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Paul A H

Product Reviewer
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Everything posted by Paul A H

  1. The only thing surprising about this is that the hose broke in first place. Henry and Co. are ace - very durable and much better value than overpriced Die-soon
  2. Graham, are we talking about the same kit? The sprues in this kit look identical to the 2011 release and have the same codes. I can't see that Airfix have made any revisions. The 2011 kit certainly had steering wheels provided as well.
  3. Bedford QLT and Bedford QLD Trucks 1:76 Airfix Bedford Vehicles created the QL 3-ton truck to equip the British Army following the loss of hundreds of vehicles during the Dunkirk evacuation. Developed in just 16 weeks, over 52,000 examples were produced between 1941 and the end of the War. The truck was powered by a 3½ litre petrol engine and was good for a top speed of 38 mph. The rugged designed of the vehicles, combined with 4-wheel drive and 8 forward gear ratios, gave the Bedford truck excellent terrain crossing ability. The Bedford QLT variant was a troop carrier, while the QLD was a general cargo version. The T version differed from the D version by virtue of an stretched wheelbase and relocated fuel tanks, modifications which enabling it to carry up to 29 soldiers at a time. As you might have noticed, this kit is a carbon copy of the kit first released by Airfix back in 2011, not all that long after their acquisition by Hornby. The kit is one of the last to be tooled in 1:76 scale, with more recent offerings such as the Willys Jeep and the bomber resupply set being designed for the almost universal 1:72 scale. Not one but two kits are packed into Airfix’s familiar bright red box. To make things easier for the builder, all of the parts for the QLD are supplied on one sprue and all the parts for the slightly larger and more complex QLT on the other two sprues. The only sprue shared between the different versions hold the transparent parts. All of the mouldings are crisp and clean and no flash is present. The only sink marks I could find were on the sides of the engine, which won’t be particularly visible anyway. There are quite a few ejector pin marks present on some of the parts, but most of the ones that will be visible will also be easy enough to clean up. Moulded detail is very good and each truck features a full interior as well as an engine, drive train, fuel tank and suspension. As is the case with the sprues, the assembly instructions are separated into two halves. In each case construction begins with the engine, chassis and running gear before moving on to the cab interior. There is a lot of detailed packed into these stages of construction, so it's just as well the sprue attachment points are quite fine on this particular kit; it certainly doesn’t look as though any of the smaller components will be damaged when being removed from the sprues. Unlike some small-scale kits of this type, the transparent components are supplied as injection moulded parts rather than a clear plastic sheet from which shapes for the windows must be cut. This makes the model much easier to put together and the transparent parts are suitably thin and clear. The wheels deserve a special mention at this point, firstly because the tyres are beautifully moulded and have a subtle bulge/flat spot for extra realism and secondly because the wheel hubs are moulded as separate parts to the tyres, which will help greatly with painting. An optional canvas cover is supplied for use with the QLD version. The fabric texture and fasteners are really nicely rendered. Construction of the QLT version is pretty much identical to the QLD up to the point where the seats are installed in the load carrying area. Again, a canvas cover is supplied, but this time the sides are rolled up so that the interior detail can be shown off. A Bren Gun and a rather neat model of a bicycle are also supplied to add a little extra interest to this version. A full colour painting diagram is provided, with both schemes (one for each vehicle) for khaki drab and black camouflaged vehicles with ochre canvas covers. A nice touch is the decal sheet, which includes a range of regimental badges for the trucks – for the Guards Armoured Division, 11th Armoured Division, 3rd Infantry Division and the 51st Highland Division. Unit/company badges and bridge weight indicators are also included on the sheet. Conclusion This was a really nice release from Airfix last time around and it remains so eight years later. Hopefully its reemergence indicates that it sold reasonably well the first time around. Both kits have all the detail you could wish for and both should build up nicely, either as models in their own right or as the basis for any number of dioramas. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. HMS Ark Royal 1:600 Airfix HMS Ark Royal was laid down in 1935 ans commissioned just before Christmas, 1938. Several famous squadrons embarked on the Ark during her fairly short service life, flying Swordfish, Skua, Roc, Fulmar and Albacore torpedo bombers. She was involved in the hunt for the Graf Spee and also hunted the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, where she was damaged after a failed launch of a Swordfish resulted in the depth charges it was carrying exploding in close proximity to the ship' hull. After repairs she was involved in hunting the Bismark, where a successful attack from Ark Royal Swordfishes led to the Bismark's partial disablement and subsequent destruction. After this she returned to Force H, ferrying aircraft to Malta. On the return trip to Gibraltar, she was picked up by U-81 and hit with a single torpedo amidships. The damage was significant and she soon began to list to the side. Although the ship was stablised briefly, water continued to encroach through open hatches and the list increased. The crew were evacuated to the destroyer HMS Legion, who was assisting in trying to keep her afloat. She later capsized and broke into two parts before sinking. Only one crew member was lost, having the misfortune to be low down in the hull when the torpedo struck. She was discovered by a BBC documentary crew early in the new millennium, who concluded that after the engines failed nothing could have been done to save her due to design issues that were not appreciated at the time. Airfix's HMS Ark Royal has been around since 1966, so long ago that even our very own Bootneck probably made one when it was brand new. As a model kit it is far from state-of-the-art, but it is a nice trip down memory lane, providing you can still remember that far back. The kit has been re-released as part of Airfix's new Vintage Classics range, which brings a welcome sense of openness about the age and origin of the moulds to an otherwise unsuspecting public. The kit is comprised the deck and hull halves, as well as three extra frames of pale grey plastic. It won't surprise you to learn that the moulds are showing their age now and several parts had already become detached from the sprue when I opened my copy to photograph it. The model is presented in full-hull configuration along with a stand. The part count is reasonably low but there is actually a fair amount of detail, but the mouldings themselves are rather soft compared to their modern equivalents. Moulding flash is actually surprisingly well controlled. I won't delve deep into the construction process for this kit, but suffice to say you get some decent details including six Fulmars and six Swordfish, four of each with wings extended and two of each with wings folded, life rafts, launches, cranes, davits and AA armament. You don't get (or need) any decals and the three-view colour painting scheme shows the Ark Royal in an undated wartime configuration. Conclusion Although it would be great to see Airfix release a brand new tool of this famous warship, it has to be acknowledged that this kit has been a staple of their range, having been released at least 9 times over the years. The moulds must have paid for themselves dozens of times over by now, and although they are starting to show a little wear here and there they are in remarkably good nick all things considered. Those wanting to build a show stopper will naturally want to add extra details such as photo etched railings, but for those just wanting to add a model of this famous old ship to their collection, this will fit the bill nicely. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Russian Army Tank Transporter MAZ-537G Tractor w/ ChMZAP-5247G Semitrailer 1:72 Takom The MAZ-537, also known as the KZKT-537, is a military tractor unit manufactured by MAZ and KZKT between 1959 and 1990. Combined with a trailer such as the ChMZAP-5247G, it can tow loads of up to 65 tons. The tractor has been widely employed by the USSR, former USSR states and export customers in a diverse range of military and civilian roles, including tank transportation, artillery tractor and in the oil and gas industry. Powered by a 38.8 litre V12 diesel engine (with pre-heating to cope with cold climates) and drive to all eight wheels, the tractor weighs 21,600 kg. The G version is equipped with a 15 ton winch and can self-extract from adverse terrain. The vehicle has largely been superseded by the KZKT-7428 in Russian service. Takom must have something of an interest in military tractor/trailer combinations. Their range of 1:72 kits is comprised almost entirely of such subjects, including the Hanomag/V2 combo and the M1070/M1000 that we reviewed on this site but a few days ago. This kit continues the trend, but omits any kind of load to put on the trailer. No matter as the likes of Revell and Modelcollect have released lots of Soviet/Russian hardware that would be suitable for the job. Inside the relatively compact top-opening box are four frames of grey plastic, a single small clear frame, a small fret of photo etched parts, decals and a couple of piles of rubber