Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Creative Models Ltd'.

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Calendars

  • Community Calendar
  • Group Builds
  • Model Show Calendar

Forums

  • Forum Functionality & Forum Software Help and Support
    • FAQs
    • Help & Support for Forum Issues
    • New Members
  • Aircraft Modelling
    • Military Aircraft Modelling Discussion by Era
    • Civil Aircraft Modelling Discussion by Era
    • Work in Progress - Aircraft
    • Ready for Inspection - Aircraft
    • Aircraft Related Subjects
  • AFV Modelling (armour, military vehicles & artillery)
    • Armour Discussion by Era
    • Work in Progress - Armour
    • Ready for Inspection - Armour
    • Armour Related Subjects
    • large Scale AFVs (1:16 and above)
  • Maritime Modelling (Ships and subs)
    • Maritime Discussion by era
    • Work in Progress - Maritime
    • Ready for Inspection - Maritime
  • Vehicle Modelling (non-military)
    • Vehicle Discussion
    • Work In Progress - Vehicles
    • Ready For Inspection - Vehicles
  • Science Fiction & RealSpace
    • Science Fiction Discussion
    • RealSpace Discussion
    • Work In Progress - SF & RealSpace
    • Ready for Inspection - SF & RealSpace
  • Figure Modeling
    • Figure Discussion
    • Figure Work In Progress
    • Figure Ready for Inspection
  • Dioramas, Vignettes & Scenery
    • Diorama Chat
    • Work In Progress - Dioramas
    • Ready For Inspection - Dioramas
  • Reviews, News & Walkarounds
    • Reviews
    • Current News
    • Build Articles
    • Tips & Tricks
    • Walkarounds
  • Modeling using 3D Printing
    • 3D Printing Basics
    • 3D Printing Chat
    • 3D Makerspace
  • Modelling
    • Group Builds
    • The Rumourmonger
    • Manufacturer News
    • Other Modelling Genres
    • Britmodeller Yearbooks
    • Tools & Tips
  • General Discussion
    • Chat
    • Shows
    • Photography
    • Members' Wishlists
  • Shops, manufacturers & vendors
    • Aerocraft Models
    • Air-craft.net
    • Amarket Modl
    • A.M.U.R. Reaver
    • Atlantic Models
    • Beacon Models
    • BlackMike Models
    • Bring-It!
    • Copper State Models
    • Freightdog Models
    • Hannants
    • fantasy Printshop
    • Fonthill Media
    • HMH Publications
    • Hobby Paint'n'Stuff
    • Hypersonic Models
    • Iliad Design
    • Hobby Colours & Accessories
    • KLP Publishing
    • L'Arsenal 2.0
    • Kingkit
    • MikroMir
    • Model Designs
    • Modellingtools.co.uk
    • Maketar Paint Masks
    • Marmaduke Press Decals
    • Parkes682Decals
    • Paulus Victor Decals
    • Red Roo Models
    • RES/KIT
    • Sovereign Hobbies
    • Special Hobby
    • Test Valley Models
    • Tiger Hobbies
    • Ultimate Modelling Products
    • Videoaviation Italy
    • Wingleader Publications
  • Archive
    • 2007 Group Builds
    • 2008 Group Builds
    • 2009 Group Builds
    • 2010 Group Builds
    • 2011 Group Builds
    • 2012 Group Builds
    • 2013 Group Builds

