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  1. B-24J Liberator (83211) 1:32 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Consolidated's Liberator always seems to have flown in the shadow of the more popular B-17 Fortress in the media's eye even thought there were more of them, and in some aspects it was inferior, with poor low-speed handling and a lower ceiling, but it saw more than its fair share of action in almost every theatre of WWII, both in US use and in the hands of the RAF. It has a specification written around its main design traits, and had a long wingspan, twin bomb bays and four super-charged engines to provide motive power. It was unusual in having a high wing placement, tricycle undercarriage, and tamboured bomb-bay doors that retracted up the side of the fuselage, and was fitted with a fully glazed nose cone with .30cal machine guns for protection from head-on attacks. This was later updated to a turret fitted with .50cal guns with a glazed lower for the bomb aimer's position, but many of the earlier D models were still in use concurrently. Taking a leaf from the B-17's defensive armament book it could be fitted with up to 10 .50cal M2 Browning machine guns, with the layout changing during production changes, when various options were found to be unsatisfactory, such as the poorly defended nose, and the underside guns, which were eventually replaced with a Sperry ball turret that could be retracted into the fuselage to reduce drag, and must have pleased the crew no-end if they had to make a belly landing. The name "Liberator" was coined by the British, and soon spread to other operators, as they were early adopters of the type after the fall of France, serving with Coastal Command, and later with the RAF after the fuselage had been lengthened. In US Service the Liberator flew with the B-17, and later superseded it when the shorter range of the B-17 began to be an issue, with the Ploiesti raid being one of the most notable operations that featured the B-24, which suffered heavy losses due to the low level nature of the attack. After the J introduced the nose turret, the N was intended to be a major upgrade that incorporated a standard single tail fin to improve handling. Due to the end of the war this was cancelled, although the tail was still seen in the PB4Y-2 Privateer operated by the US Navy until long after WWII. After the huge success of the B-29 and the dawning of the jet age, the Liberator was drawn down at the end of the war, with only the Privateer soldiering on. A civilian airliner was prototyped as a potential offshoot, but that didn't proceed due to the same issues. The Kit There was quite a bit of hubbub about this kit when it was announced by Hobby Boss, and much has been said about its size and so forth. With the increasing number of 1:32 kits of WWII four-engined heavies however, it seems less unlikely now than it would have a few years ago. It is a brand-new tooling from Trumpeter's stablemate, and has been released at a price point that might make your eyes bulge for one of two reasons. If you're used to paying £30 for a kit, the fact that it's around £150 might make you swallow hard, but if you've bought other 1:32 heavies from other manufacturers, you might be surprised at how low the price is. Actually – make that three reasons for shock. The wingspan of this model is one metre five centimetres. 1049.5mm in total, with a length of 675.9mm. It's enormous! The box is pretty huge too, and has a rather retro-style boxart that reminds me of the model boxes of yesteryear, even down to some of the lettering, and the loose but effective manner that the bare metal has been painted. It is a top-opening box in sturdy cardboard, with a sub-box holding a number of the smaller sprues, and a compartment for the clear parts and delicate bits such as the PE, which are all separately bagged, the clear parts having bubble-wrapped bags for extra protection. Once you get over the awe of the size of the box and then the parts, you begin to realise that for the money you are getting an inordinate amount of plastic, which includes an almost complete interior, encompassing a lot of detail missed out from other kits of this scale and size. The surface detail is relatively straight forward, with engraved panel lines and rivets, which is consistent across the airframe and a good starting point for anyone that want to super-detail the exterior. A number of areas have been improved by the use of slide-moulding, and the landing gear has been strengthened by inserts within the detailed legs that appear to be made from a stronger plastic, although Aerocraft Models have produced a set of brass internal struts that will ensure your B-24 never does the splits once it's finished, which are really nice. This has got to be a must if you are planning on putting any kind of aftermarket in there, as it all adds weight. I'll be penning a review of this useful addition shortly, so keep an eye out. I'll link it from here when I'm done. First impressions are excellent – the panel lines may be a little deep for some, but I suspect they'll look fine once there's some primer then paint involved, and the level of detail is really good, especially considering the attractive price. Some folks have picked up on the engine fronts being a little simplified, but when you step back and consider the whole, it's not a deal-breaker and there are at least some Photo-Etch (PE) wiring harnesses to busy them up. Construction begins with the cockpit, which is set on the large floor, with consoles, seats and the main instrument panel fitted on it, the latter having a set of decals for the dials, and the throttle quadrant benefitting from a set of PE levers and side panel skins, which is nice to see from a mainstream manufacturer. The rear bulkhead has a doorway cut into the middle, and two tables for the next compartment attached in anticipation. Another short bulkhead affixes to the floor in front of the panel, closing off the nose from the cockpit area. The nose gear bay is moulded into the front of the lower floor, which has an opening for the crew hatch cut into it, and is detailed with separate rib-work aft of the partial bulkhead, with a PE skin in the hatchway. The nose gear leg is a short affair, with the aforementioned central inner leg, surrounded by the two outers, a large frame aft and a small scissor-link forward. The tyres are made of black flexible plastic, and have a two-part hub that fits from each side, and then slides onto the sturdy axle with a clipped mudguard close to the contact surface, which has a pair of small braces to prevent vibration. The leg is fitted into a square hole in the bay and stabilised by a central tong-shaped brace, plus retraction jack on the port side. A scrap diagram shows how the wheel and the forward bulkhead should look from the side, to avoid issues later. The two assemblies are brought together, with the entry floor moulded into the other side of the bay floor and additional parts added before the additional bulkhead with access ladder and another floor panel are fitted below the entryway, with the front resting on the partial bulkhead installed earlier. Another small piece of flooring is made up with ammo canisters flanking a simple hinged stool and the bomb-sight, with a rest pad in front of it for the bombardier's comfort during the run-in to target. This slots into the holes in the front of the lower bulkhead, and is joined by another bulkhead at the rear of the entry area, which has another stool fitted, this time with a back for the comfort of the radio operator as he hunches over his table. By now it is clear we're building the interior of the fuselage from front to back, which leads us to the bomb bays, which are bisected along their length by a tiny and dangerous 9" (23cm) wide walkway that wasn't at all liked by the crews. The bomb racks act as supports, and the completed assembly plugs into the roof, which is the underside of the wing. Ribs are added behind this area, and a bulkhead with doorway slots into the end. If you are planning on loading your B-24 with bombs, now is the time to build up twelve bombs, each of which is made up from two halves of the body, and another two parts for the fins, plus a spinner at the rear inside the box of the fins. Three go on each ladder, and you can have a bit of fun weathering their olive drab finish, as bomb dumps are usually outdoors a long way from shelter. The belly turret surround is also made up from a floor section with hexagonal hole for the turret, a short bulkhead that suspends it above the fuselage floor, and a step up/down to get in and around the turret. These two assemblies are then slotted into the back of the forward interior, and joined by the aft floor on which the waist gunners will stand to operate their .50cals from their windows. There is no "floor" as such aft of this area, so it is built into the fuselage halves later on. First, the various turrets are built up with their interiors looking very good OOB. The nose turret is first, with the internal structure built up around the two .50cals and fed by flexible styrene ammo belts from the centre. The glazing fits around the internals split front and back, with two small doors for the gunner's use separate at the rear, which necessitated a traverse full to the side to enable bail-out in an emergency, putting the gunner dangerously close to the likely still flailing props just behind his position. The aft turret is split into two side parts, into which the guns and their supports are installed, again being fed centrally via flexible styrene ammo runs. A piece of armoured glass at the front of the turret, and two more doors in the aft are added, then the turret is fitted through a base plate, and locked in place by adding the turret floor, permitting the turret to rotate freely, all being well. The belly turret is a more complex affair, as it has two axes of rotation. The suspension unit has the ammo cans fixed to the sides, and has a ring at the bottom, which has two pivots for the turret to rotate "up and down". The ball turret begins with the two clear side panels having a gun fitted and then joined together by a detailed cross-member with sighting equipment added. Then the clear central halves are closed around the assembly to form a rough ball, which is then clipped into the ring's pivots ready for installation. Before the fuselage and internals can be joined together, a great deal of equipment is added along the fuselage length on both sides, plus windows and various colours for the wall sections, which already have some nice detail moulded in. Scrap diagrams show the more complex assembly of the cockpit area parts, and colour call-outs are given where necessary, which is a big help. The waist gunner positions are added, as are copious yellow oxygen tanks, the prominent cable runs that pass through the bomb bay, and more ammunition. The uppermost sections of the rear fuselage are blank due to moulding constraints, but as the area will be seen through the waist windows, an insert that mimics the ribbing throughout the rest of the fuselage is installed on each side, with oxygen bottles and the waist gun window panels stowed there whilst they're in use. The starboard aft fuselage then receives a hollow bulkhead, equipment on the walls and a short length of walkway just forward of the rear turret, which acts as a step up/down for the cramped gunner, with his turret being installed at this stage, a small set of parts in the roof above the waist gunners, and the nose gunner's turret, which is locked in place without cement to allow it to turn. The interior is then installed in the starboard fuselage, the nose gunner's ammo belts are linked in, the belly turret is inserted through the hexagonal opening, and the long run of ammo is placed into its trough in the side of the fuselage, with additional parts having curves to enter the turret and leave their box by the waist gunner's station. This all sounds very quick, but there are a lot of parts, and a great deal of painting to be done during this stage, so it won't be a five minute job, and you still have another turret to build. The top turret has another two .50cals on a mount, which is sandwiched between the top and bottom "floor" and is joined by a number of other small parts, plus a short length of ammo leading down into the curved cans that are then fitted at the front, plus an armoured back with two oxygen tanks for the gunner in a small PE sling. It is set aside while the fuselage is joined, and slotted into the hole behind the canopy shortly after. The B-24's Davis wing relied on a long wingspan and narrow chord for high speed, but in return gave poor low speed handling, and had a high wing loading, which put a lot of stress on the airframe. In order for the model not to tear itself in half once completed, HB have included the mother of all spars, which extends 36cm across the centre of the aircraft once inserted. It slides into the slot over the bomb bays, and ledges on a lug to ensure it fits centrally, after which you can finally (finally!!!!) close up the fuselage, at which point you'll see a lot less of your hard work on the interior, but because of the scale, you'll still see a lot more than if it was 1:72 or 1:48. The aforementioned top turret drops into place behind the cockpit, and the canopy is fixed down over the aperture along with the nose-mounted astrodome, the "whiskers" on the nose sides, the open tamboured bomb bay doors and the wind deflectors in front of the waist gunner windows. Flipping the fuselage over, the bombardier's window goes on under the nose turret, the nose gear bay doors are added to the sides, four PE skins are fitted to the bomb bay centreline, the belly turret insert slots in on four upstands that hold it level with the skin of the outer fuselage, and here you'll just need to double-check that it is level before committing to glue. The rear hatch fills the aperture in the space between belly turret and tail, and that's the fuselage done for now. The main gear bays are buried deep in the wing, so need building up before construction on the wing begins in earnest. They are made up from individual slabs and a slightly curved roof that is in fact meant to be the underside of the skin. A number of ribs and stringers are installed, and it's all painted interior green, times two in mirror image. The finished wells fit into the lower wing, which has no nacelles at this stage, while the upper wing has the tops of the nacelles moulded-in, with a gap for the cooling flaps, which are separate. Top and bottom formation lights and a landing light near the gear bay are added from clear parts, and the process is repeated for the other side. The wings have heavy stiffening ribs inside, and are closed up around the spar that is now poking out of the fuselage on both sides, retained in place by stout turrets that pass through holes in the spar (see the pics for details). They could be adapted to be removable, and my first thoughts are to remove the turrets and add a neodymium magnet to the side of the gear bay to clamp against a piece of sheet metal that is attached to the spar. It could work, and it's bound to be something someone figures out fairly quickly, as there can't be all that many modellers with enough space to permanently display a complete B-24 with its wings on. During the mating process the flaps and ailerons are trapped between the halves, and the two lower engine nacelles with their cooling flaps and huge supercharger intakes recessed into the bottom complete the aft section of the nacelles and await the engine cowlings. There are some issues with the wing thickness and angle of incidence that have already been brought to light by other diligent modellers, but the fix is quite involved, and may terrify some of us (self included), for what might seem to some to be a slight difference, and to others it will make all the difference. I'm not sure yet which camp I fall into, but you can work that one out for yourself! Repeat the process (this is getting repetitive!) for the other wing, and then assemble the main gear legs around their central tougher strut, with retraction jacks, scissor-links and rubbery wheels with two-part hubs. This will be the first time the B-24 has stood on its own three wheels, and here I'm going to apply my usual pet worry about rubberised tyres on what is a rather heavy model. I don't know for sure what the long term prognosis will be for this plastic, but I would be sorely tempted to replace them with resin aftermarket wheels as and when they become available, just in case. We'll reconvene in 10 years and see whether I was right or not – I won't gloat if I am, I promise There are predictably four engine cowlings, and they are made up from an outer section and a small insert that blanks off the intakes on the sides. The Pratt & Witney R-1830 radial engines, which were a direct lift from the Catalina are depicted as two pseudo banks by applying the cylinder parts back-to-back, so that they will be seen through the front of the nacelle, and through the cooling flaps at the rear. The aforementioned PE harness is bent around the front bank, and an old-skool axle with collar is buried inside to take the three-bladed prop and allow it to spin freely once installed. The completed quartet are applied to the fronts of the nacelles once assembled, the retractable bumper is added at the rear, and small gear bay doors are attached to the newly fitted main gear legs. The instructions would have you fit the whiskers again at this stage, but don't be fooled – just do it the once, as late on as you can get away with, as they look eminently breakable! The build tails off with the big H-tail, and I'm really sorry about that pun. The main plane has separate elevators, all of which are made up of top and bottom parts, with the rudders also being separate from their fins, so that you can pose them as you please to add a little more interest to the area. The completed tail drops into the gap in the fuselage, closing over the fuselage, and completing the build save for a trio of antennae on the spine between wings and tail. At this stage you'll probably have knocked most things off your desk at some point with those massive wings, and be starting to wonder where you'll put it. Markings You'll probably need a larger spray booth for this one unless you've figured out how to make the wings removable, and you'll be pleased to hear that HB have included three decal options from the box on this large sheet. If you're phobic about natural metal finishes, you'll also be pleased to hear that there's an olive drab option too, although the aftermarket decal options are sure to balloon once this has been on general release for a while. Polka-dotted assembly ship anyone? There were a few Js. Now I'm wondering… and yes, there are some schemes out there that will probably be scaled up soon if not already. From the box you can build one of the following: B-24J-185-CO 44-40927 "51" 'My Akin?' of the 722nd BS, 450th BG B-24J-25-CF 42-109816 "YM" 'War Goddess' of the 409th BS, 93BG B-14J-175-CO 44-40674 "Going My Way" of the 431BS, 11BG As usual, Hobby Boss give very little info regarding the decal options, so I've had to use my rudimentary Google Fu to come up with any more information, although it's not hugely difficult. The two letter codes in the type represents the factory where the airframe was constructed, with CO standing for Consolidated's San Diego factory, and CF for their Fort Worth operation. The numeric code after the J Series letter is the Block Number. You can find a huge list of factories and such online here. Conclusion For the money, it's unlikely you'll get a bigger model, and to a great many of us it's a B-24J Liberator that will look awesome once built and painted. If you're a super detailer, you've got a lot more than a blank canvas on hand, as the detail levels are already excellent, especially when you consider the price. There are a couple of issues, the most notable being with the wing, but if that's not an issue for you, and I can very well see that being the case with a lot of folks, then it's a no-brainer. Go and get your credit card! If you're concerned about the wing, get your search engine to point you at the fix being worked on by our member Iain, or any others that are doubtless being worked on. As a point of note, it'll be impossible to sneak this box in past the missus if this is a criteria for you, but if you do get caught, it's almost big enough to live in anyway, so it's all good. Speaking personally, I'll be figuring out how to make the wings removable, loading it up with detail, and probably hiding my eyes about the wing, whilst singing "la-la-la can't hear you". Review sample courtesy of
