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  1. Plastic Barrels & Cans (49010) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Plastic barrels are pretty useful, as they're light when empty, recyclable, can hold liquids that metal barrels can't and are often more resistant to impact without permanent damage. In addition, they don't use up much in the way of strategic materials and don't rust, so you're onto a winner. Civilians and military use them extensively, and wherever there is engineering going on, you'll usually find barrels dotted around. This set arrives in an end-opening figure box, and inside are four sprues in grey styrene plus a small decal sheet. There are four barrels and four cans on each sprue, and you can make eight large and eight small barrels with separate lids alongside the sixteen two-part cans by following the simple instructions on the rear of the box. The large barrels are made of two halves and a top, while the small barrels are built in the same manner, but have two handles moulded into the sides to facilitate handling. The cans are simple two-part assemblies with the nozzle moulded into the left side to reduce seams. Markings There is a handful of warning decals on the little sheet, and the back of the box also includes painting and decaling suggestions in various colours as well as the ubiquitous blue. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion 16 barrels in two sizes, and 16 cans. All in realistic plastic for you to paint and add to your projects. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. German Soldiers w/Fuel Drums Special Edition (35366) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd It’s a fact that an army marches on its stomach, so by extrapolation, a mechanised army rolls on its fuel supply, with fuel efficiency hardly a priority when creating gas-guzzling monsters such as tanks, heavy prime-movers and the trucks that move the fuel about, ironically. During WWII, Germany suffered from a shortage of fuel that drove the reasoning for some of their initial conquests to rectify this untenable situation for an aggressor. As they were driven back into their original territory, those sources of oil diminished, and fuel became scarce, contributing to some of their military failures, with some help from expert tactician Adolf Hitler, of course. Mass fuel transport was done by rail to distribution points (Allied fighters permitting), where trucks and manual handling took over. The Kit This set is a combined figure and fuel drums offering, providing five figures and eight fuel drums of two styles, plus some hand-pumps into the bargain. It arrives in an end-opening figure box, and inside are ten sprues of various sizes, although the figure sprue has cut in half in order to fit the box. A sheet of instructions for building the barrels is included, and the figures are shown on the back of the box, with paint codes and part numbers arrowed where appropriate. There are also some suggestions for the fuel drum colours on the back of the box, which we have expanded with some details that might prove useful in helping you choose. The five figures represent a work-group, consisting of four soldiers and an officer that is in command, a.k.a. not doing any hard work. The Officer is dressed in typical garb, with knee-length riding boots and trousers, a flat-topped cap, and is busily scribbling on a notepad, with a holstered pistol on his hip. The workers are split evenly between peaked and flat forage caps, wearing standard Wehrmacht uniforms and long boots. They are in various poses, including pulling on a rope, pushing with both hands and leaning into the action in two poses, and rolling a barrel whilst stooped forward. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprue for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s sculptors and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The drum sprues give you enough parts for six drums, and there are a further two on the figure sprue of a different type that have moulded-in ribs around the centre of the cylindrical forms, and have a couple of dents moulded in for realism. The other drums are made from halves to which the top and bottoms are added, then two stiffening bands are added to the grooves in the drums, each made up from two parts. There is a choice of end-caps with different wording in raised lettering, and if you cut off and drill out the cap you can make up the hand-pump with nozzle at the other end of a piece of hose/wire that you supply yourself. You can depict the drums in any state from brand new to badly dented and completely rusted to bare metal, and the choice is entirely up to you. Conclusion If you’re looking for an activity for your latest German WWII truck model to undertake, this set will supply that, and a decent quantity of drums to fill the load bed with into the bargain. If you need more, MiniArt sell a separate set that is just barrels, which you can see here. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Fuel & Oil Drums 1930-50s (49007) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd There’s no escaping the fact that we as a society have been addicted to fossil fuels starting with coal during the first industrial revolution, and now oil and fuel in the 20th and 21st centuries. Drums are an easy way to store and transport relatively small quantities without spilling them, and they certainly beat a carrier bag any day of the week! The Kit Arriving in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, the set includes five sprues in grey styrene, plus a decal sheet, and instructions with painting guide on the back of the box. There are only two different sprue types included, but you get multiples that allow you to build up 18 barrels and 6 manual hand-pumps if you feel the urge to use them. There are three types of barrels, two of which have different types of ribbing moulded in, the third having thicker pairs of rings around them, moulded-in at this smaller scale. The tops and bottoms of the barrels are all fitted with filler caps and breather holes on the opposite side, while some have a concentric ring in the middle to add rigidity to the surface. The hand pumps have a long dip tube with crank handle moulded-in, and an applicator/dispenser wand that will need you to supply some hose or wire to complete. Markings The back of the box gives you brief instructions for construction and suggests paint schemes and decal locations for your edification. Decals are by Cartograf, 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 whole barrel of fun for your aircraft, vehicle or diorama base. Detailed, with decals to pretty them up, and a decent quantity that could last you a few models. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. German Tank Repair Crew Special Edition (35319) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Just like an ordinary motor vehicle, tanks break down, probably more frequently, as they drag around huge amounts of armour and armament, sometimes with an engine and transmission that isn’t up to the job, if not initially, then after upgrades that increase the all-up weight. German tanks invariably had this problem, especially the Tiger and King Tiger, both of which used a similar drive-train that was overloaded and prone to break-downs. This meant that in the field the crews had to become at least proficient in rudimentary maintenance and repair, which was often practiced during training so that they were prepared for the inevitable. The Kit This set contains five figures of German WWII tankers in the process of fixing their tank, much of which is relating to tracks that were quite easily thrown if transiting over rough ground, or the tension wasn’t 100% correct. They also suffered from damage due to incoming rounds and mines that could quickly disable even the well-armoured Tigers and King Tigers, for want of a few damaged track links and possibly the need for a replacement road wheel, which was why many tanks carried spare links and road wheels attached to the outside of their hull in case of this kind of damage. It also made acceptable appliqué armour in the meantime. Inside the figure-sized box are four sprues, although two are made from one cut-down sprue that wouldn’t otherwise fit in the box. This bisected sprue contains the figures, their headgear, sidearms and a few of the tools. The sprues are sectioned up with all the parts for one figure together in that portion, which makes identifying parts for clipping off a breeze. They are all standing, four of them hard at work levering with a bar, hammering, pulling on a cable, and pushing, while their commander eggs them on from a short distance so he doesn’t get too hot and sweaty. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional, with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown, plus two sprues of extra tools to add some detail to their vicinity if you use them in a diorama. The multi-part tools have their part numbers and a drawing of how they should look on the back of the box, showing where they can be found on the sprues with the aid of a diagram on a small sheet of paper inside box. Conclusion A realistic and well-detailed tank crew or crews working on their vehicle to either get back to the fray, or get out of Dodge before the enemy overruns them. Poses, drape of clothing and detail is exceptional as ever. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Modern Oil Drums 200L (49009) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd We’ve been addicted to fossil fuels since coal was first burned, sparking (Sorry for the pun) the industrial revolution, and now oil and fuel in the 20th and 21st centuries. Drums are an easy way to store and transport relatively small quantities without spilling them, and they certainly beat a wicker basket or colander any day of the week! Arriving in a figure-sized box, the set includes five sprues in grey styrene, plus a small decal sheet, and instructions with colour painting guide on the back of the box. This allows you to build up 20 barrels of two styles and 5 manual hand-pumps if you feel the urge to use them. There are two types of barrels with different style of ribbing, all having two ribs either side of the centre, while one type has numerous smaller ribs in the top and bottom portions. The ends of the barrels are mostly flat with filler cap and vent, while a few have a ring near the centre. The hand pumps have a long dipping stick, a handle to crank, and an applicator that will need you to supply some hose or wire to complete. If you plan on inserting one into a barrel, you will need to drill out the cap in order to get it in there. Markings The back of the box gives you brief instructions for construction, suggested paint schemes and decal locations for your guidance. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion A whole barrel of fun for your vehicle or diorama base! I’m sorry to reuse that yet again. They’re detailed, with decals to pretty them up, and a decent quantity that could last you a few models. Highly recommended Review sample courtesy of
  6. Waiters (38052) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd War is hell, quite literally, and any break from hostilities is welcomed by soldiers and café owners, particularly since WWI and WWII when war became total, with little in the way of remission for the soldiers for weeks on end. During WWII and after D-Day, there were occasions when Allied soldiers had access to cafés in France and Belgium as they progressed toward Germany, liberating the people as they went, which allowed them to go back to some semblance of normality for short periods, within reason. When Paris was designated an open City by the Germans to avoid destruction of its many historic buildings and populace, the Allies suddenly had extended access to café life, and took to it like ducks to water. This meant more work for the local waiters, who were generally happy to serve their liberators, and the Allied customers were probably a lot more welcome than the previous goose-stepping occupants, as was the additional paid work during a difficult transition period. The Kit This set includes four waiter figures, and arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box, with four sprues inside, although in our example three were linked by a runner, which was discarded for the sake of ease of photography. Each sprue contains all the parts you will need for each figure, all of whom are males that are wearing typical waiter’s garb of the 30s-60s, including waistcoat, apron tied at the waist, and for one rather creepy-looking gentleman, a double-breasted chef’s jacket with cravat, who is toasting someone, probably an unlucky mademoiselle, holding up a cup of coffee and proffering a leering smile, all whilst sat on a stool, the parts for which are included. The real figure doesn’t look quite so creepy, happily. The other three gentlemen are hard at work, serving a dessert on a tray, pouring a bottle of wine over a cloth draped over his forearm, and offering a menu, whilst holding an empty tray behind his back. Parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The sculptor in this instance is Sergey Alekhino, as noted on the box front in small lettering. https://www.britmodeller.com/reviews/creative/miniart/figures35/38052-waiters/instructions.jpg The rear of the box shows the part numbers in black, and the suggested paint codes in blue boxes, with lines showing what each number relates to, and there is a table below that gives paint codes in swatches, Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission, AMMO, Tamiya, and generic colour names, as you can see below. Conclusion If you have a café that you’re looking to populate in 1:35, this set could be just what you’ve been waiting for, although we have seen at least three of the four figures in the Allied forces in cafés sets recently. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Liefer Pritschenwagen Typ 170V (38065) Furniture Transport Car 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street in 1930. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. As well as sharing a chassis with the saloon, the van was essentially identical in the forward section and inside the crew cab. The bodywork from the doors backward were designed with the same ethos but differed due to the practical but boxy load area behind the drivers. These vehicles were often used for years after their original purchase passing through the ownership of several operators for dwindling sums of money, especially after the war years where funds were sometimes short following the devastation in Europe. The Kit This is a reboxing of a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon and subsequent Beer and Cheese Delivery vehicles (reviewed earlier), with the same base sprues and more new parts added to create the load for this flatbed variant. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with delicate framing, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. Inside the box are thirteen sprues of grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for finer details, protected in a card envelope. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The curved X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and PE brackets, then the rear axle, differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings and installing PE mudflaps under the front arches. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column with PE horn-ring added at the same time. The dashboard is integrated into the windscreen frame after being fitted with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism. There is also a nicely clear curved windscreen inserted before this is dropped over the firewall, joined by a rear cab panel that has a small rear window and the back of the bench seat applied before fitting. The base of the bench seat is also fitted on a riser moulded into the floor along with a couple of rear panels at the sides of the seats. Vehicles need wheels, and this one runs on four. Each wheel is made from a lamination of two central sections to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls and shoulder tread of the tyres, with maker’s mark and data panel moulded into them. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies in handed pairs. The flat floor for the load area is a single piece to which shallow sides are added with moulded-in rails and cross-braces running underneath, and PE brackets for the number plate and rear light clusters added beneath the tailgate made from PE and styrene elements. At this stage the front of the van needs finishing, a job that begins with the radiator with a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround, then the radiator core and slam-panel with filler cap at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central rod that forms the hinge-point for the side folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvred side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. The front doors are handed of course, and have separate door cards with handle and window winders added, and a piece of clear styrene playing the part of the window, which is first fitted to the door card before it is added to the door skin. Both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish, and are of the rearward opening "suicide door" type, and these are joined on the vehicle by the flatbed at the rear, with cut-outs underneath to clear the rear arches. A pair of combination PE and styrene wipers are added to the windscreen sweeping from the top, a pair of clear-lensed headlamps, a choice of two styles of wing mirrors on the A pillar or the wing finish off the build of the van. To put the load into this wagon, there are two sprues of household parts and a multi-part upright piano to make up according to the last page of the instructions, which gives you a choice of open or closed cover on the keyboard, plus a radio, small side table, a globe in a hemispherical frame mounted on a pedestal, and a table lamp with conical shade, all of which can go in the back of the van once painted any colour you like. Markings These were commercial vehicles during peacetime, so they were designed to attract attention with more colourful liveries, although the hardship of post war Europe shows a little wear and tear evident on the profiles. There are three options depicted in the instructions, with plenty of colour suggestions for the various items in the back. From the box you can build one of the following: American Occupation Zone, Bavaria, 1946 Switzerland, 1950s British Occupation Zone, Niedersachsen, 1950s Decals are by Cartograf, 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 another well-detailed kit of an old Merc van, and even if you’re not a vehicle modeller it would make great background fodder for a diorama, especially if a cheesy or beery version doesn’t suit your needs, possibly with post-war Allied or Soviet armour making its way through town. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. US Stake Body Truck G506 (38067) 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 axles. Under the new coding 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 civilian vehicles could be almost as varied in form as the military options with some obvious exceptions (civilians seldom have a need to launch rockets), and they were well-liked by their drivers and crews, carrying out cargo shipping duties before, during and after WWII. They benefitted from widely available spares and the know-how to repair and maintain them, often from ex-servicemen, and the truck served long after the end of WWII. The Kit This is a new civilian boxing of a recent tooling from MiniArt, one of a widening range that is to be found in your favourite model shop, and the term ‘Stake’ refers to the fact that there are removable sides to the load area consisting of posts or ‘stakes’ that slot into sockets in the load deck, adding flexibility to their use. 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 seventeen modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed, 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, and the spare tyre on an angled bracket. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, and at the rear a short additional chassis rail is attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank, adding the final drive shaft to the transfer box in the centre of the chassis. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below later, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. The additional chassis rails are secured to the main rails via six clamps that have long bolts holding the two halves together from above and below, each one made of two halves. 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 kick 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 between two 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 optional PE mesh grille fitted later. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the floor, with the doors installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen is two panes of clear in a styrene frame fitted to the front of the cab open or closed, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that is posed open or closed later as you like it. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis with spacer rods applied, and a choice of engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included that incorporates the running boards under the doors. The 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 front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wiper blades are hung from the top of the frame on styrene arms, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this appears on the sprues too for a simpler build process, but a more detailed and realistic grille can be fabricated from the PE parts on the fret. It is constructed completely from PE, and two styrene jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail, light cages 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 PE 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. If you elected to use the styrene grille, this process is condensed down to nipping the part from the sprue, cleaning the sprue gates, and gluing it to the front of your truck. The hood/bonnet can be fitted open or closed with two clasps and in the open option a PE stay is provided, attaching the clasps upside down. A number plate holder is fitted offset to the right at the front next to a pair of large hooks, and the rear lights are mounted on PE brackets at the sides of the PE bumpers fitted earlier. The load bed floor is a single moulding with four cross-ribs glued to the underside, and the two sides made up with slatted gates inserted that have PE furniture, and simple slatted front and rear sides that glue onto the bed and are clipped together with more interlocking PE brackets at the corners. The load bed is joined to the chassis along with the fuel filler’s PE clamp, and exhaust that is added on PE brackets and has an optional PE skin to the muffler. It’s time for the rest of 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 hole, with a pair of rear mudflaps behind the back wheels, and an additional carrier for the spare wheel under the body. Markings There are four colourful markings options on the decal sheet from various parts of the US that were operating in the 1940s. From the box you can build one of the following: Connecticut, 1940s Idaho, 1940s North Dakota, 1940s Texas, 1940s Decals are by Cartograf, 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 many new kits of the Chevrolet G506/G7107 truck in 1:35 of late, which was ubiquitous during WWII and equally at home lugging goods of all types around the USA and beyond in the decades following. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. 1.5t 4x4 G506 Cargo Truck (38064) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that could carry up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo, men or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then were renamed as the 7100 series, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, and a four-speed “crash” (non-synchromesh) gearbox putting out a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities on the Western Front, with the Soviets on the Eastern Front, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were plenty 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 in large numbers under the Lend/Lease program. Following the end of WWII, many were mothballed, or sold off into civilian service, where they went on to give good service over an extended period. Those equipped with a load bed was a workhorse in America and other countries after WWII, when money was tight, so second hand or former military equipment was just the ticket for the cash-strapped hauliers and long-distance transport companies. As time went by, they gradually wore out, repair became more expensive, and newer more effective vehicles came to market that permitted the carrying of larger loads over greater distances for less. Some still survive of course, and can be seen at historic vehicle rallies and get-togethers of like-minded enthusiasts. The Kit This is a new boxing of a recent tooling from MiniArt, and is one of an expanding range that is to be found in your favourite model shop. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and load area all included along with some appealing 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-two modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a short length of shiny metal chain, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed on leaf springs, 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 serpentine 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 is attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank, with a stowage area that had an open rear and top at this stage. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below later, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. A spare tyre mounts on a large bracket on the left outer of the chassis, with the inner face a separate part to achieve correct thickness and detail. A set of additional chassis straps trap the additional rails to the lower rail, the real ones cinched up by long threaded coach-bolts. 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 forward 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, plus two more on the headliner by the rear-view mirror. The diagonal kick panel is joined with the firewall and fitted out with three foot pedals, a button and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole between two 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 two-layer rear wall that fits round the rear of the floor, with small ovalised window and optional PE mesh grille fitted later, adding four levers in front of the seats at the same time. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the floor, while the doors are installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen comprises two clear panes in a styrene frame fitted to the front of the cab open or closed, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that can be posed open or closed as you prefer. A pair of wing mirrors are glued onto the cab in front of the doors at handle-height. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis with spacer rods applied, and a choice of engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included that incorporates the running boards under the doors. The 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 front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wiper blades are hung from the top of the frame on styrene arms, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this appears on the sprues too for a simpler build process, but a more detailed and realistic grille can be fabricated from the PE parts on the fret. It is constructed completely from PE, and two styrene jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail, light cages 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 PE 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. If you elected to use the styrene grille, this process is condensed down to nipping the part from the sprue, cleaning the sprue gates, and gluing it to the front of your truck. The hood/bonnet can be fitted open or closed with two clasps and in the open option a PE stay is provided, attaching the clasps upside down. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a planked texture on the underside, a slim rear section with moulded-in reflectors, and separate rear lights mounted to the chassis. The shallow sides and taller header board are separate frames with some PE furniture applied along the way, while the underside is strengthened by four cross-braces. The load bed sides are extended by a set of verticals with twin planked top panels, and these too have PE furniture installed, many of which will require some simple folding. The rear rail has a pair of towel-rail hinges and PE brackets fixed to it during the assembly of the bed, and underneath is the door to the stowage area built earlier, which gets a PE shackle and padlock to keep it secure. A run of planked bench seats is fitted along each side of the load bed for passenger transport, and these can either be built deployed on diagonal brackets, or stowed away with the brackets and seats stored vertically against the side wall to maximise load area. The rear gate has a pair of PE stirrups, hinges, and a couple of hooks, and their latches have their pins linked to the vehicle by lengths of chain so that it doesn’t get lost by careless loaders or drivers. A scrap diagram shows exactly where it should be mounted. The tailgate can be posed open or closed, and the latches fitted accordingly. The completed bed is joined to the chassis along with a pair of mudguards and their braces, and a strip of PE rolled around the pipe links the exhaust to the back of the mudflap, sliding over the exhaust with the position shown in a scrap diagram. There are two locations for each PE number plate holder, as shown in the last diagrams. The wheels are made up along the way in the instructions, with singles at the front, each made from two parts each, and with twin wheels at the rear, again with separate outer sidewalls. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hole. Markings There are five markings options on the decal sheet from the 40s, in various regions where the type was operating. From the box you can build one of the following: Czechoslovakia, Late 1940s Poland, Late 1940s Kyiv Region, Ukraine, Late 1940s Latvia, Late 1940s Germany, Soviet Occupation Zone, Late 1940s Decals have been screen printed by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion We seem to be blessed with new kits of the Chevrolet G506/G7107 truck in 1:35 recently, which was ubiquitous during WWII and beyond, perfectly at home lugging goods of all types around the world, or as this boxing portrays, around Eruope. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. StuG III Ausf.G Mar 1943 Alkett Prod. (35336) 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 based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removed the turret and front deck, replacing it with an armoured casemate with a lower profile 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, where it could be deadly. 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 was 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 armour to increase survivability prospects 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 by that time, 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 MiniArt have finally managed to get their production running again after the shock of the invasion on the 24th of February 2022 forced them to up-sticks wholesale to escape from the horror. Well, they’re back and we’re all very happy for them, and wish them the best with their business and hope they can return to normality at the earliest convenience. We’re all behind you! Just before the aforementioned event, MiniArt had released a new tooling of the late StuG III and this is a continuation of the Ausf.G series, which had changes laid over changes during the final batches. This boxing is another Alkett factory example from March 1943 and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the MiniArt style, with attractive artwork and profiles on the side. Inside the box are forty-five 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 individual track links that different from the earlier pre-series kit we reviewed some time ago. Construction begins with the floor panel, which receives the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine that isn’t included in this boxing, and the support structure for the gun, which is made up from some substantial beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15° travel for fine-tuning lateral aim. The rear bulkhead is set against the engine mounts and the hull sides are mated to the floor, with the bases for the final drive housing glued to the front next to the two-layer front bulkhead. The glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches are given a similar treatment, plus another appliqué panel, and the usual exhausts, towing lugs and idler protection are added to the bottom section of the rear, and a radiator exhaust panel with PE grille is made up and applied above it, adding some deflecting tinwork to the hull. Narrow bolted panels are added to the sides of the hull in preparation for the upper hull parts that are added next. Much of the gun breech detail is represented, and a large trunnion is fitted onto the two pins on the sides of the assembly. Elevation, traverse and sighting gear is installed on the breech, although it’s unlikely to be seen. Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are well-detailed externally, including vision slots, smoke grenade dispensers and lifting eyes. The shape of the casemate is completed 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, 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. 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 through the centre. This hatch can also be posed open or closed, and the MG shield can be posed in the flat position for travel. The engine deck is built up with short sides and armoured intake louvres on the sides, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay. Two types of rear appliqué parts can be added to the slope at the rear of the deck, then armoured cover to the fume extraction fan is added to the back of the casemate. A rail of spare track links is fixed across the rear of the casemate with the barrel cleaning rods underneath, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents. A pair of road wheels are carried on the deck with long pins through their holes that attach them to the rearmost pair of hatches. One decal option also has a field modification of a large stowage box mounted on the centre of the rear deck, with the other options mounting a much shallower box in the same place on PE brackets. 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 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 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, using 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, coupling them together, and the result is a very well detailed track with flexibility to adjust them around the running gear of your model, 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 integrated mudguards and tiny 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 110mm cable material yourself, with a set 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 breech, closing up the interior, and the last parts of the kit are two whip antennae on the rear of the casemate, and optionally another pair of road wheels on both front fenders for one of the decal options. Markings There are five markings options included on the decal sheet, all of them with varying camouflage from bare dunkelgelb to predominantly green with splotches of other colours. From the box you can build one of the following: 201 Stg. Abt., Greece, Summer 1943 322 Stg.Abt., Eastern Front, Summer 1943 1st Company Pz. Abt. ‘Rhodos’, Rhodos, Autumn 1943 Bulgarian 1st Assault Gun Battalion, Autumn 1943 10th SS Panzer Div. ‘Frundsberg’, Pomerania, March 1945 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 good-looking, well-detailed model of an important WWII German tank destroyer that saw action the Eastern and Western fronts in relatively large numbers. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. German Soldiers in Café (35396) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd War is hell, quite literally, and any break from hostilities is welcomed with glee by soldiers, particularly those of WWI and WWII when war was without end, with little in the way of respite for weeks, sometimes months on end. During WWII until shortly after D-Day, German soldiers were frequent, if unwelcome guests in cafés across Europe, served through gritted teeth and with false bonhomie by wait staff who probably took every opportunity to contaminate their occupier’s food or drink as some small act of defiance, although that carried grave risks if they were caught. Inside the figure-sized box are eight sprues, four containing the figures, two containing a pair of tables and four chairs, and two small sprues with translucent brown bottles and clear glasses. As usual with MiniArt figures the sculpting of each of the four characters is exceptional, with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus extras in the shape of the clear bottles and glasses to add some detail to their vicinity. The poses are all seated of course, in various levels of relaxation. Two are without head covering, and only one has his on the table in front of him, but it must be glued brim-down, as the interior is solid. Similarly, if you wanted to adapt that figure to be wearing his hat, he’d need to go in for an emergency craniectomy to remove the top portion of his head. The angles of the markings on the figures’ shoulder boards is acute, which makes it difficult to tell which branch of the German forces they are from, although experts could probably identify them from their clothing alone. The one that is easy to tell from the others is the mariner, dressed in a double-breasted jacket with brass buttons and braiding. He is also wearing a beard, which is unusual for non-mariners at that stage of the war. We’ve seen the seats and tables before in the Allied café sets, but this time everything is doubled-up due to the increase in seated figures to four, and no waiters included. The four chairs are all made from front and back legs with half of the seat moulded-into each part, joining together and strengthened by adding an extra ring on top, then placing the cushion over the top to complete it. The tables have a simple top with a cruciform mounting bracket moulded-in, adding the central leg and cast-iron base that spreads out to stabilise them. Moulding of the weighted base is excellent, and reminiscent of the type seen in cafés everywhere, even today. Conclusion As usual, the sculpting, poses and material drape is highly realistic, and the parts breakdown sensibly placed along natural lines or seams to reduce the amount of clean-up or joint filling. The inclusion of glasses and bottles in the sets add realism, as do the accessories and furniture. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. RMS Titanic (PS-008) 1:700 MENG via Creative Models Ltd There can’t be many people that haven’t heard of the appalling and unnecessary loss of life that happened when the Titanic’s maiden voyage route intersected with an iceberg, causing huge rips down the ship’s side and overwhelming the safety measures that led many to believe that she was unsinkable. At the end of the day on 14th April 1912 she hit that fateful iceberg and began taking on substantial quantities of water. Less than three hours later she broke up and slipped beneath the surface with many of the passengers still aboard, and many more forced to jump into the almost freezing water. Over 1,500 souls were lost that day thanks to the hubris of the designers and impatience of the supervising crew, but many lessons were learned from this tragedy that are still applicable today, and many lives have subsequently been saved as a result. The 1997 blockbuster release of the film The Titanic brought the story to the public consciousness again after the wreck had been found over 13 miles from her expected location some years earlier. She was found lying upright and in two major parts, both of which had hit the sea bed at a considerable speed, badly buckling the underside. She has since been thoroughly inspected, and some of the knowledge gleaned from those expeditions was incorporated into the fictionalised plot of the James Cameron helmed film. Which itself has become part of modern vernacular, with phrases such as “paint me like one of your French girls” raising the occasional titter. The Kit This is a new tool from MENG, and it’s quite an interesting and unusual proposition, as it is moulded in pre-coloured styrene, comes with a wood-effect plinth and gold-painted ferrules to stand the model on, and what’s more fun is that it also has a lighting system included with a battery box hidden in the base, plus a touch-sensitive button out of sight to turn the lights on and off. Neato! The kit arrives in a slender box in MENG’s usual style with a painting of the titular ship on the front, overhead and side views on the sides, and a number of QR code links to their social media sites for good measure. Inside the box are four loose white parts plus a sprue in white styrene, a tan sprue, a brown sprue, an orange/brown sprue, a small brick red sprue and lower hull part, a black sprue and upper hull part, and the afore mentioned wood effect base and brass/gold painted supports on a sprue that was originally moulded in brown. In addition, there is a black and silver name plate for the plinth, a length of flexible LED strip with a lead and socket on one end, plus a battery box with circular PCB holding the touch switch and terminated with a socket for the plug. The instructions are quite unusual in their layout, taking the form of three concertina sheets that extend to 90cm once unfolded. The first sheet is single-sided and has the history of the Titanic in four languages including English, plus a short advisory section in the same four languages. The second and third sheets contain the instructions and optional painting guide, including the electronics. Detail is excellent for the scale as we expect from MENG, and although the “proper” modeller will want to throw some paint at the kit, you don’t have to, or if you’ve bought the model for a child, everything should go together without glue or paint and still look good, especially when you tap the invisible switch and the lights come on! Construction begins with the decks fore and aft (pointy and blunt ends if you’re uninitiated), which are moulded in tan and have a black insert and the white tops of the hull that have a representation of the railings moulded-in. The main superstructure has tan decking inserts added at both ends, and has another upstand and walls in white, on top of which more tan decking parts are fitted, then some white superstructure parts and another partial layer of decking. The hull is next, and begins with adding the three props, which are moulded in tan and insert into brick red fairings that slot in under the stern on three pegs each, with the centre prop fitting in front of the sole rudder, which made turning the ship a slow process. The black upper hull has the LED strip stuck between two raised grooves using the self-adhesive tape on the back of it, threading the wires through a hole in the rear before adding the bow and stern decks over it. The main superstructure is pushed into the upper hull, and the upper hull is pushed into the lower hull to make it look more like a ship. On the bow deck a number of black and brown inserts are pushed into holes in the deck, including cranes, a task that is repeated at the stern with more cranes, and a helpful purple arrow advising you where the bow is. Fixtures and fittings are inserted into the decks on the main superstructure next, including the lifeboats, of which there were too few of course. The four funnels are each made out of two orange halves with moulded-in raised riveting, a black top, and an insert that slips into the top of each stack, the rearmost one having a different insert, as it was mostly used to vent exhaust from the galleys, machinery and ventilation, rather than belching smoke and steam from the boilers. The masts are found on the brown sprue, with one each placed fore and aft. The plinth has a very believable wooden texture painted over the brown styrene, with a raised frame ready to receive the self-adhesive nameplate, and two holes for the hull supports, which have been painted gold at the factory. Flipping the stand over, the battery pack sticks inside a marked area on its self-adhesive tape, and the switch is similarly stuck into a raised circular bracket shape near one of the supports, with the wire fed through the hollow centre of the support. The box takes two AAA batteries that aren’t included, the ones shown in the photos being from my battery drawer. The lower hull has two holes to receive the supports, and the wire dangling from one of them mates with the socket sticking out of the plinth, allowing you to turn the lights on and off by tapping on the plastic over where the switch resides. The rest of the instructions are taken up with a colour chart that gives you codes for MENG’s collaboration with AK Interactive, and Gunze’s new(ish) Acrysion paint system, which is starting to be more readily available in the UK. Markings The Titanic only wore one paint scheme during her short life, and as the styrene is pre-coloured already, it’s not strictly necessary to put any paint on the model once complete. In case you want to however, there are two views of the ship from the side and overhead with the colours called out in MENG/AK Interactive and Gunze Acrysion codes. Conclusion This is a very well-detailed model regardless of whether you want to treat it as a true model or snap it together for a nice table model over the course of the afternoon. Detail is excellent, and the addition of the lights gives it extra appeal. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. 7.5cm PaK40 Ammo Boxes with Shells Set 2 (35402) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd We reviewed MiniArt’s fabulous new Pak.40 75mm Anti-Tank Gun here, and it contained a few sprues of shells and boxes to scatter some ready rounds nearby, but you can always use more if you plan on depicting a well-stocked battery that’s prepared for a long battle, and this is the second set we’ve had in, with different containers and shell type. This set includes seven sprues, two box sprues, two canister sprues, two shell sprues that are the same as in the PaK40 kit, and one spent shell casing sprue that have hollow necks, as do the canisters, thanks to some slide moulding magic. It also includes a sheet of decals to stencil the shells and their containers once they’re painted and before you begin the weathering process. A set of twenty ready rounds are included, with another four empty brass casings, plus four light-weight planked boxes that have slots for three shells each, and are made from individual perforated upper and lower, solid sides, ends, plus handles, and can be posed open or closed if you wish, although with these you will need to place shells inside if you expect your audience to believe they are full, as the contents can be seen through the slots, even when closed. The two sprues of cylindrical wicker single shell cases have separate caps and fluted sides for strength, which have an open end if you want to display them discarded after use with their lids open. Markings The back of the box has instructions, sprue diagrams and colour information printed on it, including a chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as colour swatches and generic colour names. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion If you have a PaK.40 from any manufacturer at this scale in the stash already, or intend to get one (which should be the MiniArt kit – it’s gorgeous), this set will add a healthy stack of shells in super detail with all the stencils you could need to complete the task to the best of your ability, along with some of the more unusual metal cases to provide some individuality. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. 7.5cm PaK40 Ammo Boxes with Shells Part 1 (35398) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd We reviewed MiniArt’s fabulous new Pak.40 75mm Anti-Tank Gun in here, and it contained a few sprues of shells and boxes to scatter some ready rounds nearby, but you can always use more if you plan on depicting a well-stocked battery that’s prepared for a long battle. This set includes six sprues, three box sprues, two shell sprues, and one spent shell casing sprue that have hollow necks thanks to some slide moulding magic. It also includes a sheet of decals to stencil the shells and their boxes once they’re painted and before you begin the weathering process. A set of twenty ready rounds are included, with another four empty brass casings, plus six shell boxes that have slots for three shells each, and are made from individual sides, bottom and lid plus handles, and can be posed open or closed if you wish. The back of the box has instructions, sprue diagrams and colour information printed on it, including a chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as colour swatches and generic colour names. Conclusion If you have a PaK.40 from any manufacturer at this scale, this set will add a healthy stack of shells in super detail with all the stencils you could need to complete the task to the best of your ability. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. D8532 Mod.1950 German Traffic Tractor (24007) 1:24 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tractors were a boon to farmers when they were introduced soon after the reliability of the motor car became a thing, 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. 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 good quality and reliable, which led to them being copied by several countries, and as the initial 1921 model was improved the model number was increased until well into the 9,000s. 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 fuels and had very few moving parts, which made it easy to repair and maintain. They started off as 6L and grew to 10L engines, and their slow turnover high-torque output suited the tractor’s work very well. In 1956 they were 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 loving (some may say obsessed) owners. The Kit This is the second edition of MiniArt’s D8500 range of kits but in the larger de facto vehicle scale of 1:24, and you can expect many more if their 1:35 release schedule is repeated. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are eleven sprues of various sizes in grey styrene plus two tread parts for the big wheels on their own cruciform sprues, a clear sprue, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles of the decal options on the rear covers, printed in an A5 format. Construction begins with the large cast metal chassis that is at the heart of the design, and is made up from two halves each end around a centre-plate, with lots of parts used to create its distinctive shape. The superstructure is roughly rectangular, having various filler caps on the top, radiator panels on the sides, a name-plate on the front, and a rectangular windscreen on this more modern variant. 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 large cylindrical fairing in the centre of the chassis is filled with the clutch and drive-shaft on one side, and on the floor plate the driver’s modern comfortable seat is mounted on a sturdy frame, a couple of hand controls are inserted into depressions in the deck in front, then the large drive housing is mounted on the left side of the chassis, with a bell-housing and fly-wheel on the opposite side over the clutch, and two large fenders/sidewalls over where the rear wheels will be, plus a sturdy bumper-bar at the rear on diagonal cross-braces. The rear hubs have two additional layers inside for the brakes, ready to receive the large back wheels. Instead of the smoke stacks on the top of the vehicle, this version has an exhaust pipe that stems from a single large-bore manifold, down and to the rear into a cylindrical muffler, and out of the back in a straight pipe that would shame a 1980s Sierra Cosworth. The wheels on this tractor have heavy tread to plough through mud, which is built up by layering five parts together to make a tyre-sandwich at the front, and a six-part layer for the larger rear wheels, all with crisp and chunky tread on the rolling surfaces. The tyres have their hubs moulded-in, while the rears have additional rear hub ring added between the wheels and rear axles. The front axle has the hubs build-in, adding the steering arms, anti-roll bar and the linkage to the column, which is installed on the front underframe on a single pivot in preparation for the tyres. A pair of large clear-lensed headlamps on an oversized cross-member on the topside, based on the later front mudguards, which even have fixing bolts glued inside opposite the brackets. The fifth wheel is the steering wheel that is fitted atop the steering column after the windscreen clear panel is glued into position in the frame, and the supports for the curved roof, plus a solitary windscreen wiper finish off the build. Markings There are four schemes on the small decal sheet in civilian use, so comparatively colourful when new, but likely covered in mud and other gruesome fluids before too long in service. From the box you can build one of the following: British Occupation Zone, North Rhine-Westphalia, early 50s Belgium, early 50s American Occupation Zone, province of Hesse, early 50s Italy, 50s Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Excellent detail is found all over the sprues, without the need for PE in this scale, and the extreme chunkiness and rugged design helps with its appeal of course, plus a few mod cons that were added over the years of production. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of [/url
  16. Wooden Crates (35651) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd We’ve been using wooden boxes to carry things around for a long time, allowing us to move bulky or numerous items around in larger quantities than we’d otherwise be able to. They are commonly used for fruit, bottles and other food products, to name but a few applications. This set supplies different varieties of crate or box, some of which are divided up internally to prevent the goods from rolling around during transit and becoming damaged or bruised. The set arrives in a figure-sized box with a painting of the contents on the front, and instructions on the rear. There is also a painting with colour and decal call-outs in the centre of the rear, making suggestions to guide you if you need it. Inside the box are twelve sprues of grey styrene, plus a small sheet of decals by Cartograf to portray the stencils often found on the sides of crates and boxes. From the box you can build the following: 2 x rectangular box with hand-holds & slatted base 2 x rectangular box with hand-holes & dividers inside 2 x narrow rectangular box with hand-holes and dividers in the bottom 2 x shallow crate with handles, slatted base and internal dividers 8 x shallow crates with slatted bases and overhangs at the ends 2 x square box with slatted sides, base, hand-holds and internal dividers The main parts all have wood-grain texture moulded into them as appropriate, and construction is straight-forward, comprising just a few parts per crate or box, with plenty of detail moulded-in. Painting and weathering the individual parts of the set will be key to achieving realistic results, and here the box artwork can be of use, showing some of the crates as careworn from a lifetime of hard work. Used sensibly in a manner sympathetic to the subject matter, they should bring extra detail and realism to your next model or diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Cable Spools (49008) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Well this set's a load of bobbins! No, seriously, it really is, and yes I cracked that one on the 1:35 set review too. You often see cable spools lying beside tracks, in rail or engineering yards, even today, so this set is a handy one to have if you are planning any dioramas, or need to load up a truck or trailer. You could even have some soldiers having a tea party around one if you like! Arriving in a figure-sized box, the set contains four sprues in grey styrene, a sheet of decals and an instruction sheet. Each sprue contains the parts for a large and small bobbin/spool, measuring 37mm and 20mm respectively in real-world numbers. Each core is made from two halves 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 a raft of curved lettering, brand logos and various stencilling, depending on what's supposed to be on the reels. The rear of the box shows some typical colour schemes, and shows where and when these types were in use. On top of all these decals you also get a bonus of two "Kilroy was here!" decals with their big-nosed accompaniment. They go together easily like their larger siblings, although I think I would scribe the join-lines of the cylinder when the glue is dry, and the little pips that centre the parts are fiddly to register in the depressions due to the texture of the end-caps, but a little care gets you there in the end. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Bookshelves (35654) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Bookshelves seem to be de rigueur placed behind pundits being interviewed from home since the Covid lock-downs, but they’ve been around much longer, and before we gained access to the sum product of mankind’s intelligence (and stupidity, sadly), they were our primary knowledge base. If you’re a builder of dioramas or vignettes, you might occasionally have need to depict a room with such things as book shelves, something that is becoming less common in your average modern household. The Kit This boxed set from MiniArt contains bookshelves and their contents that are commonly known as books, and it arrives in an end-opening figure box that has a painting of the contents on the front, brief instructions on the rear and a painting guide if you need some inspiration for colour choice. Inside the box are fifteen sprues in grey styrene, twelve to make up the shelves and their support ladders, and three larger sprues that contain rows of books on end, aligned with their spines facing out, or in rough piles that are angled as if leaning over. Each shelf unit is made from two ladders and up to five shelves per unit, creating six in total, which can be populated with thirty-six straight blocks of books, and nine at an angle. Bear in mind however that the books have hollow backs, and the underneath is also absent to avoid sink marks from marring the detail that is engraved into the visible surfaces. The box art shows the shelves standing in an open room, but the illusion would be broken if they were seen from behind, so bear that in mind when choosing the set for your project. Markings There are no decals, and you can paint the shelves and books in any colour you should wish, adding some gilded detail on the spine by picking out the raised areas in gold. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. T-34/85 Plant 112, Spring 1944 (35379) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in huge numbers by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front, sometimes before the paint was dry. The designers combined several important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the ground load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial cramped welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged three-man turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The T-34/85 with the composite turret was manufactured during the summer of 1944 at Krasnoye Sormova plant #112 on the Volga River, with a simplified gun in the turret in the shape of the ZiS-S-53, as well as some other changes. The Composite turret was fitted with a flat roof that had a pair of hatches and linked mushroom vents to the rear. There were some messy welds between the various castings, which gives them a rough look that belies their capability. The Kit This is another boxing of MiniArt’s new T-34 line, and is an exterior only kit, but the box is still loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes. In total there are sixty-three sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and back covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, notably the Czech production and others that we reviewed here, which is the reason for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and cheaper for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving many different options to choose from much more promising for us, which with the rate we’re receiving them for review seems to be the case. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of PE brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull. The floor is decked out with four tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside face, drilling a pair of holes near the final drive housing to mount a pair of pads later. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, with a fixed stock for the gunner’s comfort. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured outer protection, and has a tubular external armoured cover to protect most of the barrel length from incoming rounds. The upper hull deck and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have several holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way, then the glacis plate it fitted to the front, some armoured plates are fitted near the turret ring, and it is then glued to the lower hull. At the rear the engine bay is still exposed, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching the large rear panel that has a circular inspection panel fixed in the centre, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers to the sides and short exhaust stubs filling the centres, inserted from inside. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvres that are added with a central inspection hatch, then it is fixed over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers with louvred grilles are fitted over the large flush louvres, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, and the mudguards with PE detail parts are glued into place at the front, with more simplified flaps to the rear. Small parts, various pioneer tools, rails and stowage boxes are made up and fitted onto the sloped sides of the hull, with racks of winter track grousers attached to the flat portions of the side and external fuel tank cradles behind them. At this stage the driver’s hatch is also built with twin clear periscopes, hatch closures and external armoured cowls for the ‘scopes and hinges. Under the rear of the tank another set of loops, hooks and eyes are fitted into marked positions between the two final drive housings. A trio of smooth-surfaced cylindrical fuel tanks are installed on the sides and rear by using the curved brackets fitted earlier, and mixed PE and styrene straps holding them in place, with a large stowage box placed on the rear bulkhead between the exhausts, and two long boxes placed on the left fender, fixing a self-built tarpaulin on PE straps in the space where the fourth external tank would have been. Ten pairs of wheels with smooth tyres and separate hub caps are built with one of two styles of drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the running gear. At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply two lengths of 93mm and 91mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin.` Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as great at spreading the tank’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share. There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick, to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue. Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm, it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. The turret starts as an almost complete shell with three sides moulded into it, which has inserts for the interior skin. The roof is separate and has a large cupola with clear vision blocks and binoculars built into the bi-fold hatch, plus a simpler hatch for the gunner, both of which are shown fitted closed. The roof is moulded-in and has two more periscopes under armoured shrouds, and two vents on the rear, which are covered by a linked armoured mushroom cover. Despite this not being an interior kit, the basic gun breech is present, with another 7.62mm DT machine gun mounted coaxially in the mantlet, before it is set to one side while the turret floor is completed. The floor part first has a lip inserted within the ring, then the inner mantlet support is prepared with the main gun’s mount, which is glued to the turret floor and has the breech slid in from behind and is joined by the coax DT with its mount. The gun tube, which is a single part is inserted into the socket on the inner mantlet and has the outer mantlet slide over it, and it has a hollow muzzle for extra detail. An aerial, a set of long grab handles and tie-down lugs are added around the rear and sides of the turret, then the turret is dropped into place in the hull to complete the build. Markings There are seven decal options in the box and they’re not all green, despite what you’d expect from a wartime example made in the early half of '45, with winter distemper and a dunkelgelb with mottled camouflage in brown and green for a captured or Beautpanzer. From the box you can build one of the following: Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion The T-34 played a huge part in the Soviet response to Operation Barbarossa, albeit after a substantial delay caused by Stalin’s apparent indecision. It was a stalwart of their defence then offence, sweeping the Germans aside thanks to its sloped armour and sheer weight of numbers. This kit omits most of the interior, and yet keeps all the external goodies, so if interiors aren’t your thing it's a tempting option. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. EA-18G Growler (85814) 1:48 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The EA-18G is a development of the F/A-18F two seat Super Hornet that originally went into service in 1999, and with series manufacture beginning in 2007 of this type, it replaced the EA-6B in the carrier based electronic warfare role. It is a more capable platform due in part to the march of technology, and the fact that it is based on a more modern airframe, allowing it to keep pace with other Allied assets during any mission. The airframe has been adapted to better fit the role, especially the wings that have been revised to provide a smoother ride for the electronic modules, that was achieved by adding wing fences and other tweaks. It still shares over 90% of parts with a standard Super Hornet, so the commonality of parts is of great help toward keeping these key aircraft in service. The aircraft has nine weapons stations that are usually filled with electronics pods specific to its role, although it can also carry more weapons by necessity, but its wingtip stations that would normally carry Sidewinders are instead fitted with detection pods. It can carry two AIM-120 AMRAAM and/or AGM-88 HARM missiles for self-defence on multi-modal conformal fuselage stations, which are its only means of defence due to the removal of its cannon to house additional electronics. As with many complex aviation projects it has had its problems, including technical as well as political issues, such as the desire to slow down production to string out the contract for various reasons. The US will field under 100 airframes by the time the contract is completed, and Australia’s dozen airframes may well make the total closer to that number. Of course, the type is under constant development in order to improve its operation and to resolve any of the inevitable gremlins that occur, with new equipment likely to be fielded and slung under the Growler over the coming years. The Kit This is a concurrent reboxing of Hobby Boss’s F/A-18 new Super Hornet from 2021 with additional parts to depict the adaptations made to the base airframe to create the Growler. It arrives in a large top-opening box with an internal divider, and inside are sixteen sprues and two fuselage halves in grey styrene, two in clear, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), two decal sheets, two glossy colour printed sheets with decal and painting instruction, and the instruction booklet in Hobby Boss’s usual landscape greyscale style. Detail is excellent throughout, with some exceptionally well-moulded gear and equipment bays around the model, and the inclusion of a small sheet of PE to add belts to the cockpit that is behind crystal clear glazing, so will be seen whether you leave the lid down or not. Construction begins with the two seats, which have been slide-moulded to reduce the part count while keeping the detail high. They are both fitted with a set of PE crew belts, and have stencil decals applied to the headbox, which also has a separate drogue-chute on the top, and a back plane fitted before they are dropped into the tub. HOTAS controls are supplied for each of the crew, and additional instruments are applied to the faceted side consoles, with controllers added along with decals. The instrument panels also have decals for their MFD covered faces, and the rear IP has a coaming between it and the front cockpit. The sidewalls are fitted in between the two sections, hiding away the blank interior of the fuselage once installed. As with many modern jets, the nose gear bay is directly below the pilots, and that bay is made from individual sides plus a few small additional detail parts. The bay is attached to the bottom of the cockpit tub using a short I-beam to support the rear, after which the completed assembly is surrounded by the skin of the nose section, which also has a pair of equipment bays moulded-in with impressive detail. Moving quickly on, the upper fuselage is prepared by drilling out a number of holes in its surface, plus those of the lower wing halves that are added early in the build. An A-shaped apron under the Leading Edge Root Extensions (LERX) is also installed along with doors for the built-in crew ladder under the port side, then the nose is attached to the fuselage from below after which it is faired in. With the model righted, the rear ‘turtle-deck’ and insert in front of the coaming are installed, the HUD is made up from two PE parts, two clear parts and a sled that it sits on once fitted to the coaming. The windscreen can be glued in place now, although there is a very fine seam from manufacture that should ideally be sanded away and polished back to clarity. Both parts of the canopy are slightly ‘blown’, so are made using three mould sections, with the resulting seam down the middle on the outside only. The seams on this kit are relatively fine thanks to the reduction in tolerances over the years, and you could create a perfectly acceptable model without bothering to remove them if you don’t feel confident. The circular hole in the nose is filled with a four-part radome, which can be left visible by hingeing the nose cone open in the next step. This is achieved by changing the insert in the rear of the cone for one with the hinge projecting from the side, with a common insert in the top of the cone. There is plenty of space for nose weight in this area for either option, although with the nose closed over, the centre of mass will be that much further forward, so less weight will go further. Hobby Boss have a habit of creating kits with parts that will never be seen again, and this one is no exception, having a pair of engines on the sprues, when only some of the detail will be seen unless you cut away some panels. Each tubular assembly is made up from two sub-assemblies, one made from three sections, the other from two. With the glue dried, they are both wrapped in two-part rings and have further detail parts applied to the sides, and representations of the afterburner and engine faces at appropriate ends. The lower fuselage ‘torso’ is then made up from three larger sections that have the intake trunks made by adding additional surfaces and tiny PE vanes on the inner side walls. The completed engines and their exhausts are fixed into the rear of this assembly, then are joined by the square intake trunks that transition to round by the time they meet the front of the motors. It is then attached to the underside of the fuselage and the moulded-in bays are painted white. They are further detailed by a number of ribs, and small section of the fuselage side is installed next to the exhaust trunking, ready to support the elevons later on. The Super Hornet was (re)designed from the (2nd life) outset as a carrier aircraft, so has a chunky set of landing gear that are captured here in plastic, with the rugged nose gear first to be made from a single part to which the clear landing light and other detail parts are added, then the twin two-part wheels are fixed to the axles, plus a bay door glued to the trailing retraction jack. Using different parts you can pose the launch bar up or down, depending on what you have in mind. The main gear legs are made from halves that trap an L-shaped insert and have layers of jacks fitted over the main struts, with a single wheel on a stub-axle at the end. All bays have additional actuators for the doors added in preparation for a plethora of well-detailed parts, one of which has a PE insert, and others have stencil decals applied after painting. At the same stage, the two equipment bays on the sides of the nose are given doors and stays, with no option shown for posing them closed. The wings are simplistic stubs at this stage, which is remedied now by adding the full-width flaps, each with their actuators, which can be posed deployed or ‘clean’ at your whim. The leading-edge slats and flap spoilers are then added, after which the outer folding section of the wings are made up in a similar fashion, with either a straight or angled joint if you plan on posing your model with wings folded for below-decks. The three pylons per wing are all made from two halves, and are affixed to the wings with another on the centreline that slots into holes in the underside of the fuselage. At the rear you can pose the arrestor hook in either down or stowed positions, and there are also two exhaust petal types for open or closed pipes. On the topside, the wing joints are covered by panels, and fences are installed on the inner wings, plus a few antennae