their frames and put in place over the forward radiator louvers. The two halves of the hull are brought together and the remaining details are fitted, such as the mudguards, and jack at the rear, fenders along the sides, front mudguards and the central headlight light on the glacis. Now for the turret. For scale fidelity, the turret has a double skin, and the improved, flat Henschel mantlet fits in the front, eliminating the shot-trap that was present in the Porsche design. The turret roof has the cupola details and the central fume extractor vent added inside, and the floor has a commander's seat added (which will be stood on by himself), and a perfunctory pivot for the gun base added at the front. Again, if you're going for the full interior, this will be set aside. With the lid and floor installed, the clear periscope parts and the armoured mantlet slab are glued in place, and the flip-down crew access hatch is built to scale thickness and installed on twin hinges. Incidentally, this hatch doubled as the only way to get the massive gun out of the turret, so wasn't just for crew comfort or their safety. The hinges are covered by protective armour, as are all the vision blocks, vents and the gun's optics, which have a bullet-splash screen added around. Lifting eyes, machine gun ring, and brackets for spare track are added, plus of course the true mantlet of the gun, which flares out to deflect shot into the armour. The metal barrel is tipped with a styrene flash-hider, and a two-part inner shroud to the rear, which is then pushed into the breech with a keyed peg ensuring the correct orientation of the muzzle. The gunner's simple hatch, the commander's MG and his rotating hatch are built up as the final acts, and the turret is then fitted to the hull, minus any retaining mechanism. The Königstiger had a crew of five, and two are supplied in the box on a single grey sprue. If you choose to use them, you can build up the commander and loader in their entirety (i.e. with legs). The commander is stood up and has his binoculars pressed to his eyes, appearing to be looking at what the loader is pointing at from his seated position on the edge of his hatch. Sculpting is up to Meng's usual high standard, and parts breakdown facilitates good detail. Markings The decal sheet is small, and for what must be the first time in my experience, not printed by Cartograf for them. To be frank, it isn't all that important with AFV models for the most part, as the markings are few and were often hand painted by less than talented workers. The quality isn't quite up to the usual standard, but they should suffice for their purpose. On my sample the registration is good, and colour density was of a similar quality, but there were a few tiny artefacts in the black, with slight stepping visible on diagonals under magnification. To the naked eye however, these would be hard to pick up on. From the box you can build one of the following four (not six as mentioned on their website): Tank 334 s.H.Pz.Abt.503, Wehrmacht, Hungary, October 1944 – Dark yellow with green and red-brown camouflage. Tank 124 s.H.Pz.Abt.505, Wehrmacht, Poland, September 1944 – Dark yellow with green and red-brown camouflage. Tank 223 s.H.Pz.Abt.501, SS, Belgium, December 1944 – ambush scheme. Tank 324 s.H.Pz.Abt.509, Wehrmacht, Hungary, March 1945 – white distemper over ambush scheme. The painting guide is in black and white and the shades of grey are only referred to by their colour codes with no names mentioned until the table on the back page, which makes for a more difficult time envisaging which scheme takes your fancy the most. Thankfully, they are all some combination of a Dark Yellow base with green and red-brown camouflage overlaid, except for the last option, which has winter distemper over the dotty ambush scheme. On a slightly sour note, the first two decal options were coated with Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating from the factory, which isn't supplied in the box. If choosing A or B, you will either need to apply it yourself using putty of some type, or purchase the Zimmerit decal set that Meng have made available separately. To this reviewer, the Zimmerit decal should have been supplied in the box, or you can't accurately depict half of the decal options. Conclusion We are now spoiled for choice when it comes to the King Tiger, and Meng's approach of making the interior and workable tracks an optional extra allowed them to focus squarely on the design of the kit, with those looking for extra detail purchasing the extra sets if they want them. Many AFV modellers don't bother with interiors in general, so why buy parts you won't use? Detail is excellent, and if you're planning a buttoned up Tiger II, this would make an superb choice, with all the surface detail of the armour already done for you, and a couple of crew figures plus a turned barrel thrown in for good measure. Watch out for the missing Zimmerit though when you're choosing your decal options. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Soviet T-10M Heavy Tank 1:35

    Soviet T-10M Heavy Tank 1:35 Meng Models Having already reviewed another kit of this type, I'll take the lazy/sensible way out and paste in the preamble from the earlier kit for your ease, rather than trying to re-write the wheel, as it were. The Kit Meng seem to be locked in a release and subject matter war with other manufacturers in the same global location, with another kit of this massive tank from another manufacturer already on the scene. Meng have produced this kit ploughing their own furrow as always, and fair play to them for doing so. As usual the kit has a quality feel from the outset, with the satin finish to the dramatic box artwork, and carefully wrapped contents. Inside the box you will find nine sprues plus two hull parts in a dark green styrene, twelve in black, two in clear, a strip of poly-caps, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklet is glossy for the first pair of pages, with full-colour painting guide occupying the last two pages. Detail is excellent throughout, and it is clear that Meng's designers have paid careful attention to the surface texture of the cast parts. There is a definite and well-executed rolled-steel texture to the upper hull plates, and some low-key welding seams added for good measure. On the underside is a slightly different casting texture, and the turret has a pronounced texture that, with the addition of a little stippled Mr Surfacer would give good rendition of the rough-cast turret's surface. It already has a texture, but it is IMHO a little too subtle without augmentation, which isn't difficult, and it can actually be quite fun attacking the part with a stiff bristled brush daubed with Mr Surfacer. It will also help to hide the seam between upper and lower turret halves, which is on the lower edge and will be visible on the completed model. The build begins with the road wheels as you might expect, with poly-caps trapped between the twin road wheels and identical idler. The drive sprocket is made up from three parts with a choice of style for the front cog, with another poly-cap hidden within, while the return rollers are three parts due to their inclusion of their support and axle. In all you will make up sixteen road wheels, two drive sprockets and six return rollers, but there are no rubber tyres, so there's nothing to tax your circular line painting skills. The lower hull is covered with detail, but more is added in the shape of axle mounts, final drive housing and suspension bump-stops, before the shortened torsion bars with swing-arms and stub axles are added, and the wheels mounted accordingly. Then you're onto tracks, which look like fun! The tracks are provided with a clear two-part jig that holds a run of the pads in place while you glue in the track-pins from each side. However, Meng have cleverly moulded six pins in a run that are perfectly spaced to fit the holes without being removed from their sprue. This reduces the amount of work dealing with fiddly pins, which are instead liberated from their sprue run once the glue has set. Speaking of glue, you should use it sparingly for fear of gumming up the track, or worse, sticking the track to the styrene jig. Each of the 87 links per run has three sprue gates, which should be easy to clean up as they are on the curved edges of the link. The track pins are moulded in blocks of 6 in pairs marked "track pin 01" and "track pin 02" for ease of identification. Once fixed and cut loose, the ends should be easy to clean up with a sanding sponge. To close up the track runs around the wheels, just add single pins to the run to form the loop, and fix with a dot of glue. The rear bulkhead slopes down from the engine deck at a shallow angle, and carried both the gun's travel-lock and the four supports for two of the four cylindrical fuel tanks it carries. This assembly slots into the rear of the upper hull, which is also detailed with engine grilles, front and rear light clusters with protective cages and the driver's hatch. On each front fender and shaped stowage box is installed, with two three-part styrene towing ropes snaking back from the glacis mounted shackles toward the rear. More stowage sits over the rear fenders, and the four tanks are fitted to their cradles, with the seemingly ubiquitous unditching beam (tree trunk) attached to the starboard hull. The basic turret is shaped similarly to that of the T-55, but it can be fitted with a semi-conformal bustle, or a large four-part rolled tarp, depending on your choice. Either way, you'll need to drill some holes in the rear, but they're marked on the inner face, so won't tax your brain too much. The rest of