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  1. FV221 Caernarvon British Heavy Tank (35A042) 1:35 Amusing Hobby via Albion Alloys Following WWII’s end, the Allies were a little bit obsessed with emulating the Nazi’s struggle to make bigger and more powerful AFVs, until they realised that perhaps slightly more manageable, mobile armour was more suitable. While Britain thrashed about looking for a suitable heavy tank that would lead to a number of types based on one chassis, the Conqueror came into existence, eventually leading down a dead-end and being replaced by the Chieftain in due course. An offshoot from this project was the CV221 Caernarvon, which was a Conqueror chassis that had a Centurion Mk.II turret grafted on, initially with a 17-pounder for the prototype and later with a 20-pounder main gun from a Centurion Mk.III shoehorned into it. Whether they intended this to be the Main Battle Tank or not is open to conjecture, but only one of the 17-pounder and 21 of the 20-pounders were ever made, which were named Mk.1 and Mk.2 respectively. Some of the Mk.2s were later converted back to Conquerors, which while it could never be termed a success was of more use to the army than the Caernarvons. When the Centurion was upgraded to a 105mm gun, the reason to continue with the Caernarvon must have evaporated in an instant, as it was heavier and lighter armed, leading to the cancellation of the project and the conversion back to Conquerors for many of the experimental series of hulls. The Kit This is another minor retooling of the original Conqueror Mk.I kit (35A006) with the addition of a couple of extra sprues of parts from their Centurion line, and a new decal sheet. Detail is of course good, as per the previous issues, and the new sprues from the Centurion are engineered and detailed in the same manner, so will blend in seamlessly. In the box you get ten sprues and two hull parts in a sand-coloured styrene, a bag of track-links in brown styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a bag of eight springs, a length of braided cord, small decal sheet, colour instruction booklet with painting and markings guide at the rear. Construction begins with the hull, and the suspension bogies that contain the Horstmann suspension units, which is where the real springs come in. These are contained between two end-caps, which affix to a back-plate, and if you're careful with the glue when you attach the perforated front part, you should end up with working suspension. Two pairs of road wheels and a single pair of return rollers are fixed to the axles, and held in place by hub caps that fit using friction alone, so the wheels should turn too if you don't overdo the paint. This is repeated over the eight bogies, a multi-part drive sprocket with final drive housing is installed at the rear and the adjustable idler wheels are added to the lower glacis, with an element of adjustment possible before you apply glue, which should allow you to take up any additional slack in the tracks before you finish construction. A set of small side skirts are glued along the length of the road wheel area, with tie-downs/grab-handles at either end, although it may be better to leave these off until after the tracks are fitted, and possibly until after painting. The rear bulkhead fits to the opening in the back of the hull after being decked-out with towing hooks and various small parts, after which the upper hull becomes the focus for a while. The upper hull is essentially complete save for the front glacis plate, which is the first of the new parts, having the light clusters and lifting eyes fitted, while on the rear deck a few spare track links are added on the moulded-in fenders along with the usual complement of pioneer tools with moulded-in tie-downs. The driver's deck is also installed with a hatch to be used with the hinge and vision block parts, dropping into the aperture in the hull, and leaving the hatch movable. The stowage boxes and other small parts that are sprinkled around the upper hull are also carried over from the Conqueror, with towing cables made up from the braided cord and having styrene eyes at each end. Also on the engine deck the Conqueror Mk.2 exhaust assembly is run down both sides of the area, with angled protective shrouds covering each one in place of the rather complex-looking assembly of the Mk.1. The turret is much the same as the Conqueror in terms of construction, and is made up from an upper part, two-part sides, and separate turret ring, onto which the various hatches, sensors and vision ports are affixed. Two sets of smoke grenade launchers attach to the turret sides, a communications wire reel is fitted to the port side, and the shell-ejection port is glued in place over its port. The mantlet fixes to a pair of pivots that are added to the front of the turret early on, then the single-part barrel with slide-moulded muzzle threads through the hole into the socket with a coaxial machine gun next door. The commander's fancy cupola-cum-sighting-mechanism is next, with the majority of small parts from the Mk.1, including hatch, lifting eyes, vision blocks and machine gun. The completed assembly twists into place, locking to the turret with a bayonet fitting. The final diagram shows the turret, upper hull, lower hull and track runs coming together in one fell swoop. The tracks are very nicely moulded, and are of the click-fit workable variety, which works very well indeed in this instance. The parts are moulded in pairs with a small injection manifold between them, and they are attached by only two sprue gates, with no ejector pins to deal with. Clean-up is super-simple due to the location of the gates, and the click action is quite robust, leaving you with a run of tracks in fairly short order, which is just as well as you need 98 links per side. Having seen a few rather poorly engineered track-joining methods from other major manufacturers over the years, it's refreshing to see a genuinely good track-making method from Amusing Hobby. The last job is to build the gun's travel lock that’s added to a pair of hinge-points on the rear bulkhead. Markings It's an AFV kit, so the decal sheet is the size of an over-motivated stamp, and because of the limited colour palette and lack of complexity of the designs, only five colours are used on the sheet. The two decal options have been penned by AMMO on Amusing Hobby’s behalf, but it isn’t documented where and when they served, if ever. The decals are well-printed in China, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It didn’t see much service and there weren’t many of them, but the FV 200 series do have a certain presence, especially in the flesh when you realise they’re massive. It’s an interesting divergence from the mainstream, and should be a reasonably easy build with those modeller-friendly tracks helping immensely. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  2. T-72 ‘Ural’ (35A052) 1:35 Amusing Hobby via The T-72 was the successor to the T-55 and T-64, having a larger 125mm main gun and a more reliable auto-loader that gave it an advantage over its predecessor. It was improved further by fixing some niggling problems that were initially present, and was given the name T-72 Ural. The earlier T-72s can be differentiated from the later models by their side-skirts, which are in sections with rubber between them, and they can be swung outward, leading to the nickname ‘Flipper’ side-skirts. Production began in 1973, making examples for Soviet use, as well as for export, with over a 1,000 in service with the Iraqi army for future target practice by the Allies during the Gulf War. Syria also had an eclectic batch of T-72s, some of which were the initial Ural variant and its successors. Unfortunately, back at the factory, problems with production led to delays that required substantial investments in the facilities before full volume could be reached, continuing with modifications until the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 90s. The type continued with development following the reformation of Russia as a state, and a T-72 was the basis of the much-vaunted but combustible T-90, as well as a number of other subsequent and less costly developments, with over 25,000 and counting produced, the numbers sometimes going up, sometimes going down. It's a difficult time to review a Russian tank, but we’re not going to go down that route, based on the fact that it was tooled by a Japanese company, made in China with a British Distributor, plus Czech, DDR, Syrian and Iraqi decal options. The Kit This is an additive re-tooling of a recent new tool from Amusing Hobby, and is of the full-interior variety, so the box is deep and packed with plastic, grey for the interior, green for the exterior, which is fun – if you were a beginner and wanted to build your kit without paint, you could do so, especially as the tracks are moulded in brown styrene. The box is a top-opener with a nice painting of the kit on the front, and inside are twenty-two sprues in grey, green and brown, twenty-eight ladders of track links in brown, a clear sprue, lower hull and turret top in green, plus a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE), decal sheet, a length of wire, a long coiled spring that looks like a tube from a distance, instruction booklet that has the colour painting guide in the front and rear covers that has been penned for them by the artists at AMMO. The detail is excellent, especially the interior sprues, which have some lovely textures and shapes moulded-in, such as the anti-spall lining in the turret roof, a small impeller inside the hull amongst many others, with judicious use of slide-moulding across the sprues. The tracks are also impressive, having individual links and separate track pins that can leave you with a very fancy workable track run that you don’t need to glue, thanks to its friction-fit nature. The lower hull is separate from the sprues, and has detail moulded into both sides, so there are necessarily some ejector-pin marks on the interior face, which might possibly need filling, but check the instructions to ensure you’re not wasting your time filling things that will be covered by equipment later – I suspect most if not all of them will. Like anyone else, I hate wasting precious modelling time. Construction begins with the lower hull, to which you add various suspension parts, bearings and return-rollers, plus idler-wheel axles and a three-part drive-sprocket that is held in place on the final drive housing by a long thick pin. Under the front glacis is an appliqué armour panel with fittings for the self-entrenching tool or a mine-plough. These are overlaid with hinge-points and rams in a scrap diagram, with the main drawing showing them already in-place, then it’s time to deal with the rear bulkhead. This begins as a flat panel, and has four curved brackets, some spare track-links and an unditching log, before it is attached by two lugs on the moulded-in aft bulkhead. The road wheels are made up from pairs of wheels with a central hub, as are the idlers, with twelve of the former and two of the latter. At this point two additional fuel tanks are built from a slide-moulded tubes that has the strapping moulded-in with separate end-caps. These are set to the side until the wheels are dealt with, beginning with the long torsion-bar suspension units with swing-arms and axles at the tip slid into the hull slots, plus a couple of smaller dampers toward the front, following which the idlers and road wheels are glued to the stub axles. There is a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the damper arms in relation to the main swing-arms, which should help a lot. Inserts are added at the sides of the turret ring, and also the first interior parts at the front of the lower glacis plate, which includes the initial driver controls handling the gear shifter in a quadrant with two PE gates. The next step sees the foot pedals and a detailed seat for the driver’s comfort. We’re deep into the interior now, with more controls, what looks like a drinks cooler (it isn’t) with stencil decals just behind and to the left of the driver’s station, then the hull interior sides are made up by decking out the two panels with a host of detail parts, including an instrument panel that has some decals on the sheet, and a few small PE parts, plus some ready-rounds for the big auto-feeder that’s coming soon. More ready-rounds are fitted along with some other equipment boxes, then the crew compartment skin is dropped into the lower hull along with a firewall and another group of rounds stored nose-down and moulded into their storage area. A two-part cylindrical fence for the auto-loader is slotted into the floor, then it’s time to create the auto-loader from a circular base with upstands that have castor-like wheels on every third upstand, plus a photo showing the real thing. Then you make up the shell slots, which are cylindrical, and give you a choice of HE-Frag and HEAT shells. Six of each are made up to be placed within the 22 locations around the base, including 10 empty slots, and a few more ready-rounds. The completed carousel is inserted into the space made for it, and there are a host of helpful colour splat icons throughout the build to assist with colour choices. There is a short bulkhead with a fire extinguisher strapped to it inside the engine bay, plus ancillary equipment and some very nicely detailed final drive/brake cylinders that are made up from three segments for detail, plus the end-caps that slide inside an outer casing, with one each side of the vehicle. A large circular fan and tinwork is made up around the rear bulkhead along with more ancillaries and small parts in preparation to accept the power-pack. The engine is a V-46 V12-cylinder diesel that pumps out a lot of motive power to the drivetrain, which has another photo of a real one to guide you as to how it should look in the end. The cylinder banks are each made up from four sides and the rocker cover plus a couple of small PE lifting eyes and exhaust manifold attached to each one in mirror-image. The engine block is built next with a gaggle of ancillaries at one end, then the cylinder banks are fitted into the top and joined in the central valley by the intake manifold with more ancillaries at the busy end, then a new detail insert for the blank end of the engine is constructed and joined with the main assembly. The rectangular air box has PE intake grilles added around the three-part box, and the sub-assembly is joined to the engine via its thick input trunk, and two longer hoses that run down the side of the engine and attach to new components at the front of the engine. A scrap diagram of the engine shows how it looks from the side for you to ensure that yours is set up correctly. The next assembly is a gearbox with drive-shaft that plugs into some pegs in the floor, then the engine is inserted into the bay, with a stiffening bar across the top, a couple of pots for fluids attached, and more gear added too. Each track run has 95 links, and the individual links are moulded in a tree of eight links, with three sprue gates on each one. They’re easy to nip off and clean up as they are situated on the curved edges of the link, and were very easy to remove thanks to the slightly soft plastic. The jig that you can find on each of the pin sprues has a pair of tabs that allow you to build a much longer jig from it if you like, or you can build them up in runs of eight. With the flat side up, you drop the links into the jig with the guide-horns sliding through the holes, then you cut a set of four track-pins still fixed to their sprue (imagine a four-pronged pitchfork), and push them into the pin holes in the sides of the links. These push home snugly and you can see some of the receivers discolouring with stress-marks as this happens. After they are inserted, you simply cut them off neatly, and that’s your lot. I made up a test-run of sixteen links in a few minutes using just a pair of side-cutters, a thin sanding stick and some patience (I borrowed that), and was very impressed with how easy it was to do. It makes sense to leave the sprue on the pins long to give you some room for handling them without pinging them off into the ravening maw of the evil carpet monster. It’s going to take a little time, but they’re among the best, most robust, flexible and easiest styrene tracks I’ve built. The glacis plate is a two-layer lamination with detail moulded into the inside plus a pair of fire extinguishers and other small parts added, then it’s a case of flipping it over and adding the light clusters with clear lenses and two-part cages, as well as the V-shaped bow-wash deflector. A tow cable is created from a section of the thread 8.5cm long and two styrene eyes, which is clipped to the deck on the glacis plate while the two front mudguards are being attached to the front of the fenders with styrene springs added along the way, then a pair of triangular webs are fitted between the guards and the front lip of the glacis and a series of stiffeners in styrene and PE are fixed along the length of the fenders in preparation for the additional fuel tanks, exhaust and stowage laid over it. The rear ends are finished off with more detail parts to close them over. The upper hull is formed from the forward section with the turret ring moulded in, to which equipment and vision blocks are added inside along with the driver’s hatch, then it is dropped into the hull along with three engine deck panels, which are first fitted out with mesh from the PE sheet and optional top covers. This completes the deck so that the flexible spring with wire run through the centre can be cut and glued into position to depict the hosing for the fuel tanks as per the accompanying diagram and a black & white photo from the engine deck. Another tow cable is made up from 8.5cm of cord and two more towing eyes to drape over the rear, again as per the scrap diagram. The side skirts on an early T-72 are made in part from thick flexible material and metal sections, which is depicted in the kit by new parts, with four parts per side mounted on styrene hinges. Now we’re getting there, and can finally make up the 2A46(D-81) 125mm smooth bore cannon, the breech of which is shown assembled in the first drawing as reference. It is made up from breech halves split vertically, block parts that are split horizontally and painted yellow so you can’t miss it, and a two-part sliding portion of the block, plus a myriad of smaller parts on the breech as well as the breech safety frame and coax machine gun on a mount with ammo can that fits to the right side. The gunner’s station is then constructed with optical binocular sight in front of the gunner’s framework seat. This attaches to the underside of the turret rim with a large T-shaped support, and a number of equipment boxes and mechanisms dotted around the rim. Another seat is assembled and glued to the rim, then the turret upper is started. As with most turrets, the inside is substantially smaller than the exterior because of the thickness of the armour, so the interior skin has quite a confined feel to its quilted interior, which is the comfy, insulating side of the anti-spall liner. More equipment boxes are plastered to the walls on flat-spots, and a part of the auto-loader mechanism runs up the back wall where a curved insert is used to enclosed the wall fully. A periscope is attached to the outer roof, then the two halves are joined, and a large equipment box is fixed to the bustle. The exterior is festooned with spare ammo cans, search light, and the outer part of the periscope, the round commander’s cupola and the D-shaped gunner’s hatch, both of which have handles, vision blocks and even another searchlight on the commander’s more luxurious hatch. He also gets a NSVT 12.7mm machine gun mount, which is a huge piece of equipment that is made up from a substantial number of parts, and mounts on the rear of the cupola with an ammo box, and the folding hatch. There is an intermediate stage to the auto-loader that has a stepped circular platform that prevents the turret crew from getting mashed legs, and it is filled with a large number of parts that on first inspection resembles a jumble of cylinders and boxes, plus a few ready-rounds strapped to the top – a complete trip hazard! The turret is slotted into the hull after dropping the platform on top of the lower feed mechanism of the loader, and the completed commander’s cupola with armoured upstand is also glued in place at this time. You may wonder where the barrel is, but it’s remedied in the last instruction step, with the gun tube made from two halves split horizontally, and a separate muzzle section to give it a hollow tip, then a circular bolted PE part fitted between the shroud and the barrel. A turned metal barrel would have been almost impossible due to the cooling jacket that is strapped around the gun tube, so take the time to align the halves well to minimise clean-up once the glue has set. Markings There are five decal options included in this boxing, with three at the front of the booklet and two at the rear, the latter two having more interesting camouflage options. From the box you can build one of the following: USSR DDR Czech Army Libyan Army Syrian War The decals are printed in China and are in good register with enough sharpness to get the job done, although you can see some very slight dithering here and there under 2.5x magnification. It’s all but invisible to the naked eye however. The profiles have been penned by AMMO and use their codes for the paint shades, with the names next to the swatches, and below each profile there is a suggestion list of AMMO weathering products to add a little depth and realism to the finished model if you wish. Conclusion The kit offers a substantial level of detail inside and outside in a sensible, straight-forward build that should keep you busy modelling for many an hour. A choice of different operators should give people enough options to keep them happy. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  3. 155mm Howitzer Carriage Model 1918 – Schneider (DW35023) 1:35 Das Werk When America joined the fighting in WWI during 1917, it used French-made Schneider artillery pieces to speed their entry into meaningful combat rather than develop new equipment of their own, as they weren’t confident about the home-grown artillery pieces they’d been using up until that point. They bought guns and the rights to manufacture their own based upon the blueprints provided by Schneider, which cost them a substantial sum but worked to their advantage, as after the Armistice the weapon remained in service through a the early days of WWII, and longer with other operators. The 1918 variant was changed from the original to use a flat splinter shield and pneumatic tyres to improve the carriage’s suspension over the previous unforgiving steel rims. The guns were used through the 1920s as stand-ins for a proposed 105mm medium howitzer, the project for which stalled due to apathy and a lack of funding during the interval between wars. The M1 sub-variant used air-brakes to allow it to be towed at higher road speeds without overtaking its tractor during hard braking. They saw service at the beginning of America’s part of WWII until they were superseded by the new 155 mm howitzer M1 that was substantially different from its predecessor. The 1918M1 lingered on the battlefield during the early part of the war until the production problems and shortages plaguing the replacement M1 were resolved, after which it fell out of use in US service. Great Britain used 100 of the type during the beginning of WWII, although they too were retired before too long. The longest serving guns were in use until the 1980s with Finnish forces, who have a habit of making good use of allegedly old hardware. The Kit This is an additive re-tool of Das Werk’s earlier French 155mm C17S howitzer that was released in 2021, commonly known as last year at time of writing. The older sprues have the code 35022, while the three new ones have the code for this boxing. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box with an attractive painting of the subject matter on the lid, and inside are seven sprues in grey styrene, plus two vaguely Y-shaped parts in the same colour. A small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) is found in a small Ziploc bag, a small decal sheet and the A5 portrait instruction booklet with glossy pages with coffee stains and general wear-and-tear printed-on to give it some visual interest. Detail is excellent throughout, with the tyres especially crisp and detailed, although the brand “Firestoner” might not be all that familiar… dude. It’s probably a Copyright or Trademark issue, but a careful slice and a little sanding will render it more accurate. Construction begins with the tyres, which are made up from a central hoop to which two tread hoops and two more sidewall parts are added to replicate the detailed tread of the real thing, and don’t forget to remove the R from the branding on the side before you get too far. The completed tyre is finished by adding a hub at the front, and a circular rear to the hub from the other side, and don’t forget you need two. Some ammo crates are included in the box, each one containing two rounds, and you can leave the lids of the crates off, although you might want to fill the ejector-pin marks before you build them if that’s the case. The gun barrel is made from two halves split vertically, to which a six-part breech-block is fitted to the rear later, then it is glued to a PE slide that has the edges folded up and is joined by a styrene part. The rear of the breech is made from a further three parts, and two more parts of the recoil mechanism are fitted under the barrel, with the breech block able to be fixed in open or close position, locked in place by a single pin. The elevation arc is a curved assembly with toothed edges that is built-up like a ladder with three cross-members linking the two sides together, which is attached to the underside of the cradle, which has a pair of recoil tubes added, plus a number of supports and guide rods, and a scrap diagram shows that some small parts would be opened up to service the weapon in case you are planning a diorama. The completed barrel and sled are joined to the cradle, and a PE recuperator instruction panel is folded up and glued in place on the side, with a scrap diagram showing how it should look when in place. The elevation axle has a gear on each end, and this is pressed against the teeth in the arc when it is trapped between the two sides of the trail, with the axle surround forward of a cross-member. The spade mount forms an H-shape and joins to the spade with two additional small parts, to be trapped under the trail by the frame’s floor, which also has another cross-brace inserted into the front after drilling two 0.7mm holes where indicated. The horizontal part of the spade glues to the underside of the trail, then the top section of the frame closes in another cross-brace, with two short curved parts toward the front of the frame, with the instructions advising you to test-fit them before resorting to glue. At the rear two additional parts form the basic towing hitch for the gun. The elevation gear is built from six styrene parts and one PE lever, plus a pair of long levers, and another on the opposite side with PE adjustment wheel, both assemblies having a scrap diagram to assist you with assembly. You can choose to depict your model in travel mode or ready for action by using different aft pivots for the cradle, adding a cover to the recess in the top of the trail, and four spade rotation parts, which if glued in place will stop the spade from rotating. An oval PE manufacturer’s plate is glued just forward of the spade, then the cleaning and operating tools are dotted around the sides of the trail with the T-shaped hand-spike laid flat at the rear. A three-part channel clips over the cover on top of the trail, and the aiming mechanism is finished by adding a combination of styrene and PE parts, the two PE adjustment wheels having styrene handles. An air receiver is made up from two halves and fixed to the front of the gun under the shield, which has a seven-part frame, a separate vision port cover and two individual manual brake levers on the front surface, then the axle halves are added on each side, followed by fitting the shield and the brake mechanisms so that the wheels can be slipped over the ends of the axle. Lastly, the simple towing hitch is cut off and a more detailed hitch is glued over its location. Markings The overall colour of the gun is olive drab, but three different shield colours can add a little variation to your model, one of which is plain olive drab, the other two are camouflaged. From the box you can build one of the following: The decals are printed anonymously and are suitable for this or the earlier boxing, with most of the decals plain white. The one multi-colour decal is in good register, and all decals have good colour density and sharpness. Conclusion It’s a well-detailed kit of a chunky little 155mm howitzer that saw some action in early WWII after missing most of the action in WWI. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Ju-87G1/G2 Stuka (BF-002) 1:35 Border Model via Albion Alloys The Stuka must be one of the most well-known German aircraft of WWII, partially because of its propaganda effects during the Nazis’ early successes with Blitzkrieg as they over-ran much of Europe, one after another. It was developed in the mid-30s as a dive-bomber, with distinctive gull-wing and fixed undercarriage with spatted wheels, which housed the so-called ‘Jericho Trumpet’ sirens that terrified its victims, knowing that the bombers were entering the dive phase of their attack from an almost vertical angle. The pilots would often black-out during the dive, but they were assisted by an automatic pull-out system that prevented many pilots from ploughing into the ground whilst unconscious. When they were used to attack the British Isles they experienced heavy losses due to the fact that they were preyed upon by a faster, more agile opponent, and those fighters were being accurately directed toward them by radar operated ground-control. They began to be used in conjunction with Bf.110 escorts, but even the 110s were no match, needing their own escorts against the British Spitfires and Hurricanes. Rather than withdrawing the type from service entirely, they worked upon improving the airframe, and re-tasked it for other roles in less dangerous environments where the fighter opponents were either absent or less capable than the typical Allied aircraft of the day. The initial Ju.87B that was so badly mauled by the RAF gave way to the C, the D, and finally the R, which included a pivot to the ground-attack and tank destroyer role in which it had mixed success, partly due to its relatively slow speed over the battlefield making it an easy target. It lost the ground-attack role to the Fw.190, ending production of the type at the close of 1944, by which time it was hopelessly outclassed. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from Border models from their new line of 1:35 aircraft that began with the Bf.109 that we reviewed here a while ago. It arrives in a large top-opening box, and inside are five sprues of medium grey styrene, two sprues of clear parts, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a four-part resin figure, a decal sheet, and the glossy instruction booklet, with colour profiles on the back pages that have been penned for them by AMMO. Detail is very good, and once you get over the slightly unusual scale of things, especially the pilot, who appears too tall for the scale, but that’s an optical illusion from staring at 1:32 pilot figures for years. Measuring it, the fellow scales out at approximately 5’10” ignoring the extra height of his cap. Construction begins with the Jumo 211J engine that could output up to 1,400hp on a good day, and this starts with the inverted V-12 block, which has two sides and two end-caps, with a top section added, and a V-shaped underside, plus a fluid reservoir on the top. It is bracketed by a pair of engine mounts, with another rectangular reservoir on the side of one of them, plus a drive-shaft to the front. More ancillaries are built up and mated with the engine, totalling 16 parts, plus a pair of cylinder head covers underneath. The firewall is detailed with seven extra parts, the oil-cooler is built of four styrene parts, plus two PE grilles at the rear, then the three sub-assemblies are joined together for insertion into the nose, which is made up from two halves separately from the main fuselage. When the engine is inserted, the front is closed up by a circular insert, and the exhaust stubs are slotted into the sides, each one having a slide-moulded hollow lip to add realism, and two tiny PE L-shaped parts placed in slots just in front of the radiator intake. The cockpit is begun by making up the pilot’s seat from four styrene parts and two PE belts, with the bulkhead behind it made of two more before being added to the stepped floor surface, which also has a clear view-port in the floor, control column, two-part rear seat, gun mount and rear bulkhead. A large rectangular ammo can is added to either side of the gun mount, then the two sidewalls are made up with PE and styrene parts, and glued to the inside of the fuselage halves after drilling a few holes, then trapping the cockpit between the halves along with a circular insert behind the gunner’s position. The two-part rudder with control linkages and clear light are also fitted at this time. Attention shifts to the wings, which have a separate gull-shaped centre section on the lower wing and shorter outer sections, both of which have a landing light and clear cover in the leading edge. The relocated radiators under the centre of the wings have separate inserts with PE grilles on both sides, which are glued in first then covered by the cowlings. Each wing has the period-typical Junkers flying surfaces that run the full width of the wingspan in three sections, attaching by narrow rods into slots, with additional actuators added for each part, plus a couple of horn balances on the outer section. The upper wings close over the lights, and because they overlap the joint between the lower inner and outer sections, makes for a strong joint. Wingtips, a top-side square insert, and on the port side a strange little horn that requires the drilling out of a slot outboard of the inner/outer join. In the open centre section, the lower-view glazing is added, and an un-numbered surround that supports another piece of glazing, which I eventually found on sprue C after (far too) much searching. It’s part C7 in case you wondered. The instructions also repeat the completion of the centre section along with the other wing, but it’s easy enough to ignore that. The Stuka had a large greenhouse canopy, and you have a choice of three styles of front opener, one with a straight lower rail, one with a pair of sliding windows in the middle, and another with a kinked lower rail. The windscreen has two choices, one that has simplified cheek panels, the other with an additional vertical frame, and both have an external piece of armoured glass added to the front, which is best done late in the build and possibly using a clear varnish to avoid bubbles. The fixed centre section has a roll-over frame inserted inside before it is glued in place, and the rear glazing has two styrene inserts added before the zwilling (twin) mounted MG15s are made up and slipped through the port in the rear. The barrels and breeches are a single part, with four more styrene parts making up the mount, and a pair of PE ring sights are added to a curved bar above each barrel. Behind the gun position, the EZ6 direction-finding unit receives a clear styrene cover, although it’s not clear from the profiles whether this should be left clear or painted over. The elevators have separate flying surfaces with twin actuators and a tip-mounted pivot that is made from two parts. Two of the tabs on the elevators should be removed from each of the flying surfaces before they are mated, then they attach to the fuselage by the usual slot-and-tab method. The nose is joined to the fuselage before the canopy is completed, and is joined by another section of the upper fuselage under the windscreen, which has rudder pedals and instrument panel that doesn’t mention the decal that is present on the sheet four-fold, but it’s there and you know about it now. The gunsight and clear lens are added at the front, then the sub-assembly is dropped into the space in front of the pilot. The prop has a central boss in two halves, with separate blades with keyed bases, plus front and back sections of the spinner enclosing it after attachment to the drive-shaft with a flat circular retaining plate. The fuselage and wings are also mated at this point, followed by the main gear legs, which are made wheels first, having two half tyres and two-part hubs that the strut slips over, and this is then covered over by the spatted fairing, with a separate scissor-link hidden away inside. The tail-wheel is similarly made from four parts, with a two-part yoke trapping it in place for installation under the aircraft that allows it to stand on its own “feet” for the first time. The G often carried gondola-mounted 37mm cannons under each wing, with a 6-round magazine containing armour-piercing rounds that garnered the nickname Kanonenvogel, which literally translates to Cannon Bird. The breeches are made of two halves that are surrounded by a lozenge-shaped cowling with the magazine projecting from both sides about half way. The pylons they mount on are also in halves, and have additional styrene parts and PE mounting plates added so they can be fitted under the wings in the pre-drilled holes. The final jobs involve adding the pitot probe to the starboard wing leading edge, plus optional armour panels on the sides of the pilot’s cockpit if using the simplified windscreen and kinked lower edge to the sliding canopy that protects him. The Figure Included in this first boxing is a four-part pilot figure in a greenish-grey resin. It has separate arms and head, but the rest is cast in one, with crisp casting and moulding that has no visible bubbles or defects. The head had fallen off its casting block on my example, but the chap is still smiling from under his cap, so it’s all good. The drape of his costume, features and pose are all first rate too, so it’s a welcome addition. Markings There are two decal options at the back of the instruction booklet, both wearing green splinter camouflage and a yellow tail band, and flown by the same well-known pilot. From the box you can build one of the following: Ju-87G-1, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Kursk, 1943 Ju-87G-2, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Eastern Front, Germany 1944 Decals are printed anonymously, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The dials on the instrument panels are very slightly out of register however, but it is so unlikely to be noticed that it doesn’t really matter. There are a few stencils on the sheet, and some Swastikas for the tail fin, although they are absent from the profiles at the back of the instruction booklet. Conclusion If you want to engage in this relatively new scale for aircraft, this seems like a good plan. It is well-detailed and should be simple to put together with a bit of care and attention, so should build up into a creditable replica of this genuinely iconic aircraft. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Messerschmitt Me.262 HG.III (48A003) 1:48 Amusing Hobby via Albion Alloys The Me.262 was a ground-breaking aircraft, as it was the world’s first fully operational jet-powered fighter that went into action too late to make any real difference to the outcome of WWII thanks to Hitler’s meddling (Nice one Adolf!), insisting that it was made capable of performing as a fighter-bomber, thus delaying its entry into service by around a year – a crucial period in wartime. It was an amazing leap forward in technology, able to outpace the best piston-engined fighters by around 100mph, although it wasn’t without its problems, mainly because of the engines. Due to their isolation from the metallurgical technology and supplies from the majority of the free world, the Nazis were unable to make the kind of metals that were needed to stand up to the rigors and heat of burning jet fuel for more than a short period, which meant that the engines were effectively ruined within a few hundred hours of use. The Junkers Jumo 004 engines were the more advanced axial-flow type, but they were slow to spool up and down, which made the aircraft vulnerable to attack during take-off or landing, which resulted in a lot of losses once the Allies caught on. Add to that the weakness of the nose gear to this early tricycle design, and it was far from perfect. As with all technology, the next version is underway before the original has even reached completion, and the 262 was no exception. A streamlined canopy option was mooted initially, and that became known as the Hochgeschwindigkeit I or HG.I. Another variant was to have a greater sweep to the wings at 35o and closer-set engine nacelles, with a V-tail that turned out to be an aerodynamic faux pas. A further design had a greater sweep still at 45o and two of the more advanced Heinkel HeS 011 engine in semi-conformal nacelles buried in the wing root, but the war ended before that got further than the drawing board. Some of the DNA of the HG.III may well be found in subsequent designs in early US, British or Soviet jet aviation. The Kit Anyone that knows me will also know that I have a bit of a thing for Me.262s, so when I saw this one in the Rumourmonger area of the site, I was very happy and you can probably see my excited comment there if you care to have a look – feel free to roll your eyes. Amusing Hobby specialise in models of unusual types, whether it’s armour or aircraft, and this is their third venture into aviation, which makes me very happy they have. The kit arrives in a slim top-opening box, and inside are two large sprues in sand-coloured styrene, a clear sprue, decal sheet and the glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the rear for the markings options. Two sprues may seem a little light for a 1:48 jet fighter, but because of the design of the HG.III, the blended forward fuselage, nacelles and wings take up only two parts, with another two for the aft section of the fuselage. This cuts down on the part-count substantially, as does some nice moulding of the cockpit and the nose gear bay. Construction begins with the lower fuselage for a change, into which you add the long nose gear bay, after deciding whether the deeply hidden ejector-pin mark in the very depths of the bay is worth hiding. Speaking personally, I will be putting a tiny shim of plastic over the complete roof of the bay to make sure it’s never seen again. A central spine is inserted onto three turrets running from the nose gear bay to the aft of the main gear bays, forming the centreline of the latter. From the outside the gear leg, its retraction jack and captive door are added to the front, and nearer the rear a side-opening door with its own retractor is fixed, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the jack. The nose wheel is a two-part assembly with radial tread and a separate inner hub, just like those in the standard 262. The tapering intakes are made from top and bottom halves, and these are slipped inside a bulkhead with half-circular cut-outs, then the assembly is dropped into the lower fuselage on a number of receiver turrets. At the rear of the engine trunking, the rear fan and bullet fairings are slotted into place in the exhaust trunking in preparation for the centre section that will be visible through the main gear bay openings. The centre section has a pair of oddly-shaped sort-of figure-of-eight bulkheads that are spaced apart by two sets of trunking, which comprise a series of stepped cylinders. A pair of jacks are set diagonally between the two bulkheads before it is inserted into the lower fuselage ready for closure. The cockpit finally gets some attention, based upon a familiar cylindrical part that bears a close resemblance to the original 262 cockpit, into which the seat, control column and rudder pedals are mounted, with a fuse box on the right side and the main instrument panel lowered into a slot in the sidewalls with a clear gunsight on a rod mount passing through a notch in the top of the panel. Given the relatively low part-count for the cockpit, detail is good, with excellent raised and etched dials on the panel and side consoles. If you wanted to add more detail however, it’s entirely probable that existing Me.262 aftermarket will fit due to the similarities between it and the standard cockpit. The completed assembly is inserted into the upper fuselage, then the two halves are joined together, with a chunk of weight added to the space in the nose, although you aren’t given a value to help you work it out. The D/F loop and pitot probe are glued into position at this point, but I’ll be leaving them off until after painting. The canopy is sadly a single part, and fits into the recess over the cockpit, with a portion of the fuselage moulded into the front of the windscreen for ease of merging it with the rest of the fuselage. My example had a few small scratches on the surface, but they will probably disappear after a coat of Klear, and incidentally it’s the streamlined canopy, not the standard comparatively upright version. Underneath, the main gear legs are inserted into a pair of sockets moulded into the upper fuselage, and both have a two-part wheels with diamond tread fixed to the axles, and a half-circular bay door with jack, and a triangular rear bay door, with an antenna just behind the bays. A scrap diagram shows the correct angles from the front to assist you in placing them. The aft fuselage is split vertically, and has the elevators fixed to slots in the tail, then the completed assembly is mated with a stepped lip at the rear of the forward fuselage. I would leave the elevators off until after the fuselage is joined to ensure that they are set perfectly square with the wings, but that’s just me being cautious. I couldn’t resist nipping a few of the major parts off the sprues and taping them together after completing the review. Fit is excellent without glue, and the canopy slots into place perfectly, so probably won’t need any remedial work if you’re careful with the glue. The join between the front and aft fuselage is cleverly stepped for strength, and the elevators have one or two tabs to ensure the correct one is installed. It’s surprisingly large! Markings The HG.III was a paper project so it’s unlikely that anyone got as far as designing a camouflage scheme specifically for it, so the world is your lobster when it comes to markings. In sensible mode, extrapolating existing late war schemes would be a sensible move, but no-one can argue even if you painted it sky blue pink with purple spots, although they may question your sanity in private. There are two decal options included on the sheet, with profiles provided by AMMO, and using their colour codes to identify the shades. From the box you can build one of the following: Decals have never been the strongest part of Amusing Hobby’s offerings, but this sheet seems well-printed apart from a slight smudge on one of the E3 decals, with a matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The supplied Swastikas are in dog-leg halves, and they seem a little large to my untrained eye. The white ones with black outlines will need a little of the black outline cutting away if used, but the black with white outline markings correctly have a gap in the white outline where they will overlap. I’ll be using some of my Xtradecal Swastikas when I build mine for my own ease. Conclusion Hopefully, all those that would pooh-pooh this release because it “never existed” have given up reading by now, and I sometimes wonder how they cope when they’re watching fictional movies, Sci-Fi or other non-existent things. It’s an injection moulded Me.262 HG.III, which I thought we’d never see in my lifetime, so there’s a lot to be happy about. The detail that is provided is good, but if you’re a detail fiend you might hold off your build until someone has created detail sets for the landing gear bays, which could be seen as a little simplified to some, although little will be seen once it’s in the cabinet. External detail is excellent however, with rivets and raised details over the entire surface. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  6. IDF Shot Kal w/Gimel (35A032) 1:35 Amusing Hobby via Albion Alloys No-one that is familiar with WWII British armour could say with hand on heart that the tanks fielded were adequate for the task in hand, and sometimes they were barely adequate to even be used in battle. The War Office was painfully aware of the fact, which can be partly laid at the door of inadequate development and funding in the approach to the war, but by 1943 work had begun to rectifying this lapse in quality. What became known as the Centurion was on the drawing board and in development during the last two years of the war, and the initial instances rolled off the production line while the guns were still firing during January of 1945. They took the suspension of the lacklustre Comet, extended it with an extra wheel-set and also widened it, using Horstmann suspension for practicality’s sake, even though its ride was inferior to the bulkier Christie type. It was outfitted with sloped armour that was best-in-class, and at outset it used the Rolls Royce Meteor engine, which was both capable and well-known by that point. Initial production used the 17-pounder gun that had transformed the Sherman into the Firefly, which was capable of taking out a Tiger at a reasonable distance. The Mark II followed quickly with increased performance and armour, again replaced by the Mk.III that was a major update with gun stabilisation giving the crew the capability of firing the new 20 pounder gun accurately on the move, accelerating the removal of the Mk.I and Mk.IIs from service due to its massive improvement over its forebears. The Mk.V used the even more capable L7 gun that kept it ahead of most tanks of its day, a weapon that saw long service wherever it was used. Overseas sales of the type were excellent, with a large number of operators, some of whom used them for an extensive period, such as Israel, who named the initial batch Sho’t, which translates to Whip in English. With the capture of enemy tanks during the 60s, the Israelis had over 300 on hand, which they began upgrading in their usual manner to extend their lifespan and improve crew survivability. With a new engine and transmission that required a raised engine deck, and a new armour pack from the Mk.13, the name was changed to Sho’t Kal, with a further suffix depending on what upgrades the type carried. The Gimel received a new turret rotation mechanism, Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) package, and a new cupola for the commander, keeping it at the top of the AFV tree in its area of operation. The gradual drawdown of the Sho’t Kal began before 1990, with most of the survivors re-engineered to be used as Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) such as the Puma or Nagmachon, and Combat Engineering Vehicles that extended their usefulness long beyond that anticipated by the original designers. The Kit This is a substantial additive re-tool of the original Centurion/FV4005 kit from Amusing Hobby from recent times, adding four more sprues to the box. The kit arrives in a sturdy top-opening box with an appealing painting of the subject matter on the top, and inside are fifteen sprues and one hull part in sand-coloured styrene, a bag of 210+ (I lost count) individual track links in brown styrene, a single round clear part (not pictured), a bag of six brass springs, a length of braided thread, a new fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a small decal sheet and an instruction booklet in portrait A4 format. Detail is up to the standards we’ve come to expect from Amusing Hobby, and the new parts include a replacement engine deck, the mantlet and corrugated blast-bag, and the additional stowage basket on the rear of the turret. Construction begins with the assembly of the bogies that are built around the six metal springs to give the suspension arms some real travel, providing you keep the glue away from the pivot points. There are three of these each side of the large hull tub, and each one carries four wheels in pairs on two axles each, held onto the axles with a central hub cap. The tracks are wide, so the return rollers sit on projecting bases, and long stand-off brackets are added to support the side skirts later in the build. The huge final drive housing is layered up and topped with a toothed drive sprocket and a small roller that is probably there to prevent track shedding during turns, as seen on the WWII Panther. At the front is the idler wheel on an armoured axle that pivots to give good track tension once you have made them up and wrapped them around the road wheels. The tracks are supplied free of any sprues and quite free of clean-up, especially if you are planning on dirtying them up later, so you can just start making them up there and then. Each side uses 102 links, and as they snap-together they shouldn’t take too long to assemble, which is nice. I put together 12 links in a few minutes, and they do remain workable, although they aren’t as mobile as they perhaps could be under ideal circumstances. You might get the occasional one coming adrift, but in general they should be fairly easy to fit, and if you want to freeze them in place once you have them installed, a dab of glue to each link will do the trick, leaving you free to handle them more roughly during the painting and weathering process. Both runs of links are applied to the vehicles with the traction bar on each link to the rear, so ensure you test-fit them properly before you put them in for the final time. A number of spare track links are fitted to the rear bulkhead with more towing eyes and the infantry telephone box, separated by an insert. A number of PE stiffening plates are added to the sloped lower bulkhead, which have large bolts etched in. The new engine deck has PE plates fixed to it and a hole bored from inside, as does the glacis plate, the driver's glacis panel and the turret ring section. The driver’s clamshell hatch has a pair of vision blocks with armoured housings added to their front, with some small curved parts added from PE along the way. The glacis plate has the front fenders moulded into it, and this is outfitted with ERA blocks and a few small PE parts during installation plus fender extensions, completing the basic hull. The fenders have some holes drilled and some small sections removed, as do some of the small parts that add detail, and create the detailed stowage boxes on top of them. The detail level is then increased further with more boxes than other boxings, supports and a selection of pioneer tools, with more PE parts being added to some of the boxes here and there. The engine deck has a pair of exhaust pipes with separate PE flappers added, and a large number of grab handles and other small parts, plus the travel-lock for the barrel. At the front, more ERA blocks are dotted around, some on top of stowage boxes, a pair of front light clusters behind protective frames, attaching to the ram, and the sturdy arrow-head ram with a spare road wheel bolted to the top. The side-skirts are glued into place with the fenders, and the two towing cables are made up from styrene eyes with two lengths of braided cord of 12cm running between them, with a scrap diagram showing how they should be attached and laid over the rear of the vehicle. Now for the turret. It is built on a floor surround, which has the turret ring cut out, and has the two sides and the roof wrapped around it, trapping the highly-detailed covered mantlet and its coax machine gun in place, allowing it to elevate if you keep the glue off the pivot pegs. Some holes are drilled and filled in the roof, then the prominent angular stowage boxes are added to the sides along with aerial bases, and ERA blocks under the stowage boxes. The commander’s cupola and search light fit into the hole in the roof with armoured covers over the vision blocks, then uzi SMGs on racks, additional ammo boxes, barrel cleaning rods and other small assemblies are scattered around the top and sides of the turret. More ERA blocks are fixed to the sloped forward section of the turret roof, and the mantlet is first decked out with brackets to mount the ERA blocks that fix either side of the main gun. The grenade launcher boxes are detailed assemblies that are handed, and attach to the front corners of the turret on brackets with more ERA blocks. The two crew machine guns are made up and fixed to their brackets on the two hatches, and a large boxy search light is created using the single clear lens and a number of detail parts, to be attached at the root of the barrel later on. The rear bustle framework is first made from a number of fine tubular parts, then wrapped with PE mesh and has additional fuel cans affixed. It is glued to the turret rear, which has a pair of circular PE parts glued to the underside, then it is flipped over for making up the main gun. The gun tube is made of three parts, all of which are keyed to ensure the correct orientation, with the corrugated sleeve, tubular fume extractor and tapering muzzle sections, all of which are hollow-tipped, thanks in part to sliding moulds. You can now choose to use the searchlight or a remote .50cal M2 Browning machine gun over the barrel shroud, making up the latter from a good number of parts and a hollow barrel thanks to another sliding mould. If you are using the MG on the barrel, the searchlight is stowed on the back of the turret next to the indigenous rear basket, or if you choose to employ it, the empty bracket is shown installed in place on the rear. Pop the turret on the hull and that’s the gluey part over with. Markings There are decals for two vehicles supplied that wear one paint scheme, and it’s IDF sand grey. From the box you can depict this: The decals are printed in-house and are perfectly adequate for the task in black and white. Conclusion Another substantial investment in an additive tooling from Amusing Hobby, and it should build into an attractive model. Anyone wanting to depict the history of the Centurion or with an interest in IDF hardware should get a lot out of this boxing. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Swedish Strv-104 (35A043) 1:35 Amusing Hobby via Albion Alloys Following WWII, Sweden assessed their defensive arsenal and reached the conclusion that they needed to re-equip with more modern tanks, so they went on the prowl for a suitable vehicle to defend their country. Having seen the technical and developmental promise of the new British Centurion, they made advances to the British Government, and were initially rebuffed in favour of equipping the British Army first. It occurred to someone along the British chain of command that a big influx of cash into the war weakened coffers would be welcome, so minds were changed and an offer of 80 of the much-improved Mk.3s was made, arriving in Sweden in the early 50s. Further orders followed, ending with an order of over 100 Mk.10s that served alongside their indigenous and ingenious (not to mention unusual) S-Tank (Strv-103) for many years under the name Strv-101. In the early 80s the Swedish engineers began a midlife upgrade programme that would help extend the life of the type further, in line with their original feelings on the capabilities of the basic hull. The gun was better stabilised and jacketed to keep the barrel cool, the engine and transmission were updated, and the whole electronics package was upgraded to modern standards, including the fitting of night-vision optics amongst other improvements such as laser range-finding and targeting. The armour was also modernised to include appliqué Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) packages around the front of the hull and its turret to counter the ever-improving penetrative capabilities of projectiles at the time. This variant was given the name Strv-104, leapfrogging the S-tank by one. Both types were withdrawn from service at about the same time in the later 1990s after the Swedish military made comparison trials with modern types that found the 104 wanting in enough areas to warrant replacement. The German Leopard 2 was their final choice, entering Swedish service as the Strv-121, and later as the improved Strv-122. The Kit This is a substantial additive re-tool of the original Centurion/FV4005 kit from Amusing Hobby from recent times, adding two more sprues to the box and nipping off the original smooth exterior barrel from one of the existing ones. The kit arrives in a sturdy top-opening box with an appealing painting of the subject matter on the top, and inside are twelve sprues and one hull part in sand-coloured styrene, a bag of 210+ (I lost count) individual track links in brown styrene, a bag of six brass springs, a length of braided thread, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a small decal sheet and an instruction booklet in portrait A4 format. Detail is up to the standards we’ve come to expect from Amusing Hobby, and the new parts include a replacement engine deck, the cooling-jacket wrapped barrel that uses slide-moulding to achieve the details, and the angular ERA blocks for the front of the vehicle. Construction begins with the assembly of the bogies that are built around the six metal springs to give the suspension arms some real travel, providing you keep the glue away from the pivot points. There are three of these each side of the large hull tub, and each one carries four wheels in pairs on two axles each, held onto the axles with a central hub cap. The tracks are wide, so the return rollers sit on projecting bases, and long stand-off brackets are added to support the side skirts later in the build. The huge final drive housing is layered up and topped