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  1. EA-18G Growler (LS-014) 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. It retains some weapons for self-defence such as the AGM-88 or AIM-120C, although the stations on the wingtips are filled by a pair of ALQ-218 jamming pods carried over from the EA-6B Prowler that the Growler replaced. The Kit This is brand-new kit from Meng that has been retooled from their recent two-seat F/A-18F, but with new parts to portray the electronic warfare pods and weapons suitable for the Growler’s role. We have come to expect great things from Meng, as they have impressive technical 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 fourteen sprues of various sizes in grey styrene plus two fuselage halves in the same plastic, a small sprue in clear, plus the canopy (all wrapped in protective self-cling plastic), three styles of small poly-caps, a Ziplok bag containing ten flat-headed pins, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) metal, two sheets of decals, a clear plastic sheet with pre-cut kabuki tape masks, the instruction booklet with colour profiles in the rear, three sheets of card with information about the EA-18G in four languages, and a similarly multi-lingual competition flyer to win cash prizes, apparently. Everything is separately bagged with mildly annoying staples closing some of them up, and once you have found your way past these you see the high quality of the parts within. Detail is right up there with the best, and has finely engraved panel lines, with raised detail where appropriate and slide-moulding used to improve quality further without creating more parts that make some people panic unduly. Construction begins with the cockpit, with the twin-seat tub having the sidewalls installed next to the detailed side consoles, a large control column part in the front and a smaller one in the rear, chunky HOTAS-style throttles, and a pair of well-appointed instrument panels, which have a number of individual decals supplied for both it and the side consoles, the numbers for which are called out in scrap diagrams. The rudder pedals are moulded into the floor and could do with some more detail if you intend to shine a light in there, and you can see them in the shadows of the detail photos above. The nose gear bay is made up from a 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 new 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 ECS ram air exhaust inserts of the multi-tubular type that have 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 radars. 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 bay boxes, 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 rotate 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. 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. The coaming between the pilots is also inserted, and a shortened turtle-deck behind the rear seat is made up from two detailed parts, 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 upper 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 that has 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 Super Hornet has to be sturdy to withstand repeated carrier launches followed by spirited arrestor-hook 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 and pods 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 absent pilots, there are stencils for the headbox sides and rear. They are installed in the cockpit, optionally along with the individually posed pilot figures that come on the sprues, who have separate arms, a wrap-around flotation vest and separate helmeted head with O2 hose. The long canopy part is crystal clear with an external seam over the top that you can either leave there (it’s really 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 pair of blade antennae 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 over the shallow recess to represent one edge of the ladder. Back to the weapons and pods. This is where the rest of 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, and these fit on the outer wing stations, while the four identical pylons fit on the two inner stations per wing, and the solitary Type-C attaches to the centreline. The wingtip rails are filled with identical ALQ-218 jamming pods, which are made up from six parts each, and are handed for each wingtip. For self-defence there are two AIM-120Cs are each moulded complete, with a slim adapter rail, and another pair of AGM-88s with chunkier rail adapter and separate perpendicular fins for extra detail. Scrap diagrams show the correct location of the missiles on their rails, pods and he two external fuel tanks, which also have polycaps inside them. The AIM-120Cs have anti-sway braces to locate them on their semi-conformal mounts above the main gear bay apertures. It’s always best to look at some real-world photos for examples for demonstrable and practical load-outs, but it’s entirely up to you. Markings There are three decal options on the sheets, and you also get a set of canopy masks that are pre-cut from kabuki tape. From the box you can build one of the following: VAQ-132 ‘Scorpions’ Electronic Attack Sqn., Operation Odyssey Dawn, 2011 VAQ-132 ‘Scorpions’ Electronic Attack Sqn., Misawa Air Base, 2014 VAQ-139 ‘Cougars’ Electronic Attack Sqn., USS Carl Vinson, 2014 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. The masks on the clear sheet have been pre-weeded so you only get the masks, without all the surrounding tape. There are masks for all the wheels and the landing light, and frame-hugging masks for the canopy and windscreen. You are advised to fill in the highly curved centres of the canopy and screen with liquid mask or small sections of tape cut to length with some angles cut where necessary. Conclusion Meng have brought their own particular set of skills to the party with both the E and F variants, and now an EA-18G Growler, which I’ve been waiting for the most. They have produced a highly detailed model of this two-seat electronic warfare variant, with some excellent moulding and markings to create a model that is excellent out of the box, without the necessity of aftermarket. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Sd.Kfz.171 Panther Ausf.G Early/Ausf.G w/Air Defence Armour (TS-052) 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The Panther was Nazi Germany's answer to the surprise appearance of the Russian T-34 after they finally reacted to the invasion that was Operation Barbarosa. Although the project had been in gestation some time before, they took some design cues from the T-34 in the shape of sloped armour, resulting in the Panther that was intended to fill the gap between the Panzer.IV and the (then) new Panzer VI Tiger. It was eventually supposed to replace both the Pz.IV and the earlier Pz.III that was really showing its age, but in reality it often fought alongside the Panzer IV. It was planned as a lighter, more manoeuvrable tank than the Tiger, and was fitted with a high velocity gun from the outset, which gave it enormous penetrating power that was only equalled by the British 17-pounder fitted to the Sherman that made the Firefly. The sloped frontal armour gave it an increased effective armour thickness, but this was not so true of the side armour, which was comparatively weak at too sloped to be of effect, so this area became the preferred target of engagement by allied tanks, especially by multiple Shermans, or in urban combat where this was a telling issue. Like most German WWII tanks, it was needlessly complex to manufacture, so suffered in terms of volumes produced, and this led to it being rushed into service with a long snagging-list of issues still to resolve. Later production solved most of these initial gremlins, but loses in the interim were high with many being abandoned after failing during combat, not always with time for the crews to detonate their scuttling charges. Curiously, the Ausf.D was the first to enter service, with the Ausf.A following later in 1943, replacing attrition of the less reliable Ausf.Ds until they themselves were superseded by the Ausf.G, which became the final major variant with increased ammo storage, simplified design to ease production, and further improvements to reliability. The engineering issues were never fully cured however, with a high rate of attrition still due to mechanical issues, some of which resulted in catastrophic fires and abandonment. The weak side-armour was thickened by 20mm with a steeper angle to better deflect shot, and the floor armour was increased to a full 25mm for mine resistance, while the driver’s viewing hatch was deleted and replaced by a rotating vision-block in a deeply armoured hood. Front hatches were also simplified to ease construction, and many other changes were made under the armour to complete the upgrade. A Panther II was planned under the Entwicklung programme, which retained a familial resemblance to the original Panther, while improving armour and suspension. They got as far as creating a pair of prototypes before the war ended, and a mangled but still substantial chunk of the Schmallturm (smaller turret) can be seen at Bovington if you’re ever visiting. The Kit After a pause following the initial release of the Ausf.A and Ausf.D boxings by Meng, we're now being treated to the Ausf.G, which is subtly but substantially different in shape as a result of geometric changes made after combat experience, in an attempt to deal with its earlier faults and problems. The box is the same shape and size as the previous boxings, but with new artwork as you'd expect, and it’s mainly the wheels and suspension sprues that are carried over from previous boxings, as these areas remained constant throughout production apart from the switch to non-strategic metal rims away from rubber. They are augmented by new sprues that contain the parts not shared by the two variants, including much of the upper hull and superstructure. There are eleven sprues in light-grey styrene, two runs of poly-caps, a clear sprue, three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE), one of which is nickel-plated, two braided cables, decal sheet, plus the colour-printed instruction booklet on glossy paper, with painting and markings guide at the rear. Construction begins with the wheels, which are incorrectly shown to have rubber tyres as part of the suspension, but as rubber became scarce they were replaced by fully steel wheels by this time, which are the parts that are called-out despite appearances. The look very similar without colour, so just ignore the painting of the “rubber” and carry on. Poly-caps placed in between the pairs are the means of attachment to the swing-arms later in the build. The lower hull is built up from panels with cross-braces holding everything square internally, plus the sloped rear bulkhead, with the swing-arms applied to both sides of the newly minted hull. The upper hull frame has armour added to the sides, then the sloped glacis panel, forward roof with turret-ring moulded-in, and a separate engine deck that needs some drilling to receive parts later. Flipping the hull over, the radiator-bath inserts are painted and glued in beneath their grilles, the backing plate for the kugelblende, hinges for the forward hatches and a clear vision block are inserted from within, before the hull is flipped again and has vents, armoured covers and other small parts applied, depending on which decal option you intend to portray. The forward hatches are made up with handles and locks, then can be inserted into position in the open or closed position by following the diagrams. In the rear, the engine hatch with mushroom vents and handles is detailed and placed into the aperture, and a choice of two aerial styles are added to the deck, again depending on decal option. The completed upper hull is joined to the lower at this stage, and is inverted again to install the inner sponson covers, which also have the curved front of the fenders moulded-in. The circular hole in the rear bulkhead is also filled and detailed, and has the multi-part jack attached vertically above it. The road wheels are also pushed onto their axles with the drive sprockets at the front, and idler wheels at the rear. The rear stowage boxes are added to the rear bulkhead while the model is upside-down, as are the twin exhausts, with a choice of larger shrouded exhausts on cast armoured bases, or with slender exhausts on either cast or welded bases. Additional brackets and covers are also applied, along with some smaller parts to make up the Notek formation lights that fit to their bases. The tracks are assembled individually, having two separate guide horns each, and have chevroned grousers that gave better traction in poor conditions. There are 87 links per side, with each one made of three parts. The link body has three sprue-gates apiece, with each of the two horns having a sprue-gate each on their underside. The Kugelblende can be installed either with a machine gun barrel slipped into a ball-mount, or it can be depicted with a plug in an empty mount, which is kept close at hand by a length of PE chain. The travel-lock for the barrel can be posed up or down, the headlight, towing shackles, side-mounted stowage racks and numerous lifting-eyes on the rear deck are all glued in place, while the optional heater unit is scabbed onto the engine deck with its pizza-slice covers over a grille, plus a pair of extra slices bolted to the housing for later use. The nearby circular radiator grilles are also added onto the deck with more PE grilles added over the top, having a spare grille to fill the space if the heating unit isn’t being used. More PE is used to create the adjustable grilles over the cooling louvers at the front and rear of the engine deck sides, then the shallow fenders over the tracks are added from PE sheets, with small plastic supports running down each length. Two optional air-defence armour sections can be assembled into open-ended boxes to be added over the vulnerable louvers on the deck, with an optional aerial base and tall antenna for one decal option. The sides of the tank are festooned with additional track links, pioneer tools, fire extinguisher and barrel-cleaning rod tubes, the latter having handles folded up from PE strips for extra detail. The two towing cables are fabricated from styrene eyes and the supplied braided cable of 110mm each, then are shown draped around the side of the hull, and held in place by pins through brackets on the deck. The overlapping PE shurzen panels are hung on the brackets one-by-one to finish off the lower hull. The turret is built around an inner frame, which has the roof and sides added to the outside, the roof having a number of holes drilled out, then detailed with mushroom vents and an aerial base, plus a clear vision block. The rear panel has a circular hatch with simplified hinges added, then the bare-bones breech of the main gun is assembled and trapped between trunnions on a pair of polycaps. The barrel has a three-part muzzle-brake made up, then it is inserted into the outer mantlet on a keyed base, with the stub of the coax machine gun inserted from inside. A pair of lifting lugs are removed from the ends of the mantlet, and it is fixed to the turret with a spacer between them. If the air-defence armour is being fitted, two-layers of PE are joined together on plastic mounts, then glued to the roof along with a section along the top of the mantlet. The later commander’s cupola is cast, and has individual clear blocks slotted inside like the real thing, plus the pop-up-and-rotate hatch, and a standard pintle-mounted MG34 on a ring around the cupola. The gun has a dump bag for the spent brass that hangs down into the open turret. All that is left to complete the build is to insert the turret into the ring, and add the retention strap to the travel-lock if you are deploying it. Markings Ausf.G series production began after the switch over to dunkelgelb (dark yellow) occurred, and all the decal options are based on this colour that was applied at the factory. The camouflage colours were issued to the units to camouflage their vehicles to suit the terrain or their whim to an extent, thinned with whatever came to hand, so there were a lot of different schemes during this period, with a huge variation of skill and care taken in the application. Only one of the decal options is still wearing Zimmerit anti-magnetic paste, so if you wanted to depict that one, you’d either have to apply the paste yourself, or purchase one of the aftermarket solutions that are available from Meng and others. From the box you can build one of the following: No.424, 1st Battalion, 26th Panzer Regiment, Italy, Apr 1945 No.213, 1st Battalion, 31st Panzer Regiment, 5th Panzer Division, Goldap, October 1944 No.201, 1st Battalion, 27th Panzer Regiment, 19th Panzer Division, Warszawa, September 1944 No.102, 1st Battalion, Headquarters, 35th Panzer Regiment, 4th Panzer Division, Courtland, Summer 1944 Decals are printed in China with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion An excellent late Panther from Meng, with lots of detail, some interesting camouflage scheme, and with the inclusion of three sheets of PE, one of which can be used to great effect for anti-air armour sheeting, it represents a comprehensive package that will satisfy most modellers out of the box. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Lockheed U-2A Dragon Lady (87270) 1/72 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models The U-2 is a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft currently in service with the US Air Force. It was proposed and developed by Lockheed in the 1950s. Proposed in 1953, approved in 1954; and test flown in 1955 the aircraft was designed by the legendary Clarence "Kelly" Johnson. The design was based on the F-104 with a shortened fuselage and longer wings the aircraft with its lack of conventional landing gear was in all purposes a jet powered glider. Although rejected by the USAF the aircraft came to the attentions of the CIA who were up until this point relying on the USAF for intelligence flights. In the end due to lack of performance of other projects the U-2 was given the go ahead by a joint CIA/UASF project. The U-2 has undergone many design changes of the years from the original U-2A with the aircraft still continuing to serve with the USAF despite attempts to retire it. The only other nation to officially use the U-2 was Taiwan, though it later emerged the RAF had access to aircraft during the 1960s via the CIA. The Kit This is a brand new tool kit from HobbyBoss. The kit has 66 parts over 4 main sprues and 2 clear sprues, the parts are very well moulded with fine engraved panel lines. The kit looks to represent the clean lines of the early U-2 with no issues at all. Construction starts not with the cockpit but with the main landing gear bay. This has a couple of parts for the gear added before it can be placed in the fuselage. Next up the basic cockpit is constructed. A five part seat, unfortunately this does not look like the early Lockheed seat at all but a later seat. You could always replace it with a wicker seat which the CIA did on a few flights to save weight! Next into the cockpit is the instrument panel (instruments as decals) and the control column. The exhaust is the next part to be built up. Once this is done the cockpit, exhaust, front & rear wheel bays and the airbrake bays can all be added into the fuselage halves, and they can be closed up. The wings which are conventional left/right/upper/lowers can be built up and added to the fuselage along with the single part tail plane and rudder (left & right halves). Next up the main and tail landing gear are built up and added along with inserts in the main wing. To finish up the air brake doors are added along with the main intakes; then the gear doors can be added along with the wing pogo units. The last items are a few aerial, lights, the canopies and the end wing bumper units. Decals Decals are provided for 3 aircraft, all in a Natural Metal Finish, decals are in house and look to have no issues. 66701 - UASF (overall NMF) 66701 - USAF (overall NMF with large patches of International Orange) 320 - National Advisory Committee For Aeronautics (later to become NASA) Conclusion This is a great looking kit from HobbyBoss and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. A-26 Invader (83213) 1:32 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The A-26 Invader underwent a confusing change of designation to B-26 Invader after 1948 by the US Air Force to confuse us (mainly me), and later on back to the A-26 just to complete my befuddlement. It was developed a little later than the Marauder and despite using the same engines it was designed totally separately from its more rotund colleague. It was designed to replace the A-20 Havoc, but it was initially less than popular in the Pacific theatre where its poor cockpit visibility due to the canopy and engine position rendered it unloved by the first users. It was more popular in the European theatre and was accepted as replacement for the Havoc fairly quickly. Two types were designed, The C with a glass-clad bomber nose and the B with a full metal nose filled with either 6 or 8 .50cal machine guns, which coupled with the three in each wing gave it quite a punch, deserving of the Strafer title. It also had a pair of turrets on the fuselage mid-upper and dorsal positions, which were both operated by a single gunner using a complex remote mechanism that flipped between the upper and lower turrets depending on where the gunner was looking through his binocular sights. This trained the guns accordingly and also calculated the correct offset for parallax and lead, but was very complex and caused some delays to it entering service, and even more issues with maintenance in the field. After the war it served in Korea, early Vietnam engagements and other conflicts, ending its days in US service with the Air National Guard in the early 70s. It continued in civilian service as a fire bomber and in other roles, such as actor in the film Always with Richard Dreyfuss playing its brave but ill-fated pilot. The Kit The Invader has been the subject of a few new kits recently, with this being a new addition that will please the 1:32 modeller, as it is the first in this scale, so it’s already the best injection moulded kit of the type in this scale! This twin-engined aircraft is quite sizeable, but my 60cm photoboth can just about accommodate the largest sprues, which came in very handy. The kit arrives in a large sturdy box with an internal divider keeping some of the smaller sprues safe from the weight of the other larger sprues during transit. There are thirteen sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), three black flexible tyres, two decal sheets, the instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide. The sprues are individually bagged, and some of them have additional foam wrapping to protect either the parts under the wrapping, or the sprues that rest against them. The clear parts and engine nacelle parts are bagged in bubble-wrap to keep them safe from harm, which although trivial from a modeller’s point of view is worth noting because it should result in fewer damaged of chaffed parts when they reach you. The detail is good throughout, with engraved panel lines, small recessed rivets, raised parts where appropriate, and good detail within the fuselage halves where there are crew areas, all of which adds to realism and visual detail. The bomb bay, cockpit, rear compartment, and three gear bays are all well-detailed from the box, and the clear parts will allow the modeller to show off their work thanks to impressive clarity of those parts. Construction begins with the nose gear bay, which begins with the roof and is boxed-in with the nose gear leg added along with the retraction jack that rests against a short cross-rib. The cockpit is a separate area that sits above the nose bay, but has a gap between those two areas that could be stuffed with nose weight to prevent a tail-sitter. The cockpit floor is filled with a centre console, a pair of multi-part seats with PE stiffener struts, twin control columns with separate yokes, a well-moulded instrument panel with decals included for the dials, rudder pedals, rear bulkhead and coaming over the panel. The turret was operated remotely from within the airframe, and the gunner’s station is next to be built, having a good number of parts and a seat for the operator, then all sub-assemblies are put to one side while the bomb bay is made. The bay walls are separate, and have bomb shackles added and five bombs per wall fitted (or otherwise) along with an insert within the fuselage, a couple of clear windows, the front bulkhead to the bay, and the nose gear bay. More bulkheads and the cockpit are installed within the starboard side next, then with the fuselage inverted, another pair of bulkheads are installed, with a clear window in the nearest angled one to the gunner, so he can survey the bay after the bombing run to ensure all bombs really did leave together. The turret mechanism, mount and ammo boxes are also inserted, plus a front bay lip to match the rear one, both having door opening mechanism fitted. The port fuselage has a large insert fitted within the nose, then another bomb bay wall and windows are added in the same manner, allowing the closure of the fuselage. After the glue is set up and the seams dealt with, the bomb bay and nose gear doors are able to be fitted, as is the rear glass for the gunner’s compartment, some small lights and various small intakes, aerials etc. The glazing at the front encloses the cockpit, with no option of leaving the canopy open, then aft is the remote turret that has two .50cal machine guns and their ammo feeds fitted to the floor under its domed cowling, and a two-part cowled D/F loop behind the aft glazing. The nose cone is a single part with eight holes that allow the nose gun muzzles to poke through from their bulkhead mounts, which isn’t accurate to the real thing, but is simply an expedient method of correctly aligning the gun muzzles. The radial engine is depicted with cooling vanes on each cylinder, and is mated to a featureless rear bulkhead, then joined to the reduction gear bell-housing, which fits to the engine on keyed pegs so that the ancillaries line up correctly. The completed engine is slid into the single-part cowling, which have the cooling flaps moulded in the open position, so you’ll need to cut them off and reposition them if you plan on having them closed on a parked-up machine. The single-piece prop slips over the axle to finish off the assembly, and of course two are required unless you want to fly round in circles. In anticipation of making the nacelles, the main gear bays are built next, having two fictional ribbed halves that close around the gear legs, which have a tough upper section mated to a keyed lower section and separate retraction arm added before they go in. There is an Eduard set available that adds the missing bay edges that is perforated with highly visible lightening holes to help with the look of this area if it concerns you, and it also includes some extras for the nose gear bay. These assemblies are closed in with a front bulkhead and have the “rubber” tyres fitted to two-part hubs installed on the stub-axles. The bays are trapped inside the two nacelle halves, and have their bay doors added to each side of the aperture, then these too are set aside for a while. The first act on the wings is to pierce the flashed over holes for the variety of underwing stores that are provided in the box. With this done, the upper and lower wings are joined and have their two-part flaps and ailerons fitted to the trailing edge, a clear light at the tip, landing light and reflector under the wing, and a choice of small bombs or twin “stafer” gun pods each with twin barrels under each wing. The engine nacelles are also glued into place on their deeply recessed positions, then the fronts of the nacelles are added and the engine cowling assemblies are fitted into the three holes in the front, ensuring that the intake is to the top. They attach to the fuselage on three tabs, and the last task is to install the rudder and the elevators, which all have separate flying surfaces. Check your references to set the dihedral of the elevators correctly, as it is quite pronounced on this type. Markings As usual for Hobby Boss, they don’t tell you the date or location that the three decal options came from, but as there are three, that’s one or two more than you usually get. All three options are silver, and have one French and two American airframes depicted. From the box you can build one of the following: Decals are usual HB standard, with the national markings, a few stencils and walkways included, plus a nice rendition of the instrument panel included. The second sheet is postage stamp sized, and has a lady flying a bomb for the “Mission Completed” option, printed separately because of its use of completely different colours than the main sheet. Conclusion A brand new tooling that seems to have been afforded plenty of detail inside and out with the exception of the main gear bays that have been tooled simply to fill the gap and not for accuracy. You’ll possibly want a little more choice of decal options if you’re not a fan of silver too. If this is going to be a project model for you, there’s plenty of aftermarket already available, but don’t forget that nose gear weight before you close the fuselage. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Allied Mine Detection Equipment (35390) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Mines have been an unfortunate fact of war for many years, as a way to prevent the enemy encroaching on your territory, and giving you a loud bang and a bright flash as a tip-off if this happens at night. Minefields became a standard military practice during WWI and WWII, and only recently has the laying of mines been frowned upon by many countries due to the damage inflicted on hapless civilians once the combatants have gone home. During WWII there were many methods available to the Allies to counter German minefields, including manually searching for them using some kind of prod or bayonet, but the more efficient method was the use of electronic devices that could detect the presence of metallic objects beneath them. There were several types, but all used a coil, sometimes within a round or oval plate-like surround, held by the operator on a long broom handle-like stale, with a wire leading eventually to a pair of headphones that would alert the operator to an object beneath the ground with an electronic tone. If it wasn’t a rush-job, they would mark the mine with a small flag and move on, otherwise the tools would come out to extract the mine there and then, which although it was much less likely to explode because you were aware of its presence, it was still a very difficult task that could result in you becoming a victim. Of course, the best and safest solution was the flail-tank, but these units were often overwhelmed by requests for their presence, particularly soon after D-Day. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped end-opening figure box, and inside are eight sprues in grey styrene, and a small decal sheet with some signs as well as stencils for equipment. 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. You can build the following from the parts within: 4 x Different mine detector handsets with headsets & electronics pouches 2 x Signposts on stakes 2 x triangular mine pins 2 x bayonet style spike 2 x walking stick sized spike 2 x shovels 2 x US electronics pouches 2 x US tapering pouches 3 x Teller Mine 43 2 x Teller Mine 35 The instructions show the cables and handles on the mines as parts that you will need to scratch build from your own stock of wire, but the pictures are enough to give you the information you need. In addition, there are decals for small square flags that you will also need to scratch build for yourself, painting the flags yellow and applying the decals over the top. Two red mine signs on stakes, four small white Ms for the triangular flags, curved stencils for the recovered mines, and nine of the afore mentioned small black Danger signs. Some US Army symbols for the pouches and white stencils for one of the detector plates finish off the small decal sheet, which is printed by DecoGraph to their usual high standards. As usual with MiniArt kits their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown, plus loads of extra parts, although a little wire will be needed to make the most of that detail for the wiring, flags, handles and one of the headsets that are joined together with a wire loop. Conclusion A nice set of highly detailed equipment to add to your next project, whether it is stowed aboard a vehicle in anticipation of use, or on the scene of a minefield that needs clearing. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Market Garden, Holland 1944, w/ Resin Heads (35393) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd There’s little doubt that Operation Market Garden was a failure due to several issues that led to delays in the armoured column reaching the beleaguered troops that were valiantly holding the bridge at Arnhem, resulting in heavy casualties and many of the unlucky soldiers ending the operation as prisoners of the Germans. This set depicts the end of the operation, where a number of British paratroops were being taken captive by German troops. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped end-opening figure box, and inside are five sprues in grey styrene, a small sprue diagram for reference against the numbers on the instructions on the rear of the box, and a small Ziploc bag that contains the resin heads. There are five figures in the box, three of which are British Paratroops wearing their typical camouflaged jump smocks with boots and puttees, and two German soldiers in Feldgrau battle dress, one in knee-length boots, one with boots and puttees. Both the Germans are wearing the standard Stahlhelms and are carrying Kar98 rifles (there are spare MP40s on the sprues) with the usual equipment on their webbing. Only one of the Paras are still wearing their webbing with large ammo pouches, and he’s having his searched by one of the Germans for weapons or intel that their superiors may find interesting. The Tommies and the Germans are each on their own sprues, and the British smocks are made in two halves to prevent sink-marks, then you have three more sprues that contain the equipment, two for the Germans, and one larger sprue for the British. There are spare helmets on the equipment sprues, while the British have their camouflaged helms on the figure sprues, and the two still wearing helmets have their chin-straps moulded onto their lower faces. The resin heads have one with helmet straps moulded-in on the British side, and two for the Germans, who are both fully equipped. Interestingly, the helmetless British figure has a discarded helmet to place near him, and this has the interior suspension strapping moulded-in for added realism. Conclusion Sculpting is excellent as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with tons of detail, realistic poses, fabric drape and textures that are appropriate to the material types. The resin heads are highly realistic, but the styrene heads are good too, as are the various accessories and weapons that you’ll find on the sprues. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. US Tank Crew – Special Edition (35391) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII US tank crews were dressed differently to their Army colleagues, due to the cramped confines within their armoured vehicles, the likelihood that they may be called upon to twirl the spanners if the machinery broke down, and the effects of banging your head against any of the many prominences inside and around the tank. They’re also specifically equipped with more compact weapons to fit the confines of their vehicles, and in WWII US tank crews typically carried the M3 Grease Gun or an M1911 pistol for self-defence, the latter sometimes on a close-fitting three-point body holster keeping the holstered weapon close to their torso and avoiding snagging themselves on the tank when inside. They typically wore overalls with a t-shirt underneath, and a leather jacket to keep the top half warm that may be outside the moving tank at times, with an almost universally worn perforated helmet with communications equipment in the ear flaps, sometimes coupled with a pair of polarised goggles to reduce glare, to protect their eyes from cold, and other dangers. This figure set contains five tankers dressed in typical US tanker overalls, M38 Rawlings tank helmets with headset and throat mic., and some with leather jackets. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are five sprues, two containing the figures, three their helmets, weapons and accessories, a sheet containing a sprue diagram, and a small decal sheet with rank insignia and unit badges. They’re all wearing tanker overalls, and two of them are wearing the short bomber jackets typical of tankers of the day. The two jacket wearers are most likely senior in the crew and are stood in their hatches leaning on the surrounds, while the three others appear to be lounging on the exterior of the vehicle, with one possibly inside the driver’s hatch, but at rest. Each form-fitting helmet is made from four parts, with the largest being the top section that fits to the flat top of the figure’s head. There are two separate ear flap sections and another flap at the rear to protect the nape of the crewmember’s neck from falling debris and hot brass from their machine gunner outside the turret. The accessory sprues contain more helmets, goggles, Grease Guns with separate stocks, mag pouches, numerous pistols, a camera, a pair of field glasses with slide-moulded lenses, and a case that is next to a two-part map case. Conclusion As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus loads of extras to add some detail to their vicinity if you use them in a diorama. There’s a small amount of flash around a few parts, but as I always say, that’s infinitely better and easier to remedy than short-shot parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Traffic Signs Yugoslavia 1990s (35643) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Yugoslavia was created after WWI and remained a country throughout the Cold War period, until its break-up in the 1990s, when much blood was shed, with the NATO forces sent in to police the location with their hands partially tied. There is still antipathy between some in the area, but that’s another long and sad story. We’re here to discuss traffic signs. The Kit The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, and contain six sprues, two that contain a large rectangular sign plus one each square, octagonal and small rectangular, giving eight signs in total. The four smaller sprues have two round, two small rectangular, a square, triangle and long rectangle sign, twenty-eight signs in total, with a grand total of thirty-six between all the sprues. There are also eleven poles to put your signs on, and as you can see from the photos, the rear of the signs have brackets to hang them, as well as a representation of their stamped and formed construction. The paper sheet with large signs is in addition to the decals, and one of them is larger than the supplied plastic sign sizes, so you would have to make up your own backing for that one or cut it carefully into three. The decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. A white painted background for the decals will give them a higher brightness, although signs are often old, dilapidated, weathered and damaged – even shot at in war zones or areas where guns are commonplace. People just don’t seem to be able to help themselves! Under the instructions on the rear of the box is a paint chart that gives colour swatches plus Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya codes, and generic colour names to assist you in choosing the correct paints for your model. Conclusion Great diorama fodder, as the devil’s in the details. The printed decal signs are also so much better than most of us could do with a paint brush, and will add a little extra realism to any diorama or vignette. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Chieftain Mk.10 (TS-051) British Main Battle Tank 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The Chieftain tank was Britain's first main battle tank to have composite armour added, in the shape of the well-known, but not so well known about Chobham armour. It was a development of the highly successful Centurion tank, and continued the work done by the Centurion in addressing the reputation for apparent under-armoured and under-armed WWII British tanks, shaking it conclusively once it reached service. The result was one of the most impressive tanks of its day, and when it reached trial service in small numbers in 1959 they began ironing out the wrinkles, which resulted in a steady increase in all-up weight as well as capability. As the design progressed beyond initial service with the Mark 2, further upgrades give rise of the Mark 3, then skipped Mark 4 to reach the final production variant, the Mark 5, which carried NBC gear in the form of an over-pressure system, and a more powerful engine. Further minor upgrades led to the Mark 10, which was the recipient of the Stillbrew up-armour package, which resulted in a much-altered turret profile and improved protection, particularly at the front. The Mark 11 was the last minor upgrade with the Thermal Observation and Gunnery System (TOGS) replacing the searchlight. Any further versions were cancelled in favour of the Challenger series of MBTs, which came on stream in the early 80s. The tank saw action in the Middle East only however, in the service of Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Iran, who used it extensively in their long-duration war with Iraq. Kuwait's stocks of Chieftains were almost exhausted due to attrition during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, where they fared badly against more modern tanks for various reasons, confirming the validity of the British decision to leave the design behind in favour of the more capable Challenger and later Challenger II, which is still under development and is likely to be the final British manned MBT if the pundits are to believed, remaining in service for a long time. The Kit We waited for a long time for a new tool Chieftain to allow us to put the old Tamiya kit with its confused identity to the back of the stash. One popped out a few years back, and now we have another one from those talented designers at Meng Model. This is a brand-new tool from Meng and is in their appropriately name Tyrannosaurus range, because you can’t get much more aggressive and bitey than a Chieftain in full flow. It arrives in their usual satin-finished sturdy top-opener box, and inside are eleven sprues and three hull and turret parts in pale grey styrene, a small flexible sprue in a very similar colour, 195± individual track links in spruelets of two, a clear sprue with track jigs included, a large Photo-Etch (PE) sheet, six shiny springs, a tree of black poly-caps, decal sheet, instruction booklet, four pages of thick stock printed with history of the Mk.10 in four languages, and a glossy sheet advertising their ongoing competition. You probably already know I like Meng’s products, and if you have any of their kits, you’ll also know why. The detail is superb, with cast armour texture on the relevant parts of the vehicle, a spectacular cooling-jacket shrouded barrel, and judicious use of slide-moulding on almost every sprue to improve detail without increasing the part count. You’ll also be pleased to hear that one of the two decal options depicts a Chiefy in Berlin Brigade urban camo, which has to be the most iconic and impressive of the Chieftain’s garbs through its years of service. Construction begins sensibly with the task of building an AFV that I find to be the dullest, which is making up the road wheels. The paired idler and drive sprocket wheels are first, with separate tyres to ease the painting, and a poly-cap hidden between the two discs. Six pairs of return rollers are also made, then twelve pairs of road wheels are assembled with separate tyres again, and when the pairs are joined, each one has another poly-cap hidden within, allowing removal of the wheels any time you want during construction, and rotation after completion. The suspension units each have one of the real springs trapped between two scissor-like assemblies, which are then trapped between the halves of the units, allowing the axles to pivot and offer a representation of actual suspension. There are two types made up for each side, using up all six of the springs, and also acting as mounts for the return rollers. The completed units are then set to one side while the lower hull is put together. The lower hull is detailed with appliqué panels under the front and rear corners, then towing eyes, final drive housings and the idler axles are fixed in place. Inside the upper hull a pair of engine deck supports are located on internal U-brackets, then flipped over to fit the twin headlamps with clear lenses and protective cage in styrene, more towing and lifting eyes, the bow-wave deflector, bullet-splash deflector and the driver’s pivoting hatch with appliqué armour panels on each side. A turret-ring adaptor is fixed inside the aperture, which may hint at a Marksman variant in the future, but it might equally mean nothing. We shall see. The sides of the engine deck are built up with perforated upstands that have rubber bumpers on top, then the louvered deck is covered with mesh panels and a ton of lift handles around the appropriate edges. Shaped stowage boxes are added to each side, then the two hull halves are joined together, clipping into place neatly, even without glue on my example. The rear bulkhead and its towing lugs close up the back, covered up with the complex muffler box for the exhaust system, which has two L-shaped exit pipes with hollow tips. The fenders are first detailed with stowage boxes and wing mirrors, plus a few PE strips on the front mudguards depicting the attachment strips for the flexible rubber flaps. There’s one each side of course, and each one gets a tow-cable once installed, plus a pair of reflectors on the back ends. Another pair of stowage boxes, one with attached first-aid kit are made up and fixed to the gap on the left and right sides of the rear bulkhead, then the hull is flipped over and the suspension units are glued into position, closely followed by their respective road wheels. Now for the tracks. They’re individual links and each one only has one sprue gate, which is nice. Each link has two ejector pin marks however, but they don’t take much in the way of sanding to remove them, so it’s swings and roundabouts. I put together a short run for this review, clipped them into the two-part hinged clear jig, dropped the lid and pressed it home with a click, then nipped a set of six track-pins off the sprues and pushed them into the holes in the jig, ramming them firmly home into holes moulded into the links. The links have a peg moulded into the other end, and as long as you don’t snap any of those off, you should be good to go. What you end up with is a well detailed flexible track run that will look good on your model. It might be as well to freeze the links with a little glue once you have the final arrangement just to be sure, but there’s nothing stopping you from leaving them mobile. The tricky and time-consuming part will be to paint the tracks and each of the 95 track pads on each side. If you don’t fancy spending all that time on the tracks, you should know that straight after fitting, you install the side skirts over the running gear, rendering almost half of them invisible for the rest of eternity. The turret is started by gluing together the top and bottom parts around a pivot, then adding the mantlet and coax bags on the front, both of which are made from flexible styrene. The coax gun has a short muzzle added into the hole in its bag, and speaking of holes you could drill one into the barrel for realism, then the Stillbrew armour package is added to the front of the turret, locking into a recess moulded into the turret upper. Smoke launchers, vision blocks and laser sighting device are added along with another batch of lifting eyes (tanks are heavy), ammo boxes and the massive searchlight with twin clear lenses and a door glued onto the left side of the turret. The two lenses are for infrared and ordinary white light beams, and a pair of scrap diagrams show them laid out appropriately for each task. More sighting gear and hatches are added to the top of the turret along with a winch roll, tool boxes and more grenade launchers on the right side. The commander’s cupola is a complex arrangement of equipment on a rotating torus mount, including clear vision blocks and an inner hatch with domed door and closure mechanism, plus another smaller searchlight to the side of the inset front vision block. The completed assembly is then glued to the roof of the turret. The turret bustle hangs off the back of the turret, which begins with a flat plate that supports the NBC pack, and to the sides are fitted a pair of tubular-framed open stowage baskets with mesh bottoms and upstands, the latter being folded up around a jig part before fitting. The L7 AA gun, which is based upon the Belgian FN Mag machine gun is clamped between the mount halves, with extra detail parts and a large magazine box on the left side, which also has its own stencil decal. It is fixed to the roof in front of the commander’s hatch, with the final step involving the L11A5 120 mm rifled main gun that comprises two halves with lots of cooling-jacket detail moulded-in, and a hollow muzzle that shows off the barrel’s rifling nicely and gives a good impression of a completely hollow barrel. Markings There are two decal options on the sheet, one of which is the afore mentioned Berlin Brigade Urban scheme, the other in standard British Black/Green camo of the time. From the box you can build one of the following: Armoured Squadron, Berlin Infantry Brigade, British Army, West Germany, 1989 Armoured Unit, British Army, Exercise Fighting Herald, West Germany, 1988 The decals are printed in China, and under magnification are a bit fuzzy, although most of that could be cut off along the straight edges. The Union Jack is a bit messy, and the tiny badge on one of the front fenders has a simple black centre where there should be a logo. They should be suitable for purpose however, but I miss the days when Meng used to use Cartograf as a matter of course. Conclusion What a lovely kit. I’m British, and it’s a British tank, so I’m probably a little biased. I’m also a fan of Meng’s output with good reason. I do wish they’d spent a little more time and a few more pennies on the decals though. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H Nibelungenwerk Mid. Pro. Aug 1943 (35337) 1: 35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Unlike the later Tiger and Panther tanks, the Panzer IV had been designed in the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII, and was intended for a different role than it eventually played, which was as a form of infantry support with the mobile artillery function rolled into one. It was a heavier tank than the previous numbered types, and was well-designed, although it did suffer from the typical WWII German over-engineering that made them complex, expensive and slow to build, as well as difficult to maintain. The type went through a number of enhanced variants including a more powerful engine to give better performance, improved armour thickness for survivability, and latterly the provision of a larger gun with a longer high velocity barrel that was based upon the Pak.40, but with shortened recoil mechanism and an enlarged muzzle-brake that helped contain the powerful recoil from the 75mm gun. The new gun was in direct reaction to the first encounter with the T-34 in Soviet hands, an incident that put the wind up the German tankers and their superiors, as they knew very little of its existence until they had to fight it, and didn’t like the way their shots just bounced off that sloped glacis. The Ausf.G and H were the later mainstream variants of the Pz.IV, and were made from early 1942 until 1944 with over 4,000 made, some of which were manufactured at Vomag, Krupp-Gruson, and Nibelungenwerke, one of the largest factories in the German area of influence, based in St Valentin, Austria. By the war’s end Nibelungenwerk was the home of the Panzer IV, and as such was bombed heavily, strangling production of the last variant, the Ausf.J as the Allied bombers took their toll. The Kit This is a new boxing of the recently tooled model of the Panzer IV from MiniArt, with a mixture of parts from other boxings plus some new sprues. It is an exterior kit with enough detail included to keep most modeller happily beavering away at their hobby for a good while. The kit arrives in a top-opening box, and inside are fifty-three sprues in grey styrene of various sizes, a clear sprue, three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles for the decal options on the inside covers. It has individual link tracks included that are made up on a jig (more about those later), and the level of detail is excellent, which is something we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s output. Construction begins with the shell of the lower hull, which is made up on a main floor with cross-braces, sidewalls and bulkheads, then the lower glacis over where the transmission and final drive are situated, doors being fitted into the apertures before installation. The final drive housing, towing eyes, suspension bump-stops, return roller bases and fuel filler caps are glued into place on the hull sides, and two lengths of track made up to be attached to the glacis plates, held in place by clamps on the top side, and a rod on the front. The rear bulkhead is detailed with armoured covers for the track tensioner arms, stiffener plates and access hatches, including a manual starter slot. The fenders can now be slotted into position at the top of the hull sides, both of which are covered in a delicate tread-plate pattern where appropriate. The upper hull is created in a similar manner to the lower, with the roof accepting side panels after making some small holes, the engine bay area is fitted out with the side vents for the radiators and a flat rear panel that closes the area in. At the front the bow machine gun barrel is inserted from the outside, together with the armoured shutters for the radiator louvers, PE covers, front hatches, along with the jack-block in its bracket, or the empty bracket if you choose. The hull halves can be joined now, which involves adding the cooling louvers and side-mounted air filters that are attached to the hull sides with input trunk disappearing within the engine compartment, not to be confused with the exhaust round the back. Underneath various armoured plates are fitted around the various suspension parts on both sides. The big towing eye and its stiffeners are applied to the bottom of the bulkhead, and after fitting another full-width plate, the big exhaust muffler is attached to the rear, made from a combination of shaped styrene parts then braced to the bulkhead by PE straps. The kit supplies a set of four towing cable eyes, but you’re responsible for providing the braided cable, which should be 152mm long and 0.75mm thick, times two. These are wrapped around two hooks on the rear in a figure-of-eight pattern. Now it’s pioneer tool time, with barrel cleaning rods, spanner, shovel, the jack, plus a set of four spare road wheels in an open-topped box with spanners strapped to the sides. The rear mudguards and front splash-guards are applied now, and the prominent external fire extinguisher with PE frame (and alternative styrene one if you don’t feel up to wrangling the PE) is fitted to the fender with a pair of wire-cutters and a pry-bar, all of which have optional empty mounts for missing tools. Just when you think you’ve finished the tools, there’s a crank for the engine, a pair of track-spreaders, a choice of two fittings for the axe, plus some styrene springs to allow you to show the front guards in the up position. Three more short lengths of track are made up and applied to the vertical section of the glacis plate between its features, held in place by PE brackets. We’re getting closer to the tracks now, but there’s still a lot of wheels that need to be made. They are mounted in pairs on twin bogeys with a leaf-spring slowing the rebound of the twin swing-arms. There are two types of outer casting with two axles (for working or fixed suspension) that the swing-arms slot onto, and are then closed in by a cover, which you also have a choice of two designs for. Finally, the twin wheels with their hubcap slide onto the axles, and a small oil reservoir is glued to the side of the assembly. You make four for the left side and a mirrored set of four for the right, plus two-part idler, a choice of two-part drive sprockets and eight paired return-rollers that fit onto the posts on the sides of the hull. The suspension units have slotted mounting points that strengthen their join, and once you’re done, you can begin the tracks. The tracks are individual links with separate track pins, but don’t freak out yet! Each link has three sprue gates that are small and easy to nip off and clean up. The included jig will hold eleven links, which are fitted with the guides uppermost. Then you cut off one complete set of 11 track pins off the sprue and slide them into the pin-holes in the sides of the connected links all at once. They are then nipped off their length of sprue and can be tidied up. I added a little glue to the tops of the pins to keep them in place which resulted in a length of track that is still flexible. Just minimise the amount of glue you use. There are 101 links per track run, so you’ll be busy for a while, but the result is fabulously detailed as you can see from the pic. I didn’t bother cleaning up the mould seams for expediency, but if you plan on modelling your Panzer with clean tracks, you can sand them away if you feel the need. Three decal options have schurzen fitted, which has by now dictated which fenders you glued to the hull sides, so it’s too late to change your mind now. First you must add the styrene brackets on each side, then the long supports for the hook-on schurzen panels, which consist of five PE panels per side, with diagonally chopped front and rear lower edges to reduce the likelihood of them digging into the ground and being ripped off. Bear in mind that these panels were subject to the rigors of battle so were often bent, damaged or even missing entirely. Use your references or imagination to decide whether you wish to depict a fresh set, or a set that have been in the field for a while. Finally, we get to the turret, which begins with the ring and minimalist “floor”, to which some equipment, a drop-seat and the hand-traverse system are fixed. The inside of the mantlet is fixed to the floor after having the pivot installed, with the newly assembled breech glued into the rear once it has its breech block and closure mechanism fixed in place. The breech is then surrounded by the protective tubular frame, and the stubs of the coax machine gun and sighting gear are slid in through holes in the inner mantlet. A basket for spent casings is attached under the breech, the sighting tube and adjustment mechanism are put in place along with the coax machine gun breech. The turret base then has the other facets added to the roof panel, with an exhaust fan and outer armoured cover included. The side hatches are the clamshell type, and can be posed open, closed or anywhere in-between, with latches and handles added, and grab-handles over the top to ease exit. The commander’s cupola is a complex raised part with five clear vision ports around it, and a choice of open or closed outer parts holding the clear lenses in place, sliding into the ring like the real thing. A ring of cushioned pads covers the interstices, and stirrup-shaped parts are fixed under each lens, with a single circular hatch with latch and handle glued into the top ring in open or closed versions, hinging open rather than the earlier two-part clamshell hatch. A blade-sight from PE is sited at the front of the cupola with a machine-gun ring around the base and an optional MG34 gun on pintle-mount on top, and the basket with optional open lid added to the rear. The gun has a flattened faceted sleeve made up, and the muzzle brake gives you a choice of three styles that differ slightly from each other if you look closely. Pick the one suitable for your decal choice, and you can begin to put the gun tube together. The outer mantlet section with the sleeve slotting into the front is applied along with a choice of two coax installations, and a single-part styrene barrel fitting into the front with a key ensuring correct orientation, plus the muzzle-brake having the same feature. Another length of track is applied to the front of mantlet for extra protection later, which might explain why there are a lot more than 22 track sprues, this time however sourced from a traditional sprue. The turret has curved metal sheets applied to the styrene brackets that glue to the roof and sides, that has a gap for the side hatches that are filled by a pair of hinged doors for more complete protection, and if you were wondering, you get open or closed variants with PE latches. Lastly, a flat PE appliqué armour panel is fitted to the front of the roof on a number of PE brackets to give it a slight stand-off from the armour underneath, and to clear the brackets for the turret schurzen. Because of the complexity and realism of the turret and its ring, it drop-fits into position as the final act, as bayonet lugs aren’t present in the real thing. Markings Four decal options are included on the sheet, and they have a variety of schemes that are appropriate for late war tanks, from monotone vehicles to highly camouflaged vehicles over the standard base coat of dunkelgelb (dark yellow) the common element. From the box you can build one of the following: 3rd SS-Pz.Div. “Totenkopf” Eastern Front, Ukraine, Autumn 1943 20th Pz.Dv., Eastern Front, Belarus, Winter 1943-44 12th Pz.Div., Eastern Front, Summer 1944 16th Pz.Div., Eastern Front, Ukraine, Winter 1943-44 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner, 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 This is a well-detailed exterior kit that should keep you occupied for a good number of hours. Careful painting will bring it to life, and leaving some turret hatches open won’t leave your viewers looking at a totally empty space if you omit crew figures. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. German Cargo Trailer (35320) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd For a long time, trailers have been a great way to transport goods, people and even livestock around behind a horse-drawn or more recently motorised vehicle without adding another engine or animal. The longer the trailer chassis, the more there is a need for a rotating front axle to allow the trailer to corner more effectively and reduce the wear on tyres plus strain on the towing vehicle and its hitch. The Kit MiniArt have been creating a number of variations on the Lanz Bulldog tractor recently, with some of the more recent boxings adding trailers to add interest, lengthen them and add more parts to the box. Each of these trailers have a daisy-chain towing hitch on their rear, and now the mildly insane modeller can make an effort to create the longest tractor model in the history of insanity modelling by adding one or more of these trailers to their tractor models. You can of course use them with any other appropriate vehicle providing it is capable of hitching up to the A-frame. This kit arrives in a small top-opening box with a painting of the trailer in military camouflage on the front, and inside are nine sprues in grey styrene, some of which have been nipped roughly in half to allow them to fit the box. There is also a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles printed on the front and rear pages to assist with painting. Construction begins with the ladder chassis with two sections of bed, which have fine engraved wood texture on both sides, as do the other wooden structures in the kit. The towing hitch to daisy-chain trailers together is attached to a cross-member at the rear, and in front of it are a pair of leaf-springs for the fixed rear axle. The front axle is similarly built, but on a frame that has a turntable between it and the bed to enable the axle to rotate freely for easier manoeuvring, as this is quite a long trailer. The tyres on this boxing are pneumatic, and the treaded surface pattern is made by laminating three internal layers to two outer layers that also have the hubs moulded to them, then each one slots into the end of its axle when complete. A small bench seat is added to the front of the shallow headboard of the flatbed, with two long sides and rear tail-gate with tiny styrene clasps with their hooks nipped off, giving the impression of holding it in place. To model it with the sides and tail-gate down is simply a matter of gluing them in place folded down and fitting the un-altered clasps loosely against the sides accordingly. Markings There are four marking and camouflage schemes on the decal sheet, with varying colours and uses that should appeal to many. From the box you can build one of the following: Bakery 61st Infantry Division Wehrmacht, Eastern Front, 1941-42 Administrative Company, 20th Panzergrenadier Division, Eastern Front, 1943-44 Unidentified Medical Unit, Western Front, 1944 Artillery Repair Company, Wehrmacht, Germany 1945 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner 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 not to everyone’s taste (what is?), it’s a highly detailed model, and would look just as good in the background of a diorama, behind a different WWII German vehicle, or behind one of the afore mentioned Lanz Bulldog tractors, especially if you have one without a trailer and are regretting that decision. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. German Industrial Tractor D8511 Mod. 1936 With Cargo Trailer (38033) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tractors were a boon to farmers when they were introduced soon after the reliability of the motor car made them a viable tool, as they were especially useful for lugging around heavy equipment around the farm, as well as the typical ploughing, sowing and reaping of crops. They also had power take-off points that could be used to drive other stationary machinery, further expanding their usefulness and relegating the plough horse to the stables. Lanz were the leading maker of farm machinery in Germany, and their Bulldog range were the “hoover” of the tractor world in their country for many years. They were of good quality and reliable, which led to them being copied by a number of countries, and as the initial 1921 model was improved the model number was increased, eventually reaching the 9000s. One of the primary selling points of the vehicle was the simple “hot-bulb” single-cylinder engine that could be run on a variety of low-grade fuels and had very few moving parts, which made it easy to repair and maintain. They started off with a 6L, growing to 10L engines, and their slow turnover high-torque output suited the tractor’s work very well. By the time the 8511 arrived on the scene, it had around 34hp produced by a 10L engine, with 3 reverse and 6 forward gears to give it performance suited to both off-road and on roads for the best of each. In 1956 the brand was sold to John Deere, and the name slowly fell out of use. There are still many working examples to be seen at country fairs and historic events, kept in splendid condition by their attentive owners. The Kit This is another rebox of MiniArt’s D8500 range of kits, with this being the sixth that we know of. This boxing brings together one of the tractors with a large cargo trailer, plus a quantity of empty cable reels that you have probably seen elsewhere in their range before now if you’re either a reader of our reviews or owner of any MiniArt kits. Detail is excellent as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with a driver figure included to give it some human scale. It arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are eighteen sprues of various sizes in grey styrene plus a clear sprue, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles of the decal options on the inside covers. Construction begins with the tractor, which has a large cast metal chassis that is made up from two halves each end around a centre-point panel, with lots of parts used to create its distinctive shape, plus a few PE parts on the forward steering cap. The superstructure is roughly rectangular, having various filler caps on the top, radiator panels on the sides, and a PE name-plate bearing the name Lanz Bulldog and number plate frame on the front, which should be curved ever-so-slightly before installation to match the shape of the cowling. The driver’s foot pedals are long curved linkages to the underside of the chassis, and with these in place the driver’s tread-plated floor is installed and a big handbrake is fitted to the deck, with a stowage box under the lip at the left rear. The driver’s seat is mounted on a sturdy spring, a couple of hand controls are inserted into depressions in the deck in front of him, then the large drive housing is mounted on the left side of the chassis, with a bell-housing on the opposite side, and two large fenders/sidewalls over where the rear wheels will be, plus a sturdy bumper-bar at the rear with some PE cross-braces. Two large exhausts are made up from various odd-shaped parts, and the front axle is built with a central leaf-spring and steering arms, then attached under the chassis in several places, with a pair of large clear-lensed headlamps on an oversized cross-member on the topside. Alternatively, the lights can be omitted and the mounting holes concealed by a pair of small PE covers. The wheels on this tractor have heavy solid rubber tyres over the bolted hubs, which are built up by fitting two tyres, one over each side of the rear hubs, and joining the two smaller front tyre halves that have funnel-like concave curved hubs with the axle at the apex. The fifth wheel is the steering wheel, which can be fitted atop the steering column as you’d expect, or detached and used on a shaft to manually start the vehicle via the input shaft hidden behind a cover in the centre of the right-hand bell-housing. The flatbed for the trailer is next, made up on a ladder chassis with two sections of bed, which has fine engraved wood texture on both sides, as do the other wooden structures in the kit. The towing hitch to daisy-chain trailers together is attached to a cross-member at the rear, and in front of it are a pair of leaf-springs for the fixed rear axle. The front axle is similarly built, but on a frame that has a turntable between it and the bed to enable the axle to rotate freely for easier manoeuvring. The same solid rubber tyres are used on the trailer, built in the same fashion as the smaller front wheels of the tractor, but with inwardly dished hubs, then each one slots into the end of its axle when complete. A small bench seat is added to the front of the shallow headboard of the flatbed, with two long sides and rear tail-gate with tiny styrene clasps giving the impression of holding it in place. To model it with the sides and tail-gate down is simply a matter of gluing them in place folded down and fitting the clasps loosely against the sides accordingly. The cargo that is supplied consists of four cable reels, two of each size measuring 51mm and 28mm in real-world numbers. Each core is made from four parts that make up the cylinder, and two end caps, with wooden planking and texture on everything that will be seen after construction, plus screws/nails/bolts where appropriate. The decal sheet contains some curved lettering, brand logos and stencilling, indicating what was on the reels. I built two of the reels for a review a few years ago, which you can see below. As already mentioned, there is a seated driver wearing a shirt under a vest, and trousers over a pair of sturdy boots. He is also wearing a cap and is looking straight ahead while gripping the steering wheel firmly as he considers his choice of facial hair. Sculpting and parts breakdown is up to MiniArt’s usual excellent standard, and his hat is a separate part to allow for sharp moulding of the peak and band. Markings There are two schemes available from the small decal sheet in civilian use, and the tractors are a bit drab, although the trailers can be a little different if you wish. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichsbahn, Germany, 1939-45 Berlin, 1939-45 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner 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 Another highly detailed model of this well-known tractor from the Lanz stable, most of them probably finding their way into other kinds of stables at some point during their career. The trailers make for a larger model, and if you’re particularly keen on making the world’s longest tractor diorama, MiniArt have now released the trailer parts as a separate kit, so watch for that review in due course. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. StuG III Ausf.G Interior Kit (35335) Feb. 1943 Alkett Prod. 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The StuG is a popular German WWII AFV, and the more you learn about it, the more obvious it becomes why. The SturmGeschutz III was engineered based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removing the turret and front deck of the latter, replacing it with an armoured casemate that mounted a fixed gun with limited traverse. It was originally intended to be used as infantry support, using its (then) superior armour to advance on the enemy as a mobile blockhouse, but it soon found other uses as an ambush predator, and was employed as a tank destroyer, hiding in wait for Allied forces to stumble haplessly into its path. With the advances in sloped armour employed by the Soviets, the original low velocity 75mm StuK 37 L/24 cannon was replaced by higher velocity unit that were also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat, extending the type’s viable career to the end of WWII. The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and while equipped with guns were unsuitable for combat due to the relative softness of the steel that would have led to a swift demise on the battlefield, being withdrawn in '41-42. By this time the StuG III had progressed to the Ausf.G, which was based on the later Panzer III Ausf.M, with a widened upper hull and improvements in the armour to improve survivability for the crew. Many of the complicated aspects of the earlier models that made them time-consuming and expensive to produce were removed and simplified into the bargain, which led to a number of specific differences in some of the external fitments around the gun, such as the Saukopf mantlet protector. The Ausf.G was the last and most numerous version, and was used until the end of the war with additional armour plates often welded or bolted to the surface to give it enhanced protection from the Allied tanks and artillery. The Kit Some of you may remember our review of the pre-series StuG.III from MiniArt a few years back, and you might expect there to be some cross-over of parts. There doesn’t appear to be any however. Some individual part meshes may have been re-used, but the sprue layouts are all different, and as you can imagine the addition of the interior further separates the two kits, as does the inclusion of the crew figures in this boxing. This is to all intents and purposes a new tooling, and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the MiniArt style, with attractive artwork and profiles on the side. Inside the box are sixty-eight sprues in mid-grey styrene, one in clear, a good-sized Photo-Etch (PE) fret of brass parts, decal sheet and glossy-covered instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear covers. Detail is excellent throughout, which is just what we’ve come to expect from modern toolings by MiniArt, with so much detail crammed into every part of the model, which includes the aforementioned interior and individual track links that are clearly a new moulding, as they are different from the earlier kit. Construction begins with the interior, which is built up on the floor panel, which receives the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine, and a covering part that makes moving around a less dangerous prospect for the crew, while it also holds the support structure for the gun, which is made up from some substantial I-beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15o travel for fine-tuning the aim. The rear bulkhead panels are set against the engine mounts to give them the correct angle, then the firewall bulkhead is made up with small drawers and various other details added before it is fitted into the floor. The driver’s seat is built from parts on a shaped base, and his controls are placed within easy reach of his feet and hands, with the option of adding a linkage for the hand controls from your own wire or rod stocks. Attention shifts to the transmission that distributes the power to the drive-wheels, diverting the engine’s output 90o into the drive sprockets at the front of the vehicle. It is made up from a number of finely detailed parts, with gear housings and their retaining bolts on each side, working out to the brakes and clutches, then rearwards to the drive-shaft that leads back into the engine compartment. It is set into the front of the vehicle, crowding the gunner, but leaving space on the floor for a number of shell storage boxes that have holes for the individual shells to be inserted after painting and application of their stencil decals, as per the accompanying diagrams. The engine is then built up from more parts, resulting in a highly detailed replica of the Maybach power pack, including all the ancillaries and pulleys that you could wish for. There are a number of parts inserted into the engine bay in preparation for the installation of the block to make it sit comfortably on the mounts, with a large airbox to one side with a battery pack on top. The sides of the hull need to be made up in order to finish the engine bay, and these two inserts are outfitted with strapped-on boxes, gas-mask canisters, pipework and the outer parts of the brake housings, complete with the spring-loaded shoes straight out of a 70s Austin Maxi. Unsurprisingly, another big box of shells is made up and placed on the wall, and in the engine compartment a large fuel tank is attached to the wall, with a fire extinguisher placed next to it. These two highly detailed assemblies are offered up to the hull along with the front bulkhead, which has been detailed beforehand with various parts, and the glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches are given a similar treatment, including an instrument panel for the driver’s use. A few other parts are inserted into the front of the hull to integrate the sides with the hull, and the glacis gets some heavily bolted appliqué armour panels fixed to the exterior, before it is put to the side for a moment. Tank engines are under immense strain pulling the huge weight of the armour, so they need an effective cooling system to cope with this. Two radiator baths with mesh detail engraved are built up and attached to a hosing network, with a fan housing on the top and more hosing across the top, plus take-off pulleys and belts providing motive power for the twin fans inserted into the top of the assembly, with even more hoses and other details added before the completed system is inserted into the rapidly dwindling space within the engine compartment. On the top of the engine a pair of small canisters are attached to depressions on each side of the apex, and my best guess is that they are air cleaners, as they resemble smaller versions of the Fiefel units seen on the back of the Tiger. Moving forward, the transmission inspection hatches are fitted with a choice of open or closed, as is right for such a highly detailed model. The rear bulkhead is detailed with towing eyes and simple exhaust boxes with short pipes fixed to the outer sides. What looks like a many-legged park bench is made up and has a PE mesh part applied along with a port for manual starting of the engine, and this is installed mesh-side-down on the top side of the bulkhead, with a pair of thick hoses slotted into place once the glue is dry. Additional thin guides are later placed under the “bench”, and pins with PE retaining chains are added to the hitches before the lower hull is put to one side for a while. The gun is represented in full, with a complex breech, safety cage and brass-catching basket present, and a large pivot fitted onto the two pins on the sides of the assembly. Elevation, traverse and sighting gear is installed on the breech, with a small seat for the gunner on the left side to keep him stable while aiming at his next target. Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are encrusted with yet more detail, including a pair of MP40 machine guns with ammo pouches, equipment and stencil decals on the rear panel with a big extraction fan in the centre of the wall. The detailed radio gear is bracketed to a shelf that is installed on one sidewall, with more boxes and stencils adding to the busyness of the area, plus the option of adding wiring from your own stocks to improve the detail even more. The other side is also decked out with boxes that require more wiring, all of which is documented in scrap diagrams where necessary to offer assistance in increasing the authenticity of your model, which is all joined into the shape of the casemate with the addition of the front wall, which has a large cut-out to receive the gun in due course. The front of the casemate is built out forward with a sloped front and some appliqué armour, then the commander’s cupola is prepared with seven clear vision blocks, lenses and PE parts, set to the side for later, while the casemate is dropped over the front of the lower hull and joined by the breech assembly, which is covered by an armoured panel after armoured protectors to the mounting bolts have been glued over them. A bridge over the top of the insert encloses the breech, then it’s time to prepare the roof with some details before covering up the interior, then making a choice of how to finish the commander’s cupola in either open or closed pose, but you just know you’re going to leave it open to show off all your hard work. It has a number of PE latches and a set of V-shaped binocular sighting glasses in the separate front section of the cupola that can be open or closed independently to the main hatch. The gunner’s hatch is a simpler affair consisting of a clamshell pair of doors, with the machine gun shield just in front of it and a well-detailed MG34 machine gun with drum mag slotted into the centre. This hatch can also be closed, but why would you? The engine is still hanging out at the back, which is corrected next, building up the engine deck with short sides and armoured intake louvers on the sides, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay, allowing the viewer to see plenty of engine detail through the four access hatches at this point. Two types of rear appliqué parts can be added to the slope at the rear of the deck, then an armoured cover to the extraction fan is added to the back of the casemate, with short lengths of track to each side as extra armour and spares in the event of damage. The tracks are held in place by a long bar that stretches across most of the rear of the casemate. Under these are sited the barrel cleaning rods, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents, and all of these can be posed open or closed. A pair of jerry cans and the jack block are also made at this time for later addition to the engine deck. A pair of road wheels are used on some of the decal options, and these have long