the turret is festooned with vision and sighting devices, spare ammo boxes for the machine gun, with grab-handles aplenty. The aperture through which the gun projects is built up with a few additional parts to get the correct shape, and the gun is mounted to a T-shaped part with poly-caps at each end that is trapped between the upper and lower turret halves. There is no breech detail, but this is fairly standard in AFV modelling, with not much that would be seen through the hatches anyway. Speaking of which, the commander's cupola has clear vision blocks mounted on a carrier ring that is hidden inside the two-part structure, to which protective covers, a small search-light and snap-in hatch are added. The loader's simplified hatch has a snap-in hatch, which if unglued should allow them both to open and close freely, as well as rotate if you leave them unglued in the turret top. The big KPVT machine gun is a multi-part assembly with separate barrel, lifting handle, two-part breech and two piece mount attached to a complex elevation and sighting mechanism that can be posed in the raised or horizontal position by exchanging one set of rams and levers for an alternative set. The mantlet for the main gun has a searchlight (with mount) and coax machine gun added, with a short barrel shroud at the base, and a two-part barrel split vertically, to which a single-piece slide-moulded muzzle-brake and collar are added to the end. Yes… it is an impressive moulding that brought a slight smile to my face when I fished it out from the box. The build is complete by dropping the turret into the ring and locking it in place with the bayonet fitting by rotating it slightly. Markings You get four decal options in the box, although the basic scheme is Russian Green, as you'd expect from that era. Meng have tried to give some variation within that limitation though, and also give you details of the vehicles and their units, as well as the time period that the scheme was appropriate for. From the box you can build one of the following: 13th Guards Heavy Tank Division, 1st Guards Tank Army, Soviet Forces in Germany, Operation Danube, 1968 – large white cross over the turret and upper hull. 20th Independent Tank Battalion, 20th Guards Motor Division, 1st Guards Tank Army, Soviet Forces in Germany, 1972-4 – White 039 on turret back and sides. 1st Guards Tank Army, Soviet Forces in Germany, Berlin Parade, 1960 – Soviet wreath & flag on turret sides. A certain Soviet Army Unit, late 1960s to early 1970s – white 202 on turret sides. That last one is a bit vague, and Google was very little help, so you're on your own with deciphering the meaning behind it. As always with Meng, the decals have been printed for them by Cartograf, and the quality is excellent. Registration, colour density and sharpness are top notch, and the carrier film is thin, with a matt finish, cut closely around the printed edges. Conclusion As always, this is a quality piece of styrene engineering from Meng, and even the unditching log's texture impresses. They have made some very interesting strides in texturing of their models to add realism, and this one is a benchmark that many producers could aspire to. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. ZSU-23-4 Shilka Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun 1:35 Meng Models The Shilka was developed in the 60s based on a standard tracked chassis, to which a lightly armoured body and large turret containing four 23mm autocannons that were belt-fed and aimed using radar for optimum accuracy in all weathers and light levels. It was designed to fill the gap between larger longer-range missile defences and the installation it was assigned to protect, whether it was an airfield or otherwise. It is very accurate and forced a change in NATO doctrine due to its efficacy in identifying and neutralising a target. There were numerous variants, and each barrel could be fed with different ammunition, although the usual load was armour piercing tracer and incendiary fragmentation interleaved in the feed. The radar dome is mounted on the turret behind the weapons, and is a proven effective unit that picks up targets quickly at longer range and follows them until they penetrate its sphere of operation. The electro-mechanical targeting "computer" weighs in at a staggering 180kg that calculates a frighteningly accurate lead-time so that the rounds arrive on target at just the right moment. It has seen action in many conflicts, and is in service today in a wide range of countries due to its reputation for being a highly effective weapons system, and from inheritance from the Soviet Union. The Kit This is a complete new tooling from Meng, and quite a welcome sight from someone that owns the old Dragon kit and wasn't looking forward to building it. It is smothered in detail, and has a complete driver compartment under a poseable hatch, with individual link tracks, a small fret of Photo-Etch and flexible hosing to the cannons. It arrives in their usual satin finished box, which is full to the brim on lifting the lid. Inside there are nine sprues in olive green styrene plus a hull lower, four of black styrene, a clear sprue, a medium sized PE fret, a strip of poly-caps and length of very flexible vinyl tubing. A decal sheet and instruction booklet completes the package, which has the usual Meng air of quality about it. Construction begins with the hull, which includes poly-caps for the road wheels, idlers and multi-part drive sprockets. A number of holes need drilling in the detailed hull bottom, and a bulkhead with additional parts is added to the rear. The suspension mounts slot into the hull sides along with bump-stops and final drive housing, and then it's time for the tracks. The tracks are individual links and click together without the use of glue. There are three sprue gates on each link, all of which are on the mating areas, so will be quick to clean up, and there are no ejector pin marks as these have all been placed on the sprues themselves. You will need 91 links per side, which is a total of 182, so 546 sprue gates. With the tracks on, the basic chassis top with fenders is added together with some of the parts in the driver compartment, which are joined by controls, seat and clear instrument panel plus instrument decals. More instruments are added to the underside of the top deck, which has a choice of side panels with different access hatch arrangements. A selection of grilles, hatches and fender parts with the light clusters attached to the front are built up before being added to the upper hull along with a number of smaller parts plus a selection of pioneer tools, hatches, and towing ropes. These parts vary between decal options, so take care when building these sections up. After attaching the upper hull to the lower, the aft bulkhead is detailed with a set of mudguards, a curved grille that is made up using a two part jig (I love these little touches in Meng kits), more tow cables and a large bracket for the unditching beam, which is held in place by two pins and a couple of PE chains. The turret to the Shilka is complex, and construction begins with the four autocannon, which have finely moulded flash-hiders at their tips, with very thin muzzles. These attach to the breeches, and lengths of vinyl hose are added, with dimensions given in the accompanying text. The two pairs of cannon are linked up and surrounded by a perforated box section, with a scrap diagram showing the correct routing of the hoses once complete. The turret body is then built up, and here you need to take careful note of the hole drilling diagram, which has different diameters as well as different patterns depending on your decal choice. The roof, sides and rear are assembled, then the cannon pack is added along with the bays on either side where the ammo feeds are located. These can be left visible by leaving the top covers open later in the build. The lower turret and turret ring are then added, and a pair of cheek compartments, hatch covers, cupolas and the big radar assembly are constructed before being added to the main assembly over the next six steps. The last three steps show the correct equipment for each decal option, so again take care following these. The finished turret can then be inserted into the ring on the hull, twisting it to lock it in place. Markings There appear to be only four markings options on first glance, but there are actually nine, as three types have two or three different schemes provided. A wide range of schemes are included that should satisfy most modellers without resorting to their own research and decals. From the box you can build one of the following: ZSU-23-4V1 55th anniversary Parade on Red Square, November 1972 – Russian Green with white striping and hub caps. ZSU-23-4V1 A certain unit, Polish Army 2010 – Russian green with 0388 on the turret. ZSU-23-4V1 A certain unit, Far Eastern Military District, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation "Peace Mission 2014", joint anti-terror military Drill 2014 – Sand, green and black camo, Russian flag on the hull sides. ZSU-23-4M No.505 Anti-aircraft Battalion, 324th Motorised Rifle Regiment, Ural Military District, the First Chechen War, 1995-1996 – Russian green with lighter green camo, 505 on the hull sides. ZSU-23-4M A certain unit, National People's Army, the former German Democratic Republic – Dark green with GDR symbol and 2613 on the turret. ZSU-23-4M2 Marines of the Black Sea Fleet, 2011 – Russian green with light green camo and black demarcation strips. ZSU-23-4MZ No.185 Anti-aircraft battalion, 105th Motorised Rifle Regiment, Ural Military District, 1998 – Russian green, mid green and blue/grey camo, 185 on the hull sides. ZSU-23-4MZ No.822 Anti-aircraft Battalion, 341st Tank Regiment, Ural Military District, 1997 – Green, light green, orange brown camo, with 822 on the hull sides. ZSU-23-4MZ No.370 Soviet troops in Afghanistan, 1988 – Light green with black camo, white 370 on the turret sides. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Two instrument panel decals and a couple of data placards are included along with the national and unit markings. Conclusion This is now the definitive Shilka in this scale, with lots of detail, a diverse decal sheet covering multiple variants, and a comprehensive package that includes everything most modellers will need to build a good representation of this efficient killer. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Wine Bottles & Wooden Crates 1:35 MiniArt Dioramas. They always look better with some personalisation, as do AFVs and softskins. What could be more personal than some looted (or otherwise) booze that has been liberated from an abandoned pub, or the cellar of a ruined mansion. Simulated glass can be hard to replicate yourself, but injection moulding or clear resin moulding makes your life a little easier. Along comes MiniArt with a set of wine bottle AND the crates to put them in. Not only that, but they come with decals to replicate labels and crate stencils! Arriving in a figure-sized end-opening box, inside you get six sprues each of transparent green and red styrene, plus twelve sprues in an orange/tan styrene, and you can doubtless guess which ones the crates are made up from. The transparent sprues have sixteen bottles of two shapes each, giving you 96 green, 96 red bottles and 12 crates in which to put them, if that's your goal. The decal sheet gives you 144 labels of 9 types, plus 19 stencils for crates, most of which are French, with one type German. Additionally, you get five German Eagle symbols with the Swastika, although only half of the Swastika is printed, probably to save problems in certain territories where displaying Nazi symbolism is unlawful. You will have to paint the bottle foils, corks and caps yourself, but that's not too arduous a task, a description that can also apply to the location of the sprue gates on the bottles, which is on their bottoms, so easy to clean up. If you intend to depict a few on their sides, a touch with a drill bit should make the necessary indent to give the correct look. The crates are the only part of the kit that needs assembly as such, and this is detailed on the back of the box. The outer surface is built up from four parts, then the divides are made up and it is all brought together with the base to complete the process. The parts are all textured with wood grain and nail heads, so should respond well to painting and possibly a little dry-brushing to bring out the detail. Applying the stencils with some decal solution will help them settle down over the texture of the wood, but as they are pleasingly thin, the carrier film should almost disappear after clear coat. Conclusion A useful addition to any AFV model or diorama that has been carefully thought out to ease construction and finishing. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Railroad Water Crane (35567) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models We're on diorama fodder today, and if you saw my review the other week of the rail track here, this might be something of interest. MiniArt's latest is a railroad water crane that trains used to fill up their water tanks from at the side of the track. They were a common site around the railways of the world until Diesel and electric locomotives became more numerous, but have since almost disappeared. The kit arrives in a long custom-shaped end-opening box, and inside are three sprues in grey styrene, plus one in clear, and a small bundle of grey thread. Construction information is covered on the back of the box, and begins with the support column, which is split vertically, and in its lower sections is conical. A number of additional parts stack on top of the conical section, along with a couple of fine levers that are used in the operation of the crane. The column is topped with a dome-shaped casting, from which a support wire stretches out to the feeder tube. Two lamps attach to the top of the arm with clamps, both lanterns made up from two clear parts each that are painted transparent red. The final section of the feeder arm is able to rotate around its end for fine-tuning of the nozzle, and this is held in place by a pin, so with careful gluing could be left mobile. On the real thing the nozzle is moved using a pulley and rope, which is where the cord comes in. Two lengths are used, one hanging down for the operator to pull upon, and another running from a transfer box to the end of the nozzle. On the base is a cut-off valve set into a flat plate, which is bolted down onto a (presumably) concrete base. Painting instructions are given throughout the build as numbers linked to a paint chart at the bottom of the instructions, which gives you options for AMMO, Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Mr Color, LifeColor and plain-old colour names, so you shouldn't be left scratching for the right shade. Conclusion An excellent addition to any railway based diorama. I have one formulating in my mind already involving a King Tiger and the railway track, or perhaps it'll end up next to my BR52 someday. Review sample courtesy of
  18. British Infantry – Somme Period, 1916 1:35 Master Box Ltd Master Box have seen a market for some well-sculpted, modern mouldings of WWI soldiers, that will be a must-have to anyone building the rash of newly tooled WWI armour that we are currently blessed with. The old Emhar figures are nice, but limited in stance, so without surgery you'll be in for a lot of work. This set arrives in the de facto standard figure shaped box with a painting of the included figures on the front, and parts breakdown with pictorial instructions on the rear. On opening the end of the box, you're greeted by a re-sealable bag containing one large sprue and one smaller one containing all the parts you'll need to build five figures in fairly relaxed non-combat stances. Contrary to the sprue photos on the back of the box, the styrene is grey, which shows off the contours and captures all the detail that has been included in the kit. All figures are standing, with four standing upright in a pose that suggests they're taking a breather from a trudge somewhere, which could explain the fifth figure, who appears to be giving directions, having one arm outstretched, pointing behind him. He is also dressed as an officer, having a greatcoat and swagger stick, with a pistol on a belt at his waist. The other figures have their fatigues over which are the sleeveless leather jackets that gave some level of weather and wear resistance to their torsos. Some are open, while others are buttoned up, and weapons are slung over shoulders and rested butt-first on the ground. Weapons include a Lewis gun and Lee Enfields with and without bayonets fitted. Various bags and pouches are also included, both for rifle ammo and the dinner-plate style drum mags for the Lewis gun, which one of the soldiers is shown carrying in the instructions. Torsos, legs, arms and heads are all separate parts, with coat-tails also separate for a more realistic in-scale feel, with helmets, weapons and load-out also separate, which gives the modeller some scope for individualising each figure without too much work. The sculpting is first rate, and the sheer detail of each part is stunning, from the smallest pucker in the corner of a bag to belts that cut into the shoulder, plus realistic drape of the clothing. Conclusion Master Box have a superb range of figures, and this set is both timely and very well done. If you want to add a sense of scale to your WWI armour, this set will do just that. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. French VBL Armoured Car with MILAN 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models The VBL is France's answer to the light armoured car, which was quite forward-looking, as it was designed in the 80s with mine protection as one of the prime requirements along with efficiency, 4-wheel drive, NBC and small arms resistance. It was also engineered to amphibious and although it is by no means quick in the water, it still crosses rivers better than a HUMVEE if the bridge is out! As it is light, it is both fuel efficient and capable of being air dropped into the field, which makes it a very useful vehicle. Introduced in the 90s it has gone on to see service in many hot zones both in France's former colonies as well as with the UN banner on its doors. A surprising number of derivatives and variants have been created to fulfil different subsections of the light armoured car role, which is facilitated by a number of different body shells, plus a lengthened chassis. VBL stands for Véhicule Blindé Léger, which translates directly to light armoured car, and it is made in France by Panhard, a company with experience in this market and now owned by automotive giant Renault. The Kit This is almost a carbon copy of the initial release without the Milan fit, reviewed here in May of this year (2016). The main difference apart from the boxtop artwork extends to one small sprue of parts, the small decal sheet, and of course the markings sheet. In the box you get six sprues in an olive styrene, plus three separately moulded parts in the same colour, nestling inside a card divide with four "rubber" tyres, a small decal sheet, two identical clear sprues, and a simple Photo-Etch (PE) sheet. The instruction booklet is standard black & white fare, and the single sided colour and decal instruction sheet are on glossy paper. Construction follows the same path as the original with the notable exception of the MILAN Anti-Tank Guided Missile fitment on the rear roof of the vehicle, giving the lightly armed patrol vehicle the capability to take on armoured or hardened targets if the need arises. The base straddles the rear of the vehicle and locates on a pair of moulded in pips, with the rotation point suspended above the roof to clear the top hatch. The missile launch tube fits on top of a compact mount, which although small is well-detailed. Three additional rounds are supplied for the interior of the vehicle, fitted within their launch tubes, which are discarded after firing to be replaced by a new one. Also on the new sprue is a large container with rounded corners, the purpose of which isn't immediately obvious. Markings There is only one markings option for this boxing, which is the more traditional NATO Green/Black/Earth scheme, and as usual with Hobby Boss you don't get to know any background information about the vehicle portrayed. The decals are of good quality and should settle down well enough, and there are four decals including instrument binnacle to be applied to the driver's station. Conclusion A nice simple variation on the original theme, which adds a little interest on the roofline. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Mig-31 Foxhound 1:48