  2. Soviet Ball Tank with Winter Ski (40008) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models This is a hypothetical design from an alternative reality where ball-tanks were practical, and although there are some quite realistic looking pictures out there on the web, this is a decidedly fictional or "what-if" design for a small infantry tank that might have been quite handy for approaching bunkers or installations with significant light weapons presence. It does appear to have some weaknesses though, such as the little outrigger wheels that if shot out, would result in a seriously dizzy crew at best, so it's probably for the best that it remains in the realms of the fantastic. The ball hull is static, with a large wide track running around the circumference, propelled by the motor inside. There would be some serious torque transfer to the hull on acceleration or deceleration, but as this doesn't seem to adversely affect those big-wheel motorcycles, it wouldn't be a huge impediment, especially as the majority of the hull won't be moving. There is a crew of five, with the top-most crew member in each side running the weapons stations, and the front-facing crew driving and operating the forward machine gun. The final rear-facing crew operates another machine-gun that faces to the rear. Oddly, the main guns face sideways in ball-mounts, which would make shooting straight ahead difficult without cooperation from the driver, which could be tricky in such a confined, noisy environment. In reality, it would probably have been a massive failure, but it's interesting nonetheless. This being a Soviet design of course it comes equipped with Skis for the winter! The Kit This is the third of this subject from MiniArt, who usually keep their subjects in reality, or at least prototype form. A lot of effort has been put into making it appear real however, including a complete interior, which gives the model a bit more gravitas and believability than an empty shell would have done, and also opens up the possibility for dioramas or vignettes. The kit arrives in standard sized MiniArt box, with a yellow/sand colour scheme, and inside are 23 sprues in mid grey styrene of various sizes, a single sprue of clear parts, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklet is bound in a colourful glossy cover, with greyscale drawings inside, and the decal options printed on the inside covers front and back. Detail is really nice for a relatively small kit, and I have to say that this is just the kind of silliness that appeals to me, as it is at least semi-believable and just a little bit left-field. Construction begins with the engine, which is quite a complex assembly, and has a large friction roller at the rear to apply power to the track. The crew seats are built up next, and then attached to the main frame, which consists of two large hoops with cross-members to retain its shape. Track rollers are fitted to the inside of the frames, and the engine, seats and ancillary equipment are all suspended from this. Ammo racks for the main guns are built up at the same time as the gun breeches and the machine guns, which also have spare ammo cans made up, and all these sub-assemblies are installed into the hull halves, which have cut-outs for the ball-mounts, a radiator grille (backed with a fairly standard looking radiator), and conformal fuel tank. In the centre of each side is a crew hatch that is operated by a wheel, with arched hinges and interlock parts included. With the breeches and machine guns fitted from the inside, and the hatches put in their required positions, the halves are glued to the frames, and the hollow tipped gun barrels are added, plus a headlight with clear lens for night operations (ha!). The track is supplied in four parts with a straight tread and matching joins to minimise clean-up. The four parts glue around the open section of the hull, with a scrap diagram showing the correct location on the lip, and of course the two skis that stop it from tipping over. That's all there is to it! Markings As it's all fiction, it's probably more a case of choosing the scheme that appeals to you, and as there are a choice of six, it should be pretty easy. You can of course mix and match decals and scheme, as no-one (sane) is going to be complaining that it isn't accurate! From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Separate Armd Div of Ball tanks. Red Army, Eastern Front, winter 1942/43 Red Army, Unknown Unit 1942-46 3rd Single Div Ball Tanks, Soviet Navy 1942-46 Captured Combat Vehicle. Wehrmacht unit, Eastern Front, winter 1943./44 2nd Separate Armd Div of Ball tanks. Red Army, Eastern Front, winter 1942/43 Captured Combat Vehicle. Finnish Army, Karelia Winter 1944. Decals are by Decograf, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The shark mouth is going to be quite popular, I'd expect. Taken from MiniArt's website Conclusion An awesome trip into alternative history that's got a certain hokey appeal, partly because it looks like it could possibly have worked. The internal structure has been well thought-out, and the variation in decal options makes for a fun project that shouldn't take too long to complete. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Wooden Crates with Fruit (35628) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Fruit gets sold in boxes quite often, and you can choose which pieces you want from the box, pop them in a bag or place them on some scales and then pay for them by weight. It has been this way for as long as fruit has been sold, and although modern supermarkets would have you buying your produce in superfluous plastic bags or cartons that end up on the rubbish tip, the old ways are best in this instance, and they can’t hide rotten or bruised pieces from your view. This is why my SO doesn’t let me go shopping with her. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped end-opening figure box, and inside are nine sprues in grey styrene. As is common with this type of set, the instructions and painting guide are on the rear of the box, showing what’s included and giving painting instructions linked to a colour chart at the bottom, giving colour swatches, Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya and colour names. Close-up of the 'nanas and melons Double height boxes are included for displaying the fruit that is included in the set, and there are a total of sixteen on the four sprues. The instructions also show what fruit is which and how to make the boxes up, starting with the moulded layers that fill up the bottom of the boxes. In addition, there are a substantial number of single pieces of fruit to add to the boxes to give them some individuality, and both types of melon are supplied in halves, with the interior moulded into them in case you wanted to show any of them cut in half for display, or for eating (by model figures, not humans!). You also get advice on which colours to use, just in case you’re not familiar with the colour of any of them. Here’s a list of all the boxes of produce you’ll find on the sprues: 2 x Pears 2 x Lemons 2 x Green Apples 1 x Oranges 2 x Kiwi Fruit 2 x Red Apples 1 x Pomegranate 2 x Peaches 4 x Individual Melon Halves 4 x Individual Watermelon Halves 10 x Double Bunches of Bananas 2 x Empty Boxes Conclusion There’s not a lot to say other than if you’re in the market (pun!) for some fruit in handsome wood-effect boxes, you need look no further. This set has boxes of fruit that shouldn’t give you the pip. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. South African Olifant Mk.1B Hobbyboss 1:35 History The Olifant Mk.1B (Elephant) is an upgraded variant of the Olifant Mk.1A tank. The Mk.1B was developed as an interim solution. It entered service with South African National Defence Forces in 1991. About 44 vehicles were upgraded to the Mk.1B standard. The Olifant Mk.1B main battle tank has a number of armour improvements over its predecessor. Passive armour has been added to the glacis plate and nose of the hull. Turret has been fitted with stand-off composite armour. Protection against mines has been improved by adding double floor. New side skirts were fitted. This main battle tank was also fitted with an automatic fire suppression system. The Olifant Mk.1B MBT is armed with the British L7 105-mm rifled gun. This gun is compatible with all standard NATO 105-mm munitions. A total of 68 rounds for the main gun are carried inside the vehicle. This main battle tank was also fitted with new fire control system. Secondary armament consists of two 7.62-mm machine guns. One of them is mounted coaxially with the main gun, while the other one is placed on top of the roof. The Olifant Mk.1B tank has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver. The Olifant is powered by a new Continental turbocharged diesel engine, developing 950 horsepower acquired from Israel. These replaced the petrol engines in the earlier variant and improved the power to weight ratio. By fitting the diesel and additional fuel tanks range was increased by quite a margin. The Model It’s been a long time coming and on the wants list of many an armour modeller, but at least it has been released and joins an ever growing list of South African military vehicles now available in injection moulded plastic. The kit is packed in a nice sturdy box with a depiction of the tank on the move on the front. Inside there are six sprues and four separate parts, all in a dark yellowish styrene, four sprues in a brown styrene, on in clear, twenty four plastic “tyres”, two sheets of etched brass and a small decal sheet. The mouldings are, as usual very well done, with no sign of imperfections or flash, but there are quite a few moulding pips to clean up before many of the parts can be used. The moulded detail on the hull and turret parts is very nicely done, and matches pretty well with the real vehicle. The build begins with the fitting of the torsion bean suspension arms to the lower hull, along with the lower glacis plate and three under side mounted access panels. Each of the axles is then fitted with their respective shock absorbers, with the foremost and rearmost units being fitted with bump stops. The twelve double return rollers are then assembled, each from three parts, while the two part drive gear covers are fitted with a single roller These assemblies are then glued into place on the lower hull. Each road wheel consists of an inner and outer wheel, separate tyres and an outer cover. Once assembled these are then glued to their axles, as are the two piece idlers and drive sprockets. The individual track links are held onto the sprue by only two gates, thus making them easy to clean up. What is not so easy is the assembly of ach track length. Consisting of one hundred and five links, each link has to be glued to the next, which is fine for the upper and lower runs, but less easy getting the correct flow around the idlers and drive sprockets. Moving on to the upper hull, the driver’s vision ports are fitted from the inside, while on the outside the track guards and rear mudflaps are attached. The large forward mudflaps are next, and these are fitted with three attachment straps before being glued into place. The rear lights, towing hook and eyes are fitted to the rear, along with a large breaker bar. Also fitted to the rear bulkhead is a large storage box, which is covered by a PE chequer plate along the top and sides, the two exhausts are also fitted, one each side of the storage box. Several small brackets are glued to each side of the hull, along the track guards, while on the drivers position and large external armoured vision port is fitted, along with its associated wiper and wiper motor box. The large spaced armour block is fitted to the upper glacis plate, along with several small items. The drivers hatch is then assembled from three parts and fitted into position, while either side of the front engine deck, two, three piece intakes are attached, probably air conditioning units. Staying on the engine deck, several guards and grab handles are attached along with more brackets. The upper hull is then attached to the lower hull, followed by the fitting of the two five piece heavy duty towing eye blocks, which also incorporate the headlights are fitted to the glacis plate. Two more eyes and their shackles are fitted to the lower rear plate. The main gun is split in two parts longitudinally, once the two halves have been glued together, they are slid into the four piece mantle. Inside the upper turret section the commanders clear vision ports are fitted, before the gun assembly and the lower hull section glued into place. On each side of the rear of the turret there are four smoke dischargers, their two bar guard and just behind them an unusually shaped bin. The rear bustle of the turret is fitted with three sets of three track links and their fixing bars. The top of the turret is fitted with two more vision blocks on the gunner’s side, lifting eyes and two aerial bases. The commander’s side is then fitted with a sighting unit which also has a wiper and associated motor, plus to protection bars over the top, at the same time the gunners hatch is assembled and glued into place. Finally another large sighting unit is assembled from nine parts, and fitted onto the commander’s cupola, followed by the three piece hatch and two more two piece aerial bases. The completed turret is then attached to the hull completing the build. Decals While there is really only one colour scheme, the decals have markings for up to four different tanks. Essentially only the turret markings and numbers plates are different, although there are enough individual numbers to change two of the number plates to any tank with the same prefixes and suffix letter you can find reference for. The decals themselves look to be the usual fare from Hobbyboss, there are bright. clear, with good opacity and little carrier film. Conclusion It’s great to see this tank finally being released, bringing another part of the Centurion story to life. Not only that but with three South African vehicles now released, who knows what might be next, as there’s plenty of weird vehicles to choose from. The kit itself appears to be quite accurate when comparing with pictures of the real vehicle on the net, well, once I’d got over the fact that there is the Mk.1B and Mk.1B Optimum which is quite different from the kit tank. There’s nothing in the kit that should cause anyone any problems, other than the tracks, which can always be replaced with metal or resin aftermarket items. That said, I wish Hobbyboss/Trumpeter would make their tracks as user friendly as MiniArt are doing with their latest releases. Oh, and what were they thinking when they moulded the road wheel tyres separately? I guess once painted and weathered they will look ok, but for some modellers they will have to be replaced with resin road wheels or scrounge a set from the AFVClub Centurion kits. Review sample courtesy of