tyres for both the tractor and the trailer. Each item is packed in its own bag for protection. The quality of moulding is clean and crisp and looks good to me. The instruction manual is much smaller than normal (just under A5 size) and although the painting diagrams are in full colour, the size of the illustrations and the decision to use a dark grey background makes them almost impossible to interpret properly. I would probably recommend you give up and find some decent photographs to work from. Construction starts with chassis and drive train of the MAZ-537. As the tractor is eight-wheel drive, there are drive shafts and differentials running the length of the central chassis. The wheels are single, solid parts which just pop into the massive balloon-like tyres. Each is then attached to a small axle sub-assembly, which in turn fits onto the side of the chassis. The whole thing is richly detailed but not overly complex. One the chassis is complete, attention turns to the cab unit. There are various details that have to be fixed to the underside of the floorpan, after which it can be flipped the right way up and fixed to the chassis. Interior detail is limited to the bench seat and a basic dashboard and steering wheel. As with their M1070 kit, the clear parts are moulded from clear polystyrene and the doors are entirely translucent, meaning some masking will be required prior to painting. I would recommend both inside and outside be painted in order to achieve a good finish. finishing touches include the rear view mirrors and tiny photo etched windscreen wipers. The ChMZAP-5247G trailer is comparatively straightforward to assemble. The chassis is basic ladder-like structure, with the upper load surface moulded in place. The road wheels fit onto two suspension bogeys, making two pairs of four wheels. As before, the wheels are separate to the rubber tyres, which will speed up painting and weathering. The spare wheels for both tractor and trailer fit onto the trailer, as do the hydraulic stabilisers. Alternative parts are provided so the latter items can be used for building the trailer in the detached configuration if desired. The painting and marking guide shows four different schemes for the tractor and trailer. The Afghan Army, Hungarian Defence Force, Iranian Army and Soviet Army are all provided for. Paint references are provided for the Ammo by Mig range of paints. Unusually, recommendations are also made for Ammo weathering products as well. As mentioned in the preamble, the painting diagrams are infuriatingly small for such a large vehicle (and no, it's not my age), so extra pictorial references will be essential. Conclusion It feels as though fans of Soviet bloc/Russian hardware are enjoying something of a golden age at the moment. Ten or so years ago, kits of subjects such as this MAZ were either non-existent or strictly limited run. Now, thanks largely to mainstream manufacturers such as Takom, Modelcollect, Revell, ICM and Zvezda, we seem to have a choice of not just MBTs, but APCs and other vehicles such as this in injected plastic. The utilitarian, almost Tonka-esque look of the big MAZ appeals to me enormously and it will look great with a soviet MBT on the back. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  6. Ju 87 D-3, Hs 129, FW 190F-8 "Luftwaffe Ground Attackers vol.1" 1:72 Exito Decals Polish company Exito are an online retailer of all things scale modelling. They also have a nice line in decals with a 'twist'. Unlike most rivals, their sets are packed into large, A4 sized packets backed with a piece of heavy card. Each of the schemes included on the sheet is replicated as a high-quality colour print on thick, glossy card, with a painting diagram and other information on the reverse. The overall impression is of a very high quality product, albeit one which is surprisingly reasonably priced. The set includes markings for three aircraft: Junkers Ju 87 D-3, W.Nr. 100082 (Stkz. BP+DD), coded T6+HN of 5./StG. 2, Achtirskaya, USSR, early summer 1942; Henschel Hs 129 B-2, W.Nr. 140405 of 4.(Pz)/Sch.G.1, USSR, summer 1942; and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F-8, flown by Major Theodor Nordmann, Kommandeur of II./SG 3, Riga-Spilve, Latvia, 1944 There is no secondary theme that ties these schemes together, other than the that described in the title. The decals themselves are printed 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. Helpfully, there are sufficient national markings on the sheet to model each of the three options. Colour references are provided for Mr Hobby and AK Interactive, as well as the RLM codes appropriate for each shade. Conclusion This is yet another professional and attractive package from Exito. As well as some interesting decals printed by the company everyone else is measured against, you get profiles of all the options that are of such high quality that they could be framed or incorporated in the display of your finished model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. US Tank Transporter w/ Abrams Tank 1:72 Takom The Oshkosh M1070, coupled to the DRS Technologies M1000 semi-trailer, us the primary means by which the US Army moves its M1 Abrams main battle tank, as well as various self-propelled artillery and other heavy equipment, by road. Powered by either a huge 12 litre Detroit Diesel unit or an even huger 18 litre Caterpillar engine, the M1070 can exceed 50mph and has a range of almost 450 miles, thanks chiefly to its huge 947 litre fuel capacity. The vehicle has been a hit for Oshkosh, with almost 3,000 examples rolling off the production line, many of which have been exported to international customers such as Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UK. The M1000 trailer, produced by Leonardo DRS, was originally developed as a private venture but has been just as successful as the M1070, with over 2600 examples ordered. Both tractor and trailer are air-transportable if you happen to have access to the C-5 Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster. The M1 Abrams is, of course, the current Main Battle Tank employed by the armed forces of the USA. Named after General Creighton Abrams, Commander of US forces in Vietnam, the Abrams entered service with the US Army in 1980, gradually replacing the M60 MBT. Since then over 9000 examples of the gas turbine-powered tank have been produced and it is now in service with the armed forces of Australia, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as the US. The M1A2 variant is an upgrade over the original M1A1, with enhanced targeting and armour capabilities. The Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK) is a field-installable armour upgrade that incorporates various elements such as Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA), developed in response to experience acquired during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Takom, a name more often associated with huge 1:16 scale tanks (and less huge 1:35 scale ones), have now released a handful of 1:72 scale kits. Last time around we reviewed their V2 rocket and Hanomag tractor/trailer combo. This month we've been fortunate enough to receive another tractor/trailer combo, albeit from a completely different era. The M1070 and M1000 have previously been released by Takom along with an armoured bulldozer. The Abrams was previously released by Tiger Model back in 2015. It was well-received then, not least because it was the first TUSK Abrams to be produced in braille scale. Inside the box are eight frames of grey plastic, two small clear frames, a couple of small frets of photo etched parts, decals and a dauntingly large mound of rubber tyres, most of which are for the M1000 trailer. Each item is packed in its own bag for protection. Two instruction manuals are provided; one for the tractor and trailer and a separate one for the MBT. The quality of moulding is clean and crisp and looks good to me. Construction starts with the M1070. The ladder chassis is provided as a separate part, along with the cab body. To this you have to add the suspension and drive train components, all of which are made up from several different parts. It is immediately apparent that the kit is orientated towards detail rather than speed of assembly! Each wheel is moulded in two parts, but the tyres are moulded from a rubber-like material, which will speed up painting and construction considerably. The cab includes full interior details, such as crew seats, a dashboard and steering wheel. The doors are moulded from clear plastic, which will make painting them a bit more tricky, but will at least save having to glue tiny clear parts in place. The winch system behind the cab also starts off with a separate, slide moulded base, onto which various plastic and photo etched parts are added. A ladder and a few other bits and bobs and the huge tractor is complete. The M1000 trailer is comparatively simple when compared to the M1070 tractor, but with 40 wheels and tyres to paint and assemble, construction will be an exercise in endurance. Each of the 40 wheels is made up of two parts, and for every four wheels there is an axle/suspension unit, also made up of two parts. The mechanism that links tractor to trailer is a relatively simple part and holds two spare wheels for the trailer. The loading ramps can be finished in lowered or raised position, depending on your preference. Next up is Abrams, which I guess is semi-optional if you happen to have another vehicle that you wish to display on the trailer. Interestingly, this part of the kit feels like a partial re-box as there are separate Tiger Model-branded instructions supplied and even the plastic bags used to protect the sprues are different. Construction starts with the fearsome 120mm main gun and turret. A prodigious amount of parts make up this sub-assembly, with lots of extra bits for the TUSK II equipment and photo etched detail for the turret baskets. Clear parts are provided for the commander's cupola and