    Mig-31 Foxhound 1:48 HobbyBoss The Mig-31 is an incredible machine even today, but was innovative and even more impressive when it was first brought into service, delivering on the failed promises of the Mig-25 Foxbat, and adding more capabilities. Its job as an interceptor and missile truck was carried out with aplomb, and it was one of the first aircraft to be able to shoot down cruise missiles from above. Carrying two pilots, with twin engines and tails, it was capable of flying supersonic at low levels due to the strength of the airframe, and had a capable radar system to detect all manner of threats. I'm using the past tense here, but the aircraft is still in service in Russia, and although they are scheduled to be retired, the date is not yet set in stone. The Kit Until recently modellers in 1:48 scale had little choice when it came to the Foxhound, but now they have two modern new toolings. I have reviewed and built the other kit, so it will be interesting to compare and contrast the two as we go along, but first impressions are good, with a lot of detail included, including a set of partial metal landing gear, good use of slide-moulding, and a sensible parts break-down. There are twenty two sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene, two sprues of clear parts, two frets of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, seven pieces of white metal, six black "rubber" tyres, two decal sheets, a single fuselage part with a cardboard protector over the aft section, instruction booklet and two separate sheets for the painting and decaling of the airframe and included weapons. As already mentioned, the detail in the box looks to be excellent, with a few immediate differences noticeable. Firstly, the interior of the intake trunking is portrayed differently, and the clear parts aren't tinted gold, so you'll have to do that yourself. There also isn't a separate canopy for the closed option, so you will have to fit them carefully if you wish to go down that route. Oddly, the panel lines on the fuselage that will be under the wing are raised, which I will look into later, but seemed strange. There are only a few there, and most of the are straight, but if they turn out to be incorrect, it's on a few minutes work. Initially, the fuselage also appears to be shorter than the competitor, but this is because more of the intake trunking is included on a separate assembly with the bleed-vents on the top causing the apparent difference. The partial metal gear should give it sufficient strength to support its own weight, which has been a problem in the past that has lately affected my built-up. This is a BIG model. Construction begins with the cockpit, which has nicely detailed seats with moulded in seatbelts, instrument panels and side consoles with decals, as well as decals for instruments that are embedded in the sidewall inserts. The cockpit is then installed in the nose, which is where another difference appears. The nose is split vertically down the centre, and has the nose cone moulded in, which although different, I can't seem to muster an opinion as to whether it is better or worse. We'll just call it different. The coaming is well-detailed with PE HUD supports and clear parts adding further to the complexity. The instructions tell you to install the fixed portions of the canopy at this stage, which is no bad thing, as the canopy struts stick up beyond the sills. The intakes are then built up from fewer main parts, with the outer wall simply thicker, rather than using two thicknesses, which removes one of the seams to tidy. The bleed-vents are separate parts and install in the top using a small tab and hole for accuracy. The intake trunks are depicted to full depth, and have raised outlines of the shapes that are actually indented into the trunks on the real thing. This is a major saving on tooling from a production point of view, but is a negative as far as accuracy is concerned, but if you're fitting intake blanks or suspect no-one will notice, it's probably a fair assumption to make. The main gear bays are made up in a similar manner to the other kit, as is the nose gear bay and its gear leg, which has a metal core that also includes the angled end section of the leg, which should make it more robust. Gear bay detail should be good once painted and weathered. The three bays are glued inside the fuselage lower, along with a recessed box for the 8TK IRSK that sits out at the front of the lower fuselage section, and is added later in the stowed position. The nose assembly is then added to the front of the fuselage, which was a bit of a surprise. This makes a little more sense when the intakes and their trunking are then added along with a blanking plate/bulkhead with engine faces installed, allowing you to line everything up. It might be wise to place the upper wing/fuselage part at this stage, to ensure your joints are all aligned and there are no horrible gaps or steps. The majority of the upper fuselage is attached to the upper wing panel, which is of course full width, and has strengthening ribs inside to prevent flexing, plus a set of exhaust bulkheads that will be used later. The lower wing fixes to the underside, with the leading-edge slats moulded-in, while the trailing-edge control surfaces are separate parts, with different locating pegs to be removed if you are posing them deployed or stowed, which saves wasting additional parts. This assembly is then dropped onto the fuselage, creating the almost complete airframe, which just needs the tail feathers and engines, plus a number of other smaller parts of course. The exhausts are familiar, with a multi-stage tube assembled from three cylindrical parts, plus flame-holder for the afterburner and the rear face of the engine in each tube. Careful painting is needed, and some pictures of the real thing show some sections are a Russian green shade, although this varies, and isn't throughout the exhaust, so don't be misled by the instructions. Check your references before you commit to a totally green exhaust interior. The parapack is a two-part assembly that is split horizontally for easier alignment, and fits to the rear of the spine on two small pins with corresponding holes in the deck. The elevators are each single parts, due to their slim profile, and should (in general) be posed level when parked up, but can pivot around their axle if you feel the urge. The twin tails are each two equal parts that avoids too-thick plastic that can lead to sink-marks that might mar the detail, but there are many fewer rivets depicted than the real McCoy, which are quite noticeable, and often have distinctive weathering that would be tricky to achieve without them as a guide. Adding them won't require too much effort, but it would have been nice to have them there from the outset. The raised rivets on the leading edges are also absent, and unless you have some Archer 3D rivet transfers, they'll be a little harder to add, and the bullet-fairings that house the various systems also seem simplified, and look like they have been copied from one tail to the other, when they should be asymmetrical. It will take some modelling skill to replicate these correctly, which might grate a little if you weren't expecting to have to engage in this type of work. The instructions then have you building up the canopies, which they have taken an interesting route to completion. The outer canopy is of course clear, but has some detail moulded-in, and has only an outer surround added in grey styrene. That initially seems like an over-simplification until you notice the number of small PE parts that are added to the inside of the canopy to represent the strips that hold the green insulation material in place. To make your life easier, bend these parts to shape and then "glue" them with your favourite acrylic gloss varnish, as using CA could end up with a fogged canopy, which no-one wants. A complete interior skin would make the painting part easier, but this method results in a more scale-thickness canopy structure, so if you take your time with the paint brush, it should look just about right when you finish. The pilot's canopy is more simple, but has a set of rear-view mirrors added in PE, and both fit by their rear edge to the