with a toothed drive sprocket and a small roller that is probably there to prevent track shedding during turns, as seen on the WWII Panther. At the front is the idler wheel on an axle that pivots to give good track tension once you have made them up and wrapped them around the road wheels. The tracks are supplied free of any sprues and quite free of clean-up, especially if you are planning on dirtying them up later, so you can just start making them up there and then. Each side uses 102 links, and as they snap-together they shouldn’t take too long to assemble, which is nice. I put together 12 links in a few minutes, and they do remain workable, although they aren’t as mobile as they perhaps could be under ideal circumstances. You might get the occasional one coming adrift, but in general they should be fairly easy to fit, and if you want to freeze them in place once you have them installed, a dab of glue to each link will do the trick, leaving you free to handle them more roughly during the painting and weathering process. Both runs of links are applied to the vehicles with the traction bar on each link to the rear, so ensure you test-fit them properly before you put them in for the final time. The rear bulkhead needs a little adaptation for this boxing, moving the towing eyes to the top of the raised locating marks, then removing the unused section and smoothing it back down. A number of spare track links are fitted to the top section of the bulkhead with more towing eyes and the infantry telephone box, separated by an insert. Two small marks on each side of the lower hull are also removed and made good during installation of the bulkhead. The new engine deck has a hole bored from inside, as does the glacis plate, the driver's glacis panel and the turret ring section, then the exterior of the engine deck has a dozen small pips removed from the centre of the deck as it is fitted along with the other parts to the top of the hull. The driver’s clamshell hatch has a pair of vision blocks with armoured housings added to their front, with some small curved parts added from PE along the way. The glacis plate has the front fenders moulded into it, and this is outfitted with ERA blocks and a few small PE parts during installation, completing the basic hull. The fenders have some holes drilled and some small sections removed, as do some of the small parts that add detail, and create the stowage boxes on top of them. The detail level is then increased further with more boxes, supports and a selection of pioneer tools, with more PE parts being added to some of the boxes here and there. The side-skirts are glued into place with the fenders, after cutting out the foot-holes at the front and rear, which are marked and pre-thinned from the inside to help you out. The hull is finished off by fitting a number of additional fill-in ERA blocks, the front light clusters with protective cages, and other small parts. At the rear the engine deck is detailed with a number of small parts and a protective bumper around the rear of the turret, with a scrap diagram showing how it should look from above. Now for the turret. It is built on a floor panel, which has the turret ring cut out, and has the two sides and the roof wrapped around it, trapping the two-part mantlet in place, allowing it to elevate if you keep the glue off the pivot pegs. Some holes are drilled and filled in the roof, then the prominent angular stowage boxes are added to the sides along with spare smoke grenades, their launchers, aerials, and of course the tapered ERA blocks on the mantlet, which attach via brackets and have a number of bolt-heads applied around the edges from the shaped section of sprue L. The commander’s cupola and binocular sighting glasses fit into the hole in the roof with armoured covers over the vision blocks, then a few more spare track links on PE brackets on the rear corner facets, the commander’s machine gun on a relaxed mount, and the main gun are all glued in place to complete the turret. The gun tube is made of three parts, all of which are keyed to ensure the correct orientation, with the sleeve, fume extractor and muzzle sections, all of which are hollow-tipped, thanks in part to sliding moulds. The smooth sided bore evacuator is left over from the earlier boxings, while the other two barrel segments have the texture of the cooling jacket with its attachment belts moulded into the styrene, giving a realistic look. Pop the turret on the hull and that’s the gluey part over with. Markings There’s only one markings option supplied and one paint scheme, as that’s what they wore. It’s the Swedish splinter pattern, and it makes anything look good. From the box you can depict this: Decals are printed in China and up to the task. There aren’t many of them, so there’s not much to say. Conclusion It has taken some investment by Amusing Hobby to tool the new parts for this slightly niche option, so it’s good to see a kit that allows you to make an Strv-104 from the box in good-old-fashioned styrene, with a little bit of PE to give you some in-scale thickness parts where sensible. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Marcel-Block MB.151 (DW48039 & DW72030) Foreign Service Greece & Luftwaffe 1:48 & 1:72 Dora Wings via Albion Alloys The MB.150 was a design for a modern metal monoplane from the Bloch company and began life in 1934, reaching prototype stage, only to find that it wasn’t what the designers had hoped, so they went back to the drawing board and came up with the MB.151, which was very similar to the original, but improved enough to give it the potential for entering service with the French Air Force, Armée de l'Air. Although the 151 was better, it still wasn’t what was needed, and development continued with the MB.152 running in parallel with the 151, as well as other options that were considering US developed Twin Wasp and Cyclone engines, but neither of these variants reached fruition. One option that involved mounting a much more powerful Gnome-Rhône 14R-4 engine showed much promise, but it came too late to do the French any good, and it was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid after the Armistice. The 151 was ordered into production in small quantities along with the 152, and a number of them were in service for conflict by the time WWII began, although many of the 151s weren’t considered combat ready, having some quite important parts missing, such as the 20mm guns or props. As the 151 entered service in a less-than-desirable condition, it was an unknown quantity that soon became known, but not in a good way. In combat it was found to be too slow to cope with the Bf.109, and even struggled to keep up with the twin-engined Bf.110, which itself was no longer state-of-the-art. They suffered heavy losses when involved in fighter-to-fighter engagements, although they were more than capable of tackling the bombers, as 20mm cannons make large holes. Fortunately, the airframe was able to take damage and remain airborne, which probably saved a few lives, but not many. The remaining airframes of both the 151 and the superior 152 were taken by the Luftwaffe after the fall of France, finding their way into pressed service with the Germans, although hypocritically the German high command forced the Vichy Air Force to standardise on one type, the Dewoitine D.520 under their control. before the fall, Greece had ordered a small number of 151s, but only received a handful, barely enough to equip a squadron, which fought bravely against the Axis until they were all shot down. In total there were under 150 of the MB.151, with almost 500 of the MB.152. The Kit (DW48039) 1:48 This is a reboxing of the original kit of 2019 vintage, and arrives in a smallish top-opening box with eight sprues of grey styrene, one of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a sheet of vinyl masks (not pictured), a single resin part, decal sheet and A5 portrait instruction booklet with spot colour. Detail is good, and it’s a comprehensive package that should be buildable without aftermarket for most, which makes it highly cost-effective. Construction begins with the cockpit, which is built on a flat floor and includes a PE seat frame and rear, plus a styrene cushion, control column, controls and forward bulkhead, plus sundry parts affixed to the floor. A set of PE seatbelts are provided, then it is put to one side while you build the prop with two-part spinner, the tail fin with separate rudder, and the Gnome-Rhône 14N-35 radial engine, which has two banks of pistons, wiring harness in PE and bell-housing into which a drive-shaft is glued, which after painting is enclosed in a three-part cowling, rear bulkhead and intake insert in the lower edge. In true “instructions written by a modeller” style, other sub-assemblies are created, such as the elevators with separate control surfaces and the main gear legs, which have two-part wheels and captive bay door covers, plus a retraction jack each. Closing of the fuselage involves detailing the cockpit sidewalls with small parts, adding an insert for the antenna base, and attaching the wing root fairings to the rectangular cut-outs in the fuselage halves. The cockpit is inserted into the fuselage after adding a horseshoe-shaped instrument panel and gun sight, with the vertical parts moulded into the bulkhead installed earlier. The moulded-in detail is good, and is improved by a pair of decals on the sheet, although the wrong decal numbers are given, but if you can’t figure out which decal goes where, you should arrange to see your doctor as a matter of some urgency! The lower wings are unusually supplied in three parts with a butt-joint between the centre and outer sections. There is a spar section to help you achieve the correct dihedral however, and this has end-caps with one resin and one styrene part – I’m guessing someone forgot they needed two! Additional parts close in the main gear bays, then the upper wing halves can be glued in place, followed by the ailerons and the clear wingtips and landing light in the port leading edge. The fuselage and wings are joined at the same time as the three tail fins, and the engine in its cowling is offered up to the front. A trio of scrap diagrams show the correct orientation of the lumps and bumps on the cowling, and notes that there is a slight downward tilt to the thrust-line when fitted correctly, so don’t fret if it looks a bit droopy when you glue it on. The canopy is two part, although you would have to cut the aft section to pose the canopy open, which is a shame. There is also a spare windscreen part on the clear sprue, and it’s the one with the hole in the front that you need, through which the pilot will be able to see the three-part ring and bead sight on its fittings if he can stop his eyes from watering. Inside the rear of the canopy is a deck that has a PE piece of head armour attached to its front, so remember to put that in the paint rotation and install it before you close the canopy over. The final step involves detailing the underside of the aircraft with landing gear, oil cooler, a flush-fitting aerial, the tail wheel and two supports for the elevators. The Kit (DW72030) 1:72 Given the fact that the 1:48 kit is half as large again as this kit, this one arrives in a smaller box, and contains four sprues of darker grey styrene, one of clear parts, a sheet of canopy masks (not pictured), a PE fret and a set of decals, plus the instruction booklet in A5 portrait format, printed in spot colour. The part count is lower of course, but the detail is still good, bringing almost everything that’s in the 1:48 to this smaller scale, just with fewer parts. Construction starts with the seat, which is completely styrene comprising five parts, and this joins to the cockpit floor along with the controls and a set of PE seatbelts for the pilot. The front bulkhead and horseshoe-shaped instrument panel are coupled together and have decals plus a gunsight with PE surround. It is glued as a unit to the cockpit floor along with various detail parts, more of which are attached to the interior of the fuselage, after which you can close up the fuselage, adding the antenna base behind the cockpit, the deck behind the pilot’s seat, and a partial bulkhead that forms part of the main gear bay. The lower wings are a single part with a spar that has end-caps forming the outer ends of the bays, and a divider between the two sections. The upper wings are glued over the top, then the assembly is joined to the fuselage, which has the wing root fairings moulded-in. The engine has a lower parts count, but still represents both banks of cylinders, with a slightly simplified bell housing at the front. The block is attached to a bulkhead, ready to be surrounded by the three-part cowling, with the lower intake section and a drive-shaft inserted into the bell housing. The prop is a single part with two-part spinner, and like its larger sibling, the landing gear is made up from two-part wheels, strut with retraction jack and captive bay door. The tail feathers give you the choice of posable rudder and a tip extension to the fin, but the elevators are single parts, each moulded with their flying surfaces integral, and the supports added underneath later. The PE head armour is attached to the front of the deck in the cockpit, the droopy engine cowling is glued in place, and the canopy with holey windscreen plus antenna are all put in place alongside the wingtip and landing light clear parts and pitot probe. The prop is slotted into the engine, then the gear, the oil cooler and small PE parts are inserted into the underside. The gunsight is just as well detailed as the larger kit, and is still made from PE for detail. Markings There are four identical options on the decal sheet in both scales, two each of captured German airframes, and Greek aircraft, all wearing similar three-tone grey/green/brown camouflage, while one of the Greek aircraft has black theatre markings on its lower wings. From the box you can build one of the following: CQ+OF Luftwaffe FFC A/B116 Neudorf-Oppeln, winter 1940-41 24 Sqn., Elefsina 1939-41, Royal Hellenic Air Force 24 Sqn., Elefsina 1939-41, Royal Hellenic Air Force Luftwaffe captured aircraft in 1940 Decals 1:48 Decals 1:72 Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Not the most stellar performing fighter in the French WWII arsenal, but a really nice model of the type with plenty of detail in both scales, and who doesn’t like a kit with canopy masks included? Something a little different for the cabinet too. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops while stocks last. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Vultee Vengeance Mk.II (DW48044) 1:48 Dora Wings The A-31 Vultee Vengeance was designed and built for a French order that couldn’t be fulfilled due to Nazis overrunning the country before any deliveries could begin. The British government became interested in the design and placed an order for up to 300 airframes, by which time the aircraft had garnered the name Vengeance. It’s unusual wing design that looked like a diving bird had a 0o angle of incidence that made for an accurate dive with no lift from the wings to draw it off course. After America joined the war the type was investigated for their own use and given the number A-35 for their own and export use. Changes to the wing made it a little less accurate, but gave the pilots a better field of view, and an uprated engine gave it a bit more power. By the time the Vengeance reached British service, the losses taken by the Stukas that it had been designed to emulate gave them pause for thought, and they weren’t allocated to the European Theatre of Operation (ETO), but were instead sent to India and Burma initially, although they were later phased out in favour of more capable machines before the war’s end. They eventually found their way to an anti-malarial spraying job, as mosquitos and the malarial plague they brought with them was taking a toll on troops and locals alike. Many of them finished their days as target tugs after being stripped of their weapons. Australia made a larger order and they found them to be much the same as the British did, seeing most of them out of service late in 1944, although a few lingered for a while. The Mk.II that is the subject of this kit was a slightly improved version of the original Mk.I, with just over 500 made. The Kit This is a new tool from Dora Wings of this peculiar beast that looks more like a creature than most. We’ve not been too well-served in 1:48 before now, and with the crisis in Dora’s home country right now, it may be hard to get hold of one for a while, although please check the bottom of the review for information. Nuff said about that now. It’s brand new, and thoroughly modern, with just a hint of short-run remaining, but they really have come on in leaps and bounds since their first kit that was not-so-very-long ago. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are ten rectangular sprues in a greenish-grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, two frets of Photo-Etch (PE), a sheet of pre-cut vinyl masks (not pictured), two decal sheets of varying sizes, and the instruction booklet. It’s a comprehensive package, and there’s plenty of PE to help you get some serious detail into your Vengeance. Examining the sprues, there has clearly been a lot of effort expended in creating this tooling, as detail is everywhere, and it’s good quality stuff with engraved panel lines and some raised panels giving it a professional finish. All it lacks is the fine rivets that are starting to appear on some companies’ products now. Construction begins with the cockpit, which is of a larger size due to it having two crew members. The pilot’s instrument panel is a well-detailed arrangement of a PE detail part over a decal on a styrene backing, which has more styrene, PE parts and another decal added along with an angled wrap-around section, and a pair of styrene rudder pedals suspended from the rear of the console. A compass with decal fits to the right diagonal section on a PE bracket, then the floor and bulkheads are made, which doubles as the roof of the bomb bay, as is common. Two seats are built from individual sections and have PE four-point belts included for the pilot only. He also gets PE head armour and a styrene head rest on the bulkhead behind him, and a pair of side consoles that are built up in the same detailed manner as the instrument panel. The pilot’s seat is fixed to the floor on a ladder frame in front of the bulkhead and is hemmed in by the addition of the instrument panel at that point. The gunner has a complex suspension mount for his seat that mounts on the circular section of floor with some additional parts around the area. The fuselage halves have a large area of ribbing engraved into the interior that covers the cockpit and bomb bay, and is further detailed by addition of various PE and styrene parts before it is put to one side while the cockpit/bomb bay are finished off. The rear section of bulkhead is built up with PE and styrene (it’s a theme of this kit), creating the base for the mount of the twin machine guns that are made later. A radio box is also put together for later. The bomb bay can be modelled open or closed, but it would be a shame to close up the doors on all that detail. The instructions allow you to do that though, as it’s your model after all. Steps 21-29 cover the bombs with PE fins, a reservoir tank of some kind, the door mechanisms, plus adding constructional beams to detail up the bay to an excellent level. The tail wheel is also made up now with more detail, and this level of effort also extends to the twin .50cals on their mount, with sighting and bullet-shield parts, plus the twin-spade grips for those dakka-dakka moments. That’s your laundry list of assemblies complete, after which you can close up the fuselage halves on the cockpit and tail wheel assemblies, adding two more detail parts in the area behind the gunner. The top of the fuselage is open forward of the cockpit, which is rectified by adding the insert and forward bulkhead to the front, and an A-frame roll-over bar between the two crew. Attention then turns to the big radial engine up front. The Vengeance Mk.II was powered by a Wright Cyclone R-2600-19, with twin banks of pistons all present on this model. Work begins with the front bell-housing and ancillaries, which has a drive-shaft for the prop pushed through the front and held in place by a washer at the rear. Each bank of cylinders is made from front and rear halves, with a star of push-rods and wiring harness added to the front, capped off with the bell-housing. Its exhaust stubs are each made of two halves for fitting to the model, one per side. The engine assembly is attached to the front of the fuselage ready for its cowling later. The