the various electro-optical sights, as well as the two armoured shields that protect the crew when using the 7.62mm machine guns. Turning to the running gear and lower hull, Tiger Model have opted for a variation of the modern method of recreating the tracks and road wheels, with the outer road wheels moulded onto the lower tracks, while the inner road wheels and return rollers are moulded onto the upper tracks. This approach only works because the side skirts and ERA completely cover what would otherwise be very obvious chunky plastic tabs that hold the whole thing together. The painting and marking guide shows two different schemes for the tractor and trailer: The first is an example used during Operation Iraqi Freedom, based at Camp Buehing, Kuwait, in April 2003. It is painted in overall FS33446 (desert tan); The second vehicle is painted in the standard NATO Green/Brown/Black scheme and it from the Theatre Logistics Support Centre Europe, 21st Theatre Sustainment Command, Baumholder, Germany, 2011. A separate painting diagram is provided for the Abrams, but it only shows a single example painted with Tamiya XF-59. Weirdly, the instructions for the M1070 and M1000 use Ammo colour references instead! Conclusion Bringing three high-quality models together in a set like this is always a welcome move, and with the large, plain white packaging it really does feel a cut above your average kit. Each of the models is very detailed, particularly for the scale, and have no problem standing up to scrutiny. As a trio, they have the potential to spark the imagination of modellers keen on dioramas, although the temptation to ditch the trailer and have the M1070 hauling an ICM MiG-25RB out of the desert, as per the famous photograph, is almost overwhelming. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  8. Joking aside, it may well prove a challenge for overseas exhibitors to get across the channel - at least as easily as they might otherwise have done before. I think the biggest practical obstacle will be the effects of panic buying (and I don't mean Mr Color paint). Whatever the real impacts, the perception of shortages has the potential to create real shortages if people decide to panic buy, particularly vehicle fuel. Of course panic buying makes no sense at all... Unless every one is doing it. Then it's the only thing that does make sense. The weak pound should make it a good time to visit though.
  9. Practice stunning pigeons with your suitcase. That way you'll be able to get something to eat
  10. Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk Vb - VIII - IXe "Sexy Spitfires" ED72003 1:72 Exito Decals Polish company Exito are an online retailer of all things scale modelling. They also have a nice line in decals with a 'twist'. Unlike most rivals, their sets are packed into large, A4 sized packets backed with a piece of heavy card. Each of the schemes included on the sheet is replicated as a high-quality colour print on thick, glossy card, with a painting diagram and other information on the reverse. The overall impression is of a very high quality product, albeit one which is surprisingly reasonably priced. The set includes markings for three aircraft: Spitfire LF Mk.Vb (EN921), coded YO-A of No. 401 Sqn RCAF, flown by F/O Jack Sheppard, Redhill / Staplehurst / Biggin Hill, UK, July-October 1943. Spitfire LF Mk.VIII (MT841), coded U of No. 2 Sqn RIAF, Kohat, British India, spring 1946. Spitfire LF Mk.IXe (TA864), coded LW-L of No. 318 (Gdanski) Sqn RAF, flown by P/O Zdzisław Uchwat, Risano near Udine, Italy, May-June 1945. There are no prizes for guessing the theme that ties these schemes together. Each aircraft features 'sexy' nose art which is not all that common on Spitfires. The decals themselves are printed 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. Helpfully, there are sufficient national markings on the sheet to model each of the three options. Colour references are provided for Mr Hobby and AK Interactive, as well as the RLM codes appropriate for each shade. Conclusion This is yet another professional and attractive package from Exito. As well as some interesting decals printed by the company everyone else is measured against, you get profiles of all the options that are of such high quality that they could be framed or incorporated in the display of your finished model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (A08017A) Extra Schemes 1:72 Airfix One of the most famous aircraft to see action in World War 2, Boeing’s B-17 nearly didn’t make it into service at all. Despite the fact that it enjoyed clear advantages over the competition, the relatively high cost of the aeroplane, combined with the loss of the prototype in a fatal crash, nearly ended the Flying Fortress’s career before it had begun. Such was the strength of the design, however, that Boeing were awarded a contract for thirteen more development aircraft and never looked back. The B-17 was used by the USAAF mainly for daylight strategic bombing duties over Europe, although it was also used in the Pacific Theatre. The type also saw service with many other air forces around the world, including the RAF. The ‘G’ version featured here was the final production variant. Airfix's released this kit back in 2016 and then followed it up a year later with an RAF Fortress III version. This kit is essentially the original release but with extra decal options courtesy of Kits-World. Inside the red top-opening box adorned with the usual high-quality Adam Tooby artwork, are nine frames of grey plastic and a single clear frame, holding over 240 parts in total. The mouldings are clean and crisp, with fine, recessed panel lines throughout and plenty of nice detail on smaller parts such as the .50 cal gun barrels. The small print on the side of the box states "the additional schemes contained within this box may not be suitable for those aged under 21". On closer inspection, the decal sheet does indeed contain a tiny picture of a bird in the nip. I don't know about you, but I think the 10 year old version of me would have been fine with that. The assembly instructions are divided into 137 stages, which gives a good indication of the complexity of the model. The kit has an astonishingly detailed interior, construction of which takes up no fewer than 55 of those 137 stages. Assembly begins with the cockpit, which includes loads of detail for the control columns and seats, and works its way back through the bomb bay and main wing spar and then the various crew stations and beautifully detailed turrets. The amount of interior detail is nothing short of spectacular, particularly so for the scale. All of the interior details, right down to the .50 cal Brownings, are beautifully moulded and I’m willing to bet a few modellers will actually think twice before finally gluing the fuselage halves together. The bomb bay is particularly nice and includes a full load of bombs. Once all of that interior detail is in place, the fuselage halves can be sandwiched together. The large wings feature separate ailerons and are packed with detailed parts such as the engine firewalls and fuel tanks. Each engine is made up of four parts, as well as the exhausts and turbochargers. The cowlings can be build up with the nacelle cooling air gills open or closed. The tail planes feature separate control surfaces. In keeping with the rest of the kit, the undercarriage is very nicely detailed, and the tyres of the main wheels are moulded separately to the wheels themselves, which will help achieve a nice, neat finish once painted. They have flat spots moulded in place too. The wings slot onto the fuselage with the help of the spars, which should provide plenty of strength as well as helping to achieve a positive fit. If the bomb bay doors are to be displayed open (and it would be a crime not to), they will have to be cut in half prior to assembly. Construction then concludes with the installation of the chin turret, the tail turret and the cheek turrets. The parts for the latter items are moulded entirely from clear plastic, which saves fiddling around with small clear parts and getting gluey marks all over thme. Two options are provided on the original decal sheet, with a further two on the Kits-World sheet: B-17G 'Mah Ideel', 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, Eight Air Force, US Army Air Force, RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England, early 1945; B-17G 'Skyway Chariot', 351st Bomb Squadron, 100th Bomb Group, Eight Air Force, US Army Air Force, RAF Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk, England, March 1945; B-17G 'Looky Looky', 851st Bomb Squadron, 490th Bomb Group, Spring 1945; and B-17G 'Heaven Sent', 350th Bomb Squadron, 100h Bomb Group, Early 1945. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and a full set of stencils are included. Conclusion This isn't the only available kit of the B-17 in this scale, but it is up there with the best. Just like the Revell kit, this one has a fantastic amount of detail and even more parts. It won't be a quick build, but it should result in a rewarding experience. Overall this kit is a real gem and should build up into an excellent model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. A couple of car purchases ago I was chatting to the salesman and he let on that he used to work for Fiat. He told me a story about a truckload of Puntos being delivered. When they drove the first one off the truck, the rear window fell out and smashed. It turns out a whole bunch were assembled with dodgy sealant/adhesive that wasn't holding the rear windows in properly. Not sure how they managed to get all the way from Turin without anyone noticing! I'm sure he mentioned another new car order for a customer where the door handles were painted on one side but not on the other! Still hasn't stopped me from buying two Pandas for the Mrs. Great fun little cars, even if you do get the odd alarming clunk from somewhere under the bonnet!