airframe, and rest on the rams that hold them to the correct angle. They have also moulded the co-pilot's pop-up rear-view mirror in clear, so with an undercoat on the rear of chrome, it should have a more realistic look if you opt to post it raised. The landing gear is designed for rough-field handling, and has an inboard/outboard pair of wheels on the main legs, which splay outward slightly, putting quite a lot of stress on the scale-replica legs, so strength is needed, and initially was absent from the other recent model of this type. The designers have provided limited metal gear for this kit, including a metal core to the main leg, a metal bogey (with plastic parts), and a metal bracing strut that should give adequate staying power to prevent the Foxhound from taking a squat on your display shelf. The plastic parts provide the cosmetic details, and the smaller jacks and struts are also styrene, as they hold no structural weight. Coupled with the metal nose-gear core, the legs should be good for extended duty. The wheels have styrene hubs and a slightly flexible black plastic tyre, which has tread moulded in (a rarity from the pictures I have seen), as well as some nice sidewall detail. They would benefit from some careful painting, as the black is a little too dark for the real world, but for the novice, they could be used as is after a scrub of the contact surface with a sanding stick. Underneath the fuselage the gun blister is constructed from two parts and glued to the slot on the starboard fuselage side, while the lower intake flaps are added in either dropped (for extra air intake) or raised positions as you see fit, including their straight or kinked actuator fairings. The large air-brake/gear bay doors are also inserted into their hinge-points and struts, with recessed detail on the inner face, and the nose wheel receives a nicely moulded mud-guard that straddles the ends of its axle. The rest of the gear bay doors are then added along with their struts and some nice PE parts. The nose gear's front door has three holes for the landing lights, which are separate clear parts that are fitted from behind, making it easy to give them nice shiny reflectors, although the designers still haven't managed to avoid ejector pins in the rear. A profusion of aerials, probes and intakes are fitted to the underside and nose of the beast, with Angle-of-Attack (AoA) probes on the sides of the nose in PE, as well as some of the others that will be most visible. Of note is the lack of refuelling probe option on this boxing, but unless I'm imagining it, there appears to be a spot for it, so we will perhaps see at least another boxing with the probe and a few other subtle differences. Let's hope they adjust those tail fins. Now for the fun parts – the weapons. This starts with the wing pylons, which are built up from two halves each, and fit into pre-drilled holes in the underside of the wing panels. If you are fitting the big R-33 missiles on the semi-recessed belly stations you will need to remove the tops of two raised sections on the fuselage underside, so if that's the plan it would be sensible to do that before you start, to avoid any unnecessary cursing later. There are no fancy single-part mouldings with the missiles, which I was on the fence about anyway, as you double up on the seams to scrape, so I won't lament their loss, but simply comment on the difference. The R-33s build up from two halves with two fins moulded-in, the other two added to the slots, and the steering vanes added at the rear. The two folded-over vanes are shown as "optional", which isn't the case unless you are showing a missile in flight or on a rack. The vanes fold over next to the fuselage to prevent the two interfering, so ensure that the "top" two nearest the shackle-points receive those parts, and if in doubt, check your references. Each of the four missiles has a connecting plate added to the shackles, and they are then glued into the belly recesses. For the wing pylons you have some choices, so either follow the load-out guide, check your references, or pick a selection that you think looks good – entirely your choice! 4 x R-60 AA-8 Aphid infrared short range A2A missile on twin launch rail adapter 2 x R-40T AA-6 Acrid infrared medium range A2A missiles 2 x R-40R AA-6 Acrid radar medium range A2A missiles 2 x Fuel tanks with pylon adapters All of the missiles are supplied in halves, so take care in aligning the parts to minimise the clean-up work after the glue has set, and take care in adding the separate fins, steering vanes and exhausts to ensure they are all square. Markings There are three markings options supplied in the box, although a full complement of digits in three flavours are included if you want to depart from the sheet. The markings are spread over two decal sheets, with a lot of stencils applied, which given the size of the diagrams and the profusion of numbers and lines, is going to be a little tricky without magnification. There are a good range of instrument decals provided though, which should help in making the cockpit look its best, and the missiles are supplied with stencils too. Without wishing to make you spend your hard-earned money on aftermarket before you've even broken the seals on the bags, I would heartily recommend the wet transfer stencil set from HGW (248025), which although intended for the other kit, would fit this kit too, and would leave you with no carrier film to disguise. The drawings are bigger too! If I can't tempt you, the stencils included in the kit are of good quality, and with a little care, the carrier film can be hidden with the application of a few coats of gloss varnish and cautious sanding. The pink Germetika sealant decals are also missing from this boxing, and as the ground crews slap it on all over the place, it would be useful to add this during painting and masking. The rest of the decals are sharp, in good register and with suitably dense colours to prevent bleed-through of the paint underneath. From the box you can build one of the following: 24 Blue 61 Blue 174th Safanov GvIAP, 6th OA, "Boris Safonov" red 08 All aircraft are medium grey (see AKAN for the perfect colours), and have the obligatory National markings of red stars on the wings and tail surfaces. The last option appears to have more information than the others for no apparent reason, and also has the name Борис Сафонов (Boris Safanov) in red on the intake sides under a blue flash. Safanov was a decorated pilot during WWII, flying 234 combat missions before being lost in the sea after his P-40 came down after a dogfight. He was awarded the Order of the Red Banner three times, the order of Lenin, Hero of the Soviet Union, and even a British Distinguished Flying Cross and is still remembered in aviation circles. Conclusion I knew from the start that this was going to be a difficult conclusion to write, as the kit has a lot to recommend it, but also has some flaws such as the tail ironwork and the oddly detailed intake trunking. It is up against stiff competition, and for the most part it comes across as a well thought out kit, but loses marks for the errors and simplifications. Little things such as the lack of the large circular decal from the tail and over-busy decal guide also conspire against it, losing it critical points along the way. As a norm we don't discuss prices in our reviews, as these vary massively once the discounters get hold of a kit, but at the retail price point, it is difficult to recommend over… you know, the other one. If you find one at a good price and the aspects I have mentioned don't bother you or you fancy a crack at fixing them, you could pick one up and it will build up to a model that will impress all but the accuracy obsessed and those that know the airframe well. None of the flaws I have picked up on are fatal, but together they do the kit no favours. Our sincere thanks to our friends at Creative for letting us have this review sample. Review sample courtesy of
  21. European Tracks & Concrete Telegraph Poles 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models MiniArt are masters of diorama details, making figures, vacformed backdrops and styrene kits of unusual things such as these two kits featured today. Both are of the latter type, being moulded in grey styrene, and are intended to provide you with easily constructed infrastructure to give your diorama bases relevance. Concrete telegraph Poles (35563) This kit arrives in a long end-opening box with a selection of four types of posts on the front. Inside are four sprues with the same basic post, which is lightened with rectangular holes, with a choice of four different tops in the shape of a pair of insulators on one side, a T-piece with an insulator on both sides, a stack of five insulators on each side, and a lamp post with a short pendant lamp hanging from a decorative fixing on each side. From the box you can build four of the first three types, but only two of the latter lamps, unless you fit one lamp to each post. You can of course mix and match to suit yourself. The clear parts provide four glass domes for the lamps, plus four clear light bulbs for that extra bit of realism, which is a neat little addition. The parts are crisply moulded, and slide-moulding has been used to create a one-piece dome for the lamp, but the concrete posts don't have any texture to them. Initially this seems a shame, but when you think that you will be joining the two halves together and hiding the seams, this gives you the opportunity to stipple a texture pattern with liquid glue or Mr Surfacer after you have finished hiding the seams. A cool accessory that stands 200mm tall when completed. European Gauge Railway Track (35561) This set arrives in a top-opening box, and contains eight sprues in grey styrene. On each sprue are five differently textured wooden track ties/sleepers, which have the bottom parts of the rail shoulder-plates, to which you add the bolt-on shoulders after adding the rails. Each rail is 170mm long, and has small pips on the bottom at regular intervals to match corresponding depressions on the shoulder-plates, making spacing a doddle. The rails also have keyed ends to join two parts together to get the correct spacing between the connecting fishplates. The fishplates have their bolts moulded-in, but the track ends have holes that match pips on the back of the fishplate parts, which fit one on each side. The finished length of track from the box is 686mm, which should be plenty for at least one diorama unless you think BIG! If you were to need more, the track is designed so that successive sets will interlink seamlessly one after the other. Adding the ballast to the track is your responsibility, but the likes of Deluxe Materials produce ballast that you can mix with powdered adhesive, then wet it to lock the ballast in place once you are happy with your work. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Su-27 Flanker B 1:48