oddest part of the Vengeance are the wings. Before they are closed up, the main bay walls are added to the upper wing, which has the roof detail moulded-in, augmented by some superb PE ribbing, plus some additional detail added to the front walls. As the two wing halves are brought together, an insert is fixed into the trailing edge that has a curved outer edge to accept the flying surfaces. Two of these are made up, and joined by three flying surfaces with an additional pivot point fixed into the wing as you go along. This gives you plenty of leeway for posing these parts to your whim. The forward section of the main gear bays are built up with three additional parts too. If you’ve opted to open the bomb bay, the two bombs are attached to their Y-shaped yokes and laid flat in the bay, then the wings and the angular elevator fin are fixed in place along with the rear gun and radio box in the cockpit. It’s looking like an aircraft now, and the transformation continues as you make up the cowling from two main halves and lip parts, into which a number of detail parts are inserted to build up the shape of the lower intake trunking. Care here will reduce any hiding of seams later, which is always nice. The cooling flaps are separated into sections, and are made from PE parts to give them an in-scale look from the rear. The festival of PE parts extends to the dive-spoilers, which are able to be posed deployed with PE supports, and should look pretty realistic once painted. The elevators are rudder are all separate assemblies that can again be posed deflected at your whim. The canopy is a large goldfish bowl with plenty of frames to terrify the masking averse, but they needn’t worry, as Dora have included a set of vinyl masks in translucent grey, and pre-cut for your convenience. There are five canopy segments, beginning with the windscreen and working back to the gunner’s windows, all of which are slender and clear within the limits of injection moulding. There is a short vertical aerial on the centre section, which should be rigged with a fine line to the forward tip of the rudder fin, which is visible on the box art to assist you in getting it right. The main gear is similar to many American dive bombers, consisting of a straight, thick leg with PE oleo-scissors and detail parts, and a captive “spat” at the bottom of the leg that is a lot less usual. Four small side bay doors are also included with PE openers, and throughout the various bays, detail is good. The legs are fixed into the bays with a retraction jack added behind in a fairly complex step that also included the lower dive-spoilers and the bomb bay doors. If you’re closing up the doors, there is a single part for you to us, but leaving them open you have four parts, two per side, as the doors fold-up into a sharp V-shape at each side of the bay. A small outlet is inserted into a slot in front of the bay, and at the rear of the aircraft the tail bay door is propped up against the leg. The propeller is made from individual blades that are fixed into a central boss and locked into place with the front section that also has the spinner moulded-in. Pop the pitot probe under the right wing, and fit two circular landing lights into their recesses under box wings, and that’s it done. Markings There are a generous four decal options on the sheet, although they’re all wearing the same basic camouflage scheme, with sky blue undersides, differentiating by their codes and lettering styles, plus two of them wearing a bright white tail section. From the box you can build one of the following: A27-220 GR-A Mustafa, 24 Sqn., Nadzab, 1944 A27-240 GR-E Salome, 24 Sqn., Tivoli Girls, 1944 A27-200 NH-A Ye Boss & Y’Gotta B Kwik, 12 Sqn Commanding Officer, Sep 1943 Camden Museum of Aviation, Australia Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The profiles contain thanks to both Steve Long and the director of the Camden Museum of Aviation for their assistance with this project, and the last decal option is their preserved aircraft. Conclusion This is a well-detailed model of this lesser-known combatant in the Pacific theatre during WWII, with its weird wings and massive engine cowling making it stand out on your model shelf. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops – we hope. Review sample courtesy of Normally this would be the end of the review, but the good folks at Dora Wings sent us this sample directly before the shutters came down with regard to getting goods in and out of the Ukraine. We’ve been unable to speak to them since, but have noticed that there is a pre-order for the model on their website. It states that your payment will go direct to support the defence of the Ukraine, and once he is able, he will send out your model in due course. You have to bear in mind however that this would be at an unknown date, so if you decide to pre-order, you are going into the transaction with your eyes wide open. We have included a direct link to their site, for you to use if you wish – it’s totally up to you. Best regards to all at Dora Wings and the wider Ukraine.
  10. Curtiss-Wright SNC-1 Falcon II (DW48041) 1:48 Dora Wings via Albion Alloys The SNC-1 began its gestation at Curtiss-Wright as the CW-22, and was developed as a light trainer and reconnaissance aircraft, flying as early as 1940, then entering service in 1942. It was a small aircraft with two seats and large canopy that afforded the pilots an excellent view of proceedings. A number were exported to various operators including the Dutch, although because of the state of the war, they were delivered to them elsewhere. The US forces ordered a number to fill gaps in their inventory, with successive increases in the orders resulting in just over 300 airframes entering service in total. A small number also found their way into Japanese service after being captured during their advances across Asia. The Falcon name was conferred to the type by the US Navy, which was otherwise known as the CW-22N. The RAF even had a few that they inherited from the Burma Volunteer Air Force. The Kit This is a brand-new tool from Dora Wings of this unusual little aircraft, and the first mainstream kit in this scale, although there have been a few others over the years from niche producers in resin and other materials. It arrives in their standard top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues in mid grey styrene, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, vinyl masks (not pictured), decal sheet and instruction booklet that is roughly A5 in a portrait format. Perusing the sprues reveals a nicely detailed kit that shows continued improvement from their initial releases, and it is a comprehensive package with a crystal clear single-part canopy. Construction begins with the cockpit, with the two instrument panels attached to their bulkhead hoops and detailed with a decal for each one. The cockpit floor is outfitted with controls, fire extinguisher and a number of other frames, including a pair of PE rudder pedals on an inverted U-shaped former. The two seats are on a separate sprue, and each has a PE four-point harness fitted before they are installed in the cockpit, with a forward and aft bulkhead bracketing the assembly. The fuselage halves are prepared internally with an insert that covers up the wing root, throttle quadrants, levers and instrument boxes, with a little painting to finish off. The engine has to be made up before the fuselage can be closed up, and this is depicted by a two-part cylinder bank, a PE wiring loom and a front bell-housing that is then surrounded by the exhaust collector, after removing a 2mm length from the aggregation outlet, which exposes the hollow interior that runs all the way around the ring. A flattened intake and some small parts are fitted to the front and sides of the engine, then at the rear the input tubing spider is fixed over a donut-shaped spacer and has a simplified depiction of the ancillaries and an exterior ring added before it is glued to the front of the cockpit on a pair of Z-shaped mounts. The fuselage can then be closed up around the assembly, and the landing gear is made up. The wheels are inventive, having two outer halves and a central boss between the halves that gives a completely see-thru look if aligned correctly. The struts are single parts with a perpendicular axle, with separate oleo-scissor link and retraction jacks at the base of each leg. The lower wings are full-width with some nice detail moulded into the central section, and as expected the upper wings are separated with a gap for the fuselage to fill. The ailerons are separate, and a two-part U-shaped fairing is added to the main gear bays for later completion, then the tail feathers are installed, all with separate flying surfaces and fine trailing edges. The airframe is flipped on its back to add small PE cross-members within the main bays, and the lower engine cowling around the exhaust, then the gear legs are fitted on triangular hinge-points, with a bay door on each side, plus a fairing around the exhaust. Actuators within the bays join the doors together; the landing lights are inserted into depressions under the wings; actuators for the ailerons are added to the wingtips; a D/F loop is glued under the fuselage, and the tail-wheel fits into a small hole in the rear of the fuselage. The twin-blade prop is a single part with a boss and axle added front and rear, which is fitted at the end of the build. From the box the cockpit aperture is oversized, and this is corrected by an insert in each side, each of which has a pair of levers installed before they are joined together, then glued into the cockpit with a roll-over cage between the two pilots. The canopy is a single part, which is a shame for this model, as the cockpit is open and well-detailed out of the box. It is very clear however, so your hard work will still be seen, so don’t fret. An antenna mast is glued into a hole in the surround to the port side front, a pitot probe is mounted in the leading edge of the port wing, and the prop is inserted into the hole in the front of the bell-housing. Done. Now for paint and decals. Markings There are three decal options in the box, one for each of three operators, with a disparate set of schemes into the bargain. From the box you can build one of the following: SNC-1 NAS Corpus Christi, April 1942 SNC-1 Ecuador, 1943 SNC-1 15 Escuadrilla de Observación Terrestre, Peru, 1942-45 Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas, and as mentioned there are decals for the instrument panels in the cockpit. Conclusion The Falcon II is a niche subject, and it’s kind of cute and an interesting shape. The detail is good, and the model should build up into a good replica of a left-of-field subject, which is Dora Wings’ stock-in-trade. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  11. When we received the new Border 1:35 Bf.109G-6 we got it reviewed PDQ so that people could have a look at this sort-of new scale venture, from a relatively young company, and you can see it here. We're used to 1:35 AFVs, and a few helicopters that have been scaled to go into AFV dioramas, but this is one of the first mainstream kits of traditional winged aircraft, and that's worth a look. Could this be the new de facto larger scale that attracts the AFV modellers so they can have everything in their cabinet in the same scale? I know that's an attractive proposition, as I seriously considered 1:48 armour when I first got interested in the genre thanks to @Dads203. I went with the de facto 1:35 for my AFVs on his advice, and stuck with 1:48 for my aircraft. 1:72 scale modellers have had that for a while now, although there's not a huge range (that I've seen) of new kits coming out in wee scale. Anyway, I'm wittering. It's my first 1:35 aircraft, and my first Border Model kit, so I was interested to see how things went. It's well-detailed, has plenty of parts, a complete engine with optional clear cowlings, some weapons, and a few goofs, which I've already outlined in the review. I'm not one to throw up my hands and scream "unbuildable", as we're all human and therefore fallible, so I just shrug my shoulders and carry on. If a thing bothers me enough, I'll see if it's fixable, or I'll leave it if it's too hard or I'm not feeling particularly adventurous. Here we go! The first item up was the engine, which goes together quite well. I've left it in a few sub-assemblies to make it easier to paint, and be aware that there are a few pins that are slightly larger than their sockets, so keep a pin-vice with a drill bit handy, and test fit everything, which is a good idea whatever you're building, be it shake-the-box or short run. The details on the top of the ancillary "block" can be put on at the wrong angle, so check the instructions carefully before you apply the glue. F23 needs to point slightly upwards, which won't happen if you put them on upside down, and D62/63 need to be set square, as there's no key on the pin. Get that right, and you'll be smiling. The little tanks on the sides of the engine block have tight pins, so adjust those accordingly (they're not in the picture). Also, the centreline gun can be put in at any orientation, but check the humps and bumps then compare them with the instructions before you glue them in. Here's a pic of the majority of the engine, surrounded by supercharger, engine mounts, cowling, pilot and so forth, all ready for priming. You might notice that there are some seams on the exhaust stacks, which I added from stretched sprue, because the perfectly servicable moulding seams that are on them at outset have to be sanded away to remove one of the sprue gates on the elbow. it didn't take long to do the job, and I know it's a bit over-scale, but I quite like the look of them. Be sure to set all the exhausts to the same angle to the engine, or you might have some issues with slotting them into the cowling later on. If you let them sag, it'll bite you in the bottom. I've also knocked up the insides of the cockpit walls after filling the ejector pin marks, only two of which are visible, as I suspect the ones at the front will be shrouded in darkness. There's a bit of filler behind some of those detail parts, so learn from my wasted effort Detail is nice in there too, so I'm looking forward to painting that little lot up. The figure is especially nice, as you could probably tell from the pics in the review, but the pic above came out a bit soft because I've focused on the IP and engine, so focus was drifting off a bit. You can see the IP coaming on the left of the pic, with the basic nose gun bay visible with a few un-filled ejector pins. Frankly, I'm ok with that, as I'm going to leave the Beule closed up and opaque. I'm not yet decided on the clear cowlings, whether to use them or not. I might. I might prop one cowling open or leave one cowling clear. Who knows? Not me. It's nice to have options though I also knocked together the wing inserts that hold the wing guns' ammo chutes, which are drawn back-to-front on the instructions with the slots for the ammo chutes in the front, and as I found the design odd and intriguing, I first nipped off those parts from the sprues while I was writing the review. It took a wee while for me to figure out what was up, but once I did it was a simple enough fix. The artist got it backwards, and also drew the cylinders in slightly the wrong place. No harm done if you read the review or this build thread before you start gluing. If you're interested, I've been giving feedback to Border on the kit via Albion to assist them with future projects, all being well. Go me! You can see how they should go together in the pic below. Since then I've been filling the ejector pin marks on the inside of the flaps and the head armour, and I've also been making up the landing gear. The main gear having movable oleos is cool, but in reality it also leaves a little bit too much "slop" in the strut, allowing the axle to twist round a few degrees each way, so I set them to minimum and flooded it with glue, which also made fitting the scissor-links easier, as there was one less moving part in the equation. Check the width between the receivers on the strut before you start gluing the oleo parts in, as I had to adjust mine with a swipe of a skinny sanding tool - one of those cool stick-on Galaxy Tools ones. We likes The wheels build up really well, and they look great once done, and I'm just waiting for the glue to fully cure before I sand off the bead of plastic I squeezed out, with a similar technique used for the drop-tank. The last sub-assembly made up so far is the prop. I got the metal blades in my goody bag, but I opted to use the styrene ones anyway, as I'm lazy. There's a bit of prep-work on the metal blades, so I left them in favour of the plastic ones. Both plastic and metal blades fit into the two halves of the boss very well, with the pins ensuring they're all at the same angle and the correct way round. I clamped them closed while the glue set, and have another tiny bead of melted plastic to remove tomorrow. I foresee some primer in my near future Don't forget to smash that like button & subcribe, as it really helps me out. No wait, that's not me. Ignore that part.
  12. Messerschmitt Bf.109G-6 (BF001) 1:35 Border Model via Albion Alloys There must have been billions of words written on the Bf.109 over the years, which was the mainstay of the Luftwaffe's fighter arm, despite having been superseded by the Fw.190 and others during its service life. It kept coming back to prominence partly due to it being a trusted design, the manufacturer's sway with the RLM, and the type's ability to be adapted as technology advanced. The G or Gustav as it was known was one of the later variants, and probably one of the better ones, with improved armament that give it a distinctive pair of blisters in front of the windscreen, plus mounting points for the 210mm rocket tubes used to disrupt the bomber streams in long range attacks that used timed detonation in an effort to create a huge explosion in the middle of them. The other minor changes were improvement to the armament, fitting larger MG.131 cannons in the nose gun bay which necessitated the aforementioned “nose” blister cowlings, or Beule. The Kit This is a first for me. A 1:35 aircraft kit. The majority of 1:35 kits I’ve seen over the years that aren’t AFVs have been rotary-winged, but Border have decided that AFV modellers and aircraft modellers should have the option of modelling in matching larger scales, opening up some much easier diorama opportunities into the bargain. That’s correct. I said 1:35, and they have some more subjects inbound to a model shop near you soon to further broaden their range. Clearly this is a brand-new tool from Border, and arrives in a satin finished top-opening box. This is a special Limited Edition boxing, and comes with a randomly assigned bonus in a gold foil envelope, with a couple of random goodies within. My box had a handsome high-altitude pilot figure in resin, and a set of strong metal prop blades, but other figures, metal Wfr.Gr.21 rockets or Photo-Etch (PE) seatbelts are amongst the possible options. There are also optional clear cowlings to show off the engine that have been moulded by including the canopy parts on the same sprue as the cowlings, with the unusual result that you also get a set of grey styrene canopy parts, which was initially troubling to this old modeller due to their greyness and shininess. Then I started trying to think of possible uses for them, as I hate to waste things, although I struck out so far. I really need to get out more! Inside the box are eight sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, a sheet of PE parts, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles for the included markings, plus a half-dozen additional profiles to whet your appetite for going off-piste in terms of markings, once 1:35 aircraft decals start to appear in the mainstream. The detail is excellent, with plenty of additional features included thanks to substantial use of slide-moulds, including hollow exhausts muzzles on the guns, detail on the cowlings, the supercharger intake, and panelling under the fuselage. The surface detail is also of high quality, with engraved rivets and panel lines, plus finely moulded raised and recessed details where appropriate. There are bound to be some for which the panel lines are maybe a hair too deep, but once painted everything should look great and the clear parts are just that – glossy, clear and shiny. As well as the cockpit, a complete Daimler-Benz engine, cowling, detailed wheel bays, guns, Wfr.Gr.21 underwing rockets (with additional metal rockets if you get them in the gold foil lottery). Construction begins the block of the DB605A inverted V-12 engine, which predictably starts upside-down. The reduction gear and