  13. MiG-25 RBF Soviet Reconnaissance Plane 1:72 ICM In the early part of the Cold War, the strategic bomber was seen as the obvious means by which to deliver a nuclear payload. The interceptor - large, heavy and fast - was seen as the equally obvious countermeasure. The MiG-25 Foxbat was, in many ways, the ultimate embodiment of the latter. It wasn't particularly groundbreaking and nor was it particularly sophisticated, but it was capable of incredible speed and could carry four large missiles to high altitudes very quickly indeed. The MiG-25's shortcomings as a combat aircraft were largely addressed through the MiG-31 Foxhound, but the type achieved considerable longevity as a reconnaissance platform. The RBF was an ELINT variant, converted from the RBK but fitted with updated Shar-25 equipment in place of the old Kub-3K system. Despite the changes, it retained the NATO Foxbat D codename. This kit is the third iteration of ICM's new 1/72 MiG-25 family, following on from the RB and RBT variants. A fourth iteration, in the shape of the MiG-25BM SEAD version, is also planned. The model is pretty much a scaled down version of their 1:48 kit, which is a jolly good thing indeed. Inside the very sturdy top-opening box are seven frames of light grey plastic and one of clear plastic. The kit is almost identical to the previous version, but includes a different sprue for the revised parts for the nose. The airframe is covered in crisp, recessed panel lines which look very good indeed, and the mouldings are crisp and clean. The instructions are an A4 stapled booklet which has been printed in colour and the decal sheet is clear and well printed. The overall impression is of a well-executed, modern kit which looks like it should be thoroughly enjoyable to build. Construction begins with the cockpit and nose gear bay. Some detail is moulded in place on the sidewalls of the cockpit, with extra parts provided to represent additional details. Before the main structure of the cockpit can be completed, however, you have to add the bulkhead that forms the front wall of the cockpit and the rear wall of the nose gear bay. The instructions have you installing the nose gear leg at this stage, but I can't see any logical reason as to why this can't be done at the end. This would, of course, save you from breaking the leg part way through the build. The cockpit itself is nicely detailed, with the ejector seat alone made up of no fewer than five parts. An instrument panel and control column completes this section of the build. Once the forward fuselage halves have been joined together, the whole sub-assembly fits onto a spart that holds the huge engine air intakes. I've noticed that kit manufacturers are moving increasingly toward this style of construction, where certain parts are provided for purely structural purposes instead of the older slot and tab style of construction. I guess the main advantage, other than strength, is that everything can be positioned at exactly the right angle - a helpful feature for kits that feature quit a complex breakdown of parts, such as this one. Each engine intake is full-length, with engine compressor faces provided. What results is a complete forward section of the aircraft up to the wing roots, with the internal structure of the air intakes protruding from the rear. The lower face of the main fuselage can be joined to this structure once the main landing gear bays have been added. ICM suggest that you add the main landing gear legs at this stage. Again, I can't see any reason why they couldn't be fettled into place after the main construction has been completed. Once the lower face of the main fuselage is in place, another structural bulkhead can be added, after which the slab-sides of the fuselage, including the outer faces of the air intakes, can be added. The dustbin-like jet exhausts are added at this stage, and very nicely detailed they are too. Once in place, the upper face of the fuselage can be added. Some modellers have noticed that the central spine has a flattened profile instead of a rounded shape. This is true, but I imagine most modellers will choose to live with this minor flaw. All that remains now is to add the nosecone, flying surfaces and finishing details. Each vertical tail is split vertically, with a seperate rudder. The outer face is moulded with part of the rear fuselage in place, so presumably it will be impossible to fit these parts at the wrong angle. Somewhat surprisingly, the upper wings are not moulded in one part with the upper fuselage. Instead, they are split into separate port and starboard halves, with two seperate flaperons and upper wing fences and fittings for bomb shackles below. The nosecone is simply split vertically, with a separate part for the camera pack and clear parts for the camera lenses. The canopy is nice and clear and can be finished in either open or closed position. Other than that, and a few aerials, lumps and bumps, the huge aircraft is now finished. Three options are provided for on the decal sheet: MiG-25RBF, 47th GRAP, Shatalovo Air Base, Russia, August 2001. This aircraft is finished in a disruptive green/brown/tan scheme; MiG-25RBF, 931st OGRAP, Werneuchen Air Base, Germany, 1991. This aircraft is also finished in a green/tan/brown scheme; and MiG-25RBF, 47th GRAP, Shatalovo Air Base, Russia, 2001. This aircraft is finished in the more commonly seen overall grey scheme. The decals look nicely printed and a full set of stencils is included. Conclusion We've waited a while for a new, more more modern kit of the Foxbat in this scale. ICM's new effort is excellent, with high quality mouldings and plenty of the detail. The surface structures are fine and crisp. Overall this is a well executed and carefully designed kit which is very appealing indeed. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. LAU-10/A ZUNI (672211) 1:72 Eduard The Zuni 5-inch rocket as an unguided rocket used by the US Navy, US Air Force and US Marine Corps. It is usually carried in fours in the LAU-10 rocket pod. Designed by the Hunter-Douglas Division of the Bridgeport Brass Company, the Zuni is a modular system and was designed from the outset to deploy a number of different warheads, including a proximity fuse warhead. For this reason, the rocket was selected as the basis for the original AIM-9 Sidewinder. A laser guided version has been developed for deployment by the US Marine Corps. The set comprises two LAU-10 launchers, each of which can have up to four Zuni rockets added. The aft end cap is a separate part, and two version are provided so you can choose between an armed or unarmed pod. Tiny brass parts are provided for the armed version. Decals (not shown) are also provided. The casting is flawless and smooth, with minimal cleanup required thanks to the positioning of the pouring stubs at the tail-end of the rocket pod. Colours and stencil positions are marked in a colour diagram, with Gunze Mr Color paint references as usual. Review sample courtesy of
  15. Junkers F.13 Conversion Set (MX 7222.07) 1:72 Master-X The Junkers F.13 was an all-metal, cantilever wing monoplane that was one of the most advance aircraft in the world when it first flew in June 1919. It was in production for 13 years - an incredible feat given the stupendous pace of aeronautical development throughout the early twentieth century. The aircraft was built around an aluminium alloy frame, with stressed skin in the classic Junkers style. The cockpit was only semi-enclosed, but the passenger compartment, which was fitted out to accommodate four people, was fully enclosed and heated. Over 322 examples were produced, with a great many different power plants finding their way into the airframe. This conversion set from Master-X is designed for the Revell kit - a stone cold classic from the German firm's 1990s purple patch. In the plastic bag, you get a replacement upper fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails, ailerons, wheels, propellor and lower cowling. The standard of casting is high and the rendering of the surface details means it will be a good match for the original kit. Of course the parts will need to be cleaned up prior to assembly, but from what I've seen, I wouldn't expect construction will present too many difficulties. Decals are included for the intended subject, an example used by the Eurasia Aviation Corporation in China in 1931. The colour scheme is a striking black, red and aluminium number. Conclusion This is a well-designed and nicely made conversion set which opens up new possibilities for Revell's excellent kit. The inclusion of decals is a necessity given the nature of the conversion, but one which makes this into a nice little project. An absolute must for fans of interwar aviation. Review sample courtesy of