around the nose area. The twin tail fins have separate rudders that differ if the wings are folded, and has a pair of clear lights added to each one, with the elevons just a pair of single thin aerofoils with a peg to join them to the aft of the fuselage. If you recall the optional boarding ladder door fitted at the beginning of the build, the reason it is optional becomes clear right at the end, when you build up the ladder, with separate steps and a brace that rests against the fuselage. It’s not abundantly clear how the area looks when exposed, but there are plenty of photos available online if you’re unsure. The weapons sprues are largely unused other than the gas bags, equipment pods and of course the two types of missile that the Growler carries for self-defence, namely the AGM-88 and AIM-120 with adapter rails. Check your references for the typical load-outs for real-world mission profiles, or use the chart on the rear page of the instructions, although it refers to “fuol tanks”, but then we’re none of us perfect. Markings I’ve been critical of HB’s dearth of information and options for their kits in the past, and was pleased to see two changes with this kit. Firstly, there are a whopping SIX options, and secondly, each option is provided with at the very least an airframe code, and many are also given a date and ship the aircraft was embarked upon at the time. From the box you can build one of the following: VAQ-129 #169136 VAQ-135 #166941 NAS Whidbey Island, 2011 VAQ-135 #166940 NAS Whidbey Island, 2011 VAQ-130 #168268 ‘Zappers’ USS Harry S Truman, 2016 VAQ-141 #166928 ‘Shadowhawks’ USS George H W Bush, 2010 VAQ-132 #166894 ‘Scorpions’, 2010 One sheet of A4 shows the location of the stencils for all decal options, while the individual aircraft are on the other larger A3 sheet, covering both sides and having stencil locations and colours for the weapons/equipment at the bottom of the back page. As usual with HB printing, they’re made anonymously in China, but are of sufficient quality for most, although the red bars on the national insignia seem a little off-centre to me. Conclusion Hobby Boss have created a well-detailed and attractive series of models of the F/A-18 Super Hornet that should sell well for them. The Growler is an interesting off-shoot of the type, and they’re often colourfully painted, as you can see above. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. German Sd.Kfz.186 Jagdtiger Henschel (84562) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The King Tiger was a development of the original Tiger that itself terrified Allied troops, but its fatal weakness was further stressing the over-stretched drivetrain by piling on yet more weight without significant improvements to the capabilities in these important areas. While it worked, the King Tiger was a formidable foe, but too often it was to be found broken-down and abandoned, often because of something trivial, but impossible to fix in the field. This was of no use to the Germans, who were already short of tanks due to their complexity and losses on both fronts, and if the vehicle was abandoned in battle, the crew were more than likely to scuttle it if they were able, or the Allies would put a few rounds into it just to be sure. Adding yet more weight to the King Tiger by creating a heavy tank killer would not seem to be a bright idea without radical improvements to the running gear, but this is exactly what the German engineers did. They stripped off the upper hull, discarded the turret and installed a fixed casemate with a huge Krupp 128mm main gun that could defeat any tank of the day with a single shot from outside the range of most if not all Allied armour. The gun had some lateral travel for fine-tuning its aim, but any significant change in direction of its prey required the driver to reposition the vehicle, needing firm cooperation between driver and gunner to achieve good results. The usual two contenders for the project were Porsche and Henschel, although these differed mainly in the suspension area, with the Porsche suspension using eight wheel stations while the eventual successful bid from Henschel had nine, helping to spread the immense ground pressure a little wider. Only eleven of the Porsche design were made early on, the rest built by Henschel to their specification. With 250mm rolled-steel armour on the casemate that was almost invulnerable at the time, the added weight caused extreme stress on the Maybach engine, with a range of only 50 miles at low speed over rough ground on a full tank of fuel. As fuel supply was becoming difficult at that point in the war, this later became a more serious problem when the two recipient units of the type lost a fifth of their strength due to fuel-shortage related issues. The seemingly perennial issue with Nazi tanks was the complexity of their designs, which meant that fewer than 100 were produced before the end of the war, although there is some uncertainty on those numbers due to the breakdown of record keeping toward the end. After the war three intact vehicles were reserved for evaluation, and one of those still resides in the Tank Museum at Bovington. It is only after you have seen the vehicle from close range that you realise what a monster it is, and how terrifying its presence must have been to tankers and infantry alike. The Kit This is a reboxing with new parts from Hobby Boss, based upon their Porsche production variant from 2022 and sharing some parts with their King Tiger kits, so it’s a very modern kit. It arrives in a large but shallow top-opening box with eleven sprues in sand-coloured styrene plus two hull halves, six sprues of brown track links, a clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet, instruction booklet in greyscale, and a separate A3 glossy sheet printed in colour on both sides that details the colour schemes and decal locations. Detail is good, and it has a subtle but appropriate rolled steel armour texture over the surface, sand cast texture on armoured exhaust covers and the mantlet, and torch-cut ends to the upper hull armour, with weld-lines included where they intersect and overlap. The torch-cut texture on the ends of the lower hull side panels is absent though, as we’ll discuss later. Construction begins with the lower hull, adding the armour covers to the front of the final drive housings, then threading the swing-arms and torsion bars through the hull from both sides, followed by the road wheels, which must be applied in the correct order to achieve the interleaved effect. The four-part idler wheels and two-part drive sprockets with the final drive bell-housing incorporated are made up in a confusing flurry with arrows everywhere, then they too are installed along with long and short caps to the centres of the road wheel stacks. The tracks come next, and they’re an interesting part of the model as they have good detail. Each track run is handed, and every link is made from two parts with twin guide horns as additional separate parts, and have the tread detail moulded-in, adding the next link, a process that continues until you have a run of 48 double links per side. The two link parts have four sprue gates on the hinge-points, while the guide-horns each have one sprue gate on the edge that is easily sliced away, so shouldn’t take long to prepare. There are two tiny, faintly recessed ejector-pin marks on the recessed parts of the exterior face that you could easily miss without magnification, but with paint and a little bit of mud they probably won’t be noticed, so ignore them at your leisure. Attention shifts to the rear bulkhead, which is detailed with twin exhausts in armoured shrouds, adding two track tools, Notek convoy light, jack-block and a large shackle between the exhausts that requires the removal of the inner bolts on the armoured shrouds. The bulkhead is slotted into the rear of the lower hull and has a pair of small PE loops added to the flat rear mud guards. The upper hull has the domed kugelblende armour fitted to the glacis from the outside, adding the pivot and socket from inside, taking care with the glue. To fill the hole in the ball-mount, the machine gun is made up with sighting and grip mechanisms, plus a domed cap on the left that allows the top of the gunner’s head to take some of the weight of the breech and assist with precise movement, sliding a clear periscope from inside into the roof above. The rear of the upper hull is open at this stage, with just two rails joining the front to the back, which will help support the engine deck insert when it is completed. Work starts on this by adding the large maintenance hatch in the centre with two mushroom vents mounted on top, then detailing it with lifting hooks, more mushroom vents and hinge-covers, applying PE meshes over the grilles to prevent debris and grenades getting into the engine bay, followed by mounting it on the hull. The front hatches are usually moulded in an insert on most King Tiger and Jagdtiger kits, but Hobby Boss have elected to mould it into the upper hull with both, having a small insert with a clear periscope in front of the driver’s hatch, fitting armoured covers over it and the other periscope that was installed earlier, plus simple hatches and a mushroom vent on the right edge. As we don’t have a turret to build, the open rear of the casemate is made next, layering it up from two panels, fitting enormous armoured hinge covers each side, and the two clamshell doors that are also made from two layers to avoid sink-marks. Once in place without glue, the four hinges are clipped into position without glue, and a pair of grab-handles are installed to allow them to open and close, running a bar across the very bottom of the bulkhead before it is glued into position. The pioneer tools are installed all over the deck and side of the upper hull, the hand-tools having PE clasps, while the styrene towing cables with moulded-in barrel-cleaning rods are mounted on pegs on the sloped hull sides, surrounded by more pioneer tools with PE clasps. At the front, a cyclopean headlight is mounted on a central bracket on the glacis, with the wiring snaking away aft, adding some PE details for effect. The instructions diverge here into two options, allowing you to choose whether to have spare track links all along the side of the casemate, or just at the ends. If opting for the latter, you should remove the very fine positioning lines from the surface of the casemate, which should be simple enough, using either a sharp blade to scrape them off, or very careful sanding. It also applies to the aerial base at the top middle of the sidewall. Returning to the lower hull, a large insert is placed upon the floor, locating it on two turrets that stand higher than the torsion bars in the floor, adding a curved raised section that guides the gun’s limited rotation. There is a depiction of the breech and block made up and mated to the first barrel portion that has the recoil tubes moulded-in, and an insert placed between them, fitting thirty-two small PE lugs around the circumference of the barrel, and a flat plate to the other end, onto which the breech assembly is glued. A protective frame around the breech is made from two parts, then it is pinned between two trunnions and mounted on the base that now resides in the lower hull, adding a periscope as you finish. The upper hull is placed over the gun onto the lower, gluing it in place and adding the frontal armour over the barrel stub. A gaggle of small parts are fixed to the front deck along with a pair of towing shackles that just clip onto the torch-cut ends of the lower side armour. The texture of torch-cut armour isn’t replicated here, so check your references and have a go at recreating that if you wish. It’s not too difficult, and can be achieved with a file or sharp blade. Between the two shackles is the travel lock A-frame for the main gun, which is built from five parts plus a pair of mounting pivots on each side that have markers on the glacis to help with locating them. The casemate roof is shown separately for both versions, consisting of the installation of periscopes with armoured protectors, the main hatch with hinged smaller forward portion, lifting eyes, and for one version, a small part on the edge of the roof. The fenders are moulded as single lengths on each side, and these have been tapered at the edges to give a more realistic look. The small rectangular mounting blocks are moulded into the hull, with corresponding recesses in the fenders so that you don’t have to remove them if using the fenders. If you cut sections of the fenders out to depict lost portions, you can leave the blocks in the missing area, and depending on whether you think that the area behind the fenders would be left in red primer, that gives some leeway for a little bit of fun painting. In action, these fenders were often casualties of incautious or hurried manoeuvring, and were bent, mangled, or even torn from their mounts, as evidenced by many photos of the type. A pair of front mudguards of the later type are pushed onto rectangular holes at the front of the hull, adding separate sloped sides and PE brackets to complete them. A mass of brackets are fitted to the sides of the casemate, enough for two or three rows of track links two deep, the links for which have small portions removed to depict them as individual links that are ready for action. The mantlet for the big gun is made from three layers, and completed by inserting the barrel, which is moulded in halves, so take care when joining them to minimise clean-up afterwards. Another pair of towing shackles are fixed on the rear, with a choice of two locations for the anti-aircraft MG42 machine gun on the rear deck. Markings Surprisingly, there are four decal options on the small sheet, but unsurprisingly there is no information given regarding the where or when, or even if these schemes were documented. There is a varied choice of late-war schemes however, and all look at least plausible, so you have a choice to check your references, or just plough on and have fun with your model. From the box you can build one of the following: The decals are well-printed and suitable for the task, consisting of ‘balkenkreuz’ standard crosses, and four different vehicle numbers. The paint call-outs are given in Gunze Sangyo Mr Color codes, with conversion suggestions for their alternative Acrysion brand, plus Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol codes to help you if Mr Color isn’t available or your preferred brand. Conclusion It’s a well-detailed exterior model of Nazi Germany’s Hail Mary tank design, ignoring the Maus that may or may not have seen action in the last days of WWII. It should build up into a respectable replica of this type. Highly recommended. At time of writing, this kit is available from Creative at a healthy 30% over their standard price. Review sample courtesy of