drive axle are added to the front, with ancillaries in the rear, the crisply moulded individual exhaust stubs with their hollow tips, coaxial cannon and an excellent reproduction of the wiring harness for each side of the engine. The supercharger “conch” and air input tubing are next, and are bracketed by the two cylinder heads, complete with their oil input/output pipes. The cockpit is assembled on the flat floor, with separate rudder pedals, seat pan, trim-wheel, rear bulkhead/seat back and cannon breech cowling that inserts into the floor and front bulkhead. The instrument panel is well-detailed, but there aren’t any decals to put into those well-defined instrument wells, which is one of the small drawbacks of the kit. I’m going to have a look to see if the 1:32 Airscale Luftwaffe decals will squeeze in, but maybe Peter can resize them for the likely increase in 1:35 aircraft builders. The panel slots into the coaming, which fits on a base plate, and accepts the gunsight with its two clear parts, which will benefit from a dab of clear greenish blue on the edges to simulate their thickness. When complete, the coaming assembly attaches to the top of the cockpit front bulkhead and supports the twin MG.131 cannons, each one made up from five parts for detail, even though they won’t be seen much. The completed engine is restrained between the two engine mounts with their drop supports, and a small tank in one of the triangular interstices (good word!). The tail wheel is next, with the hub slipping over the tyre, then slotting onto the axle, and trapped between the two halves of the yoke. Moving toward closing up the fuselage includes making up the rudder, which has a hinge trapped between the two halves, and a tiny dot added to the lower trailing edge. The fuselage halves need prepping with interior detail to augment the ribbing that is already moulded-in, adding the fuel-line, throttle quadrant and other equipment to each side, with a pair of scrap diagrams showing the finished look. Now you can bring those fuselage halves together around the cockpit/engine assembly and the horseshoe shaped oil tank, with the tail wheel and rudder at the rear. Once you have it all aligned and the seams sanded, remember to leave the seams on the top and bottom of the fuselage, as panel lines can be found there on the real beastie so don’t bother sanding them back – just scribe them, or adze the outer sides of the fuselage join-line with a sharp blade to make the groove – I gave that a try, and it worked well. The cowlings can be clear or opaque, and the clear ones are crystal clear, so you should be able to see all your hard work on the engine through them if you choose that option. Each cowling panel has a section of the gun trough inserted from the inside, and with the single part Beule panel over the gun bays and the central spine fixed between the front and rear of the engine bay, the cowlings can be put in place, choosing to leave them closed or open, using a strut from your own supplies. The supercharger intake horn is a slide-moulded single part that is quite impressive to behold, and makes for a handsome part that fits straight onto the port-side cowling. A single internal panel is glued under the floor of the cockpit, which adds extra support to the wing tabs later in the build. Before the wings are started, the main gear legs are made up, starting with the two hub halves that are glued together and surrounded by the two tyre halves with radial tread, and another choice of weighted or unweighted tyres. The main gear strut is moulded in two parts, with the oleo sliding inside the exterior casting, with a pin holding it in place but allowing it to slide between maximum and minimum range of extension. The scissor-links are two separate parts, and you should glue those in place depending on how deflected or otherwise you want the suspension to be, ensuring that you set the two wheels at the same level. Also, the parts are from sprue E, not F as noted in the instructions. You also get a brake-line, a cap for the axle, and the captive gear leg door glues to the side of the leg. You do this twice, as you probably already knew. The upper wings both have their flap parts installed before attention switches to the full-width lower wing, which also has the two lower flap sections fitted, then a bit of confusion creeps in. inside the wings, just outboard of the wheel bays, a pair of shallow two-part cylinders are made up and fixed into the wing lower. I suspect that these have been drawn back-to-front, as the L-shaped ammo feed parts that fit into the slot in the top of the cylinders only install correctly when the slot is at the rear. These are only required for the decal options with the wing-mounted gun gondolas, and the instructions advise you to only cut out the ammo slot for the other options. In this case, you’ll need to fill those slots for Hartmann’s steed. It’s a minor mistake, but it left me scratching my head for a minute. Anyway, nearby is a small thinned-out section of the wing skin and another ammo chute that are both flashed-over, which indicates we’re going to be seeing more boxings. The nicely textured radiator baths are inserted into their ledges, and the rest of the flying surfaces are made up in the same manner as the rudder, each one having a hinge-set that is made up from two rectangular sections that are linked by a straight rod. The wings tops and bottoms are glued together, and for all the non-Hartmann decal options, the underwing gondolas are made up, consisting of the hollow muzzled MG, two PE brackets and a choice of clear or opaque gondola cowlings, although those aren’t discussed in the instructions, but you’ll find them on sprue G where the clear cowling parts and clear canopies can also be found. Flipping the wing over, the gear bay walls are detailed up by adding two PE skins into the rear walls, the leading-edge slats can be attached in either the open or closed position, and as they’re gravity operated, their natural position when parked will be deployed. Check your references for the correct position and colour, as the latter seems to vary between individual airframes. Also note that there are some tiny end-caps that you could add from scrap styrene if you’re so-minded. The horn-balances on the ailerons, the radiator actuators and clear wingtip lights are fitted while the wings are inverted, and the cut-out for the lights has a small lump moulded-in to represent the bulb, which you can paint the relevant colour. There is a set of Wfr.Gr.21 and their launch tubes included in the box, and you are advised to put these under the wings of decal option 4. The markings aren’t numbered, but as there are only three, which is supported by the box art and decal sheet, however the only set of profiles with the rockets depicted are the ones in the “also possible” options for which no decals are included. Unless I’ve got the wrong end of the stick somewhere? That’s something I do from time-to-time. The launcher tubes are well-detailed, having detailed supports, PE strakes running down the inside of the tubes, plus a cap and ignition wire at the rear. There are two rockets on the sprues that you can slip inside those tubes, and they do fit loosely, so will probably work well with the PE strakes. Just make sure you’ve drilled out the correct holes in the wing undersides before you get too far down the line. With that the wings can be glued in place under the fuselage, with the uppers having a “hook” at the join-line that should pull the fuselage and wing root together. The bottom engine cowling has lots of detail moulded into it, although if you decide to depict it hanging down, you’ll need to fill a couple of ejector-pin marks before you apply the paint. The chin-scoop and oil-cooler radiator are made up from the C-shaped cowling, the posable flap at the rear, and a nicely textured depiction of the radiator front, which will look great with paint and a wash. It attaches to the underside of the chin-panel in its recess, and on the flipside of the panel another part fits in place, after which you can glue it into position under the nose. The elevators have posable flying surfaces, which are made up in the same manner as all the others, attaching between the two halves of the elevator fins, then are glued to the tail using the usual slot and tab method. They’re intended to be fixed at 90o to the rudder, so you’ll need to check that yourself, rather than relying on the struts that were present on early models. A blob of blutak should hold them in-place once you’ve set them to the correct angle. The main gear slots into place in the sockets in the gear bays, and is joined by a long-range tank on a stubby pylon that attaches on the centreline, then the props are assembled. If you got the metal blades like I did, you can put those in the two-part hub, or use the styrene ones that are on the sprues. They attach to the rear of the spinner, and are covered over by the front, which has a hole in the tip for the cannon to pour out its rounds, and the completed assembly slides over the axle with glue or without – up to you. Your final choice in the build is which canopy you wish to fit. The traditional greenhouse starts at the windscreen, which has a couple of grab-handles added before it is installed, then it is joined by the squared-off canopy, which has a pull-handle and head armour fitted before it is put in place. The more modern so-called Erla canopy has a different windscreen and grab-handles, and is joined by the sleek opening canopy, which has reduced framing to give the pilot a better view to the rear and sides. This also has head-armour panel but with a clear insert, again to improve the view aft, and fitting it required the small step in the lower corner at the rear of the aperture to be cut away. There are two G sprues in the box, one clear, the other opaque. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you which parts to use there though. The Erle canopy option has a short antenna inserted into a hole in the rear of the canopy, and a D/F loop on the spine behind it, while the original canopy has the aerial in the fixed aft clear section, with the D/F loop common to both versions. That’s it! You’ve finished building possibly your first 1:35 aircraft model ever. Goody Bag Each box of the initial release of this kit includes a goody bag, which is literally a golden foil bag, but inside you will find a choice of random items as previously mentioned, including a resin figure. My kit included the high-altitude pilot and a set of metal prop blades, with superb sculpting on the figure, which is broken down into merged torso and legs, separate head and arms, and finally an oxygen mask with hose. Markings There are three full-page sets of profiles in the instructions, for which there are decals on the sheet, plus six more possible options if you have the decals or masks in your possession. They are described as “just a random reference painting”, so have a squint, but don’t get too attached to them until you’ve found some decals to make it happen. This also brings us back to a few other issues, in that Hartmann’s aircraft didn’t carry machine gun gondolas, but is shown with them in the profiles, and the rocket tubes are described as for “marking 4”, but there doesn’t appear to be one, as evidenced on the side of the box as well as the decal sheet, which only has decals for the first three subjects. From the box you can build one of the following: Bf.109G-6 Barkhorn Bf.109G-6 Hartmann Bf.109G-6 JG.53 The decals are printed anonymously, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, but don’t include any stencils. The swastikas for the tails have their black centres omitted for the convenience of those territories where its depiction is frowned upon, but the white outer is included on the outer decal, which should allow easy registration of the central X when you apply it over the top. Conclusion This is an unusual beast thanks to the 1:35 scale, and as such it’s going to generate some interest for that. Add to that the fact that it’s a Bf.109G-6, and it should sell well. It’s a well-detailed model with some nice accessories including those funky clear cowlings and the weapons under the wings. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Crusader Mk.III (BT-012) 1:35 Border Model via Albion Alloys The Crusader tanks was the answer to the need for a new Cruiser or fast tank by the Ministry, and was developed side-by-side with the less well-known Covernantor tank, with some resemblances between the two that could confuse the viewer into thinking that the Crusader was a development of its actual sibling. The initial Mk.I had an auxiliary Besa machine gun turret on the port side of the glacis plate, but this was often removed in the field, and eventually plated over at the factory, although that did leave a shot-trap that exposed the driver somewhat. The Mk.II was an up-armoured version, addressing the lack of protection that the Mk.I afforded, while the Mk.III saw the introduction of the larger 56mm 6-pounder that dealt with the lack of fire-power of the 2-pounder pop-guns the original models were fitted with. This allowed them to fight on a semi-level playing field against the Panzer IIIs and IVs, although at the time their foes hadn't yet been fitted with appliqué armour or higher velocity long-barrelled guns. The larger gun forced the removal of a crew member, meaning that the commander had to load the gun, which must have had a negative effect on situational awareness due to the distraction, but added a few extra rounds storage. The enlarged turret retained the angular polygonal shape of the earlier marks, which itself was a series of shot-traps, deflecting ricochets down into the lightly armoured top deck. The tank was also prone to exploding when hit, which forced the addition of armour around the shell stowage, reducing its capacity a little, but not too badly considering the improvement to survivability. It was used extensively in the Africa campaign where it could prove effective when used correctly, but it never really overcame its lack of armour or reliability issues that were in-part due to the harsh conditions of the desert with long treks across the dunes taking its toll on every moving component and the cooling systems. The Liberty engine was also susceptible to overheating issues thanks to a change in design to allow it to fit in the shallow hull of the tank, with various in-theatre fixes used initially before an improved version of the engine came into service with the Mk.III. By the end of 1942 it was considered obsolete, and when possible it was withdrawn from front-line service to be replaced by US-built M3 Grant or Sherman tanks, as and when they became available. After withdrawal it was used for training units back in Blighty, and some were converted to Anti-Aircraft (AA) platforms by replacing the turret with either a single 40mm Bofors gun, twin Oerlikons, or even triple AA. A few were also converted to gun tractors by removing the turret and upper deck, then adding a taller superstructure that gave it a “skip-on-tracks” look. These would be used to tow QF 17 pounder anti-tank guns while carrying the crew. The Kit This is a completely new tool from Border, and is a modern tooling of this slightly underwhelming but nonetheless important subject. It arrives in a top-opening box with a satin finish, and a nice painting of the type on the lid, plus profiles and renderings of some of the interesting parts of the model on the sides. Within is a well-crafted and comprehensive package of parts in styrene, brass and aluminium that would once have required the additional purchase of costly aftermarket. There are five main sprues, a lower hull part, a bag of track links and twelve track pin sprues in grey styrene, two frets of Photo-Etch (PE), a turned aluminium barrel for the main gun, two decal sheets, the instruction booklet with three pages of colour profiles and an advert for their new part-holder vice in the rear, and hiding in the bottom, a 30x20cm cutting matt in mid-brown that is printed with 10mm squares and various shapes on one side, with a set of line-drawn profiles of the Crusader III on the other. The mat is marked as “Limited Edition”, so the mat and some other parts may not be included with later boxings. Detail is excellent, from the copious rivets and weld-lines on the turret to the finely moulded track-links, and although it is an exterior kit, you get a well-detailed breech to the main gun. There is also a styrene gun tube included if you don’t like turned barrels, and this along with its two choices of muzzle are hollow thanks to some sliding moulds. Someone has even taken pity on anyone that doesn’t want to make a complete track run of individual links, and included a straight length of track that you can insert at the bottom of each run to save time. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has a double-wall, between which the Christie suspension arms are fitted, and the suspension can be left flexible by cutting off a turret that protrudes from the inner wall, which will permit a degree of movement of the axles. Bear in mind that styrene will eventually fatigue though, so you take your chances there. The outer skin is covered in diagonal rows of rivets where the dividers are joined on the real thing, then attention shifts to the detailing of the upper hull. Over the course of a number of steps, the air intake box, driver’s enclosure and circular hatch (site of the old machine gun turret) are made up, along with a host of stowage boxes with ribbed sides, again thanks to slide-moulding. Spare track links and rear mudguard sides are also added, then the two hull halves are joined together. The front and rear bulkheads are decked out with light clusters with protective cages, towing hitches and other small parts, plus a large cylindrical fuel tank with feeder hose, and drive sprocket armour either side of the more substantial towing hitch in the middle of the rear bulkhead. Two each of idler wheels and drive sprockets are made up, then ten pairs of road wheels are built with a poly-cap in the centre and outer hubcap part, which are all fixed to the axles just in time for you to make up the tracks. There are 117 links per side, with each link having two sprue gates on the curved edges, and two ejector-pin marks on the flat inner surface, most of which can be scraped or sanded away quite easily if you feel the urge. There are two jigs supplied on the sprues, which allows you to lay down five links at a time, then hold them in place with a top part of the jig while you insert the individual track pins, one each side per link. The instructions have you inserting the pins after removing them from the sprues, which aren’t spaced accordingly, so have to be inserted separately. I got round this by cutting between each one whilst still on the sprue, giving me a little handle to help assembly without losing pins everywhere. Using a sharp knife or nippers, you can then remove the sprue stub and move on to the next one. It’s time consuming, but the result is a well-detailed, flexible track run that should look great under some paint and weathering. Don’t forget the aforementioned lengths of pre-moulded track for the bottom of your track run if you fancy short-cutting the process. They’re very similar to the individual links, although slightly, and I mean very slightly less detailed, but as they’ll be on the bottom, not much will be seen anyway. It’s totally up to you, so make your choice. With the tracks done, the side-skirts are installed, with a choice of smaller PE skirts that expose most of the tracks and require a little bending at the rear, or deeper styrene skirts with separate stowage rails running most of their length. The turret begins with the barrel slipping through the mantlet along with the coax Besa machine gun. The styrene barrel slips in from inside because it isn’t yet wearing its muzzle, but the turned barrel is 0.8mm wider at the shroud and has its muzzle turned-in, so it won’t fit through the hole as it stands. The instructions don’t number the mantlet, but it’s Da11 in case you wondered. The breech is assembled and has the two pivots attached to the sides, then it’s mated to the back of the mantlet, and you can choose from a cylindrical muzzle if you have fitted the PE side skirts, or the tapering one for the styrene skirts. Fitting the aluminium barrel will necessitate the use of the styrene skirts due to the turned-in tapered muzzle. The mantlet inserts into the turret front, and the floor with separate ring is made up so that the front and top half can be glued in place. There are two hatches with handles and internal details in the roof, plus a small panel at the rear that completes the structural element, then aerials, lift-eyes, spotlight with clear lens, fume extractor and stowage box at the rear are all attached around the turret, with a shovel strapped to the rear of the bustle-box. The final job is to join the turret and hull together, which is a drop-in fit, so take care during subsequent handling of the completed model. Markings There are three decal options on the sheets, with full colour profiles with five views for each one, which have been penned by AMMO, and use their codes for the paint colours. From the box you can build one of the following: 6th Armoured Div., Tunisia, 1943 9th Queens Lancers, 1st Armoured Div., El Alamein, 1942 26th Armoured Brigade, 6th Armoured Div., Tunisia, 1943 The decals are printed anonymously and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion We’ve not had a modern tooling of the Mk.III Crusader in this scale for what seems like eons, so it’s a welcome release, especially as it’s well-detailed and is a comprehensive package. The turned barrel is nicely done too, but I’ve yet to figure out how it fits in the mantlet, although I intend to find out, as it’s tempting. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from all good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Su-33 Flanker-D (8001) Russian Navy Carrier-Borne Fighter 1:48 Minibase via Albion Alloys The SU-33 is a carrier-based development of the SU-27 that has suffered from the dearth of finances following the break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of the last millennium. Soon after it was taken into service by the Soviet Navy, funding was reduced to the military as a whole, and as a result only 24 airframes were built. Overseas sales were attempted, but none came to fruition for various reasons, and further sales to the Russian Navy weren't an option, as in 2009 they decided on the smaller navalised Mig-29K going forward. The Su-33 refuses to die however, and in 2016 they were optioned to be upgraded again to a higher standard in order to tempt offshore sales, although the airframe’s size has led to a loss of some potential orders. Beginning with the basic SU-27 airframe, the internal structure and landing gear were beefed up to cope with the additional stresses of hard carrier landings, the wings were enlarged to provide additional lift, small canards were added forward of the newly enlarged wings, and both the wings and stabs were fitted with folding mechanisms for storage below decks. The first aircraft embarked on the Admiral Kuznetsov in 1995 after substantial testing, but the cancellation of other carriers led to the projected buy of 72 airframes being cut back to the aforementioned 24. They were being drawn down in favour of the Mig-29K, and were refurbished to replace their outdated avionics for future use elsewhere, leading to an additional squadron consisting of Su-33s since being stood up in addition to the Migs to offer enhanced air power and airframe availability. The Kit This kit has arrived somewhat suddenly from new company Minibase out of the blue, and it has just started to turn up in the Far Eastern shops, with its arrival in the UK coming soon thanks to their importers Albion Alloys, who have thoughtfully supplied us with a finished kit to show to you lovely folks. It is a 100% new tool, and not to be confused with the offerings from other manufacturers. I have looked in the box and can confirm that this is entirely correct, as it has many different features to the other brands, plus lots of extras that aren’t included with others. The box is similar in size to the other Russian fighters in this scale, but it is jammed almost solid with sprues that are well-packaged for shipping with bubble-wrap, resealable clear foil bags and even sheets of card in some bags. The slide-moulded weapons are all enveloped in long narrow cardboard boxes that have the mini-sprues firmly secured by cardboard flaps to stop them rattling around. Over the top of the box is a full-size card insert that has glossy profiles on one side and a frivolous cartoon of an Su-33 being “sprayed” by little men on a cherry-picker while a bee takes pictures with a DSLR. A very unusual inclusion, but it raised a smile and some folks might like to keep it for their wall – either side of the page is attractive to be honest. OK, enough whittering about the packaging. What’s IN the box is a lot more exciting. All the plastic is a grey colour, and there are fourteen main sprues, two separate intakes wrapped in bubblewrap, twelve mini-sprues of weapons, three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) of various sizes, a turned aluminium pilot probe, a tiny slip of coloured acetate sheet, four clear sprues on a cruciform frame (one of which fell off), three sheets of decals plus a tiny one I almost missed, a very thick instruction booklet with painting and decaling guide in colour, plus an addendum sheet to replace page 50 of the booklet. Going back to that little piece of coloured acetate, it was inside one of the PE bags on my sample, which was open to the air at one end but was being held in by static cling. It is only a few millimetres across so would be easy to lose, especially if you don’t notice it in your excitement. Put it somewhere safe immediately, or you’ll be scratching around for a replacement. Detail is bordering on the unbelievable, with a huge part count and detail everywhere thanks to intelligent use of slide-moulds throughout to produce vents, detailed pylon under-surfaces, all of it as crisp as a fresh packet of Walkers. The finesse of the exhausts and other parts are also impressive, as is the sheer volume of decals, a weighty quantity of PE parts and a metal pitot that would be aftermarket with the majority of the kits out there. This makes the price look very much more attractive to anyone sucking air through their teeth at the price tag. Let’s see some of that detail now, eh? Construction begins with the ejection seat, which is a K-36DM Series 2 and is incredibly well-detailed, taking up two pages of the instruction booklet to complete and beginning with a two-piece shell into which the cushions, PE parts and masses of small details are fitted. The belts will require your full attention, as they are somewhat akin to macramé, weaving through, under and over each other. The cockpit tub is relatively small, but is covered with highly detailed dual-faceted side consoles plus sidewall inserts, a rear bulkhead and a choice of two incredible instrument panels as you can see from the photos. Even the control column has two profiles for correct painting, and the detail there is just as good, with numerous small parts there and added to the sidewalls. This kit isn’t going to take 10 minutes. The nose gear bay is below the cockpit, and this too is made up from a multi-part shell with detail everywhere, some moulded-in, and others added from the masses of small parts included in this kit. Colour call-outs are given to allow you to pick out the details afterwards. The bay is capped at either end with more parts, which have small decals applied to improve the detail even further, then the nose strut is begun, and it too takes well over a page of the instructions, adding struts, landing light lenses and other complex shapes that would have been milled into the full-scale part, plus some PE parts, a multi-part oleo-scissor link, the typical slatted mudguard that is made up from PE slats fixed to a central former. The wheels are put together in an odd manner, fixing the rear hubs to the axles first, then layering the inner tyre surface, then the outer tyre, and finally the outer hub for each one. Incidentally, the tyres are also exceptionally well detailed with makers’ mark and statistics on the wall and a circumferential tread around the contat surface. Careful assembly should minimise any clean-up and allow you to preserve the detail on both wheels. There are more decals placed on the leg as well as some useful colour call-outs, all of which use Gunze paint codes. The engines are hung under the fuselage in separate compartments on most Soviet/Russian jets, and the Su-33 is one of those, with this kit having separate tunnels rather than the more common moulded-in trunks on other kits. Even these areas are detailed with additional parts of PE and styrene, plus either open or closed internal FOD guards, plus more details that will eventually form part of the main gear bays. The internal trunking is formed by a roof slotted into the forward sloped intake part of the nacelle, and a two-part trunk with sensor and gear bay former in the rear. It is closed over at the rear by a pair of engine face parts that have tiny sensors fixed to the outer rim, with a scrap diagram showing the correct location. Another bay insert and detail panel with PE parts is fitted around the half-way mark on the outer face, with the task repeated in mirror-image for the other nacelle. A teardrop fairing is glued to the outside with the mechanism for the landing gear lock at its heart, one added to each nacelle. The main gear legs run on a single large tyre each, which is made up similarly to the nose gear wheel, but with an additional brake housing part that has three tiny parts fitted to them. You also have a choice of weighted or unweighted tyres, whichever suits your mindset, but be careful to put the same type on both sides. The gear legs are sturdy vertical structures that have various lugs, eyes and struts installed along with separate oleo-scissor links and the steering linkage, as well as decals and painting call-outs. The opposing wheel gets the same high part-count in mirror-image, and all three legs are put to one side while their bays are made up. The lower fuselage begins as a cruciform(ish) flat(ish) shape, with the nose bay added inside, and the main bays made up in situ from individual walls, which have additional parts and copious colour call-outs along the way. The detail is again fabulous. Flipping over the underside allows the addition of the central pylon details, as well as a few small parts that might be better off left until after painting. An insert goes under the nose, and is supplied with a decal that is best left off until after painting too. The nacelles can then be mated with the newly joined airframe, securing on a number of lugs that snug down into holes in the underside. There now follows a brief interlude while we build the vertical stabilisers, both following a similar path and beginning with the two main fin halves to which a single rudder surface is fitted at an angle to suit yourself and/or your references. They diverge slightly with the addition of the sensors in the fin’s trailing edge, which aren’t symmetrical. These too are put to one side, so get yourself a tray or a Tupperware box or you’ll be losing things. With the interlude over, there are inserts added to either side of the underside that portray various grilles and panels that are peculiar to each side, then the main gear bays are detailed with the top of the main gear leg, which is made up from a number of parts, and more parts are fitted into the front of the side inserts, which also form part of the gear bay detail. Yet more detail is applied from the inside, including a large trunk and some other small pipes etc., leaving the competition in its wake when it comes to realism. Two more inserts are added inside the aft fuselage, and even those have an addition part within. The Su-33 is a carrier-based aircraft, so has folding wings that add a little complication to control surfaces. The flaps are the first aspects of the wings to be made up, and they are complex, with two sections to each flap segment that can either be built up retracted or “clean”, or in two modes of deployment with increased deflection in the latter option depicting a “dirty” airframe. Each of the two sections are linked by actuators, and the edges have PE inspection hatches glued in place as directed by a scrap diagram, and there are two flap segments per side, so plenty to do. Depicting the wings in their folded state requires the flaps to be clean, and the assembly is trapped between the top and bottom wing surfaces, with visible ribs and folding mechanisms at the inner edge, and more colour call-outs are present here. The leading-edge slats have actuators added if you are deploying those too, or are attached to the leading edge, with both options having a PE end-cap, and as you’d expect the folded wings have those too in the retracted position. Each wing has a tip sensor suite in a tubular fairing with a small wingtip light and a slot that keys into the wing. If you’re going for wings down, the same parts are used, but with straight pins inserted into the fold area, and omitting the rib details. Again, there’s a left and right wing, so it’s all done twice. At last the upper fuselage gets a look in. it is prepared with an insert at the rear of the cockpit, the cannon barrel with a tiny imaginary bay that holds the barrel in place, a bay for the in-flight refuelling probe, and a small bulkhead at the rear between the engine humps. The main bay roofs are moulded into the upper fuselage, and should be painted at the same time as the rest of the bay parts to avoid forgetting and feeling silly later. The cockpit coaming has its own page in the instructions, and is made up from a substantial number of parts, with a highly detailed HUD frame from PE, and the dark acetate piece inserted into the projector section of it. Two clear lenses slide inside the PE HUD frame, and other equipment is arrayed around it, far ahead of anything you’ll find in your usual kit box. The refuelling probe pops into its bay while in the neighbourhood, and there is an alternative coaming layout for one of the options. As you would probably expect by now, the canopy is similarly complex and detailed, with a separate set of glazing for open and closed options. A frame fits into the bottom of the canopy after being decked out with demisting pipes, stiffeners and the open/close mechanism, which is again detailed with decals and plenty of colour call-outs. The cockpit is inserted from below and the seat launch ramp, equipment and other details are applied behind the pilot, then the windscreen with clear hoop and PE side-details for the coaming are glued in place along with the big hemispherical sensor and its fairing on the right of the screen, plus a partial door on the fuel probe. The closed canopy option is similarly detailed, but small sections of some of the parts are removed as per the instructions to get a better fit, and of course the alternative clear parts. Both the canopies are of the modern blown type, so are made in a three-part mould that leaves a faint seamline down the centre on the outer face. This should be sanded off extremely carefully and polished back to clarity with successively finer grades of abrasive, then polish to a shine with some polishing compound. The upper fuselage houses the air brake bay in the spine behind the canopy, which has some detail parts added with a decal (add that after painting), and if you are folding the wings, some very detailed inserts are fitted to the wing stubs with dozens of small parts added along the way. The un-folded wings have a simplified insert and some hinge parts fitted before it is put to the side while the horizontal stabs are made up in either folded or deployed positions. The same parts are used for both forms, with detailed fairings, PE stiffening plates and fold details in PE too. The outer section is placed perpendicular to the inner for folded, and if deploying them, the very tips of the hinges need removing as per the diagram, and the PE fold ribs are omitted. The exhausts can be made in the open or closed positions, which gives you plenty of choice, and these two are… highly detailed! It’s no longer a surprise now, is it? The afterburner ring is a styrene part that has a delicate PE ring rolled and laminated to it, then it is slipped inside the forward trunking, which has some fine ribbing moulded into it. The aft face of the engine closes the forward trunk off, then the aft trunk and exhaust petals are made up from more trunk, outer petals and inner ring with PE detail within, then the two sub-assemblies are joined together. For the closed nozzles, different parts are used, and you should check your references for the most appropriate position for your proposed pose. The fuselage can finally be joined now, choosing one of the three inner flap positions, trapping those, the horizontal stabs and the canards in position before you begin gluing it together. You’ll need to be sensible with the quantity of glue around the moving parts if you want to keep them that way, that is. The inner wing’s slats are of similar construction to the outer pair, and can be posed open or closed, and you can even pose the parapack housing in the tail stinger by adding a bulkhead in the front of the slide-moulded tip, which has a triple antenna in PE added to the top, and a retraction jack to hold it in place. The “unfolded” fairing just glues straight into the rear of the stinger. An open airbrake is achieved by laminating an inner and outer panel and fleshing out the hinges with more parts, then attaching it with a jack holding it to the correct angle, and two tiny parts removed from the bay edge for the hinges. A closed brake uses a small spacer in the very rear of the bay to keep the outer skin flush with the rest of the surface and no extra parts. The exhausts are slotted into their tunnels, the vertical stabs slide onto their pegs, and if you are deploying the wings for flight, the straight pegs hold the wings to the correct angle. The gear can be fitted onto their bases in the bays, and the sturdy arrestor hook has two tiny PE bolts glued to the top before it too is attached to the underside. No gear bay is complete without bay doors, and these are on another level too, having detail parts and jacks fitted to each one for the main and nose gear bays. More painting instructions are included here too. The folded wings are a more complex matter to install, having the main hinges already glued into the outer wing, but a lot of extra connectors and cabling included, with scrap diagrams showing the correct location for these delicate parts. Your tweezer fu will need to be on-point for this. The ejection seat and a host of aerials, probes and antennae finish off the basic airframe, with the turned metal pitot probe used, or replaced by a styrene one if you prefer, or even a folded styrene one for those who choose the stowed option. Minibase have generously included a boarding ladder for your model, which is made up from two side rails and seven separate steps, plus a few more parts to complete the frame. Weapons Some companies include weapons with their kits, some don’t, and you can never please everyone. This kit provides you with slide-moulded weapons of two types, with two sub-types for the short-range missiles, and four for the longer range options, depending on its seeker head type and range. As mentioned, they are secured in a pair of card boxes, and each one has its own mini-sprue with the name of the weapon in raised letters to help you identify it. I’ve been mildly disappointed by slide-moulded weapons before, as they suffered a little from excessive seamlines that took about as long to remove as would a traditional “two-part plus fins” weapon. This kit is somewhat better, and has very fine seams to remove that shouldn’t take long at all. All the fins are moulded-in, and apart from exhausts and seriously small antennae in the noses of the R-73s, they’re ready to go once you’ve scraped the seams and sanded away the sprue gates. Detail is of course excellent throughout. Detail is also exceptional on the pylons, which have either slide-moulded mounting surfaces or separate inserts, depending on the size of the pylon. There are various pylons with adapter rails, and they have addition parts to fill the role of attachment points, which will be of use if you plan on a peacetime load-out with empty pylons for your model. A full-page diagram shows which pylon goes where, and another page gives you options for weapons locations, but if you want ultimate accuracy, check your references before you get too far. In the box are the following: 2 x R-73E AA-11 Archer export version 2 x R-73L AA-11 Archer with optical laser fuse 2 x R-27T AA-10 Alamo-B, infrared homing 2 x R-27R AA-10 Alamo-A, semi-active radar homing 2 x R-27ET AA-10 Alamo-D, infrared-homing extended-range version 2 x R-27ER AA-10 Alamo-C, semi-active-radar homing extended-range version There are extensive stencils for every missile and pylon included on the decal sheets. Markings The decals are designed by Galaxy Decals and printed in China, with three airframes included in the box, and the stencils alone take up seven pages of the instructions, with profiles of the top, bottom, both sides of the nacelles, all of the pylons on both sides, and of course the missiles themselves. The colour profiles for the individual airframes are large enough to be of use, and the replacement of pages 50/51 are to fix a printing issue that has placed a big chunk of pale blue up the side of the port vertical stab. From the box you can build one of the following: 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment 1st Aviation Squadron, Bort #68 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment 2nd Aviation Squadron, Bort #80 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment 2nd Aviation Squadron, Bort #86 The decals have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. One of my decals (one iteration of 154) was slightly smudged, but it is so small it shouldn’t notice, especially if you put it on the bottom of the missile it is intended for. Your sheet probably won’t even have this issue. Conclusion Phrases like “Oh Wow!” repeated several times over sprung to mind initially, but I’ll try to be a bit more erudite. This kit includes so much detail that it is difficult to take it all in initially, and poring over the instructions with the sprues in front of you is the only way to understand the level of plastic engineering that has gone into the creation of it. There will be some that feel it is over-engineered due to the high parts count, but it is exactly this high part count that brings the detail, along with slide-moulded parts and plain old-fashioned intelligent design. If it goes together half as well as it looks, it will merit inclusion at the top of kit of the year list, and we’ll find out pretty soon. The inclusion of three sheets of PE and a metal pitot probe, slide-moulded weapons, lashings of stencils to further detail the painted surface, and an instruction booklet that holds your hand through the complex sections of the build, and you have a package that is excellent value and worth every penny of the asking price, which we generally don’t talk about here, as we’re more interested in the kits in the boxes than anything else. We’ll break the rule this once though, and it has an RRP of £99 and change here in the UK, which when you add up the inclusions, the quality of the tooling and the amount of modelling time you’re going to expend on this treasure, makes it a very reasonable price. Exceptionally highly recommended. Available in the UK in most good model shops. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for the Brand