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


AIM


MSN


Website URL


ICQ


Yahoo


Jabber


Skype


Location


Interests

  1. StuG III Ausf.G Alkett Prod Oct 1943 Interior Kit (35352) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The StuG is a popular German WWII AFV, and the more you learn about it, the more obvious it becomes why. The SturmGeschutz III was engineered based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removing the turret and front deck of its progenitor, replacing it with an armoured casemate that mounted a semi-fixed gun with limited traverse. It was originally intended to be used as infantry support, using its (then) superior armour to advance on the enemy as a mobile blockhouse, but it soon found other uses as an ambush predator, and was employed as a tank destroyer, hiding in wait for Allied forces to stumble haplessly into its path. With the advances in sloped armour employed by the Soviets, the original low velocity 75mm StuK 37 L/24 cannon was replaced by higher velocity unit that was also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat, extending the type’s viable career to the bitter end of WWII. The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and they while they were equipped with guns, they 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 thicker armour to improve survivability for the crew. Many of the complex aspects of the earlier models that made them time-consuming and expensive to produce were removed and simplified to ease production bottlenecks, which led to several 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 or lengths of track often welded or bolted to the surface to give it enhanced protection from the Allied tanks and artillery, especially the Sherman Firefly with its devastatingly effective main gun. The Kit This is a new boxing of MiniArt’s recently tooled StuG.III kit, this time depicting production from the Alkett factory in Germany, who were involved in the production of StuGs later in the war. It is an interior kit, and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the usual MiniArt style, with attractive artwork on the front and profiles on the side. Inside the box are sixty-one sprues in mid-grey styrene, one in clear, two large frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear covers. Detail is excellent throughout, which is just what we’ve come to expect from modern toolings by MiniArt, with so much detail crammed into every part of the model, which includes the complete interior and individual track links. Construction begins with the interior, which is built up on the floor panel, receiving the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine, and a covering part that makes moving around less of a trip hazard for the crew, while carrying the support structure for the gun, which is made up from some substantial I-beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15° travel for fine-tuning aim. The rear bulkhead panels are set against the engine mounts to give them the correct angle, then the firewall bulkhead is made up with small drawers and various other details added before it is fitted into the floor. The driver’s seat is built from numerous parts on a shaped base, and controls are placed within easy reach of his feet and hands, with the option of adding a linkage for the hand controls from your own wire or rod stocks. Attention shifts to the transmission that distributes the engine’s power to the drive-wheels, diverting the output 90° into the drive sprockets at either side of the front of the vehicle. It is made up from many finely detailed parts, with gear housings and their retaining bolts on each side, moving out to the brakes and clutches, then rearwards to the drive-shaft that leads back under the gun mount then into the engine compartment. It is set into the front of the vehicle, crowding the driver, but leaving space on the floor for two shell storage boxes that have holes for the individual shells to be inserted after painting and application of their stencil decals, as per the accompanying diagrams. The engine is then built up from many more parts, resulting in a highly detailed replica of the Maybach power pack, including all the ancillaries and pulleys that you could wish for. The engine bay is detailed with extra parts in preparation for the installation of the block to make it sit neatly on the mounts, with a large airbox to one side with a battery pack on top. The sides of the hull need to be made up in order to finish the engine bay, and these two inserts are outfitted with final drive mountings, strapped-on boxes, gas-mask canisters, pipework and the outer parts of the brake housings, complete with the spring-loaded shoes straight out of a 70s Austin Maxi. Unsurprisingly, another big box of shells is made up and placed on the wall, and in the engine compartment a large fuel tank is attached to the side, with a fire extinguisher placed next to it. These two highly detailed assemblies are offered up to the hull along with the front bulkhead, which has been detailed beforehand with various parts, and the glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches that are given a similar treatment, including an instrument panel for the driver’s use that comes with dial decals to improve realism. A few other parts are inserted into the front of the hull to integrate the sides with the other parts, and the glacis is laid across the front, supported on three sides, adding a bullet splash deflector near the aft edge. Tank engines are under immense strain pulling the huge weight of the vehicle and its armour around, so they need an effective cooling system to be able to cope. Two radiator baths with mesh detail engraved are built up and attached to a hosing network, with a fan housing on the top and more hosing across the top, plus take-off pulleys and belts providing motive power for the twin fans inserted into the top of the assembly, with even more hoses and other details added before the completed system is inserted into the rapidly dwindling space within the engine compartment. On the top of the engine a pair of small canisters are attached to depressions on each side of the apex, and these appear to be air cleaners, as they resemble compact versions of the Fiefel units seen on the rear of early Tigers. Moving forward, the transmission inspection hatches are fitted with a choice of open or closed, as is only fair for such a highly detailed model. The rear bulkhead is detailed with towing eyes and exhaust mufflers with short pipes fixed to the outer sides. An overhanging frame is made up at the rear and has a PE mesh part applied along with a covered port for manual starting of the engine, and this is installed mesh-side-down on the top side of the bulkhead, with a pair of thick pipes slotted into place between the mufflers and manifolds once the glue is dry. Additional ‘tin-work’ air guides are later placed under the overhang, with an overhead diagram showing how the assembly and rear of the vehicle should look once completed. The auxiliary towing eyes on the edges of the rear bulkhead have pins threaded through, with PE retaining chains added before the lower hull is put to one side for a while. The gun is represented in full, with a complex breech, safety cage and cloth-effect brass-catching basket present, plus a large pivot fitted onto the trunnions on the sides of the assembly. Elevation, traverse, coaxial MG34 and sighting gear are installed on the breech, with a small seat for the gunner on the left side to keep him stable while aiming at his next target. Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are encrusted with yet more detail, including a pair of MP40 machine guns with ammo pouches, equipment and stencil decals on the rear panel with a circular extraction fan in the centre of the wall. The detailed radio gear is bracketed to a shelf that is installed on one sidewall, with more boxes and stencils adding to the chaos of the area, plus the option of adding wiring from your own stocks to improve the detail even more, helpfully noting lengths and diameters you should use. The other side is also decked out with boxes that require more wiring, all of which is documented in scrap diagrams where necessary to help in increasing the authenticity of your model, which is all joined into the shape of the casemate with the addition of the front wall that is detailed on both sides, and has a large cut-out to receive the gun in due course. The front of the casemate is built out forward with a sloped frontage and some appliqué armour, then the commander’s cupola is prepared with seven clear vision blocks, lenses and PE detail parts, set to the side for later, while the casemate is dropped over the front of the lower hull and joined by the breech assembly, which is covered by a mantlet after armoured protectors to the mounting bolts have been glued over them. A choice of bridge insert over the top of the barrel encloses the breech, then it’s time to prepare the roof with some interior details before encasing it, then making a choice of how to finish the commander’s cupola in either open or closed pose, but you just know you’re going to leave it open to show off all your hard work. It has 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 to allow the commander to stay (comparatively) safely within the casemate during battle whilst still able to use the glasses. The gunner’s hatch is a simpler affair consisting of a clamshell pair of doors, with a handle added to the inside. This hatch can also be closed, but why would you? There is also a fold-down splinter-shield for the roof-top MG34 machine gun that can be stored away or flipped-up for action if you prefer. The engine is still hanging out at the back at this stage, which is next to be corrected, building up the engine deck with short sides and armoured intake louvers on the sides, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay, allowing the viewer to see plenty of engine detail through the four access hatches. A piece of appliqué armour is added to the slope at the rear of the deck, then an armoured cover to the extraction fan is added to the back of the casemate, with short lengths of track to each side as extra armour and spares in the event of damage. The tracks are held in place by a long bar that stretches across most of the rear of the casemate. Under these are sited the barrel cleaning rods, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents, and all of these can be posed open or closed as you wish. One variant has a shallow equipment box attached between the two aft hatches, while two more have pairs of road wheels skewered to the two aft hatches by lengths of rod, swapping out a smooth hatch for one with indents to help locate the pins. Currently the StuG has no wheels, so the addition of the swing-arms with stub axles are next, adding the highly detailed final drive bell-housings under the front, plus additional suspension parts that improve damping further. The idler adjuster is covered with armoured parts, and more 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 spoked idler wheels at the rear that have PE outer rings, plus a trio of twin return rollers on short axles near the top of the sides. One decal option has a large wooden box made for it, and fitted with a PE padlock, hasp and staple. It is fixed to the rear of the engine deck later in the build. The tracks are individual links that are held together by friction, using between 92-94 links per side, and each link has three sprue gates to clean up, with zero flash to deal with. It’s probably best to set them in position with liquid glue once they are correctly arranged on the vehicle’s wheels for safety’s sake. Once they’re in place, the fenders are attached to the hull sides, with L-brackets, the mudguards and PE fittings added once the glue has dried. More pioneer tools and stowage are added to these, as space was a premium on these vehicles, and every flat surface ended up with equipment on it. This includes a convoy light and either a highly detailed PE wrapped fire extinguisher or a simplified styrene alternative if you prefer. Shovels, pry bars, track-tools, jack block and the jack are also found on the fenders, as are the two towing cables, which have styrene eyes and you’ll need to supply the cable material yourself, with a pair of PE tie-downs holding them in place on each side. A pair of antennae mount on the rear of the casemate, and for one other decal option there is a run of track across the lower glacis on a PE rail. Another option has more track on the casemate sides that are again secured by PE rails. The barrel of the gun has a bulky inverted Saukopf cast mantlet cover, which is made up from a single part that is attached to the front earlier on, into which the single-part barrel slots, tipped with a choice of two detailed three-part muzzle brake to give it the correct hollow muzzle. It slides over the recoil tubes of the gun, closing the last unintended view of the interior. Different stowage boxes are included for the decal options, plus the afore mentioned track across the bottom of the lower glacis, which is augmented in one option that includes an extra length in front of the gunner’s position. Another option is the addition of Schürzen or side skirts that pre-detonate shaped-charge rounds to weaken their penetrating power. These are made from four PE sheets with angled front parts to prevent digging into the ground, onto which the hanging brackets are glued, again using PE parts for scale fidelity. An additional layer is added at the top, and they fit on pegs that are moulded into the mounting rails, which have three additional support brackets fixed to each one before installation, the schürzen panels just relying on gravity to hold them in place, which is probably why many of them were either mangled or lost altogether when travelling or fighting over rough ground. Annealing the sheets with a flame and letting them cool naturally will soften the brass and enable easier bending of the parts if you wish to replicate this on your model. Markings There are four decal options on the sheet, all of which have a base coat of dark yellow (dunkelgelb), with either dirt or various camouflage shades overlaid. From the box you can build on of the following: SturmGeschütz-Abteilung 278, Kryvyi Rig/Nikopol District, Ukraine, December 1943 SturmGeschütz Brigade 281, Eastern Front, Winter 1943-44 Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Spring 1944 Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Autumn 1944 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 stunningly detailed model of an impressive tank destroyer that saw action the Eastern and Western fronts in relatively large numbers. There’s enough detail for the most ardent adherent to dig into and spend many hours painting and weathering the interior and exterior. Very highly recommended. Currently on offer at Creative Models Ltd Review sample courtesy of
  2. Marston Mat (49017) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII, temporary airfields were quickly created near the battlefront on flat ground by the linking together of stamped steel planking that had the weight reduced by punching out holes in the centres where it wouldn’t weaken the structure. These were known as Perforated Steel Planking (PSP) or Pierced Steel Planking, and were used commonly in all theatres of war, reducing mud and slurry build-ups, and providing a flat and tough surface for aircraft to land, take-off and taxy along, plus a road for other vehicles to avoid creating ruts in the surface. The holes however led to an element of dust and debris being kicked up, which is known in aviation as Foreign Object Debris or FOD, so the design was later changed to reduce the possibility of rocks and soil penetrating the planking. By the time of the Vietnam War, the M8A1 design had been formalised and was used to great effect. It was lightened by the use of corrugations to provide more strength from less material, and was capable of supporting the larger, heavier jet aircraft that were more prevalent. The Kit This new backdrop kit arrives in a top-opening box with a painting of the subject and a greyscale P-47 on the top, and inside are just two large pieces of styrene with Marston Mat texture moulded into the top. Each part is 316mm x 227mm x 9mm deep, and they can be used separately as individual bases, or they can be glued to another (or more) to create a larger area. If you’re planning on building a bigger base by gluing them together, strengthening the bond by drilling out space for a couple of small bolts would be useful, especially if you have some narrow metal strips to add to the outer faces to spread out the forces. That might just be me being over-cautious though, as I have a penchant for over-engineering things. Markings The mat was stamped from sheet metal, and then dipped in an anti-corrosion coating to protect it from short-term rusting, which it usually accomplished, save for areas that became exposed due to scratching or other damage, with the majority reaching the job site with an oily steel colour at its surface. In action it was seldom around for long enough to become seriously corroded, but if used for extended lengths of time beyond its original era, it can take on a dense rust colour after many years exposed to the elements. Most of the time during WWII it was usually seen as either its original colour or would take on the colour of the substrate on which it was laid, as the lightening holes would allow some material to pass through, which was something addressed in later variants. Conclusion A quick, easy base for your model, and I’m certain MiniArt have their own brand-new P-47 Thunderbolt in 1:48 in mind, judging by the box art. You could put a WWII fighter-sized model on one sheet, or go larger if you wish, or need the extra space for your scenario. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. PaK 40 Late with Elite Artillerie Regiment Crew (35409) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd As WWII loomed, the 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 its 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 used 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 available, 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. The Kit This a new boxing of a recent tool from MiniArt, who have created a new and expanding range of PaK40 kits that is growing every month, this one portraying a late model artillery piece with a specialist crew operating it. The kit arrives in a modest top-opening box, and inside are seventeen sprues of various sizes in medium grey styrene, a cardboard envelope that contains a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) and the decals, plus a glossy-covered instruction booklet in A5 with colour profiles printed on front and rear covers. Detail is exactly what we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, and is excellent throughout, with options to pose the model in transport mode or ready for action, plus the four crew figures mentioned above, whose poses are suitable for an action situation. 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 from above and below 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 two configurations for the gun, the traditional ready-for-action pose with the trails spread, plus the transport option for towing by a vehicle. The trails have a pair of cross-braces with a winding-handle to draw and hold them together during towing, with a towing bar connecting it to your choice of prime-mover. The late-style wheels are laminated from three layers plus a central boss front and rear, making up two of these and fixing them to the ends of the axle. 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 a choice of styrene or 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 two on the figure sprues, and four empty brass casings on their own sprue, plus a pair of shell boxes that have slots for three shells each, and are made from individual sides, bottom and lid made from strip wood, plus handles, and these 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 There are four crew figures included in the box, and the parts for each figure are found on sprues 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. Two crewmen are handling shells, one prepping the next round, while the other feeds a round into the breech, the remaining two crew are crouched behind the splinter-shield spotting and adjusting the aim and range of the gun. 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 two accessory sprues include all the equipment typically carried by soldiers, such as Kar98 rifles, MP40 SMGs, pistols in and out of holsters, ammo pouches, map cases, binoculars, gas mask canisters, water bottlers, bayonets, Stahlhelm helmets without covers (the figures’ helmets have covers), entrenching tools and other pouches of differing types. There are plenty of accessories to go around, with more besides that can be added to your spares box or used elsewhere. Markings There are four decals options included on the glossy pages of the instruction booklet, with a number of different colour schemes relating to their service location. From the box you can build one of the following: 3 Panzer-Division ‘Totenkopf’, Operation Citadel, Summer 1943 3 Panzer-Division ‘Totenkopf’, Operation Citadel, Summer 1943 3 Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjugend’, Normandy, June 1944 6 Freiwilligen-Sturmbrigade ‘Langemark’, Narva, Summer 1944 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 an incredibly well-detailed kit of an important German artillery piece that ruined many an Allied tanker’s day, with options for transport or combat. All it needed was a crew to give it some scale and presence, and they’re waiting, ready for action in the box. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Spice Harvester from Dune (MMS-013) MENG via Creative Models Ltd Dune began in the 1960s as a long-running series of books by Frank Herbert, and several attempts have been made to realise the initial book in movie form, with varying levels of success. David Lynch made a decent, if simplified attempt at it in the 1980s, although it was a flawed movie with irritating voice-overs (from my point of view, at least), while a three-part TV movie in 2000 was considered a reasonable adaptation, but I haven’t seen that one. This latest expedition into the deserts of Arrakis benefits from the availability of realistic Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) that can be used to enhance the scope and scale of the saga as it deserves, without looking false. It also benefitted from a massive budget and an acclaimed director, not to mention a cast of many famous actors, although David Lynch’s version also had some famous faces, including a young Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck before his Star Trek days. The new film has been split into two episodes to portray as much of the book’s content as possible in an effort to retain the important aspects of the original story, and part 2 has been out now for a couple of months, rounding off the original story, allegedly, with the possibility of more to come if it has made enough money for the studio, which I expect it has by now. I haven’t seen the second part yet, so no spoilers please! The Spice Harvester is an essential part of the mining of the spice Melange from the deserts of Arrakis, and they are essentially factories on tracks that are dropped by their carriers onto parts of the desert where spice has been detected, in order to extract it. The noise of the Spice Harvesting attracts the giants worms that are native to Arrakis, as they are drawn toward repetitive vibrations, and when they get there, woe betide anyone or anything that remains on the sand. Each harvester is protected by a group of spotters in Ornithopters that keep an eye out for incoming worms, as their appearance is almost inevitable. When one is spotted, the carrier craft swoops in, picks up the factory and airlifts it to safety. In theory. We see what happens to a Spice Harvester when the carrier arrives too late in the first film, although all the crew survive thanks to Duke Leto Atreides happening by with a flight of Ornithopters. The Kit Like the Ornithopters, this kit is also scale-free, although it’s pretty clear that it isn’t the same scale as the ‘thopters, as the factories are massive, in order to be able to mine and process Spice in an economical manner. The kit arrives in a larger end-opening box with a painting of the factory on the front, and instructions on the rear, plus the same basic instruction sheet in four languages and the Japanese safety and contact sheet found in the Ornithopter kits. There are four sprues in olive green/brown styrene, plus a small decal sheet in its own bag, containing just three decals, mainly because factories tend not to be colourful anywhere in the galaxy because it’s not cost-effective. Construction begins with the main hull, which is a slab-like part with tiny aircon units, heat-exchanger pipework and other such greeblies on the top, and very little other than the track housings on the underside. The underside is the first part to be used, adding track attachment straps across the front and rear sections from within, then flipping it over onto its back to mount bogies for the tracks, two at the front and two more on the back. The roof is applied to the top, and sixteen trapezoid track units are made from four parts each, with track links moulded-in to improve the detail. They are plugged into each of the track attachment arms hanging from the holes in the underside in fours, two on each side of the arm. The front, rear and side walls are attached to the blank walls between the top and bottom surfaces, adding more detail, then the Spice mining conveyor is created from top and bottom halves to make hollow pathways, which is mounted on a carrier that is inserted into a trough moulded into the underside in the direction of the vehicle’s travel. Markings There are just three decals included, and there are no colour suggestions on the box, as the machines are a dirty olive green/brown in the movie. If you intend to make a more realistic model and paint it, there are tons of shades from all the major manufacturers that could be used, and the opportunity for weathering with heavy sand discolouring could be quite fun if you like that sort of thing. The decals are printed in China, and suitable for the task in hand, as they’re one colour, and almost too wee to see. Make sure you’ve not tied one on the night before applying them, as you’ll need steady hands. Conclusion We understand that 1:72 Ornithopters are on their way from MENG, but this factory vehicle is unlikely to be amongst the up-scaled ships getting an airfing due to its actual size in the movie, so this may be your only option. I could of course be totally wrong! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. SturmGeschütz III Ausf.G April 1943 Alkett Prod. (72106) 1:72 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 SturmGeschütz 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, lurking 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 a 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 whilst they were equipped with guns, they 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 several 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 Allied tanks and artillery. The Kit This is a new boxing of a recent tooling from MiniArt in their nascent 1:72 armour line, which is bringing high levels of detail to this smaller scale, with MiniArt’s engineers and tool designers applying their skills to a scale that has been neglected to an extent for many years. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are nine sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a small clear sprue with decals in a Ziploc bag, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret in a card envelope, and the instruction booklet in full colour in portrait A5 format. Detail is excellent, including weld-lines and tread-plate moulded into the exterior of the hull, with plenty of options for personalisation, and link-and-length tracks to provide good detail without making the building of the tracks too time consuming or complex. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is put together with five parts creating the ‘tub’, then adding the three-part glacis plate at the front, and the exhaust assembly at the rear, accompanied by duct-work and overhanging vents with a PE mesh panel underneath. Various suspension parts are applied to the sides that have the swing arms and axles already moulded-in. Six paired return rollers are made up, along with twelve pairs of road wheels, plus two-part idler wheels and drive sprockets, which have an alternative front sprocket face for you to choose from. Once all the wheels are installed on their axles, the tracks can be built, utilising the long lengths on the top and bottom, adding shorter lengths to the diagonal risers, and individual links around the sharper curved sections toward the ends of the runs. There are eight individual links at the rear, and six at the front, plus another between the lower and its diagonal, each link having three sprue gates in sensibly placed locations. The gun shroud is built from four parts and mounted on a carrier between a pair of trunnions, which is then fitted to a pivot plate and set aside while the casemate front is made from two sections. First however, the fenders are glued to the sides of the hull, locating on three lugs moulded into the sides. The gun shroud is slotted into the casemate, with a mantlet slid over the front, after which the lower heavily armoured and bolted lower casemate front has a vision slot and armour cover applied before it is glued to the bottom of the casemate, along with the sides and rear bulkhead, attaching it to the lower hull while the glue cures to ensure everything lines up, remembering to remove two bolt-heads from the cheeks of the casemate before you move on. A convoy light is glued into the centre of the glacis, then the engine deck is made, fitting two-part sides, and a single rear panel that is aligned when the deck is installed on the rear of the hull. Two PE grilles are glued over the outer cooling intakes, and a length of spare track is fitted over the rear bulkhead of the casemate, adding armoured covers over the five vents on the engine deck, with a choice of cast or bolted vents on those at the rear of the deck. A choice of three styles of cupola can be made, each one made from a differing set of parts, based around the commander’s vision blocks and central hatch, adding wire grab handles from your own stock where indicated, then inserting the completed assembly in the cut-out on the roof, adding a periscope forward of the cupola from within the roof. The barrel is moulded as a single tubular section with a hollow muzzle glued to the business end, and sleeve moulded into the front of the saukopf, which is an inverted trapezoid, with a stowage box in the middle of the engine deck. PE brackets are added around the vehicle, with pioneer tools built up and fitted where there is space as the build progresses. The gunner’s hatch can be posed closed, or replaced by two separate parts in the open position, adding another scratch-built grab handle from wire, then fitting a drum magazine to the supplied MG34, sliding it through the frontal bullet shield with PE support and another DIY grab handle before putting it in place in front of the gunner’s hatch. Towing eyes are supplied for the tow cable, but you must provide the braided thread or wire to make the cable itself, attaching one to each fender, fixing fire extinguisher, jack block, jack, barrel cleaning rods etc. to various places, and two stacks of wheels are mounted on long pins on the rear of the engine deck on the aft vents, again on pins made from your own wire stocks. Two aerials of 30mm each are also needed to fit on the bases on the rear of the casemate. There is also the option to add Schürzen to the sides of the vehicle, which is intended to reduce the impact of shaped charges by pre-detonating them. The retaining brackets are attached to three brackets, one on each side of the casemate, from which the PE schürzen sections are mounted on hooks, each panel added separately to allow the modeller the possibility of damaging them individually and even removing some panels as if they have been lost earlier. A pair of short rectangular panels are laminated to the upper section where they protect the casemate, doubling the thickness, and presumably the safety of the crew in the casemate. Markings There are five decal options on the small sheet, with various schemes all with a base coat of dunkelgeb, with various camouflage options over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: StuG.Brig.303, Finland, Summer 1944 StuG.Abt.2 ‘Dad Reich’, Eastern Front, Kursk Area, Summer 1943 III./Pz.Rgt.36, 14th Panzer Division, Eastern Front, Autumn 1943 StuG.Abt.185, Eastern Front, rpresumably Autumn 1943 StuG.Abt.201, Operation Margarethe, Hungary, March 1944 Some of the decal options can be modelled with or without Schürzen, and those options have profiles with and without on the same in the instructions. If you want to see full sets of profiles for the vehicles with or without schürzen however, they are available on MiniArt’s website here in the Side Views tab. 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 MiniArt have brought their talents to bear on 1:72 scale armour, releasing a subject they have already researched for their extensive 1:35 scale StuG range, resulting in a highly detailed model with plenty of options for personalisation, and an ongoing broadening of the range available. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Atreides & Harkonnen Ornithopters from Dune (MMS-011 & MMS-014) MENG via Creative Models Ltd Dune began in the 1960s as a long-running series of books by Frank Herbert, and several attempts have been made to realise the initial book in movie form, with varying levels of success. David Lynch made a decent, if simplified attempt at it in the 1980s, although it was a flawed movie with irritating voice-overs (from my point of view, at least), while a three-part TV movie in 2000 was considered a reasonable adaptation, but I haven’t seen that one. This latest expedition into the deserts of Arrakis benefits from the availability of realistic Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) that can be used to enhance the scope and scale of the saga as it deserves, without looking false. It also benefitted from a massive budget and acclaimed director, not to mention a cast of many famous actors, although David Lynch’s version also had some famous faces, including a young Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck before his Star Trek days. The new film has been split into two episodes to portray as much of the book’s content as possible in an effort to retain the important parts of the original story, and part 2 has been out now for a couple of months, rounding off the original story, allegedly, with the possibility of more to come if it has made enough money for the studio, which I expect it has by now. I haven’t seen the second part yet, so no spoilers please! The new film of course has some great new ships, which includes a less toy-like Ornithopter, which is more insectoid and less clockwork bubble-bug than the 1984 edition. They are quadruped aircraft with eight helicopter blade-like ‘wings’ providing the lift in an insectoid manner, and a pointed nose that incorporates expansive windscreens that probably don’t give as good a field of view forward as you’d think. The Kit Each of the two Ornithopters arrives in a small end-opening box, and are similar in looks and box style to Bandai’s Vehicle series of Star Wars kits, as they too are sold without scale, and the dominant packaging colour is black, plus the stand included is functionally identical to the Bandai offering. The instructions are printed in colour on the back of the box, and inside are four or five sprues in an olive green/brown shade of styrene, a small black sprue containing the stand parts, and a separately bagged decal sheet. Detail is good, but due to the small scale, the canopies are solid and are later depicted by decals, and the landing gear can be posed retracted or deployed, using the stand, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Bandai stand for either option. There is also a small sheet that briefly discusses in four languages how to remove parts from the sprues and apply the decals that are included. A tiny slip of white paper is folded into that sheet, but as it is all in Japanese, my phone shows that it contains contact details for Japanese purchasers to get in touch if they have a problem, and some warnings that the kit is suitable for people of 14 years or older, and to be wary of inhaling dust created by sanding. The kits share three of the olive sprues, as the blades and landing gear are common between both, adding one more sprue for the Atreides ‘thopter that has a straight tail boom, and two for the Harkonnen vehicle, which has an alternative forward glazing and a forked tail to differentiate it quickly on screen. They can be built as snap-together kits, but will benefit from gluing, particularly if you intend to paint and weather them, applying the decals during the process. Construction begins with the two fuselage halves, mounting the cockpit and nose at the front, and a single-part tail for the Harkonnen ‘thopter, or a two-part straight tail for Atreides. Atreides has four wing-root dog-bones affixed in pairs at the top and bottom of both the fuselage sides, which later receives the eight blades in either the folded position, or flared to the perpendicular outboard for flight, while the Harkonnen bird has only three per side. The landing gear uses different parts for stowed and deployed, slotting into the underside of the fuselage. The stand has three options of where to place the support on the base, and at the top of the support is a ball-joint that the cup clips onto, a peg on top joining it to the underside of the fuselage to give the impression of flight, and the ability to adjust the angle and bank of the model to your needs. Common Parts to Both Kits Atreides Ornithopter Specific Parts (MMS-011) Harkonnen Ornithopter Specific Parts (MMS-014) Markings The decals pictured above are essentially the glazing of the canopies, plus a few tiny emblems for the sides and front of the fuselage that differ between the kits. They are well-printed and suitable for the task, and the main windscreen panel includes the internal framing, but if you wish to go off-book for your paint scheme, you may consider painting the windscreens with the aid of masks instead to avoid having to match the colour on the decals. Conclusion Pocket-sized, and pocket-friendly, these kits are small enough to slip in between other models in your cabinet, and although they don’t have cockpits depicted for practical reasons, the rest of the detail is crisply defined. Highly recommended. Atreides Ornithopter (MMS-011) Harkonnen Ornithopter (MMS-014) Review sample courtesy of
  7. P-47D-30RE Thunderbolt BasicKit (48023) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Thunderbolt developed from a series of less-than-successful earlier designs that saw Seversky aviation change to Republic, and the project designation from P-35, to P-43 and P-44, each with its own aggressive sounding name. After a realisation that their work so far wasn't going to cut it in the skies over war-torn Europe, they went back to the drawing board and produced the P-47A that was larger, heavier, and sported the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 18-cylinder radial that would also power the B-26 Marauder, P-61 Black Widow and F4U Corsair amongst others. With it they added eight .50cal Browning machine guns aligned along the axis of flight in the wing leading edge. The P-47A was still a small aircraft, and was initially ordered without military equipment to allow faster completion, but it was considered inferior to the competition then available, so an extensive re-design was ordered that resulted in the much larger P-47B, firing up to 100 rounds per second from the eight .50cal wing guns, and with a maximum speed of over 400mph, leaving just the fuel load slightly short of requirements. It first flew mid-1941, and despite being a heavy-weight, its performance was still excellent, and the crash of the prototype didn’t affect the order for over 700 airframes, which were fitted with a more powerful version of the R-2800 and a sliding canopy that made ingress and egress more streamlined, particularly when bailing out of a doomed aircraft. Minor re-designs to early production airframes resulted in a change to the P-47C, which meant that fewer than 200 Bs were made, the C benefitting from improved radio, oxygen systems, and a metal rudder to prevent flutter that had been affecting control at certain points in the performance envelope. A quick way to spot a B is the forward raked aerial mast behind the cockpit, as this was changed to vertical on the C and beyond. The production from a new factory that had been opened to keep up with demand led to the use of the D suffix, although they were initially identical to the C, but the cowling flaps were amended later, making it easier to differentiate. Of course, the later bubble-canopy P-47s were far easier to tell apart from earlier marks, and constant improvement in reliability, performance and fuel load was added along the way. The P-47D-25 carried more fuel for extended range, including piping for jettisonable tanks on the bomb racks for even more fuel. Taking a cue from the British designers, the bubble-top was developed and that improved all-round visibility markedly, although like the later mark Spitfires, later models incorporated a fin extension to counter the yaw issues that resulted. Its weight, firepower and seemingly unstoppable character led to the nickname ‘Juggernaut’, which was inevitably shortened to ‘Jug’ and led to many, many off-colour jokes during and after the war. Jokes that are still soldiering on to this day, despite being eligible for a pensioner’s bus pass. The -30RE was built at the Farmingdale factory, and was fitted with dive brakes and some other minor changes, such as the fillet on the fin for added stability. The Jug was used extensively in the European theatre as an escort fighter, where it performed well in its ideal high-altitude environment. Later in the war when the Luftwaffe was a spent force, it also went on to become a highly successful ground attack fighter, strafing and bombing targets of opportunity, and eschewing camouflaged paintwork to add some extra speed with a smooth (and shiny) bare metal finish. As well as flying with the US forces, many P-47s were flown by the other Allies, including the British, Russians, and after the war many other countries as the remainder were sold off as war surplus. The Kit This is a variant of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt, in the process of creating a range of kits that are set to become the de facto standard Thunderbolt in this scale. The kit arrives in one of their sturdy top-opening boxes with a dramatic painting of the subject on the front, and profiles of the decal options on one side, reserving the other side for practical details and text. Inside the box are nineteen sprues in grey styrene, although in our sample many of the sprues were handily still connected by their runners, which simplified photography. There is also a clear sprue, two sheets of decals split between markings and stencils, and the instruction booklet, which is printed on glossy paper in colour, with profiles for the decal options on the rear pages, plus detailed painting and decaling information on the weapons and tanks on the back page. Detail is phenomenal, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt in the last several years, with fine engraved panel lines, recessed rivets, plus raised and recessed features where appropriate, as well as fine detail in the cockpit, wheel bays and engine. If you’ve seen their AFV kits you’ll know what to expect, but this is something special in this reviewer’s humble opinion. Construction begins with the highly detailed cockpit, starting by putting the seat together from base, back and two side parts, which have elements of the seatbelts moulded-in, and are finished off by putting the remainder of the lap belts on the seat pan. A pair of support are inserted into recesses in the back of the seat, then it is installed on the ribbed floor, which has control column, plus seat-adjuster, and two other levers inserted, after which the rear bulkhead, one of the cockpit sidewalls and the front bulkhead are added, trapping the rudder bar with moulded-in pedals between them. The starboard sidewall has a hose added, and a scrap diagram shows the detail painting as well as the location of the decals that need to be applied. A cushion is applied to the head armour, then the other sidewall is detailed with four controls, numerous decals and more detail painting, so that it can be inserted along with the instrument panel and auxiliary panel, both of which have decals for the dials, with a choice of two for the main panel. The tail wheel is made up in preparation for closing the fuselage, building a four-part strut that holds the wheel on a one-sided yoke, then adding a small curved bulkhead with sprung bumper at the front, or an alternative assembly can be made from four different parts plus wheel, which is less detailed as the mechanism is hidden by a canvas cover. The fuselage halves are new toolings that have a fillet moulded into the spine in front of the tail fin, and are prepared by adding two extra detail parts to the short sill panels that have ribbing moulded-in, and should be painted to match the cockpit. At the rear on the underside, the supercharger fairing is slotted into the starboard fuselage along with the tail gear bay, and at the front, a cooling vent and a centreline insert are added to the underside, fitting another vent to the port fuselage half in the same place. The fuselage can then be closed around the cockpit, adding the aerial mast into a slot in the starboard spine, although whether that will remain there until the end of the building and painting is a moot point, and I’d be tempted to nip it off at the base, gluing the base in to act as a socket for the aerial after the heavy work is over. There is a fuselage insert in front of the cockpit, and that has the two-part gunsight with clear lens added to the centre, and another equipment box on the port side before it is inserted and joined by a firewall that closes the front of the fuselage. The engine is a highly-detailed assembly that is created by joining the two fully-rendered banks of pistons together by a keyed peg, adding the push-rod assembly to the front, the ends of which mate with a circular support that is the frame onto which the cowling panels are added later. The reduction-housing bell is detailed with magnetos and other parts, plus a collet at the centre where the prop-shaft would be. This is joined to the front of the engine as it is mounted to a bulkhead at the rear, again on a keyed ring. The intake trunking at the bottom of the nose cowling is made from five parts and installed in the lower panel, and you have a choice of open or closed vents on the sides of the fuselage by using the appropriate parts, and in the same step, the rudder is completed by adding an insert at its widest point (the bottom), to avoid sink marks, following which it is mated to the fin on three hinges, allowing deflection if you wish. Going back to the engine, the finished assembly is enclosed by four segments of cowling, and at the rear you have a choice of open or closed cooling gills, using different parts to achieve the look you want. Under the tail, your choice of wheel assembly is inserted in the bay, with doors on each side, or if you are building your model in flight, a closed pair of doors is supplied as a single part, adding a small outlet further forward under the fuselage. The upper wing halves have well-defined ribbing detail moulded into the interior, which is augmented by fitting an insert, two rib sections, front and rear walls that form the tabs to mate to the fuselage, and an additional structure that has a retraction jack pushed through hole in one of the wall segments. The flaps are made from two sides, plus a pair of hinges and these are glued into the trailing edge of the wing with the ailerons, the remaining details of the gear bay, which includes another retraction jack, the gun barrels on a carrier to achieve the correct vertically stepped installation, plus a pitot probe, and the wingtip light, which can be fitted now because the complete tip is moulded into the upper wing so that it can be portrayed as scale thickness. A scrap diagram of the lower wing shows the location of the flashed-over holes that you can drill out for weapons, then it can be glued to the upper, along with an insert at the rear of the gear bay, which includes a moulded-in dive brake, and another near the tip with a flush landing light. The same process is then carried out in mirror-image for the other wing, omitting the pitot and landing light insert, after which the wheels and their struts are made up, each wheel made from two halves plus a choice of three hub types, and two styles of wheels are also provided, one without a flat-spot, the other under load on the ground, leaving it for you to decide which you prefer. The struts are detailed with separate oleo scissor-links and stencil decals, and are mated with their wheels, plus the captive gear bay doors, the lower door made from two layers, again to avoid sink-marks. The wings are glued to the fuselage with a stepped joint making for a stronger bond, and the elevator panels are each slotted into the tail, and have separate flying surfaces that can be posed deflected, each one a single part for finesse. If you are building your model with the gear down, the inner gear bay doors are fitted to the fuselage, which contains the inner edge of the main gear bays, so remember to paint that while you are doing the rest of the bays. The engine assembly with cowling is also mated to the firewall, locating on a pair of alignment pins. If you plan on making an in-flight model, there are two single parts that depict the closed main bays, or you can insert the two struts with their wheels for the grounded aircraft. The four centreline supports are fitted between the main bays for some decal options, then the model can be flipped over to stand on its own wheels so that the canopy can be installed, gluing the windscreen at the front with a rear-view mirror on a stalk above the frame, and deciding whether pose the blown canopy open or closed after gluing a stiffener across the underside. The prop is also fitted, and this is made up from two parts, each consisting of two blades in opposition, and the spinner is a separate part that slots into the front section. The Jug could carry quite a load, whether it was extra fuel, rockets or bombs, and all these are included in the box, starting with the two-part pylons, which can be depicted as empty by inserting a cover over the lower surface. You have a choice of four styles of tank, a 108gal compressed paper tank with a ribbed nose and tail, a 200gal wide and flat tank, the third 150gal streamlined tank with flat mating surface and a peg at the rear that can be removed, and the last one slightly smaller at 75gal. All but the third option has a pair of sway-braces between them and the pylon, which fit into slots in the pylons. They are built in pairs to fit under the wings, but the first two options can also be used solo on the centreline support. The bombs use the same pylons, and can be built in 1,000lb, 500lb or 250lb variants, each one made from two halves for the body and two parts for the square tails, and mated to the pylon by a pair of sway-braces that varies depending on size. There is also a smoke generator that looks like a drop-tank with a spout on the rear, which would be used to lay smoke for the Allied troops below to cover their actions, at least temporarily. A large diagram shows the correct location for all the pylons and their loads, the centreline option having no additional pylon, mating via the four sway braces fitted earlier. Markings There are two decal options included on the large sheet, both of which have substantial differences in nose art on each side, which is why we’ve included a look at both side profiles to avoid confusion. The first page of profiles are in greyscale, and detail the location of the many stencils worn by the Jug, including the pylons, all to avoid over-complication of the main profiles. From the box you can build one of the following: 346th Fighter Sqn., 350th Fighter Group, 12th Air Force, Italy 1945. Pilots: Major Charles Gilbert II & 1St Lt. Homer J St.Onge 509th Fighter Sqn., 405th Fighter Group, Spring 1945. Pilot: Col. Chester Van Etten 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. The instrument decals on the sheet are separated by a box of dotted lines, and you have three choices of style. One is complete with the grey instrument panel for an all-in-one solution that is very realistic, while the others have just the dials that are printed in the shape of the panel, but are individual decals, so remember not to put them all in the water at once. Conclusion Another P-47D from MiniArt, expanding their catalogue further. Don’t fret, I’m sure the razorback will be along soon enough. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Garage Workshop (49011) 1:48 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Garage workshops are places where you'll find tons of tools, shelves, tool boxes and all sorts, usually covered in muck and rust, save for those occasional workshops that are scrupulously clean due to the owner’s fastidious nature. During wartime, garages were often overrun, or pressed into use as temporary military workshops by invading or defending troops, and if they weren't co-opted to help the military, they continued to be used by the few vehicles remaining operational during a period where fuel was usually a scarce commodity due to the needs of the military. The Kit This set arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box and inside are six sprues in grey styrene, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card envelope, a small decal sheet and an instruction sheet printed on both sides of a glossy A4 sheet. As well as a few instructions for the more complicated assemblies there are also posters printed in colour that can be cut out and stuck to the walls of your intended diorama, plus a colour rendering on the rear of the box, pointing out all the parts, their colours and where to place the decals on the cans and containers. Some of the sprues will be familiar if not identical to others from this expanding range, and there is a wide selection of items to populate your model. From the box you can build the following: 2 x fuel ribbed drums 2 x double-ribbed fuel drums 1 x ribless fuel drum 1 x Manual pump unit 1 x Bench-mounted grinder with two wheels 1 x Pillar drill 1 x Anvil 2 x Bench vice (2 types) 6 x Square fuel can of various sizes 2 x Triangular profile oil can 1 x Compressor with wheeled chassis 1 x Hacksaw 3 x Hammer 1 x G-Clamp 1 x Belly-Brace Drill 1 x Funnel 1 x Oil Can 2 x 5-shelf storage unit 2 x large 8 drawer cupboard on short legs 2 x tool box, one open, one closed with a styrene and PE toolkit and PE lid There are various other small hand tools such as clamps, hammers, wrenches, oil cans and other items dotted around the sprues and there are some decals for the cans as per the instructions. The larger assemblies are covered in the instructions and have many parts that result in faithful representations of the original that would be difficult to create yourself, but now you don't have to. Markings There are a few decals on the small sheet with their locations shown on the instructions. The various posters, 10 in total, range from car adverts through propaganda posters and even one tiny picture of a bathing scantily clad lady that is too small to make out any details. They're all in different languages too, so there will probably be one for most locations, within reason. Conclusion Another useful set from MiniArt, and even if you're not going to use them for an actual garage diorama, there's a lot of fodder for your models. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. British Armoured Car Crew Special Edition (35387) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd All forces during WWII operated armoured cars, which whilst they were generally ineffective against tanks, were of immense use of great use when fighting infantry and lightly armoured vehicles or emplacements. They were also useful for reconnaissance, as they were able to cover greater areas in a shorter time than a similar-sized foot patrol, and had at least some level of protection if they should run into enemy forces, with the capability of withdrawing quickly, enabling the intelligence to get back to HQ for dissemination and a suitable response. This set contains five crew figures for a British armoured car of WWII, and arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box with a painting of the crew on the front, and instructions on the back, reusing the same painting but with arrows in blue pointing out suggested colours, and black showing the parts used for each one. Under the instructions is a chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour swatches and generic names for completeness. Inside are five sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, two of which contain the figure parts, while the remaining three are full of accessories that can be utilised to personalise the figures, or as equipment to stow around the vehicle or diorama you are creating, with some finding their way into the spare parts box. The crew are in various poses, the most amusing of which is the driver, who is hunched over a large steering wheel, looking very intensely in the direction they are (hopefully) travelling. Three more figures are standing, two with one foot raised on something, the commander looking through his binoculars, while the other rests one hand on his hip, the other on a part of the vehicle. The fourth crewman is standing in a hatch with one hand on the deck, while he talks on the radio, whilst the final seated figure is leaning slightly back, supporting himself with one arm, and shading his eyes with the other hand. He and one of the standing figures are wearing shorts and have their long-sleeved shirt sleeves rolled up, while the rest of the crew are in long trousers and have their sleeves rolled down. This is because three of the crew are more suited to a North African location, whilst two are intended to be in European service. The commander is suitably ambiguous however, and can be used in either locale, and if you place some of the figures in turrets or hatches, their pant legs or nobbly knees won’t be seen anyway. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprues 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 artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. Conclusion Superb injection-moulded styrene figures from MiniArt that will bring any British Armoured car to life, with clothing suitable for hot or cooler climate operations. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. StuG III Ausf.G Feb 1943 Alkett Prod. (72101) 1:72 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 SturmGeschütz 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, lurking 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 a 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 whilst they were equipped with guns, they 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 several 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 Allied tanks and artillery. The Kit This is a new tooling from MiniArt in their nascent 1:72 armour line, which is bringing high levels of detail to this smaller scale, with MiniArt’s engineers and tool designers applying their skills to a scale that has been neglected to an extent for many years. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are nine sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a small clear sprue with decals in a Ziploc bag, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret in a card envelope, and the instruction booklet in full colour in portrait A5 format. Detail is excellent, including weld-lines and tread-plate moulded into the exterior of the hull, with plenty of options for personalisation, and link-and-length tracks to provide good detail without making the building of the tracks too time consuming. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is put together with five parts creating the ‘tub’, then adding the three-part glacis plate at the front, and the exhaust assembly at the rear, accompanied by duct-work and overhanging vents with a PE mesh panel underneath. One decal option has a few holes drilled into the rear overhang before installation for use later, then various suspension parts are applied to the sides that have the swing arms and axles already moulded-in. Six paired return rollers are made up, along with twelve pairs of road wheels, plus two-part idler wheels and drive sprockets, which have an alternative front sprocket face for you to choose from. Once all the wheels are installed on their axles, the tracks can be built, utilising the long lengths on the top and bottom, adding shorter lengths to the diagonal risers, and individual links around the sharper curved sections toward the ends of the runs. There are eight individual links at the rear, and six at the front, plus another between the lower and its diagonal, each link having three sprue gates in sensibly placed locations. The gun shroud is built from four parts and mounted on a carrier between a pair of trunnions, which is then fitted to a pivot plate and set aside while the casemate front is made from two sections. First however, the fenders are glued to the sides of the hull, locating on three lugs moulded into the sides. The gun shroud is slotted into the casemate, with a mantlet slid over the front, after which the lower heavily armoured and bolted lower casemate front has a vision slot and armour cover applied before it is glued to the bottom of the casemate, along with the sides and rear bulkhead, attaching it to the lower hull while the glue cures to ensure everything lines up. A convoy light is glued into the centre of the glacis, then the engine deck is made, fitting two-part sides, and a single rear panel that is aligned when the deck is installed on the rear of the hull. Two PE grilles are glued over the outer cooling intakes, and a length of spare track is fitted over the rear bulkhead of the casemate, adding armoured covers over the five vents on the engine deck, with a choice of cast or bolted vents on those at the rear of the deck. A choice of three styles of cupola can be made, each one made from a differing set of parts, based around the commander’s vision blocks and central hatch, adding wire grab handles from your own stock where indicated, then inserting the completed assembly in the cut-out on the roof, adding a periscope forward of the cupola from within the roof. The barrel is moulded as a single tubular section with a hollow muzzle glued to the business end, and sleeve moulded into the front of the saukopf, which is an inverted trapezoid with an optional stowage box on top for one option, and an alternative site on the engine deck for the other decal options. PE brackets are added around the vehicle, with pioneer tools built up and fitted where there is space as the build progresses. The gunner’s hatch can be posed closed, or replaced by two separate parts in the open position, adding another scratch-built grab handle from wire, then fitting a drum magazine to the supplied MG34, sliding it through the frontal bullet shield with PE support and another DIY grab handle before putting it in place in front of the gunner’s hatch. Towing eyes are supplied for the tow cable, but you must provide the braided thread or wire to make the cable itself, attaching one to each fender, fixing fire extinguisher, jack block, jack, barrel cleaning rods etc. to various places, and for one decal variant, two stacks of wheels are mounted on long pins on the rear bulkhead, making the pins from more of your own wire. Option four also has a PE railing around the engine deck, which has a basket to hold two jerry cans, each one made from three parts, and slotted into position at the rear of the deck. Two scrap diagrams show how the forward ends of the railings attach to the back of the casemate, and the other four decal options can have stacks of road wheels stowed on the back of the engine deck on the aft vents, again on pins made from your own wire stocks. Two aerials of 30mm each are also needed to complete the model. Markings There are five decal options on the small sheet, with various schemes ranging from pure panzer grey to dunkelgeb, with camouflage or distemper over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 21 Luftwaffen-Feld-Division ‘Adler Division’, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 21 Luftwaffen-Feld-Division ‘Adler Division’, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung ‘Grossdeutschland’ Okhtryka, Ukraine, Eastern Front, Spring 1943 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 210, 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 MiniArt bring their talents to bear on 1:72 scale, releasing a subject they have already researched for their 1:35 scale range, resulting in a highly detailed model with plenty of options for personalisation. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Street Musicians 1930-40s (38078) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Musicians playing their instruments on the street would be a familiar sight to anyone from any era, as that’s how many of them have made their living over the years, especially before recording contracts and gigs were a thing. They’d pitch-up, p ut out a bowl or some other receptacle for donations, grab a chair if necessary, and strum, pluck or blow their instrument of choice until they were too tired, were moved on, or earned enough to keep them fed for a little while longer. Of course, modern streets are more closely monitored for street performers, however before WWII there was little in the way of regulation, so performers could earn a living without the law getting in their way, although a hat or bag full of change would be a tempting target for vagabonds and thieves. This set arrives in a figure-sized box with the three musicians depicted in a high-quality painting on the front, and split apart in instruction form on the rear, complete with instructions for some of the more complex assemblies, and a paint chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus colour swatches and generic names for completeness. Inside the box are five sprues in grey styrene, three containing figure parts, the remainder the accessories. Two of the figures are standing, one playing a fiddle/violin with the open case collecting his winnings, while the other standing man is a crooner with an acoustic guitar, supporting it on his raised knee, resting his foot on a small stool. The remaining figure is seated on a dining-style chair, playing an accordion, with the case in front collecting change, and a walking stick laid across it, implying that he may be blind, or at least somehow disabled. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues 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 artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories include the two seats, violin, guitar, and accordion, but there are several percussion, string and wind instruments included on the sprue for use elsewhere, or for depositing in the spares box. Conclusion Perfect for filling some space on a street, or giving a focal-point to a milling crowd of bystanders for your next diorama. Review sample courtesy of
  12. M3 Stuart Initial Production Interior Kit (35401) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The M3 Stuart was designed before the US went to war, based upon the experiences of the British, which led to the US top brass deciding that their M2 light tank was obsolete. While the radial engine M3 was an improvement over the M2, it suffered from an underpowered M6 main gun at only 37mm, which although it was improved later in the war, the crews had to suffer with it for some considerable time. The British troops in Africa used it first against the superior tanks of the Afrika Korps, but fared badly in combat, suffering from the lack of range of the Stuart in the wide-open spaces of the African desert. It was fast and manoeuvrable however, and a British driver’s comment that she was a "honey" to drive led to one of its nicknames during the war. The M3A1 was an improved version that deleted the sponson mounted machine guns of the initial production, and some of these used more conventional diesel engines instead of the bulky radials, which gave the crew more room for other equipment. It also had a new turret with a basket for the turret crew to stand in, and no cupola for the commander that gave the tank a lower profile, and added a gun stabilisation system that helped with vertical alignment of targets while the tank was on the move, ironing out the bumps for the gunners. In British service it was known as the Stuart III and with the diesel engine version was designated the IV. It was hopelessly outclassed by Axis armour in Europe for tank-on-tank engagements, and was soon relegated to infantry support and recce roles, where it performed well. It was more successful in the Pacific theatre against the lightly armoured Japanese tanks in the jungle, where medium and heavy tanks could soon flounder in the mud and jungles. It continued to be used to the end of the war by the Allies in the Pacific area, although Russia, another user of the Stuart disliked it intensely and refused to take the upgraded M5 design that followed the M3A3. Variants were used well into the 60s, and Brazil even built their own version with redesigned upper hull and carrying a 90mm gun. Paraguay still had a few of its ancient original stock of 12 beyond the turn of the millennium, which is astonishing, considering the age of the machine. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from our friends at MiniArt, which are producing an amazing output of new kits and partial re-tools in recent years, which is doubly-impressive given the situation in Ukraine over the last few years. This kit arrives in a top-opening box with a painting of an initial production Stuart on the front, clearly illustrating the prominent sponson-mounted machine guns that it shared with early variants of its stablemate, the M3 Grant/Lee. Inside the box are thirteen sprues in grey styrene, which is at variance from the sprue map, which shows twenty grey sprues, but this is due to some of the sprues being linked together on runners in our example. There is also a clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card envelope, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour on glossy paper, with profiles of the decal options on the rearmost pages. Detail is excellent as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, and as this is an Interior Kit, you also get the complete engine and the entire crew compartment, for which the hull panels are detailed on both sides, although the interior has a few unavoidable ejector-pin marks, as they must go somewhere, after all! The running gear is similarly well-defined, and the tracks are supplied as link-and-length, taking the benefits of individual links and making the job a lot less labour intensive. Construction begins with the vehicle’s floor, laying out driver controls, foot pedals and other equipment, plus a choice of two styles of rectangular floor hatch, just in case you have a preference. The transmission and front axle assembly is made up from five sculpted and cooling-finned parts, which is then detailed with pivots, end-caps and linkages before it is installed on the floor, adding a short length of wire to link the assembly to a nearby conduit if you feel adventurous, then building up a box with a padded top, and two crew seats from base frame, cushion and back cushion, with a pair of PE lap belts wrapped around from the rear. The curved transmission armour on the front of the tank is detailed with various towing eyes, additional bolt heads that are cut from the sprue runner, and a central frame that can be folded from PE or replaced by a single styrene part. When it is complete, the interior face should be painted so that it can be installed on the front of the floor, locating on a trio of ledges with the floor inverted. The sloping drive-shaft tunnel is made from three main parts, adding a bottle to one side, a decal nearby, and a small grab-handle on the opposite side. This is lowered into position in the centre of the floor, with a small cut-out allowing it to fit over a transverse suspension bar moulded into the floor. A very busy engine firewall is based upon a rectangular panel with cut-outs, onto which a fire extinguisher and other equipment are installed, followed by a pair of radiator cores and associated hoses, plus a Thompson machine gun latched in place, minus magazine. The completed assembly is slotted vertically into the floor, which will later mount the radial engine on the opposite side, but first there is much more space to take up with equipment. A square(sih) stowage box with soft top is built and installed in front of the firewall on the left, a two-part instrument panel is attached to the transmission housing, applying three dial decals into the circular faces, making another diagonal panel from three-parts, with a PE dial in the centre, which then has a decal applied over it. The driver’s seat is emplaced behind his controls, fixing another box made earlier into position on the right side behind the bow-gunner’s seat, with another smaller box nestled behind that, and a pair of ammo boxes in front of the gunner for his immediate use in battle. Just because war isn't quite dangerous enough, a four-part jerry can is made and sited behind the driver in case they run short, although its usefulness might not yet be apparent because the fuel tanks are next to be made. First however, another small farm of boxes on a palette is made and attached at two points on the bulkhead on the right side, which even has a canteen flask attached to one side. Working on the engine bay now, the two fuel tanks are situated in the front corners of this area, with caps on top that can be accessed from the engine deck by removing two large armoured covers. Another tank is installed in the rear left of the compartment, adding various manifolds and hoses once they are in position before the curved engine support is slotted into the bay near the front. The Continental W-670 engine is next, with all seven cylinders moulded in this boxing, all of which have separate head parts, three pairs of which are linked by a narrow curved rod. A conical fairing is arranged around the forward end to duct the cool air from the large cooling fan, with a cross-brace and circular boss across the open space at the forward end. The fan is mounted on this boss, with a stub-axle on the outer face, with all the blades moulded into this well-detailed part. The tinwork is substantially different from an aviation variant of this motor, but the push-rods, intake hoses and ancillaries are similar, while the exhaust take-off doesn’t have the same constraints on it. The two exhaust manifolds carry the fumes from three and four pistons each, reducing to two larger pipes that end with a stepped joint to strengthen the join between it and the exhaust pipes. The intake manifold at the bottom of the engine is fed by two pipes that head up the sides of the engine, covered by a substantial engine carrier beam that also holds additional ancillaries, with the hole in the centre allowing more to protrude. More ancillaries including distributor and belt are layered over the carrier, with two tubular mufflers attached to the tops of the exhaust pipes, after which it is fitted into the engine bay, adding a cover to the top portion between the fuel tanks. Only now can the hull sides be fitted, but not before they are detailed with various parts, including electrical junction boxes, ammo boxes and other small parts, adding final drive housings to the front ends, using the bogie axle ends to locate the parts on the sides of the floor. The rear bulkhead is built with a hatch space in the upper half, with a dash-pot on the inside and a beam across the top edge, gluing it to the rear of the vehicle with the assistance of a scrap view from below. The rear hatch is in two sections, one of which has a PE clapping plate, both having handles, while the left door has a strange pot with a straw fixed to the inner face, and both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish. Above the hatch is an overhang with a PE mesh horizontal insert and styrene rear, with a couple of towing eyes mounted on the lower edge of the bulkhead. The next assembly is a thirty-cal machine gun, which has a cloth dump bag half moulded-in, finished by an additional part, and with an ammo box with a short length of link under the breech with a two-part mount. This is slotted through the glacis plate in a mount from the inside, adding a two-part instrument panel with five dial decals in front of the driver, plus a strengthening strap under the driver’s hatch. It is glued into position on the front of the tank, fitting the transmission inspection hatch with handle to the centre, and adding a pair of towing shackles to the front. The driver’s hatch is in two parts, and can be posed closed for battle, or with both parts folded open to allow the driver to see the full vista. A two-layer T-shaped cross-member is located over the upper glacis, adding a PE bracket that supports the open driver’s hatch, and a pair of bearing spacers to the final drive housings. As already mentioned, the earliest Stuarts had sponson-mounted machine guns, which extend from the main hull out over the tracks, roughly along the middle third of the vehicle’s length. The two parts are glued into position, and two .30cal machine guns are trapped between two-part mounts, one fitted to each sponson on a curved adapter with a three-part magazine that has a short length of link visible at the top. In the space behind the guns, boxes of ammo cans are stacked, leaving sufficient space for the two-part radio box in the left sponson, adding a length of power cord later in the process. A battery box is situated at the rear of the right sponson, adding a couple of grab handles, and inserting a divider between it and the flammable ammo storage. The sides of the sponsons can then be built around the equipment, painting the interior faces as you go, consisting of a short wall to the rear, a long panel along the side, and an angled panel with exit for the machine gun muzzle at the front. This is repeated for both sides, fitting two hatches to the front of the upper hull after adding an extra layer behind, a clear vision port, and openers to the sides. If you intend to pose the hatches up, you have the option of leaving the inclement weather inner hatches in position, which have large panes of glass and windscreen wipers to save filling the tank with precipitation. The open outer hatches are propped up with a pair of short stays from their top hinges. The hull roof is next, starting with the panel that has the turret ring moulded-in, adding rollers in housings to the underside, additional nuts on the top ring, and a pair of filler caps on the deck behind it, shaving away clasp details around them, and fitting a grab handle to one side. The completed part is lowered into place on the hull, adding a horn to the glacis next to the bow gun, including a small length of wire between it and the nearby bracket. Turning to the engine deck, four holes are drilled out on the diagonal deck panel to fit handles, gluing it in position and fitting a pair of rear lights on brackets to the sides, adding a little connecting wire if you wish. The main deck panel has a box added to the underside before it too is placed over the engine, adding a PE shroud to the forward edge to deflect incoming rounds or debris. Another PE bracket for one of the aerials is attached to the right, with another mounted on the side wall slightly lower and further to the side than the other. The aerial bases are each made from two parts, adding 73mm of stretched sprue, wire, or carbon fibre rod to represent the aerials themselves. A pair of dome-topped cylindrical airboxes are built from four parts each and attached to the rear of the sponson on brackets on both sides. We finally get some wheels for the bus, starting with the over-size idler wheels, which are trapped between two halves of the swing-arm, choosing one of two styles depending on where in production the tank fell. The idler wheels have PE rims glued on each side, building two of these assemblies, plus two more drive sprockets for the other end of the track run. The road wheels are mounted in two-wheel bogies, each one made from ten parts, building four in total, handed for each side. The road wheels flex-fit into position between the arms of the bogies, so that they can be mounted on the sides of the vehicle in shallow recesses along with the idlers and drive sprockets, with three return rollers on short axles above the main run. As discussed earlier, the tracks are link-and-length, using long single-part lengths under the wheels, individual links around sharp curves, and shorter lengths where the tracks are relatively straight. The various sections are attached to the sprues at the edges, and each short portion has a unique tab and slot format to ensure that parts can only be put together in the correct manner. There are a few ejector-pin marks on the inside of the longer track link sections, but these are raised and on flat surfaces, so shouldn’t be difficult to remove with a sanding stick or sharp blade, and won’t slow you don’t too much. When the track runs are suitably cured, fenders are added over the open areas, the rear straight sections fitted with a curved end to reduce kicked up mud, while the front section have inner side skirts to prevent mud ingress, which is improved further by gluing a PE web between it and the leading edge of the glacis plate, along with a PE stiffening strap further back. Before we start festooning the vehicle with pioneer tools, a pair of headlamps with clear lenses are placed, one on each fender protected by a PE cage, and both with a short length of wire leading back to hole in the glacis plate. To apply the pioneer tools you have two choices, the first and easiest method is to use fully styrene tools that have their clasps moulded-in. You can fit the same variety of tools to the rear of the vehicle removing the slightly raised location points from the styrene panel, and replacing them with PE clasps around separate tools that have no clasps moulded-in. An axe, pickaxe shaft and head, and a shovel are included, with a scrap diagram showing the finished area with PE clasps. More tools are located on the forward sponsons, with the same choice of moulded-in styrene clasps or separate PE fittings, which again have the raised marks removed first, with a completed diagram showing their locations once in place. The same process can be carried out for the single towing rope that the modeller must provide from either a 157mm length of braided wire or thread, fitting a pair of styrene eyes to the ends, and clamping it in place with PE brackets along the left sponson and fender. Now for the turret, starting with the main 37 mm M6 gun, the gun tube formed by a single part with hollow muzzle that is surrounded by a two-part frame, and has the halves of the breech closed around the rear, adding extra detail on the right, and a breech protector to the left side, followed by three-part pivots that are fixed around the gun without glue, then the coaxial machine gun is attached to the right side of the breech, and its ammo box is located on the left side, fed by a ‘bridge’ of link over the main gun in a guide to the breech of the smaller gun. The sighting tube is installed on the left with an adjustment wheel, pushing the barrel through the mantlet and inserting it into the front of the turret, which has been made from a well-detailed ring, with the faceted turret sides arranged around it after being detailed themselves. The roof has a yoke inserted on its underside in stowed or combat positions, and is glued in place, sliding the mantlet armour over the main and coax guns from in front. The commander’s cupola is similarly faceted, and each side is prepared by fitting a vision block in the slot, creating an asymmetrical hexagonal shape, and deciding whether to pose the turret crew’s vision ports open or closed. The commander's hatch is a flat panel with a lock on the upper edge, and hinges on the lower, which can be fitted open or closed, with more vision ports on the turret sides posed open or closed around the rest of the perimeter. Another .30cal machine gun is trapped between a two-part mount with adjuster handle, and fixed to a short column that is secured to the left side of the turret on curved brackets moulded into the surface. An optional two-part ammo box with a length of link can be fixed to the side of the gun, or if you wish to leave it off, an alternative stub part is supplied in its place. Before putting the turret into position, a few small parts are added under the gun near the hand-winding wheel for the turret. With that, the turret can be dropped into position to complete the model. Markings There are four decal options included on the small sheet, and you’d be right to guess that they are all in some variation of WWII Allied green, with only their individual markings to tell them apart. From the box you can build one of the following: Royal Tank Corps., British Army, Tactical Training School, Egypt, Summer 1941 2nd Armoured Division, Louisiana, USA, Autumn 1941 1st Armoured Division, Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA, Autumn 1941 Unknown Cavalry Regiment, Camp Funston, USA, Spring 1942 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 great to have this much detail present in a newly tooled kit of the diminutive Stuart, or Honey as the Brits called it, and it deserves to become the de facto standard for the scale. If interiors aren’t your thing however, just wait a little while and an exterior-only kit will be along shortly. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. US Army K-51 Radio Truck with K-52 Trailer (35418) 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 many 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. The G7105 variant was a fully-enclosed van-bodied truck that had a full metal bodyshell to protect the contents, and thanks to its twin wheeled rear axle, it was capable of carrying the same load as its open-topped siblings. They were used extensively by the Signal Corps, but are relatively rare in the overall panoply of chassis types for this series. Their low production quantities and participation in WWII trimmed their numbers further, so they are quite rare compared to others of the type, but some still survive of course, and can be seen occasionally at historic vehicle rallies and get-togethers of like-minded enthusiasts. When it is full of radio equipment and personal gear, a trailer expands its carriage capacity to include a generator or similarly heavy piece of kit. The Kit This is a new boxing of a recent G506 tooling from MiniArt, and is one of a large and still expanding range that is to be found in your favourite model shop. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and both load areas included, along with some appealing moulding and detail, particularly in the cab, the equipment and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-six modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope along with a short length of metal chain in a heat-sealed bag, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Detail is excellent, and well up to MiniArt’s usual standards, using PE parts to enhance the model, and finely moulded details of the chassis, running gear, trailer, cab and interior areas. 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 with PE retention bands, 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, assembling the exhaust and its muffler, which slip into the underside of the chassis from below, held in position on PE brackets at the exit. The wheels are built with singles at the front, 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. The three-part radiator housing is layered up, with the rear part having a hole that allows the air from the fan to cool the radiator when stationary, mounting on the front of the chassis and mating to the input and outlet pipes already in position. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The firewall is detailed with dash pots fixed to the forward side, and is set aside until it is needed toward the end of building the bodyshell, which is next. The sides of the van have a separate ribbing insert layered on the insides, to be joined to the floor after the raised platform for the crew seats is installed, fixing two four-part seats on top, and a small forest of levers in the centre of the floor. The floor is inverted to install the sidewalls, putting a short fuel filler tube on the outside that matches up with the extension within that leads to the tank. This boxing has a wall of radio gear assembled on the left side from a host of parts, and a long bench seat along the other with four cushions as a single part, with some impressive fabric sag moulded-in. Above the seats is a double cabinet with fake sliding doors, and PE chain straps at the sides, which is fitted near the rear along with a fire extinguisher on the right side. The rear light clusters are mounted on PE brackets on the rear of the side panels, one per side, and as is often the case with instruction steps, they may be better left of until after main painting. The rear valance plugs into the floor on two pins, joining the two side panels together on the lower edge. The dashboard inserts into the A-pillars that are moulded into the roof, with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box, plus two more on the headliner by the rear-view mirror, which installs into the front of the roof panel. The steering column is joined to the underside of the dash, adding a courtesy light, vent and six curved ribs to the inside of the roof in grooves. The rear doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles, locking mechanism in a fairing with a flat PE surround, plus handles on both sides of the right door, and clear window glass with rounded corners. The crew doors and their interior cards are assembled with handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The windscreen frame has the two clear panes fitted, and 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, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that can be posed open or closed as you prefer. The steering wheel is fixed to the top of the column, the diagonal kick panel is joined with the firewall and fitted out with three foot pedals, and a button that I think is the parking brake. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the growing bodyshell assembly with a choice of aerial bases on the roof in front of the vent cowling that sits on a PE base, while the rear doors are installed within the frame in the open or closed position if you prefer, adding a short stay from wire of your own stock, and two PE eyes on the corners of the roof nearby. Two rear arches are fitted under the floor into recesses, projecting past the line of the bodywork to encompass the twin rear wheels, then with the body righted, a pair of wing mirrors are glued onto the cab in front of the doors at handle-height on long struts with PE brackets at the bottom, posing the doors open or closed again as you wish. The body and chassis are mated, and a choice of cowling panels that fit to the sides of the engine compartment after adding a V-brace under the bonnet, then fitting the front wings that incorporate the section of running boards under the doors that joins up with the rear boards. 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 accurately creating 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, but 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, removing a small curved section from the left of the styrene grille as it is glued in place. The bonnet can be fitted open or closed with a PE stay that is provided in the centre of the panel for the open option. Two additional stowage boxes are built out on the sides of the truck, with separate doors, PE padlocks, and a plate on the top to protect it from damage, one of them having a pioneer tool rack applied to the rear side, which has PE clasps and styrene tools provided to complete the details. It is attached to the right stowage box, and has a wire reel made up and fixed on a pin in a hole behind it, adding a choice of aerials and their tie-downs on the roof, varying depending on which aerial base you installed earlier. A small PE strap stops the roll unreeling during transit, just like the real (reel?) one. K-52 Trailer During WWII, the US used two small two-wheeled trailers for transporting additional equipment and other essential stores around the battlefield, towed by trucks and other vehicles that had at least a ¾ ton payload carried internally. There were two major variants, one for carrying many types of equipment and designated as G-518, the other a specialist water carrier that was given the catalogue designation G-527. The main contractor was Ben-Hur Manufacturing Co., which garnered it the nickname ‘Ben-Hur Trailer’, and its 1-ton load capacity in 3.2m3 volume meant that it saw a lot of action, mostly ignored by war historians and modellers alike, as it was a transport and not as interesting as the things that went bang. Nevertheless, there were over a quarter of a million built, and many of them spent their days dutifully following a Chevrolet truck around the roads and tracks of Europe and the Far East. This is a derivative of a new tooling from MiniArt, launched just after the G-527 Water Buffalo we reviewed recently, this kit has excellent detail as usual with MiniArt, including a full chassis, well-rendered chunky treaded tyres, and even a set of slat extensions to the sides of the structure with moulded-in wooden texture. Construction begins with the bodywork, starting with the two sides that have leaf springs moulded-in, which have the axle retention bolts added to both sides, PE tie-down loops down the sides, and the light cluster that is fitted on a PE bracket next to the rear suspension mount. A choice of external framework to the sides with or without the extension slats is glued to the sides, including small PE brackets at both ends of the slatted sections. The wheels are built from two parts, the larger having the outer hub, tyre carcass and the tread moulded as one, the smaller having the opposite sidewall details moulded-in. They are then put to one side while you build up the rest of the load area. The two sides are mated with the floor part, adding brake actuators underneath and on the side, and bringing in the ends to create the load box, with more PE brackets and foot stirrups to aid entry. While the chassis is upside down, the two-part inner hubs are fitted to the ends of the axles, adding a short length of 0.5mm wire to each one, and another length to a bracket under the floor. The towing frame is made from two converging lengths, which are fixed under the front of the floor on a pair of U-bolts, while a pair of mudguards are mounted on the chassis sides on pegs, inserting the wheels into their wells. The load bed is populated by a large generator that fills most of the area with a storage box at the front, which is first to be mad, including a PE padlock for security. Four jerry cans with PE straps are made with spare fuel to power the generator, starting work on the rear face where the control panel is located, which can be posed open or closed. The open option involves two PE door sections, the largest of which is the door that pivots up and slides into the housing with a styrene handle that is also found on the styrene closed door. Seven PE wingnuts are inserted between dividers for power connectors, which will still be visible when the main door is closed, exposing the wingnuts. This is fitted as one end of the generator’s cowling, adding another to the other end, and gluing PE handles between the columns of louvres on the sides, plus a pair of styrene tie-down loops. The opposite end has a radiator core mounted in the centre, and the top cowling has curved edges, and four more PE grab handles, a lifting eye, and a filler cap on the rolled edge. The tailgate is completed by adding the PE retaining pins on chains at floor level, then the two-part towing eye is mounted atop the front of the A-frame, and a jockey-wheel is built from two halves plus a yoke and pivot, with an alternate all-steel wheel if you prefer. This can be fitted under the hitch in either horizontal position for travel, or vertically for a parked trailer, locking it in place between two halves of the pivot. Another longer length of wire is fitted under the left chassis rail and hitch frame, dangling the end down over the hitch, adding a plug for the electronics, which has a hole moulded-in for the wire. The safety chains are cut to length, and are each trapped between two halves of their bracket, adding the hook on the loose end after drilling a hole in the part first. For protection of the equipment in bad weather, a tarpaulin cover can be made from five sides, adding PE clasps to the opening end, straps to the front, and short lengths of wire to represent the bungees that hold the tarp down around the lower edges. If you elect not to cover the generator with a tilt, the stowage box, generator and four jerry cans are installed on the floor, strapping a spare tyre under the chassis on a PE frame, which is held in place by a small hook at the rear. A third choice involves a slatted extension to the trailer’s sides, adding PE brackets to the sides earlier in the build, and fitting front and rear slatted sections to the front and rear, topping off the vertical sections with curved supports for the tilt when fitted. Markings There are five decal options on the sheet wearing green, including 1one in British service that has black camouflage over the top. From the box you can build one of the following: British Forces Radio Station, 8th Army Sector, Italy, October 1944 1st Armoured Division, 829th Signal Battalion, North Africa, Spring 1943 102nd Infantry Division, ETO, Autumn 1944 US Marine Corps, 4th Marine Division, Pacific 1944-5 Corps Signals Unit, 2nd Polish Corps, Italy 1944-5 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 an interesting variant of the G506 chassis doing the job that many of this type were built for, and with the addition of the trailer it looks substantially different from its siblings, which with the detail that MiniArt pack into all their kits, it’s a very tempting offering. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. D8511 Tractor Mod.1936 German Industrial Tractor (24005) 1:24 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Tractors were a boon to farmers when they were introduced after the reliability of the motor car was proven, as they were especially useful for lugging heavy equipment around the farm, as well as the typical ploughing, sowing, reaping and transporting of crops. They also had power take-off points that could be used to drive other stationary machinery, further expanding their usefulness to that of a portable power-plant. 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 county fairs and historic events, kept in splendid working condition by their loving (some may say obsessed) owners. The Kit This is new edition of MiniArt’s D8500 range of kits but in the larger de facto vehicle scale of 1:24, and you can still expect more to come if their 1:35 release schedule of this series is repeated, which seems to be happening. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are eight sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles of the decal options on the rear pages. Construction begins with the large cast metal chassis that is made up from two halves each end around a cylindrical centre-plate, with lots of parts used to create its distinctive shape. The superstructure above the chassis where the engine and ancillaries are found is roughly rectangular, having various filler caps on the top, radiator panels and louvres on the sides, plus a Lanz Bulldog name-plate on the front. 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, plus a stowage box under the rear left lip. The large cylindrical assembly 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 seat is mounted on a sturdy spring, 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 that have additional nuts applied, plus a sturdy bumper-bar at the rear on diagonal cross-braces. The rear hubs have two additional layers inside for the drum brakes, ready to receive the large back wheels. The front axle has the hubs fitted on pivots, adding the steering arms, anti-roll bars and the linkage to the column, which is installed on the front underframe on a single pivot in preparation for the tyres. The wheels on this tractor have heavy tread to plough through mud, which are built up by layering four parts together to make a twin tyre-sandwich at the rear, and a two-part layer for the smaller front wheels, all with crisp and chunky tread on the rolling surfaces. The tyres have their hub fronts moulded-in, while the rears have an additional rear hub spacer ring added between the wheels and rear axles before both are installed on the axles. Two large exhausts are made up from various odd-shaped parts attaching to the left side of the chassis either side of the bell-housing, with a pair of clear-lensed headlamps on an oversized cross-member on the topside. You have a choice of installing the steering wheel on the column in the cab with a cover over the power take-off point, or cut the column tip away in the cab, gluing the steering wheel on a rod that inserts into the centre of the take-off, with the cover flipped down for access. I understand this was for manually starting the engine, but don’t quote me on that. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, and the suggested paint schemes vary from garish yellow via green to a dull grey, with plenty of options for weathering. From the box you can build one of the following: Deutsche Reichbahn, Germany, 1939-45 Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG, Germany 1939-45 Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), Germany, 1939-45 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 Another variation on a tractor that was once ubiquitous in and around German farms, and this early variant takes it back to basics without sacrificing detail. These kits are also great to show off your weathering skills, or test them out, and if you're a car modeller, they'll be in scale with the rest of your cabinet. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. US T34 Heavy Tank (84513) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd Toward the end of WWII, when Allied tanks were encountering German heavy tanks such as the King Tiger and Jagdtiger, the American military put projects in motion that would be capable of matching them and dealing with German heavy armour (or Soviet for that matter), whilst remaining safe thanks to their own thick frontal and side armour. The designs were designated T29 and T30, both of which were almost identical save for the guns mounted in their turrets, sporting 105mm and 155mm main guns respectively. A further development, possibly inspired by the Nazis using their 88mm anti-aircraft gun in heavy tanks, was to see the high velocity 120mm M1 Anti-Aircraft gun reconfigured into an adapted turret. The gun could fire on aircraft up to 60,000ft, and consequently its armour penetrating power was devastating, far outstripping the other two guns that suffered from lighter-weight shells and with slower muzzle velocity respectively. It took until 1947 for the prototypes to be delivered to the proving ground in the US, and to balance the enormous barrel a sizeable chunk of armour was fitted on the bustle of the turret, possibly 99% redundant, but useful if the crew were caught napping. At a startling sixty-five tons, it was a weighty beast, and the US Army felt that it would be difficult to find a use for it thinking its weight could cause problems with bogging down on softer ground, and crossing bridges, in much the same manner that the Germans experienced with their heavy tanks during WWII. There was also an issue with fumes from the gun entering the turret, which was fixed by using an aspirator, but this came too late, and no production orders were made, the prototypes going into storage, and eventually finding their way into museums. The work wasn’t a total waste however, as a year later a lightened version of the T34 was designated as the T43, and was to enter service later as the M103 Heavy Tank, by which time its weight had ballooned up to the same 65 tons that had doomed the T34, using the same M1 gun, which was re-designated as M58 due to changes that had been made to it in the interim, including higher barrel pressure and quick-change capability. The M103 served with US forces until retired in the mid-70s, by which time Main Battle Tank doctrine had rendered the Heavy Tank a historic dead-end of tank design. The Kit Unsurprisingly, this kit is based upon the 2016 tooling of the US T29 tank that the T34 was based on, in a case of modelling production mirroring history. It has since had new parts added to turn it into a later T29 variant, a T30 and now a T34. The kit arrives in a typical Hobby Boss top-opening box with a slight corrugated surface to the lid, which has a dramatic painting of a T34 in the process of firing its main gun, with the muzzle-flash rebounding from the mantlet and turret. Inside the box is a cardboard divider glued to the tray to keep the large hull and turret parts from moving around the box and causing damage, plus most of the sprues are individually bagged, with additional foam strapping taped around various areas of the sprues and the front of the upper hull to further protect them during shipping and storage. There are ten sprues, two hull parts and the upper turret in grey styrene, eight sprues of track-links in brown styrene, two small frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a tiny decal sheet. The package is completed by the black & white instruction booklet that has a glossy, full-colour painting and markings sheet loosely inserted between the pages. Detail is good, and includes weld-beads, sand-casting and rolled-steel armour textures, plus individual track links and PE grab-handles/tie-downs for the