    Su-27 Flanker B 1:48 Hobby Boss The Su-27 and sibling Mig-29 were developed as a complementary pair of heavy and lighter fighters to combat the F-15 that was in development as the F-X at the time. It first flew in 1977, but encountered serious problems that resulted in some fairly spectacular crashes, some of which were fatal, but with persistence and successive rounds of improvements it came on strength with the Russian air force in 1985, but was still plagued with problems that prevented it from being seen in operational service for a further five years, and it is known as the Su-27S or Flanker B by the NATO countries. A navalised Flanker was also put into development, but that's a whole 'nother model. It proved to be a capable fighter, and after the fall of the Berlin wall, Russia continued its development, with other variants incorporating improvements, and wholesale conversions leading to other marks entirely, such as the SU-30, Su-33 and Su-34 with side-by-side pilot seating. The Flanker continues to impress the crowds at airshows with the controversial (for some reason) and contagious Cobra manoeuver that caused quite a stir when first seen. Sukhoi had a number of export successes, and China also manufactured Flankers under license as the Shengyang J-11 after an initial delivery of Russian built airframes. The Kit This is a newly tooled kit from Hobby Boss and arrives in a large top opening box with a Flanker flying across the front. Inside you are greeted by a card insert with the two fuselage halves and their blended wings secured to it by coated wire, twisted around the nose, tail and wings. The nose and tail are further protected by a wrapping of thin foam, while the delicate parts of the wingtips are surrounded by a detachable sprue for good measure. Under the insert are fifteen more sprues of various sizes in the same grey styrene, two clear sprues, a small fret of what looks to be Photo-Etch (PE) stainless steel, or something similar. There are also three black "rubber" tyres, and two decal sheets plus of course the instruction booklet and two separate glossy pages detailing the painting and decaling. The fuselage and wings strapped to the insert in the top of the box as a monolithic chunk of plastic is impressive, and having a look over it whilst perusing photos of the real thing, it seems to be ticking the boxes in terms of shape, although it's still tricky to be 100% about that when big chunks of the airframe are still on the sprues. That said, there are no immediate alarm-bells going off, so I'm hoping this turns out to be a more complete job than their recent Mig-31 that was a little disappointing. Construction starts with the cockpit, which is well detailed and has a multi-part seat, rudder pedals and control column, plus decals for all the main instrument panels. The instructions switch straight to building up the landing gear, as the nose gear is held in place by the addition of the gear bay to the lower fuselage, so they must have decided they might as well get you to build the main gear too. The gear legs are multi-part affairs, and the nose leg has the characteristic mud-guard and landing lights attached, the former in two parts that close around the nose wheel. The wheels are all two-part hubs with those black rubberised tyres, which have tread pattern moulded in, although no sidewall detail is present. Speaking purely personally, I would replace these with resin parts, as the plastic of the tyre seems rather slick and may have difficulty taking paint, as well as the usual detail improvements that resin provides. The cockpit is installed from the underside in the upper fuselage, while the nose gear with the two exhaust trunks are placed in the lower half. The trunking is blanked off at the front by a simulated engine rear, and a slightly chunky-looking flame holder for the afterburner. That's it! The fuselage can go together, and if the dry-fit is anything to go by, there should be little if any clean-up to do. The leading edge slats and flaps are separate, and adding them completes the wings, while the elevators fit to the rear at the side of the exhausts. The twin stabs have separate rudders and asymmetrical detail at the trailing edge, which is as it should be, and if you'd read the Mig-31 review, you'll know why it's worth a mention. You then have a choice of either open or constricted exhaust petals, which are both single parts per side, but one of my constricted parts had a tiny under-shot in the lip, which could be fixed fairly easily with a little putty and re-shaping, but it is worth checking your copy before you add it to the loft insulation. The rear section of the engine pods are moulded into the fuselage, but the forward section is separate, with a detailed roof section, and a built-in FOD (Foreign Object Debris) screen blocking your view of the intake fan for the engines, which are supplied anyway. These fit onto ledges at the front of the fuselage-bound aft sections, with a cut-out over each main wheel bay, allowing you to fit the pre-prepared legs at this point if you wish. Each main gear bay has two doors, which have their actuator jacks included, as does the main nose gear bay, with the smaller rear door captive to the trailing retraction jack. The nose cone is a single part, and has plenty of space for a nose weight if you think it will be necessary, although the instructions don't mention it. The canopy is also added at this stage, which is broken down into windscreen section with a clear bulb for the windscreen mounted sensor added as a separate part, and the canopy which has opening equipment depicted, as well as the PE rear-view mirrors. The canopy is correctly blown in front profile, which requires a three-part mould, so there is a seam on the top of the canopy that you will need to sand away and then polish back to clarity. The windscreen part seems to suffer a bit from distortion around the curved section at the lower edges where it meets the framing, but a dip in Klear might help alleviate this to an extent. Add a few probes and sensors, and that's the airframe built. No modern fighter would be complete without a selection of weapons to hang under its wings and fuselage, and the Su-27 is not short of stations, with three under each wing and another four under the fuselage. Of course, they're seldom all populated, so check your references, choose a layout from the diagram on the back page, or just make one up that looks cool to you, and shrug your shoulders when someone tells you it's not representative. It's your model! In the box you get the following types: 4 x R-73E (AA-11 Archer) short range A2A missile. 4 x R-27R (AA-10 Alamo-A) semi-active radar homing medium to long range A2A missile. 4 x R-27ER (AA-10 Alamo-C) semi-active radar homing extended range A2A missile. The smaller Archers are single part bodies with top & bottom fins moulded-in, and the side fins as separate parts, with a clear seeker head and additional exhaust part. The Alamo missile bodies are split vertically with the same method for adding the additional fins. The wing tip launch rails can be swapped out for streamlined ECM pods at your option, so again check your references. Markings You get two markings options from the box, both of which have a rather blue theme, but are different enough to appeal to a lot of folks, and overall the decals of of good quality, however the blue seems to be slightly out of register, which affects the black-outlined "14" and the white outlined "10", and would benefit from a dot of matching blue paint for the former, and a careful trim for the latter. From the box you can build one of the following, but as usual you don't get much information on the where and when these schemes were carried: Blue 14 – Three-tone pale blue/mid-blue/grey camouflage. Blue 10 – Two-tone pale blue/mid-blue camouflage with a red/blue/white stripe and shield on the port outer stab. If you are a stickler for detail, you might want to invest in some Su-27 Stencils from Begemot (48009(1)), as you can bank on those being comprehensive, and the instructions will be a little easier to follow without the national markings on the same diagram. The second sheet provides cockpit decals, which have instruments and details, but no background colour to match your paint to (which is a good thing), and a substantial number of stripes and stencils for the included missiles. Conclusion This seems to be a promising release of a model that has been needed to replace the rather archaic Academy kit for some time now. Detail is good, and the shape also seems to be too, although the true proof of the pudding will be in the building. I think I have some Eduard resin wheels somewhere. Consider me tempted. Highly recommended. Currently discounted at time of writing! Review sample courtesy of