  5. KM Bismarck 1:700 Meng Laid down in July 1936 by Blohm and Voss of Hamburg, the Bismarck was one of the largest and most powerful battleships to see action during the Second World War. She, along with her sister ship Tirpitz, represented the epitome of German warship technology. Weighing in at 50,900 tons deep load, the Bismarck’s design prioritised stability and protection over firepower; her broad beam of 118ft making her a very stable gun platform even in heavy seas. On 21 May 1941, Bismarck left the Kjorsfjord in Norway to embark on her first raiding sortie, accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and three destroyers. Three days later she sighted and engaged the Royal Navy warships HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales, sinking the Hood and damaging the Prince of Wales. Having suffered damage herself in the engagement, Bismarck disengaged and attempted to make for St Nazaire. Eventually spotted by a Catalina flying boat, her rudder was then jammed by torpedoes launched from the Swordfish of HMS Ark Royal. Left unable to manoeuvre, she was battered by HMS Rodney and HMS King George V and was soon reduced to a burning hulk by their heavy guns. She was finally sunk by torpedoes from HMS Dorsetshire before she could be scuttled. Pretty much every major manufacturer of warship kits has produced a Bismarck at some point. Aoshima, Revell and Trumpeter have all produced kits of the famous warship in this scale, but none have been as colourful as Meng's new kit. The kit has been moulded from styrene in four different tones, each appropriate to the parts represented. The lower hull is moulded from dark red plastic, the deck is moulded in teak-coloured plastic and the rest of the kit, save for a few parts moulded in black, is moulded from battleship grey plastic. The kit is well packed into a sturdy box adorned with evocative artwork. All of the plastic parts are nicely moulded, but the big difference between this and other kits of the Bismarck is the fact that the parts are all snap-fit. In line with this simplified approach to construction, stickers are included instead of decals. Construction of the kit is fairly conventional, notwithstanding the fact that the parts snap together rather than requiring glue. Bearing this in mind, I would advise against test fitting the parts prior to final construction, as snap together rarely means snap apart again - at least not in the same shape! The build begins with the lower hull and fitting the propeller shafts, propellers and rudders. The hull itself is made up of three parts, although you can omit the lower section if you wish to finish the kit in waterline configuration. Once the hull is complete, construction moves on to the deck. The, er, deck coloured parts fit onto a grey part which contains a number of structural parts such as the bases for the turrets. This means you don't need to worry about painting a lot of fiddly deck features, even if you intend to pain the parts anyway. The decks themselves are nicely detailed, with chains and planking moulded in place. The rest of the build is completely conventional, save for the fact that you don't need to use glue (although I suppose you can if you want to make sure the parts are properly welded together). The superstructures, funnels, masts and rangefinders all look just as good as any other conventional kit of the Bismarck. Perhaps the only compromise is the small calibre weapons, which are pretty basic compared to what you get in a Trumpeter kit. Even the ships boats are good enough to pass muster in this scale. Construction of the main turrets is fairly straightforward. While the eight 15 inch guns are not independently posable,they do at least have blast bags moulded in place. Finishing details include the secondary armament, masts and anchors. The display stand will be handy if you wish to finish your model in full hull configuration, although my personal preference would be for the waterline option. The colour scheme is printed in black and white and shows the ship as she appeared at the time of her engagement in the North Atlantic. AK paints are recommended by Meng, in what appears to be a commercial arrangement (their logo is emblazoned on the side of the box). The aforementioned stickers can be used if desired, but I can't imagine many enthusiast modelles will chose to use them. Conclusion While the level of detail is pretty good and the multi-coloured plastic is appealing, I can't say this is the best kit of the Bismark in this scale. It isn't the cheapest either, which is curious given the snap together nature of the kit. There's no doubt that snap together kits have their place, but they don't normally cost north of £30. It's not that the kit is a bad option for those wanted to build a Bismarck, but I'm struggling to see why it would be a better option than the Trumpeter or Revell kits. Nevertheless it is a nice thing and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to review it. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Soviet BT-2 Light tank Hobbyboss 1:35 History The KhPZ design bureau headed by Morozov barely changed any features of the original BT-1 chassis and Christie design, concentrating instead on the engine, transmission, turret and weaponry. The turret was of the simple “barrel type”, a cylinder made of several layers of steel, 5-6 mm (0.2-0.24 in) in all, which was designed to house a 37 mm (1.46 in) long barrel, high velocity AT gun. It was not ready for production at the time and was later in chronically short supply. Because of this, many BT-2s were delivered with a mixed armament of DP-DT machines guns only or a 37 mm (1.46 in) gun with or without a single coaxial DT machine-gun. The standard configuration included the gun and a coaxial DT machine-gun mounted in an oblique fixed position, in the Japanese style. Its traverse depended on the turret. The “full machine gun” version consisted of a single coaxial DT machine-gun and a twin DP-28 (Degtyaryov model 1928) light machine gun mount replacing the gun. The other important point was the engine. The Soviets imported a licence for the American Liberty L12, a water-cooled 45° V-12 aircraft engine capable of 400 hp (300 kW), built as the M5-400. This first model, although powerful and light, was also found difficult to maintain and unpredictable. The power-to-weight ratio meant excellent performance, although less impressive than the original Christie M1931, mostly because of the added weight of the turret and all the military equipment. The first run and trials of the BT-2 were successful and showcased a road speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), with an off-road speed of 60-70 km/h (37-43.5 mph) depending of the terrain. They were largely showcased for propaganda purposes and featured in movies throughout the thirties. In 1933, it was a completely new and unrivalled concept in the world, allowing “true” cavalry tactics built on speed, mostly for breakthrough exploitation and advanced reconnaissance missions. This emphasis on speed over protection also reflected the confidence in the naval “battlecruiser” concept, traduced in land warfare. The speed acted like an active protection on its own, since a target moving so fast was more difficult to hit. The M5 engine gave a 39 hp/t power-to-weight ratio and a 400 litre tank allowed a 300 km (186 mi) range at cruising road speed, with a tactical range of just 100 km (62 mi). This was impressive for the time, giving that it was at an average off-road 60 km/h (37 mph). The Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant delivered 620 BT-2 until 1935. Most were equipped with the 37 mm (1.46 in) model 30 gun, provisioned with 96 rounds. Some also received a radio “horseshoe” antenna fixed on the turret. The latter had only two side small vision slits. The gun mantlet also varied slightly in shape during the production run. Another external modification included the front mudguards, not mounted on the earliest model, and headlights. The Model The kit comes in a fairly small top opening box with an artists representation of the tank in the field. Inside there are five sprues and two separate parts in the standard tan styrene, two sprues of grey styrene, a small clear sprue, a very small sheet of etched brass and a decal sheet. This si one of those models that you just know is going to be a nice, quick build, until you get to the tracks. The thinness of the instruction sheet tells you that it is a fairly simple kit. The mouldings though are up to the usual standard with some fine detail, including the prominent rivets. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections, but a fair few moulding pips. Construction begins with the drilling out of various holes before the upper hull section is glued to the lower hull, along with the rear mounted drive covers, towing hooks, drive shaft cover and suspension bump stops, three per side. The five external beams either side are then glued into position, followed by the drivers hatch, suspension units and the eight piece front steering arms. The side plates are the attached, covering all the suspension detail, and the front wheels are attached along with their hub caps. On the hull roof there are six PE grab handles that will need to be carefully folded to shape before fitting. The two piece idler, and road wheels are joined together and glued to the their respective axle, as are the rear mounted drive sprockets. Now comes the fun bit, the tracks. The 48 individual links per side are quite small with the hinge parts moulded into them, these are glued together making up the track run, there’s not a lot of surface to glue so be careful, and they look to be particularly fiddly to drape over the wheels. Fortunately there was very little sag on the tracks of these vehicles so it may be best to make the top and bottom runs to length, glued them onto the wheels, then add the sections that go round the idler wheels and drive sprockets separately so that they can be curved to shape before the glue sets. The track guards are then attached, as is a large aerial looking item. These are followed by the exhaust silencer, engine hatch and engine grille. Finally the single main turret part is fitted with the lower turret ring, commander’s hatch and four piece gun/mantle. The turret is then fitted to the hull completing the build Decals The small decal sheet is sparse to say the least. What there are, are nicely printed and if previous experience has taught me, quite thin. All the sheet includes are two sets of numbers from 0 to 9 so you can choose whichever tank ID you like. There two colour schemes on the paint guide, Russian green overall or a mixture of red brown and flat black over flat white. Conclusion There is something about these inter-war tanks. It was a time of great experimentation throughout the world and while this was a quick tank it wasn’t a great success, but still is an interesting subject for your collection. There can’t be too many more Soviet inter-war tanks left to kit now. Review sample courtesy of
  7. All too often these days we seem quick of the mark in complaining when things don't go the way we expect. Is never been so easy to vent our frustrations quickly and some times with out thought. So what happens when things exceed our expectations? Do we offer positive feedback in the same rapid fire mode, maybe not. Its quite refreshing there for that I do pass on my positive comments in this case to all at Creative models for offering a superb level of service. The latest example of which saw the item ordered at 1300hrs and the kit was in my hands less than 24hrs later, post free as well (if ordered over £30 in value). Every order to date I have placed has seen the same timely delivery with exception over a weekend. Great work and thank you, Rick G
  8. S-300V 9A83 SAM System (09519) 1:35 Trumpeter via Creative Models The S-300V (V for ground forces) has the NATO reporting name SA-12 Gladiator/Giant. It is different from other members of the S-300 family in that it was built by Antey instead of Almaz and its missiles were designed by NPO Novator. It is designed to form the top tier of Air Defence forces which can engage Ballistic Missiles & cruise missiles as well as aircraft. The missiles have a range 100km and can attain altitudes of 32km. Unlike other system which use the S-300 designation the S-300V is carried on tracked carriers making it more mobile. This vehicle not only transports the missiles but can fire them and provide radar illumination and guidance. The 9A82 holds two Giant missiles and the 9A83 four Gladiator missiles. The 9A82 is a more dedicated ABM platform. The radar on the vehicle can work independently or in receive target information from a variety of other systems, it is also capable of working in a totally passive mode. The system is believed to be very resistant to jamming. The Kit First impressions are excellent. This is a new kit from Trumpeter and there is certainly a great deal of plastic in the box. There are the two main casting for the hull, the two part radar mast, 4 single part missile tubes. 4 missiles, 19 sprues of grey plastic, 5 track sprues, a clear sprue, 2 sheets of PE, a length of brass wire, a sheet of masks for the clear parts (not shown); and a set of decals. The instructions are complex and jump about a bit; however you essentially have 3 kits, the main hull, the antenna mast; and the missile tubes. At the start of the build the modeller will need to decide if the model is to be in the travelling mode, or firing mode. The instructions on this point are a bit vague as to how to set thing up in the firing mode. Construction starts with the main body. Two idler wheels, two drive sprockets and 14 road wheels are built up. Next we start adding suspension parts to the lower hull as well as the return rollers for the track. Once the mounting points and suspension arms are in place the wheels can be fitted, followed by the tracks. There are 93 links per side each with a guide horn to attach, each link having 4 attachments points. these are link and length. There is a track jig on each track sprue. however on doing a short run they are easier to manipulate without using the jig. Bending them round the wheels and sprockets will be fun tho! To complete the lower hull the front cab is built up and installed. This is the only interior which comes with the kit. Moving on to the upper hull internal equipment consoles are installed in the front cab area. The externally PE grills are mounted for the engines, and a whole host of smaller external fittings and fixtures are added. along with what looks like an armoured cab roof, Exhausts are added along with the cab doors (which can be left open). The hulls can then be fixed together and external light fittings added along with mud guards. Finally the side skirts are added. This in effect finishes the main hull. Next up the antenna mast can be built up. Two major parts make up the main body of the mast. The main antenna dish is then made up at the top of the mast along with its mounting platform. The lowering and raising rams are then attached and it can be mounted to the main body. Next up the missiles and their launch tubes can be made up. 4 single part hollow missile tubes are provided and 4 complete missiles. The missiles are made up from 4 main parts each with a few additional parts. The modeller can put all these in the tubes and leave them open or mix and match as they want. One could even be built and displayed in front for the kit? The tubes and missiles are impressive mouldings which show how far kit manufactures can go with new technology these days. The 4 tubes have a variety of external fittings added along with the top and bottom doors. Next up the cradles (left & right) for holding the tubes can be built up. As can be seen from the pictures this is complex multi part arrangement of the lifting frame/cradle. These are attached to a large lifting frame which in turn attaches to the hull. The missile tubes are then attached to the frames. Markings A small sheet of decals provides markings for the tubes and hull. Two marking options are provided; a Russian Green, and a camouflaged version. The decals look sharp and in register on the sheet. Conclusion This is an impressive kit with a high parts count not for the novice modeller. The quality of the parts looks first class and the kit is let down a little by the poor instructions. A nice touch is the inclusion of a small booklet of photos of the real thing in order to help the modeller. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. German Feldgendarmerie (35315) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII Nazi Germany's version of Military Police were called Feldgendarmerie and were infantry-trained soldiers that underwent substantial training before they were unleashed on the field, keeping the soldiers and civilians within the line of the law… allegedly. They were implicated in many incidents of anti-Semitism with some associated with the SS and some of their dishonourable practices, as well as a reputation in their own right for pettiness and harsh treatment for even minor infractions if the mood took them. They wore a metal gorget on a chain around their necks as well as a cuff that marked them out as Police, and generally moved into newly conquered areas after the combat troops had left, directing traffic as well as upholding the laws that they brought with them. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with four sprues in grey styrene, a small decal sheet, larger decal sheet for sign-posts (another of their tasks), and a tiny instruction sheet that would struggle to be A6 in size. The main sprue has been cut into two to fit the box, and it contains five figures, including a driver figure leaning out of his cab in response to the typical "papers!" demand. An officer has his hand out for those papers and two of the other figures are wearing long leather great coats often seen on motorcycle troops, one directing traffic, the other banging a nail into a sign with the back of an axe. The other figure is wearing typical Wehrmacht clothing, his gorget and is holding more signs ready for the axe-wielding gentleman. Each figure is broken down to heads, torso, legs and arms plus hats and helmets that sit on their flat-topped heads. The two great coated figures have smoothed legs to allow the separate coat tails to sit correctly, and some hands are separate parts to allow better moulding of the traffic directing lollipop and the signs that figure 5 is patiently holding. The accessory sprues are split between equipment and guns, including more helmets, entrenching tools, water bottles and other bags/pouches, MP40s, Kar98 rifles, pistols and holsters, both of which will be familiar if you have any of MiniArt's other German sets. Markings The decals include helmet and cuff badges, Halt messages for the directing of traffic and golden emblems for the arms of their jackets. There are also a pair of red crosses for first-aid boxes that are included on the sprues. The signs are found on the main sprues, with a post to put them on if you don't have one already. The decals for those are on the larger sheet with 12 provided for the seven signs on the sprues, so you'll have a few spare if you don't make any mistakes. You are instructed to paint the sign faces to be decaled in gloss white to ensure clarity, and there is even a "Feldgendarmerie" sign on the smaller sheet that has cut-outs to match the soldier's moulded-in hands. Conclusion This makes a nice change from standard troops, and would be ideal to populate a crossroads, road junction based diorama or something similar. As always with MiniArt the sculpting is first rate, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed at natural joins to make the job easier. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. IDF Infantry Set 2000- (HS-004) 1:35 Meng Models With the profusion of Israeli armour that we seem to have these days, it makes sense to have some figures to go with them, and Meng have now released another set to complement their original vehicle crew set that we reviewed here some time ago. This set contains four figures that would be ideally suited to a foot patrol accompanying armour, with modern equipment that places them in this millennium. They arrive in a standard figure-sized box in a satin finish, and inside you will find four sprues in a shiny mid-grey styrene. The instructions consist of a painting guide on the rear of the box, and each figure's parts are together on one sprue for ease of construction. Each figure has separate legs, arms torso and head, plus a helmet with an oversize cover that looks unusual, but I believe has something to do with cooling and shading the soldier's neck and shoulders. Weapons are all Tavor (TAR-21) based, with either red-dot or holo-sights, and one has a 40mm grenade launcher attached under the barrel. Ammo pouches are also separate and are shown attached in various arrangements to the figures' vests, with additional pouches and day-sacks in various configurations. The figures are very well moulded, although a little flash is present, which can be seen from the photos. It's all pretty easy to remove however, and a good wash in warm soapy water is advisable, as there seems to be quite a lot of mould-release agent on the plastic, probably due to the complex nature of the mouldings. Two of the figures are in a walking pose, one with his weapon across his chest, the other holding it down to his side. Of the remaining two, one is standing with his rifle in both hands in a relaxed but ready pose. The other is on one knee shouting (judging by the size of his cake-hole) into a field radio handset, with his rifle cradled in his free hand. Colour call-outs are given in Vallejo codes, but it's easy enough to convert these to any other brand, or you could pick up the IDF colour set from Lifecolor that is within my review here. Be sure to check out my review of the resin IDF load-carrying equipment set here. Review sample courtesy of
  11. US B-24 Heavy Bomber (mPLANE-006) Meng Kids via Creative Models The B-24 was a major player in the US bombing offensive during WWII, and although it had its flaws, it was both well-loved by its crews and although it is overshadowed by the Lancaster and its compatriot B-17, it is well-liked in the modelling community with a special place in my heart for no apparent reason. The Kit This is a new tool from the appealing and fun Meng Kids range, which are scale-free and rather out-of-proportion, enough to send someone who holds dimensional accuracy above all else into an apoplectic rage. Those of us with a bit more balanced perspective find them a bit cute and silly, and whether they appeal to you, your kids or your sense of fun, they're pretty cool. I'm one of those that only like some of them such as the Lanc and the He.177 Greif we reviewed some years back, but this one is right in my wheel-house. They're dead simple to build quickly and should appeal to anyone over the suggested age of 14, requiring no glue or paint unless you want to go a bit semi-serious and build them to last with a realistic paint-job that enhances their silly shape. They arrive in a chunky end-opening box with all the parts in a single bag and the clear parts wrapped in a self-cling film. The five upper parts are moulded in olive green, the two underside parts are in grey and the rest of the parts are held on one black sprue. The clear parts are clear of course, and there is a small sheet of decals included in their own bag. The instructions are printed on the underside of the box, and the painting/decaling guide is found on the side. All the parts fit together using friction-fit towers and pins, or by being held in place by other parts, and you can leave it self-coloured just by removing the sprue gates from the parts and making good. Construction begins with the fuselage lower that is in two parts and before you clamp them down you need to put the clear lower nose and rear turret glazing in place in the grey underside, and add the green bombs then the black waist and rear guns. The upper fuselage has the tops of the wings moulded in and it has the cockpit glazing, the upper turret and guns plus the D/F loop added before it is placed on the grey lower wings, trapping the props and their tapering bosses inside the engine cowlings. Before the two assemblies can be joined the front turret and guns are fitted and at the rear the H-tail slots in place over the rear turret. The final parts include the main gear with separate legs and wheels, the single piece nose wheel and the belly turret with its guns, and that's everything! You may have noticed from the pictures that the bomb bay is moulded open with the tambour doors rolled up the side of the fuselage exposing the stubby little bombs you fitted earlier. Markings Taking the easiest route to complete the model just needs a dash of water to apply the decals. If you're going to paint any or all of the model though, there are paint names on the diagrams as well as numbers for each of the decals. You can also go the whole hog and paint the fuselage and wings olive green and grey with a wavy demarcation between top and bottom as shown on the diagrams below. That's totally optional of course, so just make sure you're having fun whichever route you choose. Conclusion I'm one of those folks that is only interested in a cartoonish kit if it's a subject I'm fond of, so this one hits my spot. I can see the broader appeal of collecting them, and they all seem a lot of fun. I can guarantee that they're not in scale, the wing and fuselage lengths are all wrong, and there's a lot of simplified detail… but then that's the whole point. Catch one while you can, as they're selling fast! Scroll down a few posts to see my quick build of this little kit Very highly recommended with fun in mind. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Take One More Grenade! (MB3564) 101st Airborne (Air Assault Division, Europe 1944-45 1:35 Masterbox via Creative Models The 101st were the elite light infantry of the US forces on D-Day, and were amongst the first in and last out, earning their reputation as "the tip of the spear", and their exploits were documented in the HBO series Band of Brothers in some detail. This figure set from Masterbox depicts four Screaming Eagles in an urban situation about to chuck a grenade into a building while stacked up outside it. Arriving in a de facto standard figure-sized box, there is one sprue of grey styrene inside, and the instructions are printed on the rear of the box along with a paint chart and sprue layout. Sculpting is fine as you would expect from Masterbox, and figure breakdown is intended to add as much realism to the set as possible, with separate heads, torso, legs and arms, plus the lower parts of their smocks, bags, pouches, weapons, and helmets all being individual parts to maximise customisation of the figures' look. One figure is holding open the door with his rifle in the other hand, but he can alternately be posed ready to smack someone with the butt of his rifle, which is poised high in both hands. The grenade thrower has legs planted apart for stability and the pineapple behind him ready to go, with a lightweight folding-stock M1 Carbine in his free hand. The other two are ready to pile in with a Thompson and BAR to one side. As well as the aforementioned bags and pouches, there are also pistols, water bottles, first-aid kits, entrenching tools, bayonets and even helmet straps with chin-cups for the mesh-netted helmets. The instructions on the rear of the box cover construction, but as the figures are printed in a sepia tone, they're not much use when it comes to painting, other than by the inclusion of the paint chart in Vallejo, LifeColor, Tamiya and Mastercolor. There is a QR code printed above the chart, but that's a generic URL to visit their site, and drilling down to information on this set doesn't yield any further information. It's a minor complaint on what is a good set, added to which is my perennial wish that figure sets in general would include decals for rank and unit badges more frequently. There are plenty of references out there for uniform colours however, and if you really want badges etc., they can be sourced from Archer, or other companies. Conclusion A dynamic set of four figures with all the gear that a paratrooper would carry once landed in France to begin the liberation of Europe. If included in a diorama they would give a human scale as well as a dynamic feel to any building they're assaulting. Add some straps from tape or foil and you're away! Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet (LS-012) 1:48 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The original Hornet design lost the Lightweight Fighter battle with what became the F-16, but after some re-designing and tweaking, it won the contract for the US Navy’s do-it-all fighter to replace the Tomcats, Corsairs et al, becoming the multi-role F/A-18 Hornet. When more capabilities were required, a further re-design that was more of a total do-over but retained the same general shape and designation, only about a third larger for reasons best left unsaid, but probably budget related, and a way to get around possible restrictions or pitfalls barring a new type. This much larger aircraft became the Super Hornet, with the two-seater designated F/A-18F, and the single-seat variant E, both of which began production in the late 90s, entering service just before the new millennium. With the withdrawal of the F-14 Tomcat in 2006 they became the primary carrier-borne fighter of the US Navy and Marines, serving alongside the original Hornet for a while, but all of the “legacy” Hornets have now left US service, although they remain on the books of some foreign operators. You can easily tell them apart without a size reference by checking the intakes. Oval = Hornet, Rectangular = Super Hornet. The enlargement of the wing area, lengthening on the fuselage and installation of more powerful GE engines changed the characteristics of the airframe markedly, giving it more speed, weapons capability and range, with even more tankage hung from the wings, and buddy-pods allowing same-type refuelling operations without having a vulnerable dedicated tanker on station. There have been various upgrades over the years, and the Super Hornet has a wide range of munitions to choose from, making it a capable all-round war-fighter that is still nowhere near the end of its service life, although trials with pilotless carrier-based aircraft are underway. In addition to the E and F variants, the G, or Growler is a heavily modified two-seater with a huge quantity of Electronic Warfare equipment carried both internally and externally on pylons. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from Meng, who have a habit of popping out an aircraft model every now and again, alongside their more regular armour range, which is similarly well-regarded. We have come to expect great things from Meng, as they have impressive skills and a penchant for high levels of detail in their kits. It arrives in one of their standard satin-sheened deep boxes with a painting of the aircraft on the front, and a host of goodies inside. Opening the box reveals eighteen sprues of various sizes in grey styrene plus two fuselage halves in the same plastic, five sprues in clear plus the canopy (all wrapped in protective self-cling plastic), three sets of small poly-caps, a Ziploc bag of ten flat-headed pins, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) metal, two sheets of decals, a sheet of pre-cut paper masks, the instruction booklet with colour profiles in the rear, four sheets of card with information about the F/A-18 in four languages, and a similarly multi-lingual competition flyer to win cash prizes, apparently. Everything is separately bagged with mildly annoying staples closing them up, and once you strip these off you see the high quality of the parts within. Detail is right up there with the best, and has finely engraved detail, with raised detail where appropriate and slide-moulding used to improve details further without creating more parts that make some people shout “over-engineered!” because… well, I guess more parts are harder? Construction begins reassuringly conventionally with the cockpit, with the single-seat tub having a cover fitted over the rear, the sidewalls installed next to the detailed side consoles, a large control column part, chunky throttle, and a well-appointed instrument panel, which has a number of individual decals supplied for both it and the side consoles, the numbers for which are called out in a scrap diagram. The rudder pedals are moulded into the floor and could do with some more detail if you aren’t inserting the supplied pilot figure, which you can see in the detail photos. The nose gear bay is made up from the roof, shallow sides, front bulkhead and some thick trunking/hoses snaking through the bay. Those two subassemblies are mated then trapped between the forward lower fuselage halves, with the top half moulded-into the rest of the upper fuselage, to be brought together later. In the meantime, the upper fuselage is prepared by fitting the wing lowers with a choice of folded or straight wing-hinge supports, and another choice of ECS ram air exhaust types, the multi-tubular type having some impressive moulding. The F-18 runs two GE F414 turbofans, with long intakes to keep the rapidly rotating fans away from the prying eyes of enemy radar beams. The trunking is made from two halves, and has a few ejector pin marks inside, but cleaning those up before joining the halves should make the task easier. The rear is covered by a representation of the engine front, then the completed trunks are attached to the appropriate main gear bays, which are made from three parts, and have more highly impressive detail moulded-in, as shown above. The two subassemblies are inserted into the lower fuselage from within, and splitter plates are attached to the sides of the fuselage on two slots, with some fine detail moulded-in. The rectangular sides of the intake trunking and lower fuselage sides fit around the assembly, then a pair of pivots are slotted into the rear fuselage with poly-caps allowing them to pivot without suffering from modeller’s droop. The lower nose clips into the lower fuselage, then the upper fuselage is lowered over it, mating snugly even without glue from a quick test fit I made. She’s looking like an aircraft now, but the cockpit is unfinished and she’s got no nose. I won’t ask how she smells though. The coaming is first, and has the HUD sides added and a circular projector lens in the bottom. The two clear panels are inserted between the supports one over the other, with a scrap diagram showing the correct position, then it can be glued in place and the windscreen fixed over the top. At the rear of the cockpit the cover over the avionics bay is attached, followed by the nose cone and insert with the muzzle cover for the M61A2 Vulcan cannon at the top, joined to the fuselage with a stepped ridge helping to improve fit. The Hornet’s wings are moulded into the fuselage, but the slats and flaps are separate paired parts, the slats capable of being modelled deployed, or by cutting off the nubs in the leading edge, retracted. The flaps can also be depicted cleaned-up with one set of straight actuator fairings, or fully deployed by using a separate cranked set, with the gap between the sections filled by the upper surface inserts. If you chose the unfolded wing joint earlier, it’s simply a matter of applying the top and bottom sections to the link, adding the spacer, then fitting the appropriate flap actuator fairings for the flaps, and the slats in extended or retracted positions, again by removing the nubs on the leading edge. The folded wingtips are made up with retracted flaps and slats plus straight fairings before they are inserted into the L-shaped fold with a different set of spacers. The two vertical fins have a T-shaped pivot point inserted under a small separate section of the rudder, then the completed rudder is trapped between the two halves of the fin without glue so it can pivot later. A nav light is inserted into the outer side, and the other fin is a near mirror image. The fins fit into slots in the rear fuselage, and the elevators push into the poly-caps hidden within the fuselage sides later on. The twin exhausts start with a cylinder with the rear of the engine moulded-in, a PE afterburner ring, then a two-part length of trunking with