  16. WWII German Infantry (A00705) 1:76 Airfix Although my childhood association with Airfix is rooted in scale model aircraft, there are many who grew up playing with their famous range of plastic soldiers and tanks. Now you can re-create the childhood adventures of Helmut and his mates, courtesy of the new Vintage Classics range. Inside the compact box you get six frames of figures, most of which are attached via the built-in base. This should give you a clue as to the market these figures were originally pitched at. Not for the hallowed halls of Telford were these soldiers. No, they were destined to slog it out with Tommy Atkins on the floors of bedrooms up and down post-war Britain. The large range of different poses include crawling/prone soldiers, as well as some crouching or standing and firing weapons. Also in the box are some machine gun and flame thrower crews, as well as some who are just standing around doing nothing. The quality of moulding is nothing remarkable, but that won't stop these little fellows evoking a smile from even the most stone-hearted of nostalgic modellers Conclusion These figures don't compare to modern offerings, but they are as cheap as chips and you get loads in the box. If you want to introduce a younger audience to the world of scale modelling, or even stick them at the back of a diorama, these figures can still do a job in 2019. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Afghan Motorcade (1979-1989) 1:72 ICM The Soviet-Afghan War was a conflict fought over a nine-year period from December 1979 to February 1989. The origins of the conflict were rooted in a coup in which the Afghan Communist Party seized power and, supported by the USSR, began a series of deeply unpopular modernisation reforms. They were opposed, and eventually defeated, by a coalition of insurgents known as the mujahideen, supported by the CIA through Operation Cyclone. Casualties were heavy on both sides, but the mujahideen prevailed and the Soviet forces withdrew. The defeat was an important component in the fall of the Soviet Union, creating a division between the military and the Communist Party and sowing the seeds of religious fundamentalism in South-Central Asia. Geo-politics aside, the conflict presents an opportunity to build models of some serious cool Soviet hardware. This new set from ICM includes four vehicles. Three are based on the Ural-375 platform, which was the standard Soviet truck during the conflict in Afghanistan, while the fourth is a BTR-60 armoured car. All of the kits have been released by ICM before, although I believe the Trucks are based on moulds originally designed by Omega-K in the 1990s. The BTR-60 is an original ICM model from the mid-2000s. The kits are packaged into a relatively compact box which is fairly packed with plastic, although a number of sprues are repeated due to three of the vehicles being based on the same basic chassis. Ural-375D Truck, -375A Command Vehicle and -375 ATZ-5 Fuel Bowser The Ural-375 vehicles all share the same chassis, cab and wheels, albeit with some minor differences. The ladder chassis includes plenty of detail, with parts for the drive shafts, differentials, solid axles, leaf springs and exhausts. The tyres are moulded from hard black plastic rather than the vinyl-like material often used in these types of kits. Wheels are split down the middle, so there will be an awful lot of clean up and careful painting involved in getting all of them ready for all three trucks. Turning to the upper parts of the trucks, each can is slide moulded and has clear plastic windows, which I find easier to work with than plastic sheet. The interiors are decent, with seats, a dashboard and a steering wheel. The -375D truck includes a basic wooden load area, as well as a spare wheel. The sides of the load area are nicely moulded, although it would have been nice to have something to put in there. There are plenty of aftermarket items to make up for that, though. The -375A command truck includes the command compartment, an aerial and other details, as well as another spare wheel. There is no interior detail and the doors cannot be opened. The fuel bowser, which could also be used for an aircraft diorama, has a fuel storage tank which is split vertically and some nice touches such as a separately moulded aperture on the top. BTR-60PB The BTP-60 is a monocoque design, so the suspension units and wheels fit directly onto the lower part of the hull. That's not to say there aren't some nice details though, particularly the propellor for amphibious use. The crew area is nicely detailed too, with even the fighting compartment having some basic interior detail. Overall you can tell that this is a slightly more modern tooling when compared to the trucks. Most of the hatches are moulded separately, which improves the diorama potential immeasurably. Even the grab handles and pioneer tools are moulded as separate parts which is really impressive for the scale. The colour schemes referred to in the instructions are all pretty basic/standard schemes for the subject and period. The small decal sheet is fairly generic and includes markings that are not appropriate for this boxing, such as UN and DDR. Conclusion While none of the kits included are going to set the world on fire on their own, the opportunity to acquire all four as part of a set like this certainly boosts their appeal. That's not to say they are bad kits - far from it - but with a street price of less than twenty smackaroonies they are much more appealing than they would otherwise be. Stick them alongside a Su-25 or a Mil-24 and you'll definitely have a winning combination. Review sample courtesy of
  18. MiG-25 RBT Photo Etch and Masks for ICM Kit 1:72 Eduard Fans of Soviet military hardware appear to be living through a golden age at present. When I returned to the hobby almost 20 years ago, kits of Soviet subjects were far less common than they are now, and those that were available were almost all either old, inaccurate tools from the west, or limited runs kits of a 'challenging' nature from the east. These days we are far better served by a range of new, state-of-the-art tools from the likes of Eduard, ICM, Trumpeter and Zvezda to name but four. In most cases, Eduard have eagerly supported each new release with a set of photo etched details and masks. This month, ICM's new MiG-25RBT receives the Eduard treatment. MiG-25RBT In the usual Eduard style, this set comprises two frets of parts. The first fret contains pre-painted parts for detailing the cockpit and includes harnesses, cushions, pull handles and other details for the pilot's seat, as well as details for the instrument panels and side consoles. Also included are parts for the rudder pedals. Many of the parts require their plastic equivalent to be scraped away. The second fret is unpainted and contains parts for detailing the landing gear bays and landing gear itself, the canopy and various surface details, particularly relating to the reconnaissance equipment in the nose. Also included are details for the huge jet exhausts such as detailed afterburner flame holders. MiG-25RBT Zoom If you are more concerned about the cockpit than the rest of the airframe, then you can save some shekels by plumping for the Zoom set. If you do, the only other parts that you will be missing out on are some of the extra details for the canopy (although you still get the rear view mirrors, which in my view make a big difference. MiG-25RBT Masks This set provides pre-cut paint masks for the canopy and all of the wheels. If you've used Eduard's pre-cut masks before, you'll know that they are a real time saver. Conclusion These sets are a handy upgrade for the new ICM kit. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. HMS Belfast 1:600 Airfix HMS Belfast is a town-class cruiser, one of ten constructed for the Royal Navy between 1934 and 1939. As of 2019, the ship is probably most famous for being moored on the River Thames where it has served as a popular museum attraction since 1971. HMS Belfast was build by Harlaand and Wolff in Belfast and was commissioned in August 1939. The penultimate of the town-class cruisers, she was originally designed to carry sixteen 6 inch guns in four quadruple turrets, but this proposal was shelved due to the difficulty of designing such a turret and she reverted to using the same triple turrets as her the other members of her class. Belfast was badly damaged by a magnetic mine during the first months of the War. She was repaired and modernised with the additional of anti-aircraft armament, as well as radar equipment. Belfast was recommissioned in November 1942 and was put to work on the arctic convoys. On boxing day in 1943 she was involved in the Battle of North Cape and played a part in the sinking of the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst. The ship went on to support the D-Day landings before sailing to serve in the Far East, where she remained until 1947. Between 1950 and 1952 she participated in the Korean War, undertaking shore bombardment and coastal patrols. She was modernised once again and re-commissioned later in the 1950s, once again serving in the Far East. Reduced to disposal in 1971, she was saved by the Belfast Trust, led by her former captain Rear-Admiral Sir Morgan Morgan-Giles, then MP for Winchester. Airfix's HMS Belfast has been around since 1973, just after the real thing opened as a visitor attraction. As a model kit, it is far from state-of-the-art, but it is a nice trip down memory lane that will have you reminiscing about tube cement, old-fashioned Humbrol enamels and being vituperated for marking the dining room table with some kind of long-since banned solvent. The kit has just been re-released as part of Airfix's new Vintage Classics range, which brings a sense of openness about the age and origin of the moulds to an otherwise unsuspecting public. The kit is spread across four frames of grey plastic, with the larger parts for the hull and decks moulded separately. It is a full-hull model (complete with stand) and clearly depicts Belfast in her wartime configuration, before she had those horrible lattice masts fitted. The part count is pretty high and there is actually quite a lot of detail, but the mouldings themselves are rather soft compared to their modern equivalents. Due to the age of the moulds there is some flash, particularly on some of the smaller parts such as the anti-aircraft guns. I won't go into the construction process for this kit, but suffice to say the part count is surprisingly high for a vintage kit, and you get lots of detail, including a pair of Supermarine Walrus aircraft (one stowed, one ready to launch), life rafts, launches, cranes, davits and the aforementioned AA armament. the cranes for recovering the aircraft are surprisingly fine for the scale. You don't get (or need) any decals, but the three-view colour painting scheme shows Belfast in the D-Day scheme that the real thing currently sports. Conclusion Whilst I would love to see Airfix release a brand new tool of this famous warship, it is nevertheless still nice to see this model back in their catalogue. The moulds must have paid for themselves dozens of times over by now, and although they are starting to show a little wear here and there, they are still in remarkably good nick all things considered. Those wanting to build a show stopper will naturally want to add extra details such as photo etched railings, but for those just wanting to add a model of this famous old ship to their collection, this will fit the bill nicely. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Gloster Gladiator Mk.I/II (A02052A) 1:72 Airfix The Gladiator was developed by the Gloster Aircraft Company as a private venture with the aim of fulfilling Air Ministry Specification F.7/30. This specification called for a fighter aircraft capable of 250 mph and able to carry four machine guns. Rather than opt for a new design, Gloster decided to develop a proposal based on the existing Gauntlet fighter. The resulting aircraft featured improved aerodynamics, cantilever undercarriage, an extra pair of machine guns, a more powerful engine and an enclosed cockpit. The Gladiator flew for the first time in September 1934 and entered service in January 1937. Such was the pace of aeronautical development in the late 1930s that the Gladiator was becoming obsolete even as it was entering service. Nevertheless, over 700 examples were built (including Sea Gladiators) and it saw action in most theatres of the Second World War. Despite being more demanding to fly than the Gauntlet, the Gladiator was popular with pilots. The Gladiators finest hour was probably the battle for Malta in 1940, when a handful of aircraft formed the entire air defence of the besieged island. Airfix's released this kit back in 2013, just as they were hitting their stride following their acquisition by Hornby. The kit is part of the Series 2 range and arrives packed into a red top-opening box with the usual high-quality Adam Tooby artwork showing a Gladiator engaging an He 111. Inside are three sprues of grey plastic and a single clear sprue, holding over 60 parts in total. The mouldings are clean and crisp, with fine, recessed panel lines around the nose of the aircraft and an effective stretched fabric effect elsewhere. As this is the Mk.I/II version, the extra sprue from the Swedish boxing is included, although the only part required for this model is the Fairey three-blade propellor. The cockpit comprises a framework floor, seat, headrest, and a single part for the combined control column/rudder pedals. A pilot is also included. The inside of the fuselage sidewalls are nicely detailed and you have the option to remove the access hatch and replace it with a dedicated part that can be fixed in the open position. Before closing up the fuselage, you must fix the fuselage mounted .303 inch browning machine guns through the muzzle holes. These are quite finely moulded and should look much better than if they were just moulded as lumps on the side of the airframe. The remaining steps in the construction process are fairly conventional, but with some clever twists. The upper fuselage immediately in front of the cockpit is moulded as a separate part. The inner struts, the rearmost of which also includes the instrument panel, have to be sandwiched between this part and the fuselage. The lower wing follows, and as you can see from the photograph below, Airfix have marked the points you will need to use if you want to rig the model. Top marks, Airfix! The engine and cowling is quite a complex assembly, made up of no fewer than ten parts. The Bristol Mercury engine comprises the exhaust manifold and the single row of nine cylinders, as well as some smaller parts. The cowling is made up of four parts, with this somewhat complex arrangement being necessary because of the oval cross-section shape of the cowling. The inter-wing struts have to be added before the upper wing can be fixed in place. Airfix have taken an approach that was fairly novel in 2013, but which seems to be more commonplace now. Each pair of struts is joined by a small sprue which holds them at the correct angle. These have to be left in place while the wings are joined together and then removed afterwards. This is a clever twist, and it's nice to see Airfix have tried to make this model as easy to build as possible without compromising detail. Once the upper wing is in place, the tail planes can be added. The rudder is moulded as a separate part, but all of the other control surfaces are moulded in place. The undercarriage is simple but effective, and the wheels have separate hubs, which will aid painting. A choice of tyres is provided, both with and without flat spots. When it comes to the canopy, Airfix give you a choice of using either a single part or a canopy split into two parts. If you choose to rig your model, a full page diagram is provided, which shows how to break the job down into simple steps. Two options are provided on the decal sheet: Gladiator Mk.II, 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron, Royal Air Force, St. Inglevert, Northern France, December 1939. This aircraft is finished in Dark Earth/Dark Green and Light Eart/Light Green; and Gladiator Mk.I, 1 Escadrille, 1 Groupe Belgian Air Force, Schaffen Air Base, Diest, Belgium, 1938. This aircraft is finished in Olive Drab over silver. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and a full set of stencils are included. Conclusion This isn't the only available kit of the Gladiator in this scale, but it is the best. Although I have a soft spot for the Matchbox version, Airfix's kit has a wealth of extra detail, more options and should be just as easy to build. Overall this kit is a real gem and should build up into an excellent model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Spitfire Mk.IX Radiator Grilles 1:72 Eduard More than any other aircraft - at least on this side of the Atlantic - the Supermarine Spitfire has attained legendary status. The type's role in the Battle of Britain, combined with its enduring presense at air shows, have combined to ensure the Spitfire is the one combat aircraft pretty much everyone can identify. This set from Eduard is designed to fit their own superlative kit. The radiator faces fit onto the front and rear of the protruding parts on the underside of the wing, while the radiator cowlings fit over the top. The set contains enough parts for three aircraft, which seems pretty good value assuming you want to built that many spits. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Kamov Ka-58 Stealth Helicopter (03889) 1:72 Revell There isn't much one can write by way of introduction to a fictional subject, save for the fact that this kit is supposed to represent what a modern, Russian stealth helicopter might look like. The model follows the general design ethos of the Kamov design bureau, with a contra-rotating rotor and winglets to hold an array of armament options. For some, the idea of a model of a fictional subject will hold little appeal. For others, the application of coolodynamics will prove irresistible. I certainly remember a much younger version of myself drooling over the Italeri F-19 Stealth Fighter and the MiG-37 Ferret. As you may have guessed, this particular tooling was originally designed and manufactured by Russian outfit Zveda, a great many of whose kits have found their way into Revell boxes over the years. The kit it typical of early Zvezda. It has engraved surface structures but is somewhat lacking in fine detail and has a somewhat rough finish. Assembly begins with the tandem cockpit. The seats are not brilliant compared with modern kits, but they could easily be swapped out for a pair of K-36 if you can make them fit. Remaining details include dual control columns and an instrument panel. Decals are provided for the instrument panel and side consoles. Once complete, the crew compartment can be sealed up inside the fuselage pod, which is split horizontally like most modern 'stealth' shapes. The twin cannon pod must also be added as this point (at least if you want to be able to articulate it later) because it is held in place by an internal plug. The model can be finished in wheels up or wheels down configuration, with some different parts used depending on the option chosen. The landing gear bays contain basic structural details, but curiously the designers have made no attempt to incorporate stealth features to these parts, such as saw-toothed edges. The two large bays under the central part of the fuselage are for internal weapon stowage. Eight anti-tank missiles are provided on two extendable pylons, while rockets and air-to-air missiles are provided for the hardpoints under the winglets. The canopy can be finished in open or closed configuration, but the lack of detail in the cockpit would put me off the former. The main rotor is reasonably detailed for the scale and the rotor blades themselves have a fairly convincing stealthy shape. Two different options are provides for on the decal sheet. The first is an all-over black scheme that seems to represent a demonstrator or prototype aircraft as depicted on the box artwork. The second is a two-tone grey disruptive pattern with blue undersides. The decal sheet is nicely printed and, surprisingly, a decent amount of stencils are included. Conclusion Although starting to show its age, this is a pretty decent model. The design is not as outlandish as some of the fictional stealth models of the eighties, which means it won't look out of place in a line up of real choppers. While it lacks the detail of the latest kits from Revell (and Zvezda), if the subject appeals to you then I don't think you'll be disappointed. Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  23. Type 2 Ho-I Japanese Infantry Support Tank 1:72 IBG The Type 2 Ho-I tank was a development of the Type 97 medium tank. It was designed as a self-propelled howitzer that could provide fire support, as well as taking on enemy fortifications such as pillboxes. Powered by a Mitsubishi V-12 diesel engine, the tank had a range of 100 km and a maximum speed of 27mph. The main armament was a 75mm type 99 gun. Only 31 examples were produced, and all of those were converted from existing Type 1 Chi He tanks. Further production was impossible due to allied bombing of Japanese production facilities. The tanks were allocated to the defense of the Japanese home islands, but were never used as the cessation occured before the planned invasion. IBG Models have kitted a variety of Japanese tanks, with this Type 2 Ho-I being the latest in the line. The kit arrives packed into a surprisingly large top-opening box inside which are a number of fairly small frames of crisply moulded grey plastic. As with other IBG Models kits, this has all the hallmarks of a cutting edge kit, with crisply moulded parts that are easily as good as those from any other mainstream producer. a small fret of photo etched parts is included, as well as crew figures - a feature which seems unique to their Japanese subjects for some reason. In something of a departure for IBG Models, the tracks and the inner halves of the wheels and drive sprockets are moulded as one large part. When done well, I think this works just fine for the smaller scales. Thankfully IBG have done this very well indeed. Any minor compromise in detail is made up for by not having to cement together dozens of individual links or use the accursed vinyl tracks of yore. The upper track runs even have a realistic amount of sag moulded in. The outer faces of the wheels and sprockets are moulded separately, which means they can be painted separately for ultimate convenience. The running gear fits onto the sides of the lower hull box via four suspension arms moulded in pairs. There should be no issue getting everything to align just as it should. Next up is the upper hull, to which the small fenders headlights and pioneer tools must be attached. The exhausts fit onto either side of the rear hull, and photo etched guards are provided for the covers. The boxy, hexagonal turret is made up of just two parts, with the floor moulded separately to the floor. Slide moulding has been used to keep the part count down and the detail level up. Both the commander's cupola and the second hatch are moulded as distinct parts, which is a must given the inclusion of crew figures. The muzzle of the howitzer has also been manufactured using a multi-part mould to save the modeller having to drill out this small part. IBG have thoughtfully included two crew figures – and very nice they are too – although they are not mentioned in the instructions and don't even feature on the diagram that shows the layout of the sprues. A very nice Type 97 machine gun is included, but its attachment isn't shown in the instructions. Just one marking option is shown in the instructions, for a tank of an unknown regiment deployed in Japan in 1945. The decal sheet itself is nicely printed. Conclusion I really enjoyed reviewing IBG's recent AFV kits, so it's great to see them turn out another cracker in the form of this Ho-I. Detail is excellent and the quality of manufacture looks to be up there with the very best. The inclusion of photo etched parts and particularly crew figures is very welcome too. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. F6F-5 Weekend Edition 1:72 Eduard The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a highly effective fighter, the design of which took advantage of experience gained in aerial combat against the Japanese during the early part of the war. Fitted with a powerful Pratt and Whitney ‘Double Wasp’ engine, the Hellcat was a fast fighter, capable of 380mph. The F6F-5 was the second major production version of the Hellcat. It featured a more powerful engine and revised engine cowling compared to the F6F-3, an improved windscreen and a strengthened rear fuselage. The Hellcat earned a reputation as an excellent fighter; by 1945 it had gained the status of the most effective US naval fighter of World War II, having destroyed no fewer than 5,271 enemy aircraft. The F6F-5 was also operated by the Fleet Air Arm as the Hellcat F. Mk II. I remember reviewing Eduard’s 1:72 Hellcat when it was first released, and it's hard to believe that eight years have passed since then. While those eight years won't have been kind to most of us, this kit is still very much a spring chicken in modelling terms. As far as detail and engineering are concerned, it is very much state of the art. Inside the top opening box are over seventy plastic parts spread across three grey sprues and one clear sprue. As this is a ‘Weekend’ edition, there are no photo etch parts or canopy masks, but you do get two decal options and a full set of stencil decals. I would have no hesitation in describing this kit as a stone cold classic, making this edition something of a bargain. The engraved detail on the surface of the airframe is up there with the best that I have ever seen. There is an intelligently designed blend of recessed panel lines on parts such as on the flying surfaces, and overlapping panels on the rear fuselage. The mouldings are all clean and crisp, with no traces of flash or sink marks. The rest of the kit doesn’t disappoint either. The cockpit is beautifully represented and features delicate, raised details. The main landing gear bays are of convincing depth and are also beautifully detailed. The wings fit into recesses in the fuselage sides, so there should be no join to fill at the wing roots and misalignment of the wings should be all but impossible. Two choices of tyres are provided, each with different tread patterns. Both are moulded separately to the wheel hubs, which should make painting the tyres and hobs nice and easy, even without paint masks. The engine and cowling are nicely moulded and Eduard have captured the shape of the lower intake for the oil cooler and supercharger (the famous Hellcat ‘grin’) very well. The transparent parts are thin and clear, and the sliding part of the canopy is moulded separately to the windscreen. Because this is a Weekend edition kit, two schemes are catered for on the decal sheet – an F6F-5 flown by LT. Cornelius Nicholas Nooy, VF-31, USS Cabot, September 1944 and an F6F-5 of VF-83, USS Essex, March 1945. Four-view colour profiles are printed in the instructions, while there is a seperate diagram for the stencils. The decals themselves look thin and glossy, so hopefully they will prove easy to apply. Conclusion I’ve said it before and have no problem saying it again; this is an excellent kit. The level of detail is superb, the engineering is great but not overly complex and in Weekend Edition guise it is superb value for money. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Hawker Typhoon Mk.Ib 1:72 Airfix The Hawker Typhoon started life as a medium-to-high-altitude interceptor intended to replace the Hurricane in RAF service. It was designed to meet Air Ministry Specification F.18/37, which called for an interceptor based around the formidable 24-cylinder Napier Sabre engine. As well as a more powerful engine, the aircraft also featured a much thicker wing than that used on its predecessors. This gave the Typhoon tremendous strength and also allowed it to carry more fuel and armament than either the Hurricane or the Spitfire. The Typhoon was rushed into service in an attempt to counter the threat posed by the Luftwaffe's then-new Focke-Wulf Fw 190. This proved to be an unwise decision when the immature design ran into serious difficulties, culminating in an incident In August 1942 when Hawker test pilot Ken Seth-Smith was killed when the tail of his Typhoon broke away during a test flight. The problem was eventually traced back to the elevator mass balance, which necessitated some re-design work. Although never trouble-free, the Typhoon matured into an effective low-level interceptor, successfully countering the threat of the Luftwaffe's 'tip and run' fighter bomber raids. The Typhoon's story didn't finish there, however. It was perfectly suited to the fighter-bomber role and following the Normandy landings it was used for both tactical strike and close air support for troops on the ground. Although responsible for a relatively small percentage of the total number of German AFVs destroyed in the months following D-Day, the effect that rocket and cannon strafing attacks had on enemy morale was profound, drawing compliments from the Supreme Allied Commander himself, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Over the years, the Typhoon has been a popular subject for modellers. Early kits from Frog and Airfix were superseded by Academy's very decent effort in the 1990s. More recently there has been a series of kits from new Czech firm Bren Gun. Airfix released their kit in 2013, and apart from making an appearance in the occasional model sets, this is the first time the kit has been re-boxed by Airfix. The kit is presented in the familiar bright red top-opening box adorned with a beautiful image of a pair of Tiffies taking off on a summers day when the sun is low in the sky. Four frames of plastic are crammed inside the box, together with a small clear sprue, decal sheet and instructions. All together, the kit is made up of a respectable 74 parts. It looks nicely moulded and the panel lines look reasonably restrained, but some of them fade out towards the very top and bottom of the fuselage. It's clearly not as good as a brand new kit from Airfix, but that only serves to show how far they've come in a few years. The overall shape of the model looks good. As with many Horby-era Airfix products, the kit offers an interesting mix of detail, design and straightforward construction. This is evident right from the start, as the cockpit floor is moulded in a single piece along with the main landing gear bays and the interior parts for the prominent chin radiator. The cockpit itself is comprised of a seat, an armoured rear bulkhead, an instrument panel with separate gun sight, a control column and rudder pedals. There is also plenty of sidewall detailed moulded on the inside of the fuselage halves. The overall effect should be very nice indeed. The wheel wells, which also form part of the cockpit assembly, look good, with structural and hydraulic details picked out nicely. The only fly in the ointment is a small ejector pin mark in both sides. This will be difficult to remove, so I imagine a great many modellers will choose to live with it instead. The prominent radiator features a separately moulded oil cooler/carburettor intake and exhaust flap. The exhausts themselves drop in to place once the fuselage halves have been joined, which makes painting much easier. The tail wheel has to be fitted before the fuselage halves have been joined though, which may make it vulnerable during construction. Handle with care! The lower wing has been moulded as a single span and it must be joined to the fuselage before the upper wing halves can be fixed in place. This is a slightly out-of-the-ordinary construction sequence, so pay attention to the instructions carefully! The prominent 20mm cannons are attached to complete gun bays which fit inside the wings. The cannons are quite nicely detailed, but if you want to show them off, you'll need to cut away the corresponding panels in the upper wing and use the pre-folded replacements provided. The horizontal tails are moulded as solid parts, but the rudder is a separate part and can be deflected if desired. The undercarriage is very nicely detailed indeed and the tyres have flat spots moulded in place. A separate set of undercarriage doors is provided in case you want to build your model as it would appear in flight. A full set of rocket rails is provided, as well as separately moulded 60lb rockets. Also on the sprue is a pair of bomb racks and bombs. The huge four-bladed propeller is crisply moulded, with a further four parts used to make up the hub assembly. The cockpit canopy is nice and thin and is moulded in two parts, so all of that lovely cockpit detail won't go to waste. Two options are provided on the decal sheet: Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB, No.245 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force, Germany and RAF Warmwell, Dorset, England, June-August 1945. This is the aircraft depicted on the box artwork; and Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB, No.121 Wing, Royal Air Force Holmseley South, Hampshire, England and B.5 Le Fresne-Camilly, Lower Normandy, France, June 1944. This was the aircraft flown by Wing Commander Charles Green and has invasion stripes. The decals themselves look thin and glossy, so hopefully they will prove easy to apply. Conclusion I remember that I liked this kit when it was first released, and I have to say it has aged reasonably well. Although it isn;t quite as sharp as the latest offerings from Airfix, it is well detailed, well designed and offers some interesting features, particularly the cannon bays for the wings. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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