  23. Russian Main Battle Tank T-72B3 1:35 Meng Model The T-72 was the ultimate replacement of the poorly engineered T-64, which was over-ambitious for its era, so struggled with the requirements placed on it by the Russian hierarchy. After much improvement on the flawed original it became such a different beast that they renamed it, after even the hull was re-engineered to take the punishment of the improved power plant. The new T-72 (Objekt 172M) suffered from teething problems however, and initial deliveries were slow, plagued with issues until the factories were properly tooled up and the production started to run smoothly. Along with the earlier T-55 it became one of the most commonly used tanks of the Soviet Union, and has been in service for years with many upgrades and variants. The T-72B was introduced in the mid-80s with improved armour, a new engine with more power, and a complete overhaul of the main gun system from sights to stabilizer. The B3 variant was a substantial upgrade to the previous versions, beginning in 2010 and took reserve tanks, overhauled the systems that would be retained, and replaced many of the electronics, especially the sensor suite that would improve survivability on the modern battlefield. The hull and running gear were also upgraded with new tracks that have two pins instead of the earlier one, and the crew/hardware are protected by an improved fire suppression system. The gun hasn't escaped improvement, and the auto-loader that reduced the crew to three has been improved to feed the new 2A46M5 gun, which fires kinetic penetrator rounds in a discarding sabot outer, similar to the western tanks. Entering service in 2013 there are now over 500 in use, which is increasing as time goes by. The Kit A new tool from Meng, who seem to be moving fast with the new releases at the moment, with Russian/Soviet armour their current vogue. The recent BMPT Terminator that we reviewed in 2014 here used the T-72 chassis as a base, so some of the parts will be common to this kit, and there's hope that more variants will be forthcoming in due course to maximise their returns on the basic moulds. The box is typical Meng, with a satin finish, but the lower carton has been strengthened to a substantial degree to protect the contents, which is good to see, as many modellers stack their models in the stash and a weak box is a pain if the piles are large. Inside the box are fifteen sprues in green styrene; a sprue of flexible styrene in the same colour; two hull parts and the turret top; a clear sprue; a black sprue containing jigs for construction; seven sprues of black styrene track links and seven sprues of the interlinking end-caps in flexible black styrene; a length of braided synthetic string (not pictured); a run of black poly-caps; two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass; a clear suspension positioning tool; decals, and the usual glossy instruction booklet with painting and marking guide to the rear. It's a Meng kit, so of course the first impression is one of a professionally presented and highly detailed model. There's a lot of detail included in the box, and the construction proceeds logically, which as you'd expect begins with the road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets, all of which have poly-caps trapped between the inner and outer portions. Return rollers and suspension parts are added to the lower hull at the same time as the self-entrenching tool is installed in the lower glacis. The suspension is torsion-bar driven on the real thing, and this is replicated in styrene here, with long bars going through the lower hull and short swing-arms holding the stub axles at their ends. A clear styrene tool is provided to get everything in alignment here, so that if you are electing to have your suspension un-deflected, everything will touch the ground. With the rear bulkhead detail panel added along with some spare track links, the road wheels are pushed into place on the by-now cured suspension, and that leads us to the tracks. The tracks are the same design as those for the Terminator, and have three jigs to facilitate construction. Firstly, the guide horns are cut from their sprue and here the instructions tell you to leave them in pairs with a little piece of sprue between them. I had to test this theory, as it looked rather unwieldy to me, and I did indeed find it so when I attempted the first run of six links. For the second run of six, I removed the horns and cleaned up their sprue gate marks first, then clipped them onto the links via the moulded-in pins that run the full width of the links, whilst holding them on the jig J3. It was less fiddly, and a knack was soon stumbled on to get them clipped together. With six links on the jig, a top part J2 is clipped over the lower, holding the links in place. You then insert a section of sprue containing five flexible styrene end-caps into the third part of the jog J1, and cut them loose with a sharp blade. These are then offered en-masse to the pins on one side of the tracks, pushing in only one way due to the shape of the keys on the sides of the jigs. Here you have to be careful to insert the end-caps in the correct orientation according to the scrap diagrams in this section. Optionally, you can finally install a set of track-pads to finish off the length, or leave them rough and ready for cross-country work. They fit into recesses in the outer surface of the links, and glue in quite easily, but be sparing with it, as you'll ruin all your work if the glue gets into the pins. In conclusion on the tracks, they are fiddly, delicate and really require your full attention, so don't expect to have them finished in an hour. I was already speeding up production by the time I'd made the 2nd run of six, and the results are worth the effort, being detailed and workable, but be prepared to put in the effort – you need 2 runs of 81 links. With the tracks out of the way, attention turns to the upper hull, which is based on the large part as seen in the sprue pictures. The raised portions for the driver's compartment, the turret ring armoured sections, PE engine grilles, optional armoured covers, and the exhaust are added to the upper, with a detail insert forming the glacis, plus fuel and equipment stowage covering the majority of the length of the fenders. The shaped front mudguard is delicately moulded with thinner edges to give a more scale look, and has the rebound hinges as separate parts added before they are glued to the front of the fenders. At the rear a smaller pair of simple fenders are installed, and the engine deck is completed with more parts, including another pair of PE grilles. The light clusters are built up and added, as are the four holders for the additional fuel drums, with a larger light cluster at the front, and the rear unditching beam added later, moulded from a single part with plenty of bark detail. The side skirts are multi-parts, with lots of detail moulded on, and they have further ERA blocks to the front, which hang off a trio of brackets that are glued to the sides of the skirts first. Back to the rear, and a pair of towing cables are fabricated from 100mm lengths of the synthetic cord, added to styrene towing eyes and wrapped around the drum supports. Speaking of drums, there are two of these included in the box, with five parts each, which can be added to the curved supports if you so wish, or left in the spares box for later. If you use them, open up a few small holes as instructed, and fit the hosing loom to the front for added realism. The turret is always a fun part of the build for me, and this one starts with the big barrel, which is built up in sections, some of which are moulded complete, while the longer sections are split vertically and will require careful alignment and seam sanding to get a nice tubular barrel. There is no interior other than the commander's instrument panel at the front of his hatch, so the turret lower is used to close up the assembly early, after which a host of ERA blocks are glued all over the place, which is why the bare turret looks like it has already been shot up, as well as bearing little resemblance to the shape of the finished article. Equipment, grab-handles, smoke grenade dispenser and sensors are dotted around between the armour, and the mantlet is installed with a flexible styrene cover giving it a realistic crumpled look for good measure. Around the rear are stowage boxes, one of which has a portable missile launcher lashed to it on the centre station. The commander's cupola has vision blocks around it, a protective shield at his rear and the big anti-aircraft machine gun on a mount to the front. When advancing, the shield is pointed forward to provide protection, and has a reinforced viewing slot to keep the commander safe and give him better situational awareness for longer during a skirmish. The gunner's hatch is a much more straight-forward flap with handles and latch on the underside, and this, like the rotation and activity of the commander's hatch can be left mobile by leaving off the glue. Finally, the barrel is mated to the mantlet via a keyed lug, and the turret is attached to the hull via the usual bayonet twist-to-fit mechanism. Markings If you're expecting a sea of Russian green, you'd be partly right, but two of the four schemes are far from drab, while one of the green jobs is done up in Great Patriotic War Parade decals, with twin white "go faster" stripes on the sides and glacis. From the box you can build one of the following: 20th Army, Western Military District, Russia 2014 – all over green. Victory Day Parade 70th Anniversary of the World Anti-Fascist War, ST Petersburg, May 9th, 2015 – green with stylised red star and black/orange striped markings on the side, white stripes on the sides and glacis. Russian Team, International Tank Biathlon Championship, 2015 – offwhite, brown, red-brown camo. Russian Army Expo, Nizhny Tagil, 2015 – Sand, brown and dark brown splinter scheme. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. As an aside, you also get a little circular PE template to mask off your road wheels, which is a common extra in Meng tank kits that doesn't get as much appreciation as it perhaps should. Conclusion A solid and detailed model of this modern Russian tank that will go together easily, although the tracks will keep you pretty busy for a while. The colour options are nice and varied, but the opportunities for weathering of the colourful options is likely limited due to their parade ground finish. Bring on the next one! Review sample courtesy of