  22. German Artillery Tractor T-60(r) with Crew Towing Pak40 7.5cm Gun (35395) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Pak40 As WWII loomed, Nazi high command got wind of new tank developments in Soviet Russia, and realised that their 3.7cm Pak36 was inadequate for the task ahead, starting work initially on the 5cm Pak38, which was abandoned in favour of a 7.5cm barrel once the rumours were confirmed. It was essentially a re-engineered Pak38, with everything enlarged to suit the bigger rounds, in development between 1939 and 41, with the name Pak40 given to it during its gestation. As Operation Barbarossa began, the project was given a higher priority, and early examples reached the Eastern Front in late 1941, becoming the Wehrmacht’s standard artillery piece from then on, with a total of over 23,000 built before the end of WWII. The success of the weapon was such that it was also re-developed into a main gun for use by tanks and other armoured vehicles, such as the StuG III and Panzer IV, as well as a relatively makeshift mount on the Marder series of self-propelled guns. It was an effective artillery piece, capable of penetrating the armour of everything the Allies fielded, from the Sherman to the Pershing in US service, and the IS heavy tanks that the Soviets operated. It was a heavy piece however, and that affected its mobility, particularly in bad weather where it was prone to bogging down in muddy terrain. It shared projectile with all German 7.5cm rounds, but was mounted in a larger brass cartridge casing that gave it more power and range than the smaller rounds fired by the KwK variant use in the armour installations. Other variations included the driver bands around the projectile and the method of initiating firing, using traditional percussion caps for the Pak40, and an electrical mechanism for the KwK. Three types of round were able to be used, an armour-piercing explosive round, an armour-piercing kinetic penetrator with a tungsten core, and the standard HEAT or High Explosive Anti-Tank round, each of which differed in shape and colour of the projectile, and were marked with stencils accordingly. Artillery Tractor T-60(r) The T-60 was originally a Soviet light tank design, and the Romanians pressed captured examples into service, hacking some about to create the TACAM Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun. The Germans also pressed many captured examples into service in various guises, using the suffix (r) to indicate the Russian origin of the type, often after heavy modifications, of which one such modification was into an Artillery Tractor to go where wheeled or half-track vehicles would find the going difficult. The turret was discarded entirely, leaving the turret ring as the main entry and exit to the vehicle, but leaving it open to the elements that must have made it difficult and unpleasant to crew in the winter months. It wasn’t meant to be a front-line vehicle per se, but it did have to take its charge to where the fighting was, so it was equipped with a bodged MG34 machine gun mounted on the deck in front of the turret ring for self-defence, and it was flanked by a pair of angled stowage boxes, one on each side. At the rear was a sturdy towing hook to couple its charge, its diminutive size making the artillery piece look quite large. The Kit This is a reboxing of three existing kits from the MiniArt range, the T-60(r) based upon a 2017 tooling that has been extended and augmented over the years, although only two previous boxings have had the turret removed and no other weapon installed instead. The Pak40 is a brand-new release, and highly detailed too, topped off by the inclusion of a figure set containing artillery crew in transit, this portion of the set originating in 2007 and lending itself nicely to this kit that wasn’t even contemplated at the time. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box with a painting of the tractor towing its gun, and festooned with the crew of five that make the vehicle look even smaller. Where they all sat when the weather turned inclement, we can only guess at. There are forty-two sprues of grey styrene, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) and small decal sheet in a card envelope, and the instruction booklet with a glossy colour cover and profiles on the front and rear pages. Detail is excellent, and although the figures predate the other components by a decade or more, they are well-detailed because figures have always been MiniArt’s strong suit. We’ll deal with each component of the kit separately, and to save you clicking away, we’ll reproduce the review of the new Pak40 kit in its entirety, as apart from the PE fret being extended to encompass the rest of the model, it is identical to the included sprues. Artillery Tractor T-60(r) The PE sheet above includes parts for both the main models Construction begins with the floor of the hull, adding driver’s controls, seat and a comparatively small transmission unit offset to one side with clutch and flywheel plus linkages to the driver’s levers. The 70hp straight-6 GAZ engine is built up with ancillaries, fan belt, mounts and a small gearbox at one end, plus a two-part manifold that has a long exhaust added later, exiting near the front of the chassis after passing the driver, which must have been comfortable in the winter, but less so in the heat of the summer. The engine is also mounted offset to the right, and at the front left a pair of lead-acid batteries take up the rest of the space, adding more linkages to the engine, including one to the front bulkhead for manual starting. The side walls, rear bulkhead and the short front bulkhead with accessories are all placed on the floor, fitting a radiator on a bulkhead that runs across the vehicle behind the engine, then adding the coolant hoses to and from the core, and plenty of other small components. On the front and rear of the sides, the final drive housing and idler-wheel axle are installed respectively, adding a longitudinal bulkhead behind the radiator that strengthens the assembly further and sections off the radiator path. The road wheels are installed on short swing-arms, fitting an identical wheel to the idler, and a toothed drive sprocket on each side at the front. The hull roof is mostly made from a single part with the turret ring moulded-in, adding a large square access hatch over the transmission unit, then building up the driver’s hatch and enclosure, adding a hinged vision port with slit in the centre that has armoured hinges and a PE shade over the slot to deflect incoming rounds from some angles. A single headlamp is mounted on a folded-up PE bracket and fixed to the deck beside the driver’s hump, and at the rear the cooling louvres are slotted into the space in the rear deck, and each of these has a thicker armoured top edge, and a flange at the very rear. The space in the deck to right of the turret ring is filled by another cooling vent that has an armoured grille over the centre, and can be mounted on its two hinges without glue so that the engine can be exposed if you wish. The track links are small and finely detailed, with three sprue gates per link that are on the curved mating surfaces, so don’t take long to remove. You should to treat them gently though, as they are quite delicate, and you need eighty-six per side, fixing them together with liquid glue, then wrapping them around the road wheels while the glue is still flexible, holding the track run in position with clips, sponges and tape as you see fit. The large cooling louvres on the rear deck are covered by a fine PE mesh that has a further perimeter strip applied over it to hold it in place, adding nine tiny wingnuts down one side that allows it to be lifted for maintenance on the real vehicle. The fenders that run down each side of the tank have several small pips removed and have triangular fillets and a PE flange added to the front, with an axe that is held down by PE clamps, a series of rectangular and triangular profiled stowage boxes installed on both sides with a choice of two layouts, plus a selection of pioneer tools held in place by more PE clamps. The fenders are glued to the sides of the hull and have triangular PE supports added along their length, fitting more small brackets and couplings to the sloped glacis that secure them in place. The final sub-assembly for the tractor is the MG34, which has a separate breech top, a choice of deployed or stowed bi-pod, and a single drum magazine feeding it rounds. This is mounted for one decal option on the roof of the driver’s enclosure, completing the tractor. Pak40 75mm Field Gun This a new tool from MiniArt, and detail is exactly what we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with options to pose the model in transport mode or ready for action. You also get a few shells and wooden cases to dot around the gun if you intend to place it in a diorama. Construction begins with the chassis of the gun, on which the wheels and trails are installed, fixing many parts on it, adding brakes to the axles and a front fender, then cutting some lengths of wire from your own stock to link the brake cylinder to the pistons, with PE tie-downs holding them to the underside, and additional scrap diagrams showing the completed loom to help you with location. The trails are detailed with tools, grab-handles and spades at the rear, plus additional parts that differ depending on whether you are opening them up for combat, or ready for transport. They are mated to the chassis and locked in place by the top pivots, again changing some parts and their positions depending on the option you have chosen. A choice of two methods of attaching a shovel to the bottom plate are offered, one using a simple pair of PE clasps, the other creating a fully articulated retention clamp for the handle. The finished plate is fitted vertically for transport, but tipped up horizontally for action. There are actually three configurations for the gun, the traditional ready-for-action pose with the trails spread, plus two transport options, one for towing by a vehicle, the other for moving the gun off-road with a third wheel perched behind the trails, raising them off the ground for manual fine-tuning of position by the crew. The trails have a pair of cross-braces to hold them together during towing, with a split towing bar made from two halves connecting it to your choice of prime-mover. The wheels are laminated from three layers plus a central boss, making up two of these and a third without the boss that sits across the trails for the vehicle transport option, held in place on a sturdy bracket. For the manual transport option, the bracket is reused and fixed to the towing arm from underneath with the third wheel attached on an axle to raise the trails above the ground. The gun barrel is a single part with a keyed peg on each end, the thicker end inserting into the eight-part breech, which includes a sliding block if you leave it unglued. The barrel slide is made up from three sides and an end-cap, adding more details on the sides, and a cover on the front portion made from three sections. The barrel drops over the slide with the addition of a small PE crutch and is surrounded by a pair of pivots to the sides, the elevation arc-gear under the slide, and a few other detail parts, popping the pivots into the trunnions that glue to a detailed bottom plate, holding the gun in position from there. Dampers with corrugated gaiters are attached to the trunnions, with different parts for transport and combat positions, then the adjustment wheels and their actuators are fixed onto the left side, with a stubby axe on the right, again with PE socket and clasp on the handle. The sighting gear is also installed on the left, then it’s time to protect the crew from incoming fire. A U-shaped armour panel is built from two layers of styrene with a PE layer in between them, slotting it over the barrel from above and mounting on four supports, adding an additional link on each side using scrap diagrams to locate them properly. The cheek armour panels are also two layers per side, with cylindrical stowage items including a torch to the inner face before they are mated with the centre armour and braced by additional links to the sides of the trunnions, with an angled PE lip on the inside just below the top edge. There are three choices of muzzle-brake, each one made from similar but slightly different shaped parts, plus an optional part that is covered with a bag and PE ring to prevent debris ingress. The gun is then lowered onto the chassis, locating the pin in a corresponding hole in the top. To add detail around your model, a set of ten ready rounds are included on a sprue, with another four empty brass casings on another, plus a pair of shell boxes that have slots for three shells each, and are made from individual sides, bottom, and lid plus handles, and can be posed open or closed if you wish. Stencils for the shells and boxes are included, as well as a full painting guide next to the colour chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as swatches and generic colour names. Figures The sprue containing the figures is actually a pair of sprues linked together, providing a driver figure with his hands out in front of him on the control levers, plus four seated crew that are relaxing on the deck as they move from one position to another. Each of them has a different pose, and all of them are wearing a standard Wehrmacht Field Grey uniform with calf-length jackboots and either a forage cap or peaked cap typical of the period. There are a selection of Stahlhelms on the sprues for a more battle-ready look, as well as a selection of Kar98 rifles, ammo pouches, canteens, and a single pistol in its holster. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprue for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up. The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s sculptors and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. Markings There are two decal options included on the sheet, both on the Eastern Front, but different enough to give you some options. From the box you can build one of the following: Eastern Front 1943 Eastern Front 1943 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s worth it just for the superb new Pak40, and when you consider you’re also getting a T-60(r) and five figures that are all well-detailed, it’s an appealing offering. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. European Farm Cart (35642) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Farms move immense amounts of goods around, including fertiliser, produce, livestock and many other things that us townies wouldn’t have a clue about unless we’ve watched Clarkson’s Farm recently, and even then we probably don’t see it all. Before the advent of tractors there were horse-drawn carts, which were easily adapted to be pulled behind a tractor by removing the parallel traces, or shafts, and adding a simple A-frame to the steerable front axle. Ever cost-conscious, many of these carts had old-fashioned wooden spoked wheels with iron tyres, offering no bump-absorbing suspension to any poor soul doomed to travel on one with the hay. After WWII, metal-bodied trailers with pneumatic tyres and suspension started to creep in, replacing the old-fashioned wooden carts eventually in all but the most die-hard farms. The Kit This kit arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box, and inside are five sprues of grey styrene that will build up into a four-wheeled wooden farm cart of the type described above. The two larger sprues are supplied in pairs to obtain the requisite number of wheels, axles and sides to the cart, with full instructions printed on the rear of the box, and a realistic wooden texture moulded into most of the parts, along with a healthy quantity of bolts and bracketry that are holding it together. Construction begins with the steerable front axle, which first has a beam framework made, snipping off some small parts, with a circular ring added to the top. The front frame for the load bed has three cross-braces added to the front underside and another ring underneath those, while the rear frame has a fixed axle strapped to it with a pair of brackets on a flat plank that has slots in its top surface to accept the framework above it. The two halves of the chassis are joined end-to-end, adding the smaller spoked rear wheels that can remain mobile if you glue the caps on the axle carefully. The front axle assembly has a pair of wheels glued on in a similar manner, adding the A-frame towing arm, noting that the front wheels are noticeably larger than those at the rear. Interestingly, there is also an alternative pair of parallel traces on a curved frame that replaces the A-frame if you’d like to either put a horse in between them, or leaving it in a farmyard diorama. The load bed is similarly made from two flat planked sections that are joined together, then have the side walls with moulded-in outer framework, some small protrusions on the ends removed with a sharp blade. The back panel has a raised, curved centre plus some additional shackles near the bottom, and the front is a simple flat panel, all with framework moulded-in, which has caused some very faint sink-marks on the inside surfaces, but with some bales of hay, boxes or barrels placed in the bed they won’t notice. The last item to be made up is a little bench seat that is suspended between the walls near the front of the bed. It is made from two paired planks that are joined together by L-shaped brackets to create the angle between the seat and back rest. It sounds idyllic and bucolic, but your fillings won’t thank you after you take a ride in it. Maybe that’s why old farmers are portrayed in the media with terrible teeth? Markings There are no decals of course, and you can paint your cart any colour you like, with plenty of opportunity for weathered and distressed paintwork, plus options for rusty tyres, brackets and bolts all over it. Have fun and try some new techniques. The box art suggests a weary turquoise colour, but there are very few limits on what colour you choose. My view of what is turquoise is often at variance to my spouse’s, so don’t take my statement of the cart’s colour on the box too literally. Conclusion It took me forever to remember the word “bucolic”, so I’m going to used it again shortly. This cart can play a part in any rural, some might say bucolic, diorama, or it could be rotting in the back of a farmyard somewhere, or lying damaged in a field that has become a battleground. Just like the paint scheme, the choice is yours. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. StuH 42 Ausf.G Late Prod (35355) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Following WWI the German military had identified a weakness in their forces, in that their advancing troops often left behind the support of their artillery as they moved forward, leading to a call for the creation of Sturmartillerie, which was effectively a mobile artillery piece that could travel alongside their forces, providing valuable protection. By the time the Nazis were gearing up their economy and military for war more openly, a requirement for just such a vehicle was made official, mating the chassis of the then current Panzer III with a short-barrelled 75mm gun in a fixed armoured casemate with limited traverse, which gave the type a distinctive howitzer-style look. In the later variants a longer high-velocity gun, the 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 replaced the shorter gun to give it an improved penetrating power that was more in alignment with the Tank Killer job that it had become used for. These vehicles were designated Ausf.F or G, and were amongst the most produced version of this almost ubiquitous WWII tank. A project to up-gun the StuG was instigated using an Ausf.F chassis and a 10.5cm leFH 18 howitzer, taking the name Sturmhaubitze 42 or StuH 42 for short. The rounds were electrically fired, and it was to be fitted with a muzzle-brake to bleed off some of the recoil, and a dozen of this type were made from repaired Ausf.F examples, then almost 1,300 built as infantry support that were based on the Ausf.G, some without their muzzle-brakes due to the limited availability of certain metals as the war continued to turn against the Nazis, thanks to the Allied bomber force bombing their industrial base into rubble on a 24/7 schedule. The Kit MiniArt have now released several toolings of the late StuG III and this minor retool to depict the howitzer equipped sub-variant is a continuation of the Ausf.G series, which had changes layered on changes during the final batches as the war ground to its ultimate conclusion. This boxing depicts a late production vehicle near the bitter end, and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the MiniArt style, with attractive artwork and decal profiles on one side. Inside the box are thirty-seven sprues in mid-grey styrene, one in clear, two good-sized Photo-Etch (PE) frets of brass parts, decal sheet, and glossy-covered instruction booklet with colour profiles in the front and rear. 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, including individual track links that are different from the earlier pre-series kit we reviewed some time ago. Construction begins with the floor, which receives the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine that isn’t part of this boxing, and the support structure for the gun, which is made up from substantial beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15° travel for fine-tuning lateral aim. The rear bulkhead is set against the engine mounts with its exhausts applied to the exterior, and the hull sides are mated to the floor, with the bases for the final drive housing glued either side of the front bulkhead, installing the engine firewall for structural strength. The glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches are given a similar treatment, plus another appliqué panel, and the usual exhaust covers, towing lugs and idler protection are added to the rear, and a radiator exhaust assembly with PE grille is made up and applied above it, adding some heat deflecting tinwork to the hull. Narrow bolted panels are added to the sides of the hull in preparation for the upper hull parts that are added next. Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are well-detailed externally, including vision slots, and lifting eyes. The shape of the casemate is completed 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, 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. The commander’s cupola is built on a circular base into which seven clear periscopes are slipped, completing the task later with several protectors, 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 of the main hatch. Much of the gun breech detail is represented, and a large trunnion is fitted onto the two pins on the sides of the assembly. Elevation, traverse, and sighting gear is installed on the breech, although it’s unlikely to be seen as anything other than a dim shadow within, especially once the roof is in place. The engine deck is built up with tapered sides and armoured intake louvres added outside them, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay. A length of spare track links is fixed across the rear of the casemate with the fume extraction armour in the centre with the barrel cleaning rods underneath, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents. two pairs of road wheels are carried on the deck on the rearmost pair of hatches, with a field modification of a flat stowage box is mounted between them on PE brackets. The gunner’s hatch is a simpler affair consisting of a clamshell pair of doors, with the sharply-angled splinter shield just in front of it and a well-detailed MG34 machine gun with drum mag slotted into the centre. Just forward of the commander’s cupola, a contoured armour panel is inserted, alleviating the shot-trap that could rip the cupola from the roof. The short howitzer barrel is a single part with hollow muzzle and no brake, which slides into the sleeve via an end-cap, the sleeve moulded into the front of the inverted saukopf mantlet that is made from an additional two parts before it is slid over the recoil tubes and breech. 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. The idler adjuster is covered with armoured parts, and a group of 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 idler wheels with PE rings at the rear, plus a trio of paired return rollers on short axles near the top of the sides. The tracks are individual links that are friction-fitted, using 94 links per side, and each link has three sprue gates to clean up, plus a wisp of flash on the highly detailed sides, which will need scraping away with a sharp blade. I created a length in short order, and the result is a very well-detailed track with flexibility to adjust them around the running gear of your model, 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 on small brackets, with integrated mudguards and tiny 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 Notek convoy light mounted in the centre of the glacis, and either a highly detailed PE fire extinguisher or a simplified styrene alternative if you prefer on the rear left fender. Shovels, pry bars, track-tools, 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 111mm cable material yourself, with a set of PE tie-downs holding them and the tools in place on each side. A pair of aerials and a PE ‘fence’ is installed around the edge of the engine deck that’s intended to hold in any stray stowage, finishing off the vehicle itself, adding the brackets for the Schürzen along the sides of the hull and fenders with a few small added outriggers, although one decal option doesn’t have them fitted. The four PE schürzen panels per side are detailed with additional PE brackets on their inner surface, and once the glue between the two layers of PE (or you could solder them for strength), you simply hang them on the triangular hooks, with a quartet of scrap diagrams along the bottom of the page showing the two methods you can use to hang the plates vertically, or sloped inward toward the bottom. Decal option two, or B as it appears below has two additional lengths of track used as appliqué armour, one run of four links on the small vertical panel to the left of the gun barrel as you look down it, and another run of fourteen links on the lower glacis that are held in place by a long PE bracket that runs the entire width of the hull. Markings There are five markings options included on the decal sheet, all of them with varying camouflage based upon dunkelgelb with splotches of other colours, and some overpainted in water-soluble winter distemper to a greater or lesser extent. From the box you can build one of the following: 325 StuG Brigade, Hungary, Autumn 1944 Unidentified unit, Hungary, Winter 1944-45 StuG. Ers. und Ausb. Abt 500. Poznan, Poland, February 1945 301 StuG Brigade. Poland, Silesia, February 1945 Unidentified Unit, Belvedere, Italy 1945 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Whilst it might easily be mistaken for a StuG, the StuH is just a little different from the norm, with its stubby barrel, especially without the muzzle brake. The detail in the kit is excellent, and it will keep you busy for many a happy hour. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Oil & Petrol Cans 1930-40s (49006) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Cans, cans everywhere! If you're not able to fill your tank at a handy petrol/gas station when you're fighting the enemy, it's handy to carry additional supplies of these fluids vital to the ongoing ability to move your vehicles and equipment. Before the pilfering of the German design for the eponymous Jerry Can, there were many other designs used back in the day, in all shapes and sizes. The Set We reviewed the 1:35 set of these cans four years ago now, and MiniArt are now bringing us a set by the same name in the smaller 1:48 scale that has a growing following amongst armour modellers too. This set arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box, and inside are five identical sprues of grey styrene, a card envelope containing a set of decals and a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE), plus a single sheet of instructions printed on one side, with the painting and decaling guide printed on the rear of the box in full colour. There are six styles of cans on the sprues, and from the five sprues you can make thirty-six in total, six of each for those that aren’t great at mathematics. The first can on the list is a large cylindrical one, made from two halves, plus a circular lid, and a PE handle that is folded to shape. A rectangular can is made up the same way minus the handle, which is instead moulded into the top. You could always sand that off and make your own out of wire if you’re feeling adventurous of course. The next can is a shorter rectangular assembly with more rounded edges, and ribbing running round the circumference. The most unusual of the set is a long prism-shaped can that is assembled from a centre section and two end-caps, joining together along a convenient rib that should hide the joint, which is a similar technique used with a short rectangular can that is made from two parts, again with rounded edges. The last design is another rectangular can, but with square sides and flanged edges around the top and bottom, which uses more of the PE handles on the top, diagonally across one end. Each sprue also contains a single funnel to help you reduce spillages, totalling five overall. Markings The small decal sheet contains a plethora of markings for the can faces, including BP, Shell, Castrol, Jurgens, Texaco, and some stencils for unbranded cans with the German for Flammable and Fuel written upon them to avoid confusion and misuse with possibly catastrophic consequences. Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Useful personalisation items and diorama fodder for any 1:48 modeller, whether you use them in aviation, armour, or civilian settings, or for another purpose not mentioned. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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