  15. Westland Lysander Mk.III (SD) (72024) 1:72 Dora Wings via Albion Alloys The Lysander was developed by Westlands in response to an Air Ministry requirement form and Army Co-operation aircraft in the 1930s. After interviewing pilots it was decided that field of view, low speed handling and a Short Take Off/landing aircraft would be needed. To accomplish this the Lysander would feature a high mounted wing with a large glazed cabin. The wing would feature fully automatic slots and slotted flaps. These would be complemented with a variable incidence tailplane. These would bring the stalling speed of the aircraft down to 65mph. The Lysander would enter service in 1938. However it was found that even when escorted by fighters the slow aircraft was an easy target for enemy fighters. Of the 175 aircraft deployed to France 118 were lost. After the fall of France other uses were sought for the aircraft though Coastal Patrol and further Army Co-operation were ruled out. due to the lack of aircraft in general Lysanders would fly patrols in case of invasion and would be equipped with light bombs if an invasion ever came. However this was not to be the end for this aircraft. Lysanders would be used as an interim aircraft for Search & Rescue carrying liferaf continers on the stub wings. In 1941 the RAF formed No. 138 (Special Duties) Squadron with the aim of delivering SOE Agents and supplies into occupied Europe, The Lysanders remarkable low landing speed and ability to land on unprepared surfaces made it an ideal aircraft for this role. Lysanders used in this role would feature no armament, a long range fuel tank, and a fixed entry ladder. A few aircraft were also used as Target Tugs. Overall 1786 aircraft were built including 225 manufactured in Canada. The Kit A new tool Lysander in 1.72 has been sadly lacking and thankfully Dora Wings have now resolved this. This is a new tool kit on five sprues of grey plastic, a clear spure, with resin and PE parts supplied. A good touch is the inclusion of masks for all that glazing! The kit second kit from Dora Wings is the Mk.III General use aircraft. To start off with the sub assemblies for the engine, internal fuel tank, and tailplanes are made up and put to one side. The engine is quite detailed for the scale with many parts making up the finished part. The internal frame structure for the main fuselage is then built up. This can then be installed in the main fuselage and it can be closed up. The glazing and rear part of the fuselage are then added to the main fuselage, the fixed boarding ladder is added, then the engine and propeller are added to the front. The main wings are then built up with the flaps being added. The main landing gear is then built up. There are 4 part main wheels with covers to each side of the wheel spats. A solid tail wheel is provided with its yoke. The wings, tailplanes, and rudder are then added to the main fuselage. The wheels spats and with braces are added along with the stub wings and their bombs to finish things off. Markings The decals are from Decograf and look good with no registration issues, there are four decal options provided; V9441 - 309 (Polish) Sqn RAF, Dec 1940 V9618 - 754 RNAS - RNAS Arbroth Sept 1941 T1636 - 276 Sqn RAF- SAR Duties 1942 V8547 - 277 Sqn RAF - SAR Duties Spring 1942 Conclusion This is certainly a kit modellers of British WWII aircraft in 1/72 have been waiting for. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK in most good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Miles M.9 Master Mk.I (48033) 1:48 Dora Wings via Albion Alloys The M.9 Master was a conventional low wing monoplane two seat trainer produced by Miles Aircraft Ltd for the RAF and FAA. The Air Ministry had produced specification T.6/36 in the mid 1930s for a new trainer. This was won by the DH.30 Don, however this aircraft in the end proved unsuitable. The RAF was forced to look elsewhere and Miles developed the Master from its earlier proposed trainer the Kestrel. The Air Ministry ordered 500 for the training role. The master used initially a Rolls Royce Kestrel engine which have it a speed of nearly 300 mph, comparable with the fighters of the day. With a student in front and the instructor behind the read cockpit was a full 12 inches higher. Other aids to training were a reinforced nose area to cope with nose overs and a tail design used to aid stall recovery. While the aircraft was fitted with a gunsight and a single for training, provision was made for an M24 Master Fighter with 8 guns to function as an emergency fighter. In the end over 3000 aircraft were built however none have survived. Aircraft were diverted to support various allies. These included, 426 aircraft to the South African Air Force, nine to the USAAF (Mainly for use as hacks), 23 to the Royal Egyptian Air Force, 23 to Turkish Air Force, two to Portuguese Air Force, and fourteen to the Irish Air Corps. The Kit The kit arrives on 5 plastic sprues, a clear sprue, a sheet of PE, canopy masks (not shown) and a sheet of decals. The clear sprue has both types of canopy used, and the ability to open the rear canopy. Construction starts with the cockpit. The dual flying controls are built up along with the seats and there PE belts for both cockpits. These are installed to the main floor then at the front and back main bulkheads are fitted. At the front the main instrument panel goes in. Sidewall detail is fitted into the fuselage halves and in the middle between the two seats the rear instrument panel and its structure go in. Now the main cockpit can go in and the fuselage is closed up. Work now moves to the main wings. There is a single part lower wing with left & right uppers. The wheel wells need to be boxed in and then the wings can go together. The ailerons are then fitted. Various subassemblies now need to be made up and set aside; these include the rudder, tail surfaces, radiators, propeller, landing gear; and practice bomb racks. The main wing is then joined to the fuselage and the canopy added. There is both the earlier more framed canopy and the later more blown style included. The tail planes, rudder and landing gear are then added. The large radiator goes underneath and the prop is added at the front. The practice bomb racks can be added if needed. Markings The decals are from Decograf and look good with no registration issues, there are four decal options provided; N7578 - 8th FTS, RAF Cranwell 1940 N7547 - Fleet Air Arm Training Unit 1940 N7412 - 1st Prototype Aircraft 1938 T8629 - No.5 Service Flying Training School. RAF Sealand, 1942 Conclusion This is certainly a kit modellers of British WWII aircraft and trainers in 1/48 have been waiting for. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK in most good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Connecto Brass Tubing Connectors (C-08) Albion Alloys Modelling has a root in our creative urges, and we’re always looking for new ways to make things better, quicker and easier. If you’ve ever tinkered with brass tubing, you’ll know that it can be tricky to form shapes from the material with any reproducible regularity in shape or angle, thanks to the vagaries of our human fallibility and judging angles, lengths etc. Connecto is a new(ish) system from Albion Alloys that makes it almost as easy as making things from Lego or its rival Kinex. It is a Photo-Etch (PE) sheet with many shapes etched out of it in the form of crosses, stars with different points, plus other angles my brain can’t convert into words right now. The arms of each piece is suitable to slot snugly inside brass tubing of the same type. For example, if you want to join Albion's 0.8mm tubing, choose C-08, as it is patterned to fit precisely. Continuing to use the 0.8mm as the example, the brass is 0.4mm gauge, and the individual arms are 0.55mm wide (approx.) to slide into the 0.6mm internal diameter of the 0.8mm tubing. Clever, eh? The product is available in sizes 0.4mm to 1.4mm, which gives plenty of range for your mind to come up with uses for the system. Albion kindly provided the correct lengths of tubing for our use, which is a good job as I’ve still not found my stash of brass tubing from the workshop refit earlier this year! This review focuses mainly on the Connecto system, but I’d certainly recommend their tubing, which arrives in a plastic cylinder with flexible cap and sealed bottom that can be used to store your brass safely as well as being good for damage-free shipping. The sticker has both the outer and inner dimensions, plus the product code (in this case MBT08) to ease re-ordering when you run out. The video below shows the best way to cut small diameter tubes, courtesy of Albion’s YouTube channel: The set arrives in a clear foil pack with a carousel display slot in the top, held closed by a sticker at the bottom, and covered with a card that includes simple pictorial instructions, but you can also watch the video on YouTube, as below. You will of course have to purchase (or have in stock) the correct tubing for the task in hand, and a sharp blade in your scalpel to both cut the tube and remove the Connecto parts from the fret at their thinned attachment point. Then you need to apply your imagination, cut your tubing carefully by rolling it under the blade, and apply Super Glue (CA) to the parts to lock them in place when you are satisfied with their positioning and length. When you are creating shapes that require some tweaking to get the last parts in place, it’s best to leave them loose until you are done, then apply a little CA on an old blade, allowing capillary action to draw the CA into the tube, removing the stresses on any existing CA that has begun to cure. If you cut the brass tube and damage or squash the ends a little, grab a push-pin (I have one that is like a short hat-pin), and push it carefully into the tube end to reopen it. You can also use a file on any particularly truculent arms, thinning or rounding them off a little. From one piece of tube and less than thirty of the Connecto pieces I made up four example pieces of different types, and found them fairly easy to use, with a small hammer useful to tap the arms home in certain circumstances. The only real warning is to make sure you don’t push too hard and skewer yourself on a tube or arm, but Albion have sensibly places a small warning on each pack because metal can be very sharp. Having accidentally stabbed myself with a pair of tweezers yesterday in an unrelated incident, I can’t recommend pain. To finish off an assembly, you can nip off any unwanted arms, and even bend them to create 3D shapes, such as tubular fuselage frames like in the Martin-Baker MB-5 or Tempest, tent frames, and so on. Their use is quite literally limited by your imagination. WARNING: Do not watch these videos while tired. They are really relaxing, and the music is too. Conclusion A scratch-builder’s dream that should be very useful. You won't be reaching for them every day of your modelling life, but when you need them, you’ll be so glad you know about Connecto. You should also check out Albion's other products on their site, because they contain so many cool tools and supplies that you might not otherwise know about. Extremely highly recommended. Available in the UK in most good model shops both online and bricks & mortar. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Professional Sanding Files x 4 (542) Albion Alloys Sanding sticks are a staple of the modeller’s arsenal, and we’re forever wearing them out filling seams or changing shapes that we’re not too happy with. This set from Albion Alloys contains four sanding files, each of which has a different grit on the opposite side, with the following eight grits supplied: Coarse Grey/Grey 100/180 grit Medium Blue/Sky 120/240 grit Fine White 240/320 grit Extra Fine Yellow/Red 400/600 grit Each one is 165mm x 20mm and about 3.5mm thick - it varies by grit. The abrasive is manufactured by Alpha Precision Abrasives, and laid down on a plastic core over a thin foam pad. This gives the sticks a flexibility and cushioned effect that prevents flat-spots and stops the user from applying too much pressure, reducing the likelihood of deep scratches. If you work up through the various grits to the extra fine, the finished result should be a smooth as a baby’s behind, just take care not to round off flat areas by applying more pressure at the ends of each pass. The sticks are a good width and feel pleasant in the hand, with very little loose abrasive in the bag, indicating that the grits are well-adhered to the foam substrate. The set arrives in a bag that you will find at your local model shop (or online) hanging from a display by a plastic loop that adheres to the rear of cardboard header card. Unlike some brands, Albion have kept a minimal packaging profile that extends to no extraneous printing on the sticks themselves, which might lose them a few sales through their product placement by celebrity modellers, but in the grand scheme of things if you use them and are happy with them, you’ll know where to find replacements when they eventually wear out. Available from good model shops both online and bricks and mortar. Review sample courtesy of
  19. gep. Munitionsschlepper VK3.02 (DW35016) 1:35 Das Werk distributed by Albion Alloys The gepanzerter Munitionsschlepper was a product of Borgward, a German car manufacturer before the war, which designed a tracked vehicle able to carry a tonne of ammunition to frontline troops while protecting it from small arms fire, to prevent a large crater where the vehicle once was. It was created as the VK3.01 and was first demonstrated in 1940, but the enlarged VK3.02 was preferred, even though it too had issues with crew space and the arrangement of the load area, plus a tendency for the drive wheels to clog. Production was painfully slow however, and it was temporarily suspended then reinstated with more units being made, which finally saw service in 1943, with more joining them later. They were used in both the Western and Eastern front, with a number of them having new drive wheels installed either at the factory or later on to improve off-road performance. The Kit This is a collaborative new tooling between Das Werk and Amusing Hobby, and arrives in a small top-opening box, with three sprues, an upper hull part, and a bag of four track lengths, all in the same sand-coloured styrene, a separate ziplok bag with decals inside, plus a colour instruction booklet with painting guide inside the back cover. It's a small model with plenty of detail and additional parts for the long track lengths with internal detail moulded-in, whereas the parts on the sprues don’t have the link gaps moulded-in, so leave those there in case you have an oopsie. Don’t forget the wise words on the box – figures not included. Neither are the tanks, buildings ground or sky. You do however get a little bit of air included in the box and within the bags. Don’t let it escape! Construction begins with the hull, which received a floor and two-panel rear bulkhead, the latter then having track tensioners and numberplate fitted to the vertical part. At the front, two side extensions are added with rivets and stiffening webs to improve the detail by the final drive. Short fenders are also put in place adjacent to the glacis area, and a small convoy light is installed on the centre of the panel, with headlights that have slotted covers on the rear of each fender. Small suspension parts are glued in before the wheels are begun, which comprise paired road wheels and two parts drive-sprockets, plus two-part idlers at the rear on the adjustable stations. The crew compartment receives a front panel with two vision slots and another small slot in the door panel, which has a large stowage box attached at the mid-point. A roof panel with clamshell doors that can be left open or closed complete the driver area, and this is backed by the front wall of the stowage area, which is built up from surfaces that fit like a pannier over the engine deck of the base vehicle, and inside are a few ejector-pin marks that you might want to clean up if you aren’t filling it with ammo. There’s a fire-extinguisher on the right front fender, a short exhaust muffler and mudguards at the rear, plus another stowage box on the other side door and a towing hitch back at the rear. On the glacis access hatch an eye and the S-shaped track tool are latched in place and then it’s tracks time. As already alluded to, the tracks are link and length, with additional, more-detailed replacement lengths in a ziplok bag with the kit. The top and bottom runs use these lengths, with separate links to make the highly curved areas around the ends of the track run, using 12 links at the front and 10 more at the rear on each side. The lengths have small overflow pips at the edge of each link, which will need cutting off and making good, with two sprue gates and two overflow pips on the individual links. You only have 44 links and four lengths to clean up though, so it shouldn’t take too long. A scrap diagram shows the correct direction of the links on the vehicle, although I’m sure I’ve seen a picture of at least one vehicle with a track run on backwards, so it’s entirely possible to get away with it until your commander makes you refit it the correct way round. Markings It’s a teeny-weeny decal sheet with three each of black, white, and black and white crosses, plus two instances of the word “Klara” in black, which is used above the door vision slot on the sand-coloured vehicle, but wasn't depicted on the digital files we used (just imagine it's there). The schemes aren’t documented as to where, when or who they were used by, but from the box you can build one of the following: Paint codes are from the AMMO range, as the profiles have been penned by them, and the decals are perfectly serviceable for the task in hand with no discernible drift between the black and white on the three crosses where that applies. Conclusion This little workhorse would look great resupplying tanks, artillery or even troops, covered in mud like on the boxtop, unloading or loading up boxes of munitions of any type. It’s a nice kit with plenty of detail on the exterior and nicely moulded tracks. Just remember to leave the original lengths on the sprues. Highly recommended. Available in the UK in most good model shops. Review sample courtesy of
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