a corrugated interior. A choice of exhaust petal types finishes off the rear, one set having straight petals, the other with cranked rear sections, and after painting they’re inserted into the two apertures in the rear of the fuselage. The rugged nose gear of the F-18 has to be sturdy to withstand repeated carrier launches and landings, and you have a choice of setting the catapult bar in the up position for parked, or down for an aircraft ready to launch. A landing light and a number of stencil placards are applied to the leg after painting it white, and the twin wheels fit either side of the transverse axle. Additional parts are fitted in and around the nose gear bay when inserting the gear leg, then gear bay doors are fixed around the bay, causing much perspiration when you have to add the red edges to each one. The main gear legs also have a number of placards added after painting, and the wheels are made up from two parts each. These too have additional parts added during fitting into the bays, closely followed by the red-rimmed bay doors and their actuators. Just in case you wanted to catch an arrestor wire, the hook nestles between the two exhaust fairings on a long lug. The instructions have you making up the munitions for a break before completing the model, but we’ll cover that later. The ejection seat is made up from a series of very well detailed parts, and although it doesn’t have seatbelts for an absent pilot, there are stencils for the headbox sides and rear. It is installed in the cockpit, optionally along with one of the pilot figures that come on the sprues, which have separate arms, a wrap-around flotation vest and separate helmeted head with O2 hose, and as there are two additional arms (x2) you could experiment with some alternative poses to add a little variety to your model. The canopy clear part is crystal clear with an external seam over the top that you can either leave there (it’s pretty fine), or sand flush and polish back to clarity. There is a frame insert to fit within the canopy, and a choice of two canopy openers, depending on whether you wish to pose the canopy open or closed. A blade antenna in the centre of spine finishes off the top of your model. Under the port Leading Edge Root Extension (LERX), the integral crew ladder is stored (on the real thing), and it can be posed open by adding the ladder with its two supports and the open door to the bay, or if you want to pose it closed, put the long narrow part that represents one edge of the ladder. Back to the weapons. This is where the pins and tiny poly-caps come into play, allowing you to switch and change your load-out whenever you want on some of the pylons. Most of the pylon types have the pins trapped between them, four of type-A, two of type-B, and one of type-C. Type-B also has an adapter rail fitted instead of pins, which is also made from two parts, and these fit on the outer wing stations, while the four identical pylons fit on the two inner stations per wing, and the solo Type-C attaches to the centreline. A pair of wingtip rails are made up with spacer plates, then you can choose which of the supplied weapon types to hang from them. Two GBU-24s are built from halves, with the perpendicular fins separate, a clear-domed seeker head and a locating plate on the topside. Inside are two cups that hold poly-caps within, and these are glued into position lined up with the pre-moulded holes in the sides of the bomb and its mounting plate. The same process applies to the GBU-16s, except all the fins in the front and rear are separate, and there is a clear “droopy” seeker-head, with the poly-caps inserted into chambers in the bomb halves. The AIM-9Xs have clear seeker-heads and exhausts, plus adapter rails, while the three AIM-120Cs are each moulded complete, with a slim adapter rail. The two AIM-9Ms have a clear seeker, and eight separate fins, then the AN/ASQ-228 targeting pod is made from two halves, a two-part rotating sensor mounting, and tubular rear fairing, which is mounted on a concave pylon that fits to the port of the underside fuselage. Scrap diagrams show the correct location of the missiles on their rails, as well as the targeting pod, while another larger diagram shows which options can be placed on which pylons. It’s always best to look at some real-world photos for examples for demonstrable and practical load-outs. Markings There are four decal options on the sheet, and you also get a set of canopy masks that are pre-cut from paper, using frame-hugging masks on the compound curves, so that the gaps can be covered by tape offcuts or liquid mask. There are also masks for the landing light and targeting pod lens, plus a set of toroidal masks for the wheels to allow you to cut a sharp demarcation with little effort. From the box you can build one of the following: Capt. James McCall, CO of CAW 8, VFA-31 “Felix the Cat”, USS George H W Bush, 2017 LtCdr. Carlisle Lustenberger, VFA-31 “Felix the Cat”, USS George H W Bush, 2009 LtCdr R J Prescott, VFA-87 “Golden Warriors”, USS George H W Bush, 2017 Pilot Unknown, US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program, 2019 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The main sheet includes all the markings for the airframe, while the smaller sheet contains the stencils for the pylons and the weapons, of which there are many on a modern jet. The colours are called out in Meng/AK codes, as well as Gunze’s recent water-based Acrysion paints, which don’t seem to be prominently available in the UK. Conclusion Of course, there are lots of F-18 kits in this scale, but those don’t make any money for Meng, and they have brought their own particular set of skills to the party. They have produced a highly detailed model, with some excellent moulding and markings to create a model that is excellent out of the box, without the necessity of aftermarket. Extemely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. MV-22 Osprey (81769) Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Osprey can trace its roots back a long way into the 1970s, while the tilt-rotor concept goes back even further to the time of very early aviation between the wars. In the 70s Bell began constructing a prototype that bears a family resemblance to the Osprey, complete with twin engines and a very similar overall shape. After the disaster that was the US raid in Iran to free their embassy staff, a gap in their inventory was identified for a large vertical and short take-off and landing aircraft that could also fly at similar speeds to fixed-wing aircraft with a comparable range. This led to the development of the V-22 Osprey that took the basics of the Bell design and enlarged it sufficiently to carry a number of fully-loaded troops or a vehicle the size of a HUMVEE externally, in partnership with the Boeing Helicopter division. It first flew in 1989, and had a relatively troubled gestation that wasn’t yet over when it first went into service in early 2000, although it wasn’t actually used as a true service aircraft until 2007 with the Marines and 2009 for the USAF. A number of test airframes were lost with fatalities, and the Marines lost two airframes early on, which caused some delays to the programme, allowing time for the software that allows the transition between hover and forward flight and assists the pilots to catch up and become the stable, capable platform it is today. Its capabilities have been questioned over the years by some, but a single airframe type can’t be all things to all people, and its ability to land and take-off vertically then transition to forward flight at a similar speed and range to a traditional fixed wing aircraft is an excellent capability for any army. It has seen extensive use in supply and casualty evacuation roles in the recent conflicts and policing actions, and is scheduled to become a carrier communications aircraft this year (at time of writing) to replace the ageing C-2 Greyhound, which it outclasses comprehensively. It came very close to being cancelled at least twice, as the budget and unit cost spiralled higher as the project proceeded, but it has evolved into a very safe method of transport for the Marines, having an accident rate of half that of the traditional rotary aircraft they deploy. Bell Boeing are developing the V-280 Valor(sic) for the US Army, which builds upon the technology pioneered by the Osprey, but changing the tilting mechanism so that only the props move, while the engine stays fixed in the “forward” orientation. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from Hobby Boss, and it depicts the Marine version of the Osprey that is in common use today. For many a year we’ve been somewhat lacking in choice of kits in this scale, having only the comparatively ancient Italeri kit, which more represents an early prototype without the lumps and bumps or fuselage hump that the in-service aircraft has. Maybe the wait was a blessing in disguise, as we now have a kit that depicts the actual resulting aircraft, rather than having to hack and bang the old kit into shape. The hissing sound you can hear is thousands of Italeri kits being pushed to the back of the stash, although some might baulk at the list price until they see inside. Hobby Boss and their parent company have a habit of pulling back the curtains to reveal kits that are ready to go, so the first most of us heard about it was when it was announced a few months back. It’s a big box, but then it’s also quite a large aircraft, and the detail has been packed into the interior in the shape of a complete internal skin that fills the fuselage from nose to tail (almost). The box is a large one as previously mentioned, and the model is large too, measuring 371mm long by 496mm wide, which I’m assuming goes from tip-to-tip of the massive props. If that width figure scares you and your cabinet space, you’ll likely be pleased to hear that there is a folded option included in the kit, allowing you to pose the wings parallel to the fuselage and all the blades pointing at each other. In the voluminous box but well-packed box you will find eight large sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a single clear sprue and a small Photo-Etch (PE) sheet containing seatbelts and a few grilles. Detail seems to be excellent, and the airframe is covered in restrained panel lines, raised areas as befits an aircraft with substantial portions made from composites, and a nicely appointed cockpit, with load area similarly well-decked out. The instruction booklet is typical of Hobby Boss fare, and the separate A3 colour painting guide is mute on the subject matter, as usual. Construction begins with the crew seats, which are of the wrap-around type, and have separate cushions and three-part PE belts, but lack lap belts, as seems to be the way with quite a few kits of late. The cockpit is provided as a tub with the rear bulkhead moulded-in, and you place the two seats, control column, throttle and other controls added over decals for the side consoles, after which the main instrument panel with its MFDs and rudder pedals are fitted to the front of the tub, with decals for this also included. The bulkhead is a little bland, but check your references and add some interest there if you feel the urge, or wait for the aftermarket companies to catch up. There is a corridor between the two areas, where lots of avionics will be found in the real thing, with a ribbed insert and a crew door with moulded-in jump seat included along with a fire extinguisher that has a PE bracket securing it to the wall. The nose gear bay is situated below the cockpit, and is made up along with the main bays next, adding gear and wheels, plus retraction jacks along the way. The bays are well-detailed, but little will be seen of them on the deck due to the short legs and low ground clearance, so don’t stress over the building of these parts. You should also be able to leave off the gear legs until after painting, which is nice. The main bays slot into the separate side nacelles that keep the bays and other stuff such as fuel and avionics from encroaching into the load space at 1:1, then these are put to the side while the load area is made up. The load area resembles a slightly smaller fuselage, being made up of two halves, but with the detail being on the inside, consisting of ribs, stringers and the mounts for the many seats that go along the walls. Lots of little details are added first, then thirteen seats on one side, with 12 on the other, all provided as separate parts, a full-width floor that sits on the raised supports projecting from the lower side of the interior, plus another fire extinguisher for good luck. The rear load ramp needs to be made up too, as this is also trapped between the interior halves before closing the fuselage. The lower section folds down, while the upper half folds up in a similar style to the old Hercules ramp. If you plan on posing the cargo doors open, you’re going to have to make your own jacks and as surface detail to the ramp floor, as these aren’t included on the sprues, but the open door option isn’t shown as an option. Before inserting the newly minted interior, a few portholes and other windows are glued into the fuselage sides from within, then the nose bay is added along with the cockpit and corridor, after which you can close up the fuselage, remembering to add the FLIR turret under the nose (minus glue) before you do. There is an overhead console supplied for the inside of the large canopy, which is crystal clear and full of detailed framing and rivets, then the two side sponsons are slotted into the gaps… on the sides. The H-tail is next, and includes a section of the underside at the very rear of the fuselage to make for a strong join. It is made up from top and bottom halves, then joined by the two-piece verticals and a clear light on each of the tips. It is slipped over the rear of the fuselage during fitting of a profusion of aerials, of the blade and towel-rail type, plus the gear bay doors and a number of other sensors, not forgetting the refuelling probe stub in the nose. This is repeated on the top and sides of the fuselage, and includes the some of the PE vents and styrene strakes. The props need power, which is provided by the Rolls-Royce turboprop engines in the nacelles that rotate to provide vectored thrust via the massive three-bladed props. The nacelle is formed from a pair of basic halves, with two baffles trapped inside the rear, a couple of intakes grafted to the exterior, and another in the lower rear of the nacelle, capped off with a curved smiley-face intake and prop boss rear plate, which is held in position and allowed to rotate by a collar. The blades can be made up folded or deployed, and a full set of separate blade parts are included for this, although only one set of bulbous bosses are supplied, so you can’t easily swap them at will, which is a shame. From here on in the instructions focus solely on the folded version, but it’s not rocket science to figure out the unfolded method. The bosses each have three inserts added, and are then joined to the back-plates at the front of the nacelles, to be put to one side while the wings are made. The wings are full-span, and comprise top and bottom sections, the bottom having a flat centre and large hole moulded-in for the pivot. The bulkheads with large axles for the engines are inserted into the end fairings, and a set of flaps are placed into T-shaped recesses in the trailing edge of the wings, with the whole lot closed in by the upper wing, which has many vortex generators moulded along the leading edges. There is another PE grille inserted into the central “hump”, then your engine nacelles can be slid over the axles and joined by a strake on the top surface of the wing. The wing assembly clips onto flexible tabs on the top of the fuselage, so can be left to rotate freely if you wish, and if you have selected the deployed option, it’s as simple as turning the wings to the perpendicular and pointing the props to the sky if you’re going for VTOL, or forward if you’re doing a flying model, but don’t forget the ground clearance for the props. Markings As I alluded earlier, there is only one decal option in the box, and HB tell you precious little about it, other than what colours to use, and where to put the decals. The sides of the aircraft tell you a lot if you know the nomenclature however, and a quick Google reveals that it is from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, which is based at MCAS New River, North Carolina. The serial 166483 is assigned there, so that’s nice. The decals are printed anonymously in China, but have good registration, colour density and sharpness, with most of them being lo-viz grey or white. The instrument decals have black MFD screens and white buttons and should stand up to all but the most intent of observers. A Quinta Studios set would be most welcome though. Conclusion This appears to be a nice kit of an interesting (to some of us at least) and novel aircraft. Modelling an In-service airframe has been a labour of love up to now, so it’s good to see a new tool pop out of the Hobby Boss/Trumpeter warehouses. Its weakest point is the rear ramp with simplified floor and lack of struts, but if you’re portraying it with the ramp up it’s not a problem! How long it is before we see a flying model with motorised props remains to be seen. Soon, I hope. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. LKW 7t MIL GL Truck LARS2 Hobbyboss 1:35 (85521) In the 1960s the Bundeswher was looking to replace its fleet of vehicles which stemmed from the birth of the modern German Army. They wanted a fleet of 2, 3 & 4 axle vehicles in the 4 to 10 tonne payload range which had to be amphibious. As it was a large task it was suggested that bidding companies form a common development company for a unified project. This was set up under the leadership of MAN and included Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz, Bussins, Krup, and Henschel. The specification agreed was for a cross country capable, amphibious, all wheel drive, run flat tyres, steel cab, NBC protection, and a multifuel engine. In 1975 the German Army & MAN signed the contract to produce 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 vehicles. They are powered by a V8 Deutz diesel engine and are mainly flatbed or covered type trucks. The distinctive cab with the cut away corners stems from the need for the vehicles to be rail transported on standard flat cars. Earlier trucks had fixed cabs but later ones tilting ones which made engine maintenance much easier. All vehicles feature a mount for a MG3 machine gun (basically an MG42!). Germany had deployed the Light Artillery Rocket System since 1969, The 110mm rockets were mounted on a multi-barrelled launcher. Originally on a Magirus chassis they were later put on the MAN chassis when the German Army Standardised to them. The system was an area weapon employing Fragmentation or smoke projectiles, as well as this it could deliver anti-tank mines. Maximum range was 14km with a minimum range of 6.6km. The 36 tubes could all be fired in 18 seconds, The system was phased out in 1998 to be replaced by the M270 system. The Kit The kit arrives on 10 sprues, a clear sprue, with cab and launcher as separate parts. There are also 4 boxes of various sizes and 7 rubber tyres, a nice inclusion is masks for the windows. Construction starts with the chassis. First of all the suspension units & axles are built up, this is followed by the transfer case. The main chassis rails are joined by the cross members and the transfer case is added. Supports for the suspension units are added in and then the axles themselves follow. Prop shafts join the transfer box to the front axle and first rear axle, another joins the first rear axle to the second. Next up the exhaust system goes in. Shock absorbers are added for each axles and torque dampers as well link to the chassis. Lastly for the chassis the wheels and tyres go on. Work then moves to the cab. The dash board is built up with some of the drivers foot controls added underneath it. The base plate of the cab has the gear controls and a few other parts added then the dash is fitted. Once this is in the drivers seat and steering wheel are added along with the bench seat for the passengers. This is then the lower part of the cab complete. Moving onto the upper part the windows added along with a couple of internal parts and the main rear bulkhead. The upper cab can then be attached to the floor. The spare wheel and carrier are completed and attached to the cab, followed by the main doors being completed and added. The right side equipment locker is also built up and added. On the outside of the cab the front bumper is added along with the roof hatch, mirrors, wipers and parts for the engine hatch. The completed cab can then be added to the chassis. At the rear of the chassis two hydraulic stabiliser legs are built up and added on. Work now moves to the rear launcher platform. The main base has is underside parts added and then it fits directly on to the chassis. Once this is on the equipment box that fits in front of the launcher. The main box goes onto the floor pate, under this is added an equipment locker to the right and a jerrican rack to the left. A boarding ladder rack is also included for this area. To the very rear of the vehicle an access platform complete with PE tread plate is built up and added. A boarding ladder then attached to this. Once all the platforms are on its time to move to the launcher itself. The circular base is built up and a small generator unit also get assembled and added for the base. The main launcher assembly now goes together and the extended tubes are added to the front of the launcher. The end caps can be either in the open or closed position. An operator station is then built up and added in between the tubes, this seems to offer manual traverse and elevation if its needed in the event of a power failure. The completed launcher can then be added to the rear of the vehicle. Decals Theses are minimal as the vehicles did not carry many markings. Conclusion It is great to see a modern if now out of service German vehicle being made available, this gives many diorama possibilities as well as a great stand alone model. The kit is nicely complex and should build up to be a great looking kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. German Traffic Tractor D8532 (38041) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Lanz Bulldog was a peculiar early tractor, powered by a single-cylinder “hot bulb” diesel engine with a single piston, which although it was ahem… agricultural, was very effective and easy to repair, so it became very popular in Germany, manufactured at its base in Mannheim and built under license in other countries. The D8500 used a three-speed transmission plus one reverse gear, and the curious engine was upgraded over time with output eventually reaching over 50hp. The upgrades were evolutionary rather than revolutionary, and by 1938 they were still available with metal wheels that must have been horribly loud on any hard surface, but gave enough traction to carry it over rough or muddy ground so that it could carry out its job. Pneumatic tyres were often added later once they became commonplace, making farming a quieter endeavour. The last of them rolled off the production lines in the 60s, ending a hugely long run, although a number have survived to the present day. The Kit This is a new boxing following the brand new tooling from MiniArt, and a little out of the left field in terms of subject matter. It arrives in a medium-sized top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues in grey styrene, a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret, a sheet of decals and the instruction booklet with colour cover on glossy paper. The nippers have been active again on one long sprue, which has been cut into two to fit inside the box, while the PE is safely cocooned in a card envelope, however the tiny size of the fret is kind of jarring when you first open it. Construction begins with the big, bolt-riddled chassis, which is made from forward and aft sections that both mate to opposite sides of a central bulkhead and adding axles, accessible ancillaries and towing arm at the rear. The top cowling is made of separate panels that are mated under a curved top panel that has filler caps fixed into holes in the top. It is shaped to fit snugly onto the surface of the chassis, and is joined by a large tread-plated deck on which the driver will later sit. Pedals and other driver controls are attached, then the seat goes on, plus some linkages to the important areas. A large bell-housing glues onto the right, and another teardrop fairing that protects the drive-belt is attached on the left side, then the large rear mudguards and rear bumper are fitted under the driver’s deck. The underside is finished off by making up the front axle with steering arms, then a large single tube exhaust is made up which goes on the underside rather like a normal car exhaust then a tractor one which sticks up. The smaller front wheels are laminated from five sections to depict the various traction surfaces that are present on the real wheels. The ;large rear wheels are again laminated but with two large hubs either side around the main tyre part, again, you make two, and all four wheels are added to their respective axles. The steering wheel is added along with the frames to support the windscreen and a light bar at the front to hold both head lights. Finally at the rear the two support stays for the roof, and then the roof itself are fitted. The very last item is a PE wiper for the windscreen. Markings Anyone that has lived or even visited a farm will know that a tractor is a beast of burden, and as such there isn’t much care lavished on the cosmetics of the thing. The mechanical parts will be horribly oily, and over the years the paint will chip and rust, while the greasy parts will become caked in a mix of dust, oil and grease, with frequent spills and impact marks adding to the patina. We are only given one scheme on the back of the instruction booklet, but the world is your oyster if you want to depict other colours that you have either seen, or want to portray. The decals are small and simple, printed 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 While it’s hardly everyone’s cup of tea, it’s an interesting model and could even be built just to hone your weathering an distressing of the paintwork skills. The detail is excellent, and the sheer practical nature of the design is well depicted in miniature. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Soviet D-38 Tank (84517) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The D-38 was a derivative of the BT-2 “convertible” tank that could have its tracks removed and could run on its road-wheels for an extra turn of speed on metalled/tarmacked roads, although Russia had very little in the way of this type of road, so it was a bit of a waste of effort. The tank was pretty good for its time, and the D-38 was fitted with a faceted turret that was welded, and could carry a 76.2mm howitzer, with the M1927 being the choice as it allowed the tanks to offer fire support to advancing troops. It was a powerful gun for the time, but it came a little too late and suffered from comparison to the newer T-34 that proved to be a much more capable machine in every way. Production of the D-38 stopped in favour of the new golden girl, and the rest as they say, is history. The Kit This is a partial retooling of their earlier BT-2 kit, but with new parts to depict the turret and any other small differences between them. It arrives in their usual top-opening box with a painting of the type on the kid, and inside are eight sprues and two hull halves in sand coloured styrene, two track sprues in grey, a small clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE), and a decal sheet containing two rows of white digits 0-9. The instruction booklet is slim, and there is also a sheet of painting instructions printed in colour on glossy paper slipped within it. It’s a small kit of a simple tank, so should be a fairly fast build until you get to the painting part, but detail is good throughout the exterior. Construction begins with the two hull halves, as this is an exterior kit and has nothing on the inside, not even a basic breech. A few holes need opening up, and a few more should be closed over with some rod or putty, then the final drive housings are bulked out by adding parts to the inside of the bell-shaped areas. Bump-stops are fitted to the side of the hull, followed by large perforated bars that separate the individual springs and suspension arms, with a different swing-arm for the front road wheels that have steering linkages poking through the armour for the road-going “travel mode”. The sides of the hull are then applied to the outer faces, closing in the suspension and the chain-drive to the rearmost road wheel. At the front the “steering” wheels are put in place with their central hub, then the paired road wheels are installed behind them, with the smaller idler wheel in front of the steerers, and a multi-part drive sprocket. Tracks are in grey styrene, and there are 48 links per side. Every other one has a guide horn, and the detail moulded into the links is very good. Make a run up and wrap it around the wheels while the glue is still soft, and hold the links in place with tape or some other method to ensure that the correct sag is present when the glue sets. The fenders are made from a front and rear part on each side, then at the rear a large exhaust muffler is made up and mounted on a pair of PE parts, just behind two engine louvers that might allow the viewer see the blank interior, so take the precaution of putting a coat of black inside before you close up, so that little will be seen. All that is left now is the turret, which is a simple top and bottom section, to which the main gun barrel are carriage are added behind a two-part mantlet, with a machine gun in a ball-mount to the right of it, plus a vent on the roof and grab handle at the rear. That’s it. I told you it was a simple kit. Markings The decal sheet contains two rows of 0-9 digits, with a pair of additional zeroes thrown in. There are no decals shown used in the side profiles, so do a little research and pick your numbers from the decal sheet. From the box you can build this Russian Green vehicle. Conclusion It’s a total dead-end of the Soviet armour programme, but an interesting one. If it weren’t for the T-34 it may have seen a lot more action, and could well have done a good job against everything but the Panthers and Tigers. A strange mix of Christie suspension, unusual design choices and a big gun. It’s quite a likeable tank. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Bending Pliers for Photo-Etched parts (MTS-029) Meng Model via Creative Models Ltd. Successfully handling Photo-Etch is a task that requires some fairly specific tools, and to get the most out of it you need to obey the mantra "use the right tools for the job". With this in mind, PE bending tools should be on your shopping list (really? ), and while PE bending brakes are essential for some jobs, they're not suitable for every job. PE pliers are useful for smaller parts, and for those where you have to bend parts close to each other, such as tiny boxes etc. You can use standard flat-bladed pliers with some success, but they generally tend to be on the larger side that aren't always useful. Even the Tamiya PE pliers are a bit wide for some jobs, so this new tool from Meng could well fit a gap in the market. Arriving in a well-appointed brown card box, inside is a high-density foam liner with the shape of the pliers cut out and the pliers well stuffed into the hole. They take a little effort to get out, and once free you can see that they have very narrow blades, at only 1mm at the very tip. The overall shape, especially the handles have a Xuron feeling, the jaws are sprung, and the red plastic handles (which look more orange in the pictures) are glued in place with a strong epoxy to prevent them from creeping off during use. The two blades are bent so that they mesh directly over each other, with about 20mm of useable bending length from front to back. The Meng logo and product code are etched into one side of the jaws behind the riveted pivot point, which allows zero play between the jaws for a positive action. The jaws are made from quality tool steel, and the springs should last a lifetime, making relaxing your grip as simple as opening your hand. To try them out I used an old Reheat PE set that includes WWII RAF seats and belts, bending up a seat with raised detail on the inside. The blades are easy to locate on the bending line, and grip is firm. With half-thickness PE next to the fold, it's wise to bend against a flat surface, such as a rule or a desk to prevent the weaker thin part from bending, and the blade's square edge results in a nice clean bend. The seat took a matter of seconds to fold up, and as you can see in the picture I didn't apply any glue to the joins, as this wasn't a test of my modelling prowess. I can see this being very useful for folds that have narrow gaps between them, such as equipment boxes often found in Eduard sets, which makes it a very useful part of your PE handling tool kit. Add a bending brake, some fine tweezers, a sticky wax pencil, some fine files for removing attachment point stubs and a few grades of super glue, and PE should present much less of a challenge. Practice also helps immensely as does magnification, so even if you initially struggle, you'll soon get used to the process, and wonder what the fuss was about. I have slightly chunky mitts, and they fall to hand well, being on the small side of comfortable, with the handles just about reaching the edge of my palm when held ready for action. This should minimise any dropping incidents, even though I've got a bit of an issue with that sort of thing due to my advancing age and a few medical conditions. Each handle has a small hole through it, which would permit the use of a lanyard if your grip is worse than mine, as a fall blade first onto a hard surface could be difficult to recover from. Conclusion A very useful part of any modeller's PE handling tool kit that will pay dividends once you get used to using them. Review sample courtesy of