pins through their holes that attach them to the rear pair of hatches on the engine deck. One decal option also has a field modification of PE railings around the rear of the deck with an additional bracket to store two jerry cans, and on the back of the beast another two spare road wheel sets can be pinned in place in the same manner as the other two. As yet the StuG has no wheels, so the addition of the swing-arms with stub axles is needed, adding the highly detailed final drive housings under the front, plus additional suspension parts that improves damping further. The idler adjuster is covered with armoured parts, and a group of the pioneer tools are dotted around the sides of the engine deck, after which the paired wheels are fixed to the axles, with drive-sprockets at the front and spindly idler wheels at the rear, plus a trio of return rollers on short axles near the top of the sides. The tracks are individual links that are held together by pins, and a jig is supplied to assist you with this, although I had to remove mine from the sprue to be able to build up a short length for this review. There are 94 links per side, and each link has three sprue gates to clean up, plus a little flash on the highly detailed sides, which will need scraping away with a sharp blade. I created a short length in fairly short order on the jig, coupling them together with the pins that are moulded in pairs at the exact same spacing as the links when together. You push them into the links whilst still on the sprue, taking care to push them straight in to avoid breakage, then cut them off cleanly with a pair of single-blade nippers. The result is a very well detailed track with flexibility to adjust them around the running gear of your StuG, and as they are a tight fit, they shouldn’t need glue, but I’d probably set them in position with liquid glue once I had them how I wanted them on the vehicle. Once they’re in place, the fenders are attached to the hull sides, with the mudguards and PE fittings added once the glue has dried. More pioneer tools and stowage are added to these, as space was a premium on these vehicles, and every flat surface ended up with equipment on it. This includes a convoy light and either a highly detailed PE fire extinguisher or a simplified styrene alternative if you prefer. Shovels, pry bars, jack blocks and the jack are also found on the fenders, as are the two towing cables, which have styrene eyes and you’ll need to supply the cable material yourself, with a pair of PE tie-downs holding them in place on each side. The barrel of the gun has a large bulky Saukopf mantlet cover, which is made up from three parts with a barrel sleeve moulded into the front, which the single-part barrel slots into, tipped with a detailed three-part muzzle brake to give it the correct hollow look. It slides over the recoil tubes of the gun, closing up the rest of the interior, and the last parts of the kit are two whip antennae on the rear of the casemate. Figures In this boxing we are treated to a set of crew figures for the vehicle, which consists of five figures on a single sprue, starting with three figures standing in their hatches, one hard at work driving, and another apparently sitting on the glacis plate leaning with one arm resting on the gun perhaps. Each figure has a choice of heads and four have either peaked caps or stahlhelms that perhaps might not often be worn in the confines of a tank. Sculpting, pose and material drape is up to MiniArt’s class-leading standard, and adding these chaps into their place of work gives the model a sense of human scale, emphasising the claustrophobic nature of being a tanker. Part breakdown is standard with heads, hats, torsos and separate limbs, plus a couple of lugers in holsters and another MP40 that could be laid on the deck near one of the figures. A colour chart gives paint numbers for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya brands plus colour names for your delight and edification. Markings There are five decal options in this boxing, and from the sheet you can build one of the following: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Luftwaffe-Feld-Division “Adler Division”, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Luftwaffe-Feld-Division “Adler Division”, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung “Grossdeutschland”, Okhtyrka, Ukraine, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 210, Eastern Front, 1943 Decals are by Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion A stunning model of an impressive tank destroyer that saw action the Eastern and Western fronts in relatively large numbers. There’s enough detail for the most ardent adherent to, well… detail. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Tempo E400 Hochlader Pritche 3-Wheel Truck (38025) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The A400 Lieferwagen was another of Hitler’s standard vehicles that is perhaps lesser known than the Beetle. It was originally designed as the E400 and produced by company Tempowerk Vidal & Sohn from 1938, and was joined by an identical Standard E-1 that was manufactured in another factory. It was one of the few factories that were permitted to carry on making civilian vehicles, although this permit was eventually withdrawn as the state of the war deteriorated for Germany. After WWII ended, the company began making the type under the original E400 name, and it had a different BMWesque twin panelled front grille. It continued in production until 1948 when it must have dawned on someone that one wheel at the front was a really bad idea, even if it was cheaper. A concept that lingered on in the UK much longer so old geezers with motorcycle licenses could scare other road users effectively, and by carrying a football in the boot, they could emulate a giant whistle. It’s an old joke, but it checks out. Unsurprisingly to anyone that watched that episode of Top Gear, the wagon was a little unstable in the corners due to its single front wheel, and the weight of its front-mounted engine probably made matters worse, with a chain drive from the motor to the wheel. The two-stroke 400cc engine in the A and E output 12 hp that gave it sluggish performance at best, which was probably just as well due to that front wheel instability. The driver was situated behind the front wheel and short cowling that hid the engine away, with a pair of side doors for entry and exit, and a single-panel windscreen that overlooked the bonnet/hood. The open load area was to the rear of the vehicle, with drop-down sides and rear tailgate for easy access to the contents. The Kit This is a brand-new tool kit from MiniArt, and was released at the same time as the more militaristic A400, to give the modeller some choice. This unusual little vehicle arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are six sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet on glossy paper with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. It’s a full-body model even though that body is small, so you’ll get to build all the internal parts and during the process possibly learn a little about how it works – I did. Detail is as good as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with a lot of it and what there is well-finessed. Well considered use of slide-moulding also improves the detail without increasing the part count, and makes parts like the forward cowling a feast for the eyes. Construction begins with the small cab floor, which has a planked texture engraved on its surface, and is fitted out with foot pedals, a hand-brake lever and narrow cylindrical chassis rail, plus a battery attached to the floor on the left. The front bulkhead has a clear rounded windscreen popped in, a short steering column and a droopy lever, with the windscreen wiper motor cover added to the top of the screen frame, this time leaving the two bunny-ear indicators intact because they are suitable for this version. The windscreen assembly is attached to the front of the floor with a pot for the washers and the conversion stub of the steering column, with a pair of PE wiper blades added in a boxed diagram later. The padded bench seat for the crew is slotted into the floor, and the back is attached to the rear bulkhead that has two side parts and a small clear window for later joining to the floor, and you’ll need to find some 0.3mm wire 24.6mm long to represent the linkage to the floor-mounted brake lever and the back of the cockpit. The steering wheel and rear bulkhead are glued in, then the two crew doors a made up, having clear side windows plus winders and handles that are quite delicate for realism, then they are installed on the cab, remembering that they hinge rearward in the manner sometimes referred to as suicide doors. The rear chassis is built around a cylindrical centreline part with the back axle and its triangular bearers slipping over it and having hubs with brake discs added at each end. A sturdy V-shaped brace is added between the ends of the axle and the other end of the cylindrical chassis rail, with a large joint between them. The rear wheels are made from a main part that includes the tyres and back of the hub, with a choice of two inserts slipped inside to represent two different hub cap styles, that are then fitted onto the axles on short pegs, with a brake-line made from some more of your own 0.3mm wire and suspended from the frame on PE brackets that are folded over the wire and are closed up then glued to the frame with an etched-in rivet giving the impression that it is attached firmly to the chassis. The load bed is a single part with more planking engraved into both surfaces, adding side rails, lights and a PE numberplate frame fixed on brackets before the upstands are made. The flatbed sides are able to be posed upright, or folded down in the open position, typically for oversized loads or during unloading. Small clasps are included for the corners, and the peg should be cut off for the closed option. The little engine is one of the last assemblies, and is superbly detailed with a lot of parts representing the diminutive 400cc two-stroke motor and its ancillaries, including radiator, fuel tank, exhaust with silencer and chain-drive cover that leads to the front axle. The completed assembly comprises the motor, axle and the fork that attaches to the front of the cab and is wired in using three more lengths of 0.3mm wire from your own stocks, which the instructions advise you makes you an “experienced modeller”. An easy way to earn that badge! After the rear axle and chassis tube have been fitted under the load bed and mated with the cab, the slide-moulded cowling for the engine is fitted-out with two fine PE radiator meshes, an internal deflector panel, PE numberplate for some decal options, a pair of PE clasps on the lower rear edge of the bonnet, and a tiny hook on the top in between two rows of louvers. The cowling can be fixed in the closed position or depicted open, when the little hook latches onto a clip on the roof’s drip-rail, holding it up past vertical against the windscreen. A couple of headlamps with clear lenses are fitted on the sides of the cowling and a pair of wing mirrors on an angled arm are glued to holes in the front of the bulkhead on each side, with a PE bracket giving the appearance of that the etched rivets are what holds it in place. MiniArt have considerately included a whole sprue of parts for you to add to the load bed of your newly-minted E400 wagen, including ladders, fencing, posts, parts of a bench and table, so use those at your whim, or load it up with a loose cargo, such as a big pile of sand as seen in the profiles below. Markings There are four decal options from the sheet, all painted in a solid colour and decorated with the markings of the job it is tasked with, one having been overpainted due to a change of ownership of the vehicle perhaps? From the box you can build one of the following: Hansestadt Hamburg, 1940s Berlin 1940s Nürnberg, 1940s British Occupation Zone, Hamburg, late 1940s Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s weird, so of course like it, but MiniArt have also done a great job with making an easy to build, well-detailed kit of this quirky little German grandfather to the Robin Reliant. I guarantee there will be more of these coming soon. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. Pigeons (38036) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. No, that’s not a typo. Pigeons. An absolute necessity for any diorama, or indeed any model. There simply must be a pigeon in, on or near every model you ever build - it's a well-known fact. Now MiniArt have solved your problem with sourcing sufficient pigeons to make your dream of permanent pigeon patronage (PPP) come true. Some call them rats of the sky, or vermin, but love them or loathe them, they get around and are seen everywhere in any town or city, especially where people feed them. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box, and inside are six sprues, linked in pairs. There are two different sprues, so three of each in grey coloured styrene. There are no decals (no surprise there), with instructions and painting guide found on the rear of the box, showing that there is a huge variety of colours and patterns seen on your average pigeon. Their poop isn’t documented though, so you’ll have to look up the FS shades for the white splatter with black blobs they seem to leave wherever they go. Each bird has a separate set of legs for detail, and they are striking a few different poses to add further variety to your models, aside from the paint jobs. There’s a little flash here and there, but that’s easy to remove, even on small parts like these, and don’t forget a small paint brush to detail all those feathers and stripes that are a theme on their flight feathers. Conclusion Awesome! Well, for pigeons they are. Nice little models that are much simpler than making your own. A scrape of the seams, a little glue and you can be “doing the pigeon” with Bert and Ernie with 36 tiny-weeny models of these feathery, beady-eyed, food scavenging nuisances! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. 1.5T 4x4 G7117 Cargo Truck w/Winch (35389) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-synchro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The G7017 had a cargo bed with canvas top, while the G7117 was the same except for the addition of a winch to give it some static pulling power. They were well-liked by their drivers and crews, and were adapted to other tasks due to their ubiquity, such as being used by the Soviets to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The Kit This is a reboxing and minor re-tool of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt that is coming to your favourite model shop right now. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the cab and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-six modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a tiny bag with some metal chain within, a decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the new ladder chassis, which has the new shaped ends to accommodate the winch, and leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank with PE straps, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed on U-bolts, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails. The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, and at the rear a short additional chassis rail and stowage area are attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The roof and windscreen frame are moulded as one, with a headliner insert and rear-view mirror that are inserted within, and the three-part radiator housing is made to be used later. The firewall and roof are joined with some of the dash pots fixed to the engine side of the firewall, while the doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The dashboard inserts into the front bulkhead with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box. The diagonal foot panel is joined with the firewall and decked out with three foot pedals, a stud and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up on the floor from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits round the rear of the cab back wall, with small ovalised window and PE mesh grille fitted later. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted, with the doors installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen is two flat clear parts in a styrene frame that is posed open or closed later on. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis and the engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included that has Chevrolet embossed on the vertical sides and some holes drilled in the rear of the fenders. The aforementioned windscreen has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts. The spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and the front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wipers hung from the top of the frame, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this doesn’t appear on the sprues, and there’s a good reason for that. It is constructed completely from PE, and two jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay. There are two brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, and another small curved section is added to the left of the grille as it is glued in place with the help of some CA. The hood/bonnet is able to be fitted open or closed with two styles of clasp and in the open option, a PE stay is provided. Two tie-down hooks are fixed to the front bumper iron too. The winch is started by creating the mounting arm with motor, then the bobbin can be created either with a two-part styrene representation of a full reel, or an empty bobbin that you can load with some of your own material or leave empty. It is offered up to the arm and secured in place by adding the short arm that mounts the other end of the axle, before being fixed to the underside of the vehicle at the front, with a protective C-shaped bar over the front. A short take-off shaft is also added under the chassis to provide motive power to the winch. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture on the underside, and a thick rear section with hooks, separate rear lights and moulded-in reflectors. The shallow sides and front have separate frames and a series of tie-down hooks fixed along their lengths, with PE closures and chains on the rear gate that can also be fitted open or closed, as can the seats that run down each side. The four rear mudguards are held at the correct angles by PE brackets, and on one side a pioneer toolkit is lashed to a frame with PE fixings holding an axe, pick axe, and spade. The load bed is joined to the chassis along with the toolkit on the right side of the flatbed. The five hoops that support the roof are inserted into the tops of the verticals along the side of the bed and the bed is then installed on the chassis. It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two parts each, and twin wheels at the rear, made up much earlier in the instructions for some reason. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hub. The winch has a length of chain and you need to supply a length of rope from your own stock, plus a styrene hook and eye to complete its installation, with the end hooked over one of the lugs on the bumper iron. There are two extra fuel cans on brackets with PE tie-down straps on the running boards, plus a pair of buckets with PE handles for you to bend and fit in place. In addition, a crew of two American Army driver figures is included on two separate sprues, one wearing overalls and a cap and twirling a tyre iron, while the other soldier in standard GI uniform is pushing down on a track pump that he is standing on to keep it in position. Each figure is made up from individual legs, torso, head and arms, plus the aforementioned pump and tyre irons. Markings There are a generous seven markings options on the decal sheet, in a variety of markings and with a pale grey US Navy vehicle for a little variation from green. From the box you can build one of the following: 93rd Infantry Division, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1943 8th Air Force, 56th FG, 62 FS Halesworth, England, 1943 45th Division, 120th Engineer Combat Battalion, Sicily, Italy, 1943 US Navy, 1944 Red Army, Germany, February 1945 Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB), 1st Expeditionary Infantry Division, Headquarters Company, Special Transport Troop, Italy, 1944-45 Brazilian Expeditionary Force XXII Tactical Air Command, 350th Fighter Group, 1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron, Pisa, Italy, 1945 Decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners 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 We seem to be blessed with new kits of the Chevrolet G7107 truck in 1:35 recently, which was ubiquitous during WWII on the Eastern and Western fronts as well as the Far East, where it played an important but unsung role in the defeat of the Nazis and the Axis, lugging weapons, ammunition, men and supplies to the front and sometimes back again. Add the winch to move things around a bit, and with the included figures, you’ll be a happy modeller. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Tempo A400 Lieferwagen 3-Wheel Delivery Van (35382) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The A400 Lieferwagen was another of Hitler’s standard vehicles that is perhaps lesser known than the Beetle. It was produced by company Tempowerk Vidal & Sohn from 1938, and was joined by an identical Standard E-1 that was manufactured in another factory. It was one of the few factories that were permitted to carry on making civilian vehicles, although this permit was eventually withdrawn as the state of the war deteriorated for Germany. The wagon was a little unstable in the corners due to its single front wheel, and it had a front-mounted engine that probably made matters worse, with a chain drive from the motor to the wheel. The two-stroke 400cc engine in the A output 12 hp that gave it sluggish performance to say the least, which was probably just as well due to that front wheel. The driver was situated behind the front wheel, with a pair of side doors for entry and exit, and a single-panel windscreen that overlooked the short, tapered bonnet/hood. The load area was to the rear of the vehicle, with two doors at the back to keep the contents safe, and with a number of rear bodyshell designs available. The covered van was common, although flatbeds and other designs were available. The Kit This is a brand-new kit from MiniArt, and will be joined by other variants, one of which we already have in for later review that is the post-war E400 with twin grilles and a flatbed rear. This unusual little vehicle arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet on glossy paper with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. It’s a full-body model, so you’ll get to build all the internal parts and during the process possibly learn a little about how it works. Detail is as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with a lot of it and what there is well-finessed. Considered use of slide-moulding also improves the detail without increasing the part count, and makes parts like the forward cowling a feast for the eyes. construction begins with the small cab floor, which has a planked texture engraved on its surface, and is fitted out with foot pedals, a hand-brake lever and narrow transmission tunnel, plus a battery attached to the floor on the left. The front bulkhead has a clear rounded windscreen popped in, a short steering column and a droopy lever, with the windscreen wiper motor cover added to the top of the screen frame, and two bunny-ear indicators that are lopped off the sides of the screen as they relate to other models. This is attached to the front of the floor with a pot for the washers and the conversion stub of the steering column, with a pair of PE wiper blades added in a boxed diagram later. The padded bench seat for the crew is slotted into the floor, and the back is attached to the rear bulkhead for later joining to the floor, and you’ll need to find some 0.3mm wire 24.6mm long to represent the linkage to the floor-mounted brake lever and the back of the cockpit. The steering wheel and rear bulkhead are glued in, then the twin rear doors with their opener linkage are made up with the two crew doors next, having clear side windows plus winders and handles that are quite delicate for realism. The sidewalls of the load compartment are fitted out with a set of external arches and the rear chassis is built around a cylindrical centreline part with the back axle and its triangular bearers slipping over it and having hubs with brake discs added at each end. A sturdy V-shaped brace is added between the ends of the axle and the other end of the cylindrical chassis rail, with a large joint between them. The rear wheels are made from a main part that includes the tyres and back of the hub, with a choice of two inserts slipped inside to represent two different hub cap styles, that are then fitted onto the axles on short pegs, with a brake-line made from some more of your own 0.3mm wire and suspended from the frame on PE brackets that are folded over the wire and are closed up then glued to the frame with an etched-in rivet giving the impression that it is attached firmly to the chassis. The load bed is a single part with more planking engraved into the surface, with a rear bumper rail, clear lights and a PE numberplate frame added before it is glued to the back of the cab. The sidewalls are mounted and joined by the roof, the rear doors are installed at whatever angle you like, then finally the crew doors, which hinge rearward in the manner sometimes referred to as suicide doors. The little engine is one of the last assemblies, and is superbly detailed with a lot of parts representing the diminutive 400cc two-stroke motor and its ancillaries, including horizontally mounted radiator, fuel tank, exhaust with silencer and chain-drive cover that leads to the front axle. The completed assembly comprises the motor, axle and the fork that attaches to the front of the cab and is wired in using three more lengths of 0.3mm wire from your own stocks, which the instructions advise you makes you an “experienced modeller”. An easy way to earn that badge! After the rear axle and chassis tube have been fitted under the load bed, the slide-moulded cowling for the engine is fitted-out with a choice of two fine PE radiator meshes, an internal deflector panel, PE numberplate, a pair of PE clasps on the lower rear edge of the bonnet, and a tiny hook on the top in between two rows of louvers. The cowling can be fixed in the closed position, or depicted open, when the little hook latches onto a clip on the roof’s drip-rail, holding it up past vertical against the windscreen. A couple of headlamps with clear lenses are fitted on the sides of the cowling and a solitary wing mirror on an angled arm is glued to a hole in the front of the bulkhead on the left side, with a PE bracket giving the appearance of that being what holds it in place. Markings There are five decal options from the sheet, all painted in a solid colour and decorated with the markings of the job it is tasked with. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichspost, Germany, 1938-45 Ordnungspolizei, Germany, 1938-45 Deutsche Reichsbahn, Germany, 1938-45 Deutsches Rotes Kreuz, Germany, 1943-45 Deutes Rotes Kreuz, Germany 1943-45 Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s weird, so I already like it, but MiniArt have also done a great job with making an easy to build, well-detailed kit of this quirky little German grandfather to the Robin Reliant. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Sheep (38042) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Sheep! Why did I get the urge to ram an apostrophe after the name of this set? Sheep can be found in the fields of almost every country in the world where there’s grass. They’re a good source of wool, and also make good eatin’, if you’re not of the vegan persuasion. I prefer my sheep on the lam for wool production only, as I just don’t like the taste of lamb or mutton. Baa… This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized end-opening box, and inside are six ewes, sorry sprues in grey styrene. There are three sprues of each type, with each style of sheep, ram or lamb made from two halves, plus a wedge-shaped insert at the top of the neck with a pair of ears sticking out. There are five different types, 3 rams, 3 each of three types of ewes, and 3 identical lambs, although because of their size, their heads are separate, so you can differentiate them a little by adjusting the angle of their heads. As we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, the moulding is crisp and well-detailed, except for their wool, which is quite wooly. Ahem, sorry. Conclusion 15 sheeps in a box this size is excellent value and could be used for a number of dioramas, although best of luck getting any wool off them. Let the puns begin! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. PLA ZTQ15 Light Tank (TS-048) Chinese Light Tank 1:35 Meng via Creative Models Ltd The catchily titled ZTQ15 Light Tank has been developed by the PLA for what they call Plateau Operations. The tank is light enough to be transported by air but still has a 105mm main gun able to fire a diverse selection of rounds. The engine is specifically developed for a high altitude low oxygen environment where a second stage turbo charger will kick in if needed. The tank features newly designed reactive armour with the ability to add on other armour if needed. Crew is reduced by the use of an auto loader, The tank is fitted with an electroptical countermeasures system and a radar warning system. An export version the VT-5 has been ordered by Bangladesh where no doubt the low ground weight is seen as an advantage in the country. The Kit This is a new kit from Meng of this new PLA light Tank. As well as the two hull parts and the turret there are 3 major sprues, and 1 smaller clear one, and a flexible part for the gun cover. There are a set of poly caps for the suspension and a set of rubber band tracks. Construction starts with the running gear. 12 pairs of road wheels, two drive sprockets; and two idler wheels. Each is in two halves with a polycap going in between. We can then move to the lower hull with 6 torsion bars going in from each side. At the front the mud guards are added. Other parts for the suspension are added along with the gearbox housings, return rollers, and tow hooks. All the wheels can now be added to the lower hull, and at the front the lower armour is fitted. Next on the upper hull the engine deck is added along with the drivers vision blocks. The upper and lower hulls can now be joined. Next up the tracks are added. At the rear the bulkhead is constructed and added to the hull. The side armour pates can now be added. If wanted the rear mounted extra fuel drums can be made up ad fitted. Pioneer tools and additional hull fittings can then be added. Work now moves to the turret. The vision blocks for the commanders hatch go in followed by the gun mount. The upper and lower turret parts can be joined with the rear and side armour plates being fitted. Sensor parts are added along with the AA gun copula. The flexible gun mantlet cover goes on followed by the 7 part gun barrel To both sides of the turret supports for additional spaced armour are fitted followed by the armour. Smoke dischargers and turret baskets are fitted to both sides at the rear of the turret. Additional top armour and the crew hatches are added to the turret. The last item to be built up added is the 12.7mm Anti Aircraft gun, once this is on the turret can be mounted to the hull. Markings A small decal sheet printed in China is enclosed. This gives marking for the digi camo vehicle shown on the box art at the 70th Anv of the founding of the PLA parade Oct 2019, and a 3 colour camo vehicle as used in Tibet. Conclusion This is an usual Tank fielded by the PLA for a specific use, it will make an interesting addition to any collection of modern armour. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Italian Traffic Signs 1930-40s (35637) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII Italy joined the war as allies of Nazi Germany alongside Japan, and fought against the Allies in Europe and North Africa. When the Dictator Mussolini was ousted, Italy changed sides at the will of the people, but German forces stayed in the Italian homeland, attempting to retain Italy as part of their embattled and shrinking 1,000 year Reich. The Allies were forced to fight their way through Italy as a result, in what is inappropriately known as Europe’s soft underbelly, that was very far from soft, as any of the dwindling number of veterans of that conflict will tell you. This set is full of signs from Italy from the 30s and 40s, all of which are civilian in nature and some of the names will be familiar because of the notable battles that took place there. The Kit These signs relate to Italian civilian roads, and arrives in a shrink-wrapped, end-opening, figure-sized box with a painted example of what’s in the box on the front, and a set of instructions on the rear. There are six sprues of styrene parts, plus a large decal sheet with the sign fronts to complete the set. There are 25 signs and a number of text-only signs for the cross-style posts on the decal sheet for you to use, either using the included guide on the box or going off-piste if you see fit. The posts are of a fairly standard and narrow format, and would have been easily bent in the event of an accident. The posts are either straight box-section, or circular style, some with slightly wider bases and a round ferrule on the tip, which can be removed with a blade for some of the signs. The sign boards have cleats on the rear surface to attach them to the poles, with the straps moulded into the posts to guide you in marrying up the two parts. The decals are printed by DecoGraph, and have good registration, clarity and sharpness, with a thin carrier film fitted closely around the printed areas. Some of the sign decals have raised reflective rivets that are similar to the early British road signs, and these have been replicated on the decals. They do a great job considering they are two-dimensional artwork, but if you have access to suitably-sized cabochon rhinestones, you could replace them on top of the 2D versions for extra realism. Under the instructions on the rear of the box is a paint chart that gives colour swatches plus Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya codes, and generic colour names to assist you in choosing the correct paints for your model. It seems that the Italian sign post poles were almost universally candy-striped, so be prepared with a long length of masking tape to wrap around the post for painting the contrasting colour. Conclusion Great diorama fodder, as the devil’s in the details. The printed decal signs are also so much better than most of us could do with a paint brush, and will add a little extra realism to any diorama or vignette. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Soviet Officers at Field Briefing (35365) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The success of any military operation depends largely on its briefings before any significant battle, allocating tasks to the various combat units to ensure that the plans go according to the commander’s wishes as far as possible. When a building wasn’t available, literal fields would sometimes take the place of a table as the location for these get-togethers. This set depicts just such a briefing with the various branches of the WWII Soviet army taking part, from infantry to artillery and tankers, each with their own variation on the uniform. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped end-opening figure box, and contains four sprues in grey styrene and a small sheet with the sprue diagrams and a number of maps for you to cut out and add to your finished model. There are five figures on the sprues, all standing for the briefing and sporting different styles of uniform with the common theme of knee-high boots. Three of the figures are tankers, one in overalls, one in fairly standard Soviet era uniform and the third in a leather jacket holding his padded helmet in one hand. The other two are either infantry or artillery and have standard uniforms, with their caps differentiating them. The comrade in the flat-topped cap is either bored or synchronising his watch, while the gentleman in the cloth cap is poring over a large map, which is supplied as a styrene part to which you can glue a map from the sheet, with others folded and used around their meeting. There are plenty of small-arms on the two smaller sprues, with map cases, field glasses and a case, plus a tiny magazine for the Tokarev TT-33 pistol, a Nagant M1895 revolver, two flare guns, one of which is broken open waiting for a spare flare that is quite well-disguised as a sprue-spur in the vicinity of the two smaller pistol holsters. The larger holster is for the flare-gun, but during my research I could only find later post-war holsters of this pattern, so check your references before using it to ensure it is appropriate. There are two weapons sprues, so everything is doubled up. At the bottom of the rear of the box is a table with colour swatches plus codes for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya and colour names to assist you with choosing your shades from whatever brand you use. Conclusion Another great set of figures from MiniArt, with excellent sculpting, realistic poses, drape of material and sensible breakdown of parts. Highly recommended Review sample courtesy of
  22. Street Accessories with Lamps & Clocks (35639) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Until the post-war age, much of the western world’s street furniture was made from cast or wrought iron, as it was relatively cheap, long-lasting and strong. A lot of this metal was hoovered up in service of the war effort, particularly in the UK where it was more of a propaganda exercise so that the people would feel like they were contributing in some way. Street lamps, bollards, the frames of benches, and fencing were constructed in this way, and because watches were still luxury items to an extent, clocks were sometimes mounted prominently on brackets or posts for all to see. This set contains a selection of these type of items, and arrives in a small top-opening box which holds nine sprues in grey styrene, six in clear, a small decal sheet and a black & white instruction sheet with colour code chart at the bottom of the back page. From these sprues you can build three posts, one with three lamps on angle brackets, one with a solitary lamp, and another with a clock mounted at its top. Each post has ladder-rest arms at the top of a fluted stem, and a wider base that is made from two halves. The lamp enclosures are made from two clear halves with a styrene top and separate ferrule at its apex. There is also a bracket and floor at the bottom into which the clear bulb is placed for added realism. There are parts for four clocks, two of which can be made double-sided by gluing two faces back-to-back, with decals for all the faces, separate hands for them all, and large domed clear lenses to be fitted over the faces. A clock or a lamp can be mounted to a fancy right-angle bracket, so you can customise the appearance of the assemblies as you wish. Additional parts can be used to make up six large circular man-holes with separate lids that have waffle-textured surfaces, six rectangular grids with separate slatted covers, three benches with iron end-frames and two identical sets of slats for the seat and back. There are also six bollards made from two halves bearing a passing resemblance to a pawn from a chess set, plus six lengths of fancy iron fencing, which are linked together by two-part iron posts with either one or two lengths of fencing between each post. Markings The decals are printed by DecoGraph for MiniArt to their usual high standard, and there are six clock faces in three styles available for your use. The instructions have colour call-outs throughout, and these numbers refer to the chart on the back page that gives you codes for Vallejo, Mr Color (enamel C-range), AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour names, which should allow most modellers to track down some suitable colours. Conclusion A great set of accessories for your next diorama. Detail is excellent, and the clear parts are just what’s needed to give your model extra realism – a lamp with an LED hidden inside maybe? Add some every day grime and weathering to the painting as appropriate to the situation, and your model will be all the better for it. Highly recommended. This set is out of stock at time of writing, but should be back in stock soon Review sample courtesy of
  23. German 20mm Flak 38 Crew (84418) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Nazis made extensive use of Flak guns of numerous types during WWII, mostly in their original anti-aircraft role, but later in the war when the Allies were advancing toward their homeland, those same guns were deployed against the oncoming troops with their barrels depressed almost as far as they’d go to make mincemeat of the approaching troops and armoured vehicles. The 20mm+ rounds that Flak cannons fired were incredibly effective against humans and lightly armoured vehicles, but could still incapacitate a Sherman if they impacted the tracks, vision blocks or any of the weapons systems, rendering them useless during that attack at least, with the opportunity of taking out any crew that tried to escape. This figure set is a reboxing of an older Trimaster offering under the Hobby Boss banner, and although they’re not brand-new, they’re still pretty good, holding up well against the more modern sets, with the possible exception of the Kar98 rifles that are a little soft compared to the best available today. If you’ve got any spares from other sets, they could be used instead. The set arrives in an end-opening figure box with a single sprue in sand-coloured styrene filling the available space. There are four figures on the sprue, and their instructions and painting guide can be found on the rear of the box along with a colour chart giving codes in Mr Hobby (acrylic & lacquer), Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol brands. The figures are all engaged in rolling their Flak unit manually, probably adjusting its position after unhitching from an unseen towing vehicle, or moving to meet the challenge of an newly discovered threat. There is a yellow arrowed bubble on the back of the box stating “Flak38 not included!” just in case you wondered, but they forgot to mention the grass in the box art painting. Where’s my grass??? Anyway, getting back to sensible-land, three of the figures are stood leaning at a sharp angle while they push with both hands against the gun, while the fourth is crouched down with his hands out trying to coax one wheel to move, which you can see on the box art above. Breakdown of the figure parts are pretty standard, comprising separate torso, arms, legs, heads and separate helmets, all of which are covered with a camo fabric. The crew are all wearing later war pea-camo smocks with elasticated cuffs that are well-depicted with realistic drape and form. They all have accessories such as mag-pouches, bedrolls, gasmask canisters and entrenching tools, plus water bottles and mess-kit in its canister. Your only choice of weapon is the slightly-soft appearing Kar98s, which in the box art are slung over their shoulders out of the way, so you might consider using tape, lead sheet or some other slim, flexible medium to create the slings for a bit of additional realism. Conclusion These figures are well-sculpted, and would look equally good pushing any form of wheeled artillery, or even a small vehicle if you felt the urge to diversify. There’s a tiny amount of flash creeping in around the edges of some parts, but it’s mostly on the sprues, although that’s only the work of moments to remove. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Kursk Bailout from the Pocket (84417) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Battle of Kursk was the turning point of WWII for Nazi Germany where they were definitively beaten by the Soviets, who had finally awoken and revealed their military might that became the steam-roller to push the invaders back to their own borders and beyond. It began with an attempt by the Germans to cut off a salient or bulge that had developed along the front line at the insistence of Adolf Hitler himself, and against the wishes of some of his generals. It began in the summer of 1943 and carried on into August, with the reversal of role of the Germans from attackers to defenders – a role that they were trapped in until the end of the war. Figures of losses on both sides are difficult to be firm about due to the nature and scale of the conflict, but the German generals never recovered from the devastation of their forces, especially in terms of manpower, which could not be replaced quickly or easily by that stage of the war. It meant that more previously protected occupations were drawn into the military, which had a knock-on effect on the production of desperately-needed armaments. This figure set depicts a small group of four soldiers who are withdrawing from combat after one of their number has been injured, necessitating his being supported by two of his comrades, one on each side. The set arrives in an end-opening figure box with a single sprue in sand-coloured styrene filling the available space. There are four figures on the sprue, and their instructions and painting guide can be found on the rear of the box along with a colour chart giving codes in Mr Hobby (acrylic & lacquer), Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol brands. Three of the figures are wearing later war smocks with pea-camouflage patterning, while the directing officer is wearing a Feldgrau uniform with jodhpur-style pants and calf-length boots. The two supporting soldiers are carrying their comrade between them as he is unable to walk, his feet dragging limp behind him, exposing the hobnails on his boot. They have their Kar98 rifles slung over their shoulders, so you will need to make some thin strips of tape or foil to create the slings, to add a little realism to the scene. They also still wear their stahlhelms, as does the officer, but only one supplied helmet is fitted with the later war cover that is also likely made of the same or similar pea-camo material. The injured man has lost his helmet somewhere near to the front, and his head has hair moulded into it. Breakdown of the figure parts are pretty standard, comprising separate torso, arms, legs, heads with flat-tops and helmets. The soldiers’ pea-camo smocks with elasticated cuffs and cinched waists are well-depicted with realistic drape and form. They all have accessories such as mag-pouches, bedrolls, gasmask canisters and entrenching tools, plus water bottles and mess-kit canisters. The officer has an MP40 clutched in one hand, and on my example there is a little flash evident, possibly due to its proximity to the centre of the sprue where the injection point is. The officer is also pointing anxiously away from the nasty Russians, with a map case hanging from his belt and the top end of a potato-masher grenade sticking from his belt. Conclusion These figures are well-sculpted, and would look good in a diorama of troops on the road back to Germany. As mentioned earlier, there’s a tiny amount of flash creeping in around the edges of a few parts, but it’s mostly confined to the centre and on the sprue itself, and flash is only the work of moments to remove. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Street Furniture w/Electronics & Umbrella (35647) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The busy streets of most Middle East towns and cities are often dotted with furniture and people sitting there, drinking tea, smoking a Hookah, and generally watching the world bustle by. In Modern Middle East, most of that furniture is moulded plastic, which is lightweight, cheap and difficult to break, unless it’s been subject to frequent hot/cold cycles such as those of Britain, which makes them brittle and perfect “You’ve Been Framed” fodder. The people-watchers tend to be older men or women, but that’s not always the case, and they sit around either watching TV on a small portable set, drinking, smoking and even playing board games to ward off boredom if the streets go quiet. An almost constant feature during the day is bright sunlight, so patio umbrellas with heavily sun-bleached canopies are often seen providing splotches of colour amongst the hubbub. This set contains just the sort of gear you would find in the description above, and arrives in a small top-opening box with twelve small sprues in grey styrene, two more in white, a single clear part, and a double page folded instruction booklet with three different canopies printed on one page and some TV pictures that you can use. Four of the sprues contain a patio chair with back and arms, one on each one. There are also two patio tables with separate legs that take up two more sprues, four sprues making up the umbrella, metal limbs and the weighted base, into which the adjustable centre-pole slots. When the parasol is built and the glue dry, you can glue one of the paper canopies in place, or use them as a template to make one of your own from another material. A wooden coffee table with curved legs fills another sprue, and the final grey sprue has a portable TV, ghetto-blaster, a hookah and portable backgammon board with pieces crisply moulded into the board. The TV is made from a front and rear part, but it also has a clear lens that can be glued into the front after you have placed one of the eleven TV screen images from the instruction booklet. I have tested them in place, and they’re really quite convincing. The two remaining white sprues contain a plate, a tray, a selection of three jugs and teapots of different sizes, three tankards, and three cups with separate saucers. Conclusion A great set to help you depict a candid scene either in the Middle East or somewhere in the rest of the world really, thanks to the ubiquity of such simple furniture and the cheapness of plastic injection moulding. relegate the hookah to the spares box and you could be anywhere from the UK to Russia. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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