sides of the many stowage boxes on the hull deck. Construction begins with preparing the lower hull for its road wheels by adding bump-stops, swing-arms and other suspension parts to the sides of the hull, including the idler and drive axles, with some wheel stations having additional dampers moulded-in to improve the ride for the crew. Massive final-drive housings are inserted into gaps in the rear bulkhead, along with a pair of hinged armoured panels, first fitting the seven paired idler wheels all along the upper run of each track, then building paired road wheels with a loose washer trapped between them, doing the same with the four-part drive sprockets, all of which can be carefully glued to the axles with the hope that they will remain mobile once the glue has cured, which might work, or might not, depending on how dainty you are with the glue. Each track run consists of 113 links, which are joined together by fitting the figure-eight pivots to the track pins, the outer edge having additional plates to widen the track that spreads ground pressure. A jig is included to assist you with production, and you’ll be pleased to hear that there are no ejector-pin marks on the inner faces of the tracks. Each of the track links has three sprue gates, while the pivots have just one each, all of which are sensibly placed to minimise clean-up, so whilst it will take some time to create the tracks, it shouldn’t drive you crazy in the process. With the lower hull looking good, attention turns to the upper hull where all the detail is. The upper deck is started by building two banks of stowage boxes around the base of the turret, which have separate lids, rails with eyes, and eight PE handles running along the outer sides. These assemblies are installed either side of the turret aperture, adding various small parts, including headlights, side-facing vision slots for the front crew, and a pair of two-part exhausts that mount at the rear of both fenders. A short run of track is bracketed to the glacis opposite the bow machine gun housing, and a few pioneer tool are fitted onto the fenders. On the engine deck, six louvred panels are inserted into holes, fixing a C-shaped exhaust pipe to the backs of the mufflers on the fenders, with an armoured cover protecting the straight central section. More pioneer tools are glued to the fenders, and these are joined by more PE handles along the edges, with cages mounted over the headlamps and the bow gun made from three parts including the barrel, sliding into the armoured shroud moulded into the glacis. The front crew hatches have rotating 360° vision blocks inserted into holes in the surfaces, then they are fitted into the hull, adding a grab-handle next to each one for egress purposes. At the rear, a small section of bulkhead is inserted into the remaining space, adding rear lights and other small parts once installed. The turret of the T34 is as large as some early WWII tanks, and is built from upper and lower halves, with a seam running along the side of the deep bustle, along the swage-line where the vertical side sweeps underneath. A machine gun is flex-fitted in a pintle-mount, adding twin grips, an ammo box made from three parts, and a two-part post into which the mount slides. The mantlet is also prepared from two layers of styrene, adding caps over the pivot pins so the gun can elevate, plus a pair of lifting eyes on the upper surface, making the commander’s cupola with a separate hatch, then fitting this and the mantlet to the turret, which has some very nice texture moulded-in, including weld-beads and casting roughness. The bustle receives an armoured panel to balance the barrel weight, inserting four parts into holes in the lower edge, plus brackets around the bustle sides, a shell-ejection port on the right side, stowage basket on the same side, a pair of aerial bases at the rear of the bustle, and the other two hatches either side of the keel that is moulded into the roof of the turret. The machine gun fits in front of the left hatch, and behind the commander’s cupola, a fairing sweeps around the side of the deck. The last parts for the turret include a choice of two styles of barrel, both of which are made from two halves that are split vertically, inserting your choice into the mantlet with a circular PE washer trapped between them. The turret locks in place on the hull by its bayonet lugs, and you have a choice of finishing the build with the travel lock in the stowed position flat against the engine deck, or vertically, supporting the barrel of the turret, which must be turned to the rear. Markings There is just one option on the decal sheet, and four white decals on the front fenders and the rear bulkhead, denoting T34 and 1949 on opposite sides. You might have already guessed that it’s a green tank, so pat yourself on the back if you did. Hobby Boss decals can be a little scant, but that’s what’s needed for this prototype, and as there is no registration to worry about, they’re perfect for the job in hand. Conclusion The T34, not to be confused with the Soviet T-34, was a monster of a tank, and it’s the first thing that hits you on opening the box. Detail is good, especially the textures moulded into the surface, resulting in a good-looking model that can be a canvas for your weathering techniques. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. German Tank Riders – Ardennes 1944 (35411) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Getting a lift on a tank was a treat for the foot-soldier that occasionally turned sour if their lift came under fire from an enemy tank, especially if the turret starts to rotate and the crew begins using the main gun. Sometimes they’d ride into battle on the back of a tank, using the turret as temporary cover until it came time to dismount, usually off the rear avoiding the exhausts, other times it was a case of sitting somewhere flat on the hull of the tank for a well-earned rest, and saving some boot-tread whilst still getting from A to Battle. During winter periods, especially in the freezing cold of the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge, a seat on the warm engine deck would be prime real-estate, helping to defend against the biting cold that required heavy uniforms and great-coats, of which the Nazi invaders were woefully short. The Set This set arrives in a figure-sized box with a painting of the four figures that are depicted on the front, and annotated portions of the painting with part numbers and colour call-outs added to facilitate construction and painting of the figures. Inside the box are seven sprues in grey styrene, the sprues having wisps of flash here and there, although very little encroaches on the parts themselves. The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues 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 artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. There are three sprues that are devoted completely to a substantial quantity of accessories that include Small Arms, Stahlhem helmets, pistols in and out of holsters, ammo pouches, bags, satchels and map cases, water bottles, ribbed cylindrical gas mask canisters, entrenching tools, and bayonets in and out of scabbards. The weapons range from MP40s, Karabiner Kar 98k rifles, Walther P38, and an MG42 with various magazine options, open or closed bipods, and a length of link that can be carefully heat-formed to shape. The colour call-outs on the rear of the box are given in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus swatches and colour names to assist with choosing your colours. These refer to the blue colour numbers on the paintings above the chart. Conclusion Another realistic set of figures for your late war German AFV projects, with so many accessories you’ll be spoilt for choice. Detail and sculpting is first rate, and what we’ve come to expect from MiniArt. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Street Workers (38081) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd This set depicts a trio of street workers, not to be confused with a similar group of people, often referred to as the oldest profession. These are people whose work is done on the street, and it includes a street-sweeper, a newspaper seller, and a lamp-lighter, from the days when street lamps were gas-powered, a power source that lingered longer into the 20th century around Europe than you’d possibly think. Inside the figure-sized box are five sprues in grey styrene, the longest of which is nipped into two parts at the factory to allow it to fit inside the box, plus a pair of clear sprues, with a glossy sheet of instructions for the accessories that are included with the set. The parts for each figure are found on separate sprues 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 artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The street-sweeper is holding a long-handled Besom broom with a traditional bundled stick head, akin to a witches’ broom, made from two parts. For a good join, a small hole could be drilled in the head of the broom to accept the shaft, cutting it to the desired length. The lamp-lighter has one leg either side of the ladder (not health & safety approved), and has his arms above his head opening or closing the lamp head, while the paper seller is wearing a bibbed skirt and jacket, with her hair flowing over her shoulders in a 30-40s style, and a three-part stack of papers in her arms. The accessory sprues provide parts to create a step ladder for the lamp-lighter to reach the street lamp, which is also included. The ladder is made from the two sides plus a top step, while the lamp is built from a two-part bottom section and a fluted upper with perpendicular cross-rail ‘lollipops’ across the top that were commonly used by lamp-lighters if they were using a straight ladder. The lamp itself is made from two faceted clear parts for the glazing, and a styrene top-cap with ferrule on top, fitting a clear bulb to a hexagonal base that is linked to the post by a four-legged bracket underneath. There are more parts on the sprue, including an ornate suspension bracket for a lamp or a large clock, the parts for the latter also found on the long sprue. There are no clock-face decals as it’s not an official part of the set, but you could try printing your own if you have the skills. Conclusion Another realistic, life-like figure set with plenty of accessories from MiniArt that will be perfect for a diorama setting. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. ’Battle of the Bulge’ Ardennes 1944 (35373) 1:35 Miniart via Creative Models Ltd The Battle of the Bulge was the nickname given to the last-ditch attempt by Hitler, sometimes referred to as the Allies’ best General, to stop the Allied advance toward Germany by driving a wedge through the front and separating the four armies, removing Antwerp from Allied hands, and forcing them to sue for peace. This was clearly what is now known as a ‘hail Mary’ play, and relied heavily on capturing Allied fuel supplies, because the Germans were woefully short of their own stores, and would soon run out if they didn’t capture substantial new supplies. It also relied on bad weather keeping the Allied air elements grounded for the crucial period of the operation, as the Luftwaffe was a spent force by this time of the war, and any daylight activity quickly attracted US and British fighters equipped with cannons and bombs, largely unopposed by the Luftwaffe. The operation began on the 16th December 1944 when the weather was bitterly cold, heavy snow and overcast conditions, and Nazi progress was initially good, capturing many Allied units off-guard, resulting in substantial casualties and a large quantity prisoners. Apart from one hideous incident at Malmedy where Kampfgruppe Peiper massacred dozens of US prisoners, the majority captured were thankfully treated humanely by their captors. After the initial advances, the German’s progress stagnated, and they began to run out of fuel, which in concert with the improvement in the weather, permitted the Allied aircraft to take on the vulnerable German armoured columns and support lines, with the Allies back to their original positions by February of 1945, and the Germans in disarray. The Figures This set contains five figures, two German soldiers walking alongside three US prisoners, who are unsurprisingly not looking happy about their plight. The kit arrives in a figure-sized box, and inside are five sprues of grey styrene, plus a small glossy piece of paper with a sprue diagram for the figure sprues. All the figures are in a walking pose, one German nursing a set of binoculars against his chest, while the other holds his rifle across his smocked chest, relaxed but alert. The three Americans are wearing various battle-dress combinations, two wearing blouson jackets with their hands up, while the man in the greatcoat has his hands mid-chest, probably too cold to wave his hands in the air. The American with his hands clasped behind his head isn’t wearing a helmet, and his hair is clearly non-regulation, so he had probably been on the front for a while. The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprues that are separated by country 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 artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The three accessory sprues include helmets, some of the US M1s either covered with netting or cloth cover, and two of the German helmets also have cloth covers. The rest of the equipment includes the usual personal pouches, bags and small arms, although the Americans won’t be using any of those and their webbing will have been confiscated at time of capture, however the Germans will have a full complement appropriate to their unit and task. The rear of the box has the artwork separated with blue colour arrows, while the kit parts are in black text, with the officer having a choice of cap or helmet. A small photo insert shows the equipment on the back of the smock wearing soldier, as those items can’t be seen in the painting. A small swatch of the smock’s camouflage is given on the back of the box, with the colour chart in the bottom right corner, giving paint codes for Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as small colour swatches and names to assist you with choosing your paints. Conclusion A great figure set that would look good in a diorama, their chaperones pushing the prisoners back through the front lines while the panzers and other forces are heading forward to press the attack. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter (LS-002) 1:48 MENG via Creative Models Ltd The J-20 is China’s first fifth generation fighter, making heavy use of stealth technologies to give it an advantage during operation in a contested air-space, starting the project in the 2000s as a successor to a previous project earlier in the decade. Chengdu aviation developed the J-20 in response to the requirement, and it has been a work in progress, even after the initial ground-handling and flight testing that occurred in 2010, using Russian built engines that were fitted as a temporary measure whilst they worked out the issues with their own indigenous engines. The new high-tech Chinese engines were expected to provide a significant boost in performance, adding stealth characteristics to the exhausts, and the possibility of vectored thrust to improve manoeuvrability. A home-grown engine designated WS-10 was chosen initially to remove their reliance on Russian engines, with the more advanced WS-15 expected to be fitted to new-build airframes when development was complete, then retro-fitted to earlier airframes as the opportunity arose. Several prototypes were seen performing flight tests throughout the next decade, with limited numbers of the type entering service toward the end of the decade, with improvements still coming on stream throughout this period. After the initial low-rate production batch, full production started, and it soon gained momentum, leading to the replacement of many older 4th generation fighters in service, particularly around China’s borders, where they would expect to intercept intruders. Some airframes have been used as adversary trainers, where they take the part of F-22s or F-35s in combat, to allow both “sides” to learn how to cope with adversaries flying different generations of fighters. The design of the jet, known by NATO code Fagin was established and fixed for full production, adding two other variants to the development roster, one of which represents the first two-seat stealth fighter in service in the world, with a prototype built and observed in 2022 under the designation J-20S. The two-seater isn’t simply a trainer, but will also be used as a combat airframe where the workload is shared between the two crew, using sensor fusion, carrying out electronic warfare duties, or controlling UAVs or drones as part of their weapon systems as a force-multiplier. The J-20B is an improved variant of the single-seat type that has improved stealth characteristics, and is thought to use the final WS-15 engine, which increases the power available for super cruise substantially, and this too was also first spotted in 2022, demonstrating the rapidity at which the type is developing. The ongoing improvements to the J-20 are rapidly bringing it up to a similar capability to the American F-22, despite concerns that a canard-equipped fighter would have compromised stealth capabilities, which seems not to have been an issue as far as the Chinese engineers and designers were concerned. The main weapons bay is found in the belly, where the larger weapons are carried, with serrated doors and margins of the bay to scatter radar returns. The smaller weapons bays in the sides of the fuselage behind the intakes are similarly stealthy, but the weapons can be deployed and the bays closed again to maintain stealth, allowing the missiles to be launched fractionally faster without having to open doors and bring