  19. US Soldiers At Rest (35318) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd It has been said war was 90% boredom and 10% terror. There is no doubt that in a lot of situations solider find themselves sitting around waiting for things to happen. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are eight sprues, two containing the figures, the others containing their equipment (there will be some spares here). Also printed on the instructions are a newspaper, magazines and plying cards to use with the figures as needed. The figures seem to be in quite natural poses for troops at rest, smoking, sleeping, reading and playing cards. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus the there are many extras to add some detail to their vicinity if you’re using them in a diorama; or to put in the spare box. Its good to see figures being provided like this instead of the more favoured action poses. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. German Tankers Refueling (35348) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tanks of all types all ways seemed to need re-fueling, in fact it was German General Heinz Guderian who famously said the Logistics was the ball and chain of Armoured Warfare. This set from Miniart gives us two crewmen refueling though they could be for any vehicle scene not just tanks. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are eight sprues, two containing the figures, the others containing fuel drums and jerricans. There is also a small PE fret. The two figures are posed in refueling positions. The modeller will have to source their own hose for this. Enough parts are provided for two fuel drums and three jerricans and two of the smaller triangular cans. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus the extras to add some detail to their vicinity if you’re using them in a diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. German Tankmen Painting Camo (35327) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tanks needed to be painted in the field for a variety of reasons, change of terrain, season, battle damage, or just plain wear and tear. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are six sprues, two containing the figures, the other three with equipment and ladders The two figures are posed in classic painting positions with both a spray gun and a brush. There is a small ladder and a large one, a couple of buckets and a compressor. The modeller will have to source their own hose for this. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus the extras to add some detail to their vicinity if you’re using them in a diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Railway Gondola 16.5-18t (35296) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Railways are excellent for transporting large or heavy goods (yes, shocking isn't it?), and there are all sorts of wagons available to facilitate this, with the open wagon being one such option for goods that aren't susceptible to weather damage. This is the subject of this model from MiniArt, which arrives in a standard top-opening kit box, wrapped in shrink-wrap to prevent tampering and parts escaping. It is quite a heavy box, the reason for which becomes evident when you open it, as there are forty four sprues in mid-grey styrene of various sizes, a sheet of decals, small Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope and the instruction booklet. As indicated on the box, there is a set of figures included and you also get a short length of track with sleepers to put in your own ballast, plus some barrels and such to liberally stash around the place. As you may already know, MiniArt utilise smaller sprues to compartmentalise their kits, so that parts can easily be reused in different variants or other boxings to add value to their models and the customer. This is a prime example, pairing the figures and fuel drums with the new gondola to create a really nice package. Construction begins with the central cross-member of the chassis which has hollow two-part timbers and the coupling "root" pinned between the H-frame. This is paired up with four more cross-braces that hold the two C-section chassis rails in place, with braced U-mounts hanging from the rails to accept the axles later on. Diagonal bracing rails are added under the bed with the end bars and side brackets, then the bed itself and two side rails are fitted before the assembly is flipped over to add the leaf-spring suspension and finally the axles with a choice of two wheel types, which are a spring fit between the posts in much the same manner as those of a traditional model train. Righting the model allows fitting of the four sides with their stiffening braces, and a pair of sliding doors on the sides with their runners and retaining rails completes the main structure, then the latches and padlocks are added from PE parts. Each wagon has a total of four buffers front and rear and two hitches, the latter being well-detailed due to the part count, and the eyelets on either side of the hitches have hooks hung on short lengths of chain, which you'll need to source yourself. The kit includes enough track to place your gondola on with a few inches either side that will come in useful if you are integrating it into a larger diorama. It is made up from five different types of sleeper with varying grain and ties moulded in and the clamp that holds the rail in place is a separate part for each of the 20 sleepers with two per sleeper. The rails are in two parts each with jointing strips on each side of the rail to turn the joint into a feature, rather than something to hide. You'll need to put the groundwork in yourself, but that gives you a lot of leeway to choose something suitable for your purposes and you can choose larger scale ballast from those available for railway modellers or make your own. Seven barrels are included in the kit for the figures to play with, and if you've seen any of my recent MiniArt reviews they'll be familiar. The drums are made from halves to which the top and bottoms are added, then two stiffening bands are fixed to the grooves in the drums, each made up from two parts. There is a choice of end-caps with different wording in raised lettering, and if you leave off the cap you can make up the hand-pump with nozzle at the other end of a piece of hose/wire that you supply yourself - that's if you feel it's appropriate to the situation of course, but it's there anyway. A separate diagram offers four colour schemes for the drums including light grey, dark yellow, red and white striped, and Panzer Grey. The barrels are shown being rolled up planks into the wagon with two soldiers pushing, one pulling on a rope from within the wagon, another rolling the next barrel into position and of course the officer looking busy with a notebook so he doesn't have to exert himself. The figures are typical MiniArt and are naturally posed with excellent detail thanks to careful sculpting and parts breakdown. Each of them have separate torsos, legs arms and heads with caps separate, plus the occasional separate hand where its position would be better moulded by removing it from the arm. The officer has a pistol holster and his book, with the pencil/pen moulded into his right hand for completeness. Markings Four decal/colour options are shown in the instructions, ranging from green, through grey/brown filthy mottle and two shades of brown, C is Russian in origin, and for the purists you will need to obtain some Russian Railroad Track (35565) for ultimate fidelity. The decals are almost all white stencils with a couple of black ones breaking up the monotone, and they are printed by Decograph with good density and sharpness. Conclusion A highly detailed gondola/wagon for use in dioramas, with your imagination the only limiting factor. Troops loading the wagon, soldiers fighting around it, or it being in the background of a larger scene, it will look great with sympathetic paintwork, and some good ballast. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. British Army Husky TSV (VS-009) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models Navistar International's (formerly International Trucks) militarised version of their XT is the basis for this heavily upgraded vehicle that is fitted with an armour package to protect it against small arms fire, mines and IEDs, and then further adapted to the British Army's specification as a Tactical Support Vehicle. It first saw service in 2009 in Afghanistan, and is intended to support light armoured vehicles in combat, and can be configured as an Ambulance, Command post or Utility Vehicle. It seats four which includes the two crew (driver and commander), and is four-wheel drive to ensure performance on rough ground in all conditions, with the ballistic protection extending to glazing, which must please its crew no-end! The frame is strong, and the hull angled to reduce the impact of mines and IEDs, as is common amongst M-ATVs of modern design. As is the current fashion with the MoD, it was given the name Husky in a similar manner as its stablemates the 6-wheeled monster Wolfhound and smaller Coyote, which are more suited to supporting larger AFVs. There are over 300 units in British service now, which is capable of up to 70mph on good ground thanks to its 340bhp 6-litre V8 diesel power plant. It is broadly similar to the American MXT-MV, but it has a catchier name, plus of course the UK specific equipment fit. The Kit A complete new tooling from Meng's Velociraptor range, and it would make sense to expect a number of other boxings for other configurations and operators, but at this stage that's mere speculation on my part. The kit is cocooned in one of their smaller sized boxes, and inside are six sprues and three separate parts in sand coloured-styrene, a clear sprue, four flexible plastic wheels, four poly-caps, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet and instruction booklet with separate colour profiles sheet. This boxing allows the modeller to build a utility vehicle, which doesn't sound all that exciting, but that's a fairly dull description of such a tough vehicle with a big 12.7mm machine gun in a mounting on the roof, and its uses are much more varied than the title suggests. Detail is excellent, and the sprues contain parts for a highly detailed model, with only the engine missing, which is no big deal due to the armoured nature of its compartment rendering it invisible other than during maintenance. Construction begins with the chunky chassis, which has two levels and raised sections to accommodate the suspension and steering equipment. The big double shock absorbers are fitted front and rear, while the front suspension is fitted, which has the steering rack buried within, and can be left mobile with care. The rear suspension has a big transfer box and armour around it, with pegs holding it to the rear frame, and is joined by accessories, front inner wheel-wells and the rear axles. The engine compartment is moulded with bonnet/hood moulded into the fenders, to which the front light clusters, radiator grille with deep louvres, and vents are added before it is dropped into place over the empty lower of the compartment. A short bumper/fender backing panel, air-box, and mudflaps are attached first, then joined by a rather chunky-looking and angular bumper, which has IED countermeasures and stowage built into it, and has a couple of towing lugs hanging from the through-beams. The crew cab seats four and begins as an L-shaped panel to which a detail insert is added at the rear, and it is then detailed with equipment racks that fit to the centre transmission tunnel, with a PE skinned weapon station footplate in between the two racks. The front seats are made up with their adjustment rails beneath them, and a pair of moulded-in crew belts should be picked out in the suggested colour. The aft seats are less substantial and have supports beneath them, plus suspension mounts from above, slotting into pins and lugs in the floor. Then the cab itself is built up from the external shell, to which the interior skin is added, with grab-handles and equipment fitted before the two are married up. A circular turret access panel is sandwiched between the two layers with no glue so that it can be rotated later on, with the turret fitted later. The instrument panel is well-detailed, and has a modern cowled steering-wheel and pedal box added along with a large number of binnacle and control decals to further improve the look. This fixes into the front of the cab shell, and is joined by more equipment before it is joined with the cab floor and chairs. With the windscreen glazing installed and scuttle panel with moulded-in windscreen wipers added, the cab is then mated with the chassis and secured by aligning the long tabs with the lugs on the underside of the cab. Two runs of crew steps on an angled running board are affixed to the outer sides of the cab, and the armoured doors are fabricated from outer panels with glazing insert, plus the inner panel "door cards", handles and wing mirrors in the case of the front doors, with matching handles on the inside. A couple of stencil decals are applied to the doors along the way, then they can be glued to the cab in the open or closed position, or any combination of those positions, noting that the rear doors hinge backwards. Going back to the crew steps, you might notice from our Walkaround pictures that sometimes the drop-steps aren't fitted, so check your references there, and leave them off if your chosen Husky doesn't have them. The small rear windows have external armoured glass, so are fitted later, along with a lot of sensors, antennae, and self-defence equipment. The turret has a shallow (a little too shallow for safety IMHO) upstand moulded into its base, and the weapons mount projects forward of the main assembly on an A-frame to which a splinter shield and GPMG "Jimpy" is mounted with stowage for two ammo boxes. The hinged hatch as the rear further protects the gunner's back when he is in position, and prevents grenades from being tossed inside when shut, and can be fitted open or closed, then it is glued to the rotating roof panel, which you did leave mobile, didn't you? Now it's time to assemble the short aft load-carrying section of the vehicle, which has more than a little bit of stowage in its shallow flatbed. An internal floor is added to detail the area, and front/rear panels are installed, with rear light clusters filling the narrow areas to the sides of the tailgate. It is added to the chassis via tabs, and then it's time to put wheels on your wagon. The four hubs are moulded as two halves, with a poly-cap hidden inside, then pushed through the bead in the rubbery tyres. The front and rear hubs are different, so take care with their location. You might also be interested to know that Meng have created an aftermarket set of resin tyres with engineered-in sag and the hubs moulded into the centre, which some folks will want almost certainly. You'll find that review at the bottom of this one. You'd think that would be pretty much the end of things, but this is a very detailed model, so there is still some work to do, creating the additional stowage racks on the sides of the load bay, with perforated steel panels (PSP) strapped to the inner side. A roll-over frame is then fixed to the rear, with more equipment attached to the tops, including some disc antennae and a radio mast base, storage boxes and jerry cans are added to the side stowage rack on both sides, and only then are you finished if you're stopping short of adding your own personalisations. Markings A lot of the decals are used along the way, detailing the interior, but there are still quite a few stencils applied to the exterior, offering hints at tyre pressures, turning directions of door handles etc., plus of course the army format number plates, and a few prominent NO STEP stencils on the bonnet and fenders to prevent heavy-footed squaddies from knackering body panels. Only one scheme is given, as the Husky has only been seen wearing the desert camo as yet, and colours are called out in the collaborative Meng AK shades and Acrysion colours, which is the new range from Mr Hobby. The colour names are also given in a table at the rear of the instructions, so conversion to any other range shouldn't be too taxing. The decals are made in China, and although they're in good register and colour density, they're not quite as sharp as Meng's usual decal printers, Cartograf would have been, with some of the smaller stencils, particularly the white on red being a little fuzzy and illegible. It's not a massive problem as they're very small anyway, and once given even a light coating of weathering, it'll blend right in. Conclusion It's good to have one of the Army's more recent vehicles in 1:35 before it reaches its 30th birthday or retires! The detail is excellent throughout, and unless you're the 1 in 10,000 that would have opened up the engine bay for a maintenance diorama, the lack of engine is hardly noticed. Clever moulding makes construction easier and detail better, with the availability of resin tyres from Meng's own aftermarket catalogue great news if you're after more detail and want to crack on. Having compared them side-by-side they're certainly worth looking at, so watch out for my review below. Extremely highly recommended. British Army Husky TSV Sagged Wheel Set (SPS-064) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models You've probably just finished reading the review of the new Husky kit above, but in case you haven't, scroll up to the top and come back in a minute when you've finished - it's a rather nice kit. The wheels supplied with the kit are perfectly adequate for the job consisting of flexible plastic tyres and styrene hubs, but when compared to these resin replacements they come a poor second due to the crispness of the resin. Arriving in a small box, there are four tyres on casting blocks, with individual "fingers" landing on tread blocks to reduce the amount of clean-up. They're a simple drop-in replacement for the kit hubs and tyres, and as you can see they offer so much more in the way of detail, as well as the aforementioned crispness. There are two moulds, marked as 1 and 2, as the front and rear wheels have slightly different centre bosses to their hubs, as well as having their tyres at a different orientation so things look a bit more naturalistic, and while they're not a cheap upgrade, they are definitely awesome. As usual with resin, take the precaution of wearing a mask when cutting or sanding resin, as the tiny particles are harmful to your health if breathed in. Washing the parts in warm water or isopropyl alcohol will also improve the adhesion of paint, as there may still be some moulding release agent on the parts when you receive them. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.D/B 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Designed in the mid 1930s to be part of a pairing with the larger Panzer IV, the lighter Panzer III was originally intended to be sent up against other tanks, as well as to push through gaps in enemy lines to cause havoc with supply lines and generally disrupt the enemy's day. Production began in 1937, with few of the early marks reaching series production, using up A through D as prototypes, of which the Ausf.B was used in the Polish campaign briefly before being put out to pasture as a training vehicle along with the remaining Cs and Ds. The suspension was a work-in-progress, using leaf springs until the Ausf.E, which moved to torsion bars that were then seen on most new German designs during WWII and beyond. During the early period of WWII the Pz.III continued to do its prescribed task until the T-34 tore through their ranks, brushing aside the lighter armoured Pz.IIIs and necessitating an up-gunning of the Pz.IV with a new high velocity gun to combat its sloped armour. By 1942 it was relegated to tasks where its light armour and 3.7mm pop-gun wasn't an impediment, such as close support of troop advances. By this time it was clear that it was past its sell-by-date, and that the Pz.IV had much more development potential. The chassis went on to be used for many other developments, some of which were quite successful, such as the StuG III. The Kit This is a re-tool of MiniArt's new range of Panzer III models, the early Ausf.B with crew we reviewed recently here. While it does share some of the larger parts with its stable-mate, there are a significant number of new sprues due in part to the different suspension, but also because of the additional hull parts (stowage and such) that are visible in the box painting. There are twenty seven sprues of grey styrene, plus three separate parts, a further twenty one sprues of track links, and five more of track pins, plus a clear sprue, fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet. The usual high level of detail is present, and the modular approach to moulding allows them to produce maximum variants from their toolings. The major difference between the boxings is to be found in the track area, where different suspension units are used, necessitating the tooling of new parts that include the hull sides. The new parts have three leaf spring arrangements, with two Y-shaped suspension arms damped between them, and each arm mounting two pairs of wheels on an additional swing-arm that pivots around the centre. Each wheel has a rubber tyre around the steel rim, and a cup inside the inner wheel allows them to remain mobile after construction if the glue is used sparingly. The large drive sprocket is retained, as is the large idler wheel, although both are subtly different due to design changes. The forward section of the top deck is identical to the previous version, but the engine deck is different, having two side-by-side access doors on the flat section, each having clamshell doors, with the sloped section retaining the single doors of its predecessor. The raised centre section is identical, and the fenders are moulded in one run, but with panel lines and fasteners showing the modular nature of the real things, and some slight differences between the fixtures and fittings. The track links are identical, and are built up in sections nine links, using the perfect spacing of the pins to add them seven at a time, building into two runs of 96 links, one for each side. From my previous experimentation, the pins do hold the tracks together, but with handling they can slip free, so take precautions during handling. The jig shown in the picture is also not included in this boxing, but that shouldn't be much of an impediment, and you won't end up with your tracks glued to the jig. For two decal options there are additional track links draped over the front of the machine, to add extra armour to the area, which are made up and secured in place with PE brackets. Another addition to one of the options is a set of wooden stowage boxes around the rear of the tank, covering most of the engine deck apart from the access doors on the flat section. The boxes are made up from styrene parts, but with PE brackets, latches and padlocks where appropriate. Despite this not being an interior kit, the turret is quite well appointed, with a full breech assembly, twin coaxial machine guns, turret baskets, seats and other equipment supplied in the box. The side doors can be posed open or closed, and have PE trim on the inside, with more PE parts forming the little hatches for the sighting gear and coax machine gun openings in the mantlet. The turret sits in the opening of the hull and is not locked in place, so you will either need to remember this, or fix it in place to avoid dropping it with handling. Markings There are four decal options in the box, with some optional personalisations made to the kit depending on which you choose, as pointed out throughout the build instructions. The decal sheet is small due to the genre, but from the box you can depict one of the following: Panzer-Zug 2.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt. (ZbV)40 attached to the SS Division "Nord" XXXVI Army Corps, Karelia, Summer of 1941. IV Panzer-Zug 3.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt.(ZbV)40 attached to the fast detachment Fossi (Osasto Fossi) battle group F (Ryhmä F) 3rd Infantry Division of the Finnish Army. The fighting in the direction of Uhtua – Vuokkiniemi Karelia, July 1941. I Panzer-Zug 2.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt.(ZbV)40 attached to the division of the Finnish Army Corps (III Armeijakunta, III AK) Karelia, November 1941. Panzer-Zug 2.Panzer-Kompanie Pz.Abt. (ZbV)40 attached to the SS Division "Nord". Defensive battles in Kestenga village area (Kiestinki) April 24-May 11, 1942. Decals are printed in the Ukraine by Decograph with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Another high quality model of this perhaps overlooked early War staple of the German tank forces. Of course due to their period of operation the dominant colour is panzer grey, but a distemper scheme has been included for a little variety, and the crew personalisations of the appliqué armour and extra stowage areas brings additional interest to the model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. German A7V Tank (Krupp) 1:35 Meng After the British Mark IV tanks crashed (clanked and sputtered) onto the battlefield in 1916 at the height of WWI, the German army went into overdrive in an effort to bring their own landship to the front, but in the meantime pinched and re-purposed as many of the British tanks as they could as Beutepanzers in the meantime. Their design was intended to include a re-useable chassis that could sport an offensive armament, or a cargo body, with only a pitiful 20 out of 100 in the initial order. They weighed in at around 30 tonnes with only mild steel for armour plate, which although it was 30mm at the front and 20mm at the sides was still ineffective compared to a hardened alternative. The running gear was based on a Holt Tractor that was borrowed from the Austrians, and the blockhouse body housed a single 57mm cannon in a cylindrical casemate, which allowed limited traverse as well as elevation. There were also six 7.92mm machine gun emplacements, and under the top-mounted driver's position were two Daimler petrol engines that could propel the vehicle at up to 3mph on uneven ground. It entered service in 1918 in time to engage in the first tank-on-tank battle, where a three tank patrol met three British Mk.IVs, the Females being damaged by armour piercing machine gun rounds and forced to withdraw. The Male Mk.IV brought its guns to bear on the lead A7V and knocked it out with three shots, after which the two remaining German tanks withdrew. It proved to be about as reliable as the British tanks, and no more were ordered, although some other designs were in progress when the war ended. The only survivor of the twenty, numbered 506 and named Mephisto was abandoned by the Germans at Villiers-Bretonneux, and recovered by the Allies a few months later. It was taken by the Australians as a war prize, where it remains today. The Kit We appear to be in the middle of a renaissance of WWI armour, and that pleases me immensely as someone that's quite fond of the ugly old clankers. We have been treated to a number of kits of British Mk.IVs from Takom and Tamiya, with a Mk.V and Whippet light tank on the way from Takom, so this new issue from Meng fills an important gap, and sits well beside their two Renault FT-17 tanks that were used byt the French in the Great War. Previously we had only the Tauro kit in this scale, and that wasn't very good, having a totally fictitious interior and clunky tracks, as well as being hard to get hold of in recent years. This new tooling by Meng offers a fairly comprehensive interior that has a much firmer grounding in reality, and it can all be shown off by leaving some or all of the access hatches open. The box is standard sized Meng fare, and inside is a plethora of plastic that fills all the available space, requiring careful re-packing. There are nineteen sprues in sand coloured styrene, four in black, two pairs of black poly-caps, a small Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a length of synthetic braided cord, and a decal sheet of moderate proportions. The instruction booklet is bound in a colour cover, with extensive text on the genesis of the A7V in four languages at the front, and painting diagrams at the rear. As always with Meng, the first impression is of a quality product, right from the satin finish on the box to the instruction booklet. The sprues are very well detailed, and use of slide-moulding is evident on a number of parts to ease our job of putting it together. Construction starts with the many road wheels, of which there are two types with and without flanges on the edges. Two of each type are sandwiched in a bogie of which there are six in three pairs. The idler wheels are built up on their track tensioning device, while the drive sprockets have a stub axle for later fitting to the hull. Each pair of bogies are added to their sub-frame, which is very well detailed indeed, and these are further detailed with additional linkages and dampers on the tops, and are later installed on the underside of the chassis in between the return roller racks that are built up and added to the underside of the chassis. The lower frame of the chassis has a floor panel to which the final drive is added, which houses a pair of poly-caps, and deep girders are then added all around, after which the aforementioned return roller racks are installed, of which there are two types. Small bogies containing two return rollers each are attached to the racks, and at this point the idler and drive sprocket wheels plus the exhaust muffler are also added. The three main road wheel bogies are installed on the underside of the chassis, and that's the end of that – the chassis is then turned over for the addition of the tracks. The tracks are individual links, and can be found on the black styrene sprues, of which there are four. You will need to make forty eight for each side, and each link is made up from the track plate, and separate linkage part, but fret not – there are only two very dainty sprue gates on each part, and the moulding is very nice indeed with large domed rivets, slide-moulded lightening holes and click-fit track pins. A little glue to mate the two parts is all that is needed, and once dry you can clip each run together with the minimum of fuss, resulting in a set of very well detailed workable tracks that just need a lick of paint and some weathering. The interior is the next job, and that begins with the addition of the floor panels, which have tread-plate detail moulded into them. The floor is broken into front and aft parts, in between which would be the two engines, with a pair of narrow walk-ways outboard. The engines aren't included, which might seem a shame on initial inspection, but when you look at the finished item, the area is so deep within the bowels of the machine that it wouldn't be seen under normal (non-endoscopic) circumstances through any open hatches. Some enterprising soul is bound to bring out a resin set to fill this area if you have eyes that can see round corners though. The driver's area is raised above the main floor, on a pair of T-shaped brackets that are moulded into the chassis sides, and the raised floor fits on top, with a pair of crew seats, hand controls and foot pedals for both the driver and co-driver for redundancy. The radiators sit at the front and rear of the raised area, against two bulkheads with large circular cut-outs in which the cooling fans would have been placed. The radiator cores sit outside the bulkheads, and have a PE mesh added to the front, and three protective bars running horizontally across the front. More bracing struts are added to each corner, and a number of additional controls are applied to the portions of the bulkheads that project up above the raised floor. The main gun has a slide-moulded barrel, to which the recuperators and cradle are added, plus the aiming devices, the sights and the vertically curved portion of the splinter shield. The gun then slots into the main shield from the open back, and a PE top is added to the cylindrical shield. The gun is supported on a tapered octagonal base, which the gun fits atop after installing a sector gear and spacing device that clips round the shaft. An ammunition box and six seats for the machine gunners are built up next, with the ammo placed behind the main gun, which is installed on an octagonal depression on the front floor. The machine gunners' positions are able to swivel on a single point outside the seat-pan, presumably to facilitate access to the gun for re-loading and fast exit in the case of bail-out. Two are placed in the front compartment, with the remaining four at the rear. The guns are built up from a one-piece breech and barrel, with separate hand-grips and mounting parts. The guns mount to brackets attached to the side of the hull, and each one has a nicely moulded belt of ammo that can be flexed to fit its position. As a bit of extra detail, a rack of four rifles can be made up in the rear compartment, with additional "potato-masher" hand grenades, two extra rifles with bayonets attached, and a pair of Bergmann MP18 sub machine guns with separate side-mounted snail-drum magazines, although these were only used in the closing months of the war. Each of the machine guns are added to the insides of the hull plates before they are installed on the hull, so you'll be doing some internal painting at this stage unless you're leaving all the doors closed up. They are attached to the walls via plates on the mounts that mate with corresponding depressions in the walls. Each gun slot has a pair of triangular panels protecting the cylindrical mount (plus the gunner's face), two of which can be posed closed if you aren't fitting the rear guns. After this, the sides, front and rear are joined to the hull and your A7V starts to take shape with the addition of the lower glacis and valance front and rear. The four large towing shackles (two each front and rear) are covered by wedge-shaped armour panels, which can be posed raised for towing, or down for normal use by cutting off one or other of the two mounting lugs, which are roughly 90o opposed from each other. The crew doors are built up with separate pistol-port covers, handles, and a fold-down jump-seat that is stowed vertically to open the doors. They also have an appliqué weather bar riveted to their bottom edge, which is a further separate part, and a decal for the inside surface stating the tank's number in case the crew forget which one they're in! As well as the crew doors, there are double doors on each unused machine-gun slot, and four inspection/maintenance hatches along the track runs on each side, with a further two low down on the front of the glacis plate. One of the smaller panels in the middle each of the sides are propped open by the exhaust pipe, which snakes up the side and away from the gun ports, with a bracket separating the solid pipe from the hollow tip. At this stage the tank lacks a roof, as well as a protective cab, which is next on the agenda. The front and rear walls of the cab have a bifold door that covers the opening on the inside, and a pair of sliding doors for the outside, the latter having PE guides added to each side. The instructions show three positions in scrap diagrams in the open, closed and half-open position to assist you in working out how they should look. The side walls have only one hatch each, the doors for which operate in the same manner as the others, while the roof panel has a circular hatch in the centre, a hinges vented panel over one driver, and a clam-shell door over the other. The main roof is moulded as a single part, and has a large central cut-out for the driver's cab, and numerous parallel ventilation slots cut in the roof, which are covered by armoured grilles. Inside hang a number of toggles for the crew to steady themselves on, and a strip of PE covers the front edge of the main gun's "window". This and the driver's cab are then placed onto the hull and the inside is closed up. The length of string/cord is cut into two lengths of 148mm and a scrap diagram shows how it should be folded over and attached to three sleeves in 1:1 scale, with 3mm between each sleeve. These are then arranged on the top deck and tied-down by shackles, which is probably best done after main painting has been finished. That's it! Markings Only one scheme is provided in the box, that of Schnuck, No. 504 of Abt.2, German Army, in Northern France in Autumn 1918. It has a three colour scheme of sand, red brown and green, with five views showing how the areas flow across the hull, leaving you in no doubt where to put which colour. The decals are larger than most AFV sheets due to the size of the few decals on the sheet, and include eight old-school crosses, plus two further in a ghosted "shade" with a red I in the centre. The other decals are two white "Schnuck" markings, and the 504s for the interior doors. They're printed by Cartograf as usual with Meng, so quality, colour density, sharpness and register are spot on. Conclusion This new one from Meng makes me supremely happy, as I'd got a Tauro Models kit in my stash that had been thrown back in there when I realised the size of the job I'd got to render the interior anything like the real thing. Meng have done their usual fine job of rendering the lumpen riveted surface of the hull, and the inclusion of most of the relevant interior is just gravy. The kit deserves to do well, and will look great next to its adversaries that seem to be popping up like London buses at the moment. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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