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Found 9 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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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