  24. Precast Concrete Walls (SPS-031) 1:35 Meng Model Another new issue from the Meng Supplies series are these handy precast concrete barriers that are often found on the road running up to a gateway or checkpoint, to force oncoming traffic into a chicane that slows them down and prevents high speed ram-raid attacks. The set arrives in the familiar black box with orange interior, and contains four barriers of two types, one being thick and fitted with lifting eyes, the other being thinner with a weighted base, and both types are sub-divided into new(ish) and beaten-up examples. They are moulded in pressure cast resin, and to cut down on weight they are partially hollow inside, with an internal framework keeping the parts rigid. They have already been removed from their casting blocks, although a little sanding will still be needed to get them to sit flat on the ground. The detail is excellent, and the texture of the rough-cast concrete is very realistic, as are the distressed effects, which are mostly confined to the edges. Both types top out at a shade under 6cm, which in the case of the thicker barrier includes the height of the two lifting eyes. The thin barrier is 6cm wide and 3cm thick at the bottom, while the thicker one is only 5.7cm wide, and 2.5cm at the bottom. If you plan on doing anything more with them than described above, you might find yourself using more than one pack, and it would have been useful if they were provided in packs of a single type to assist in this respect, but at this point this is all we have. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. German Flakpanzer Gepard A1/A2 1:35 Meng Model 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 range-finder. The German systems featured an S band radar for search, and a Ku Band radar for tracking, whereas 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 up to 5.5kms. The usual load is 320 frangible and 20 AP rounds per gun. The German Army ordered 377 units, the Dutch 95 and the Belgians 55 which were identical to the German ones. The Germans retired the Gepard in 2010 but they are in storage, as have the Dutch and Belgian units. The system is still used in other countries though. Brazil currently has 36, and Romania 43 obtained from Germany. Jordan purchased 60 from the Dutch. The Kit This is brand new tooling from Meng, and takes advantage of some of the Leopard parts, including hull and tracks, which is in line with the real thing so totally expected. The box is typical Meng with that satin finish I like so much, even though mine always end up in the bin when I've finished building them. Inside the box eight sprues and three hull and turret parts in green styrene, a flexible styrene sprue, clear sprue, two sprues of different sized poly-caps, a bag of track link parts, a length of braided synthetic cord, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE), a pair of chrome stickers for wing-mirrors, a couple of bags of track links, a small sprue of ice-cleats with jig, and a small decal sheet. The instruction booklet is portrait A4+ with colour on the outermost pages on glossy paper, and a black and white centre section where colour isn't needed. I'm a big fan of Meng's products, and this one isn't going to dent my faith in them, as straight from the box it is a quality model kit. The build starts with the pairs of road wheels, which have poly-caps trapped between them, and these are fitted onto the working torsion suspension arms along with a number of return-rollers and other suspension parts on the sides of the lower hull. The idler wheels are ostensibly the same as the road wheels, with subtle differences telling them apart, and the drive sprockets are built up from three parts each, again hiding a poly-cap in the centre. The upper hull is different in shape, but sports mostly bog-standard Leopard hardware, with an insert on the engine deck that is (sadly) covered by a PE mesh grille, before the Gepard turret adapter ring is added, which just sits over the top of the smaller turret ring of the Leopard, aft of the driver's hatch. Various boxes and lumps are added around the upper hull, plus folded PE vision block armour, towing shackles and light clusters on both sides. At the rear a large optional stowage box can be added on the back of the engine deck, or two large flexible styrene bags if you prefer, which are lashed down by some straps made form the same material. A pair of mudguards, towing cable made from the cord and styrene eyes, lights and shackles are also added to the rear bulkhead later in the build. The tracks are the same as supplied in the Leopard 1 A5 here. They take on the form of individual workable links in styrene, each link of which consists of five parts. The central piece has track-pins moulded in, and two track pads are constructed from halves, linking the pin sections together one after another. A jig is included to help with this, and the winter ice-cleats are shown with seven links between them in case you wish to use them. The track-pin part has four attachment points to the sprue, while the pads have only one each, with a double pin/hole combination differentiating between the inner and outer portions. There are very small contact patches between the pad halves, which bothers me a little in case they decide to come apart during the build, but take your time, and make full use of the jig. You need 85 links per side, so allow plenty of time for the task. The top run is almost totally covered in the next step when the side skirts and front fenders with integrated mudguards are attached, so decide for yourself whether you will do a full run, or just the parts that are visible. Finally, we get to the turret! Construction here starts with the smoke dispensers, the sights and the tracking radar, which builds up from a large number of parts, with a pair of big poly-caps holding the two side sensors in place, and a bayonet fitting allowing the whole assembly to rotate on the turret. The turret itself is built up from top and bottom sections, with an insert for the sloped panel behind the radar assembly, and an equipment insert within the rear of the turret. The sight, lifting lugs, smoke dispensers and flashing orange beacon are added to the exterior along with armoured shrouds for the crew vision blocks around the hatch, and a number of smaller assemblies. The guns are slide-moulded as single parts, with optional early barrels or late barrels that have more complex muzzles supplied, fitting into the rotating housings which hold the breeches and ammo feed. The Power Box Supply is built up over two stages, with lots of parts making for a detailed part, which then accepts the target search radar assembly at the top, with a single part moulding for the parabolic dish. This can be mounted on the rear turret in either the open or closed position, exposing the detail insert placed within earlier in construction. The two guns are then inserted into the large side mounts, interlocking and remaining movable in synchronisation. For the A2 turret, these are a few different parts, and the construction of this variant is described separately following the A1 turret. The A2 turret has a choice of different barrels, additional crew air conditioning units on the back of the turret, as well as more storage on the rear deck. Markings All markings options are based on the tri-tonal NATO scheme of green, black and brown, with the decals being what sets them apart. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. From the box you can build one of the following: 3rd Battery, 12th Armoured Air Defence Gun Battalion, Bundeswehr, Hardheim. 2nd Battery, 131st Armoured Air Defence Gun Battalion, Bundeswehr, Hohenmölsen. 2nd battery, 2nd Armoured Air Defence Gun Battalion, Bunderwehr, Exercise Caravan Guard, Westerwald, 1989. If you wanted to go off-piste for some additional fun, there are some photos of a rather fetching winter camouflage with green and white distemper floating round the net, which should add a little interest to your modern German armour display. Conclusion Detail is sharp, as is the attention to the intricacies of moulding such things as weld-lines and anti-slip texturing, and these won't be found on other kits of this unusual-looking vehicle in this scale. Construction follows a sensible route, and with the exception of the tracks, which will take some effort, the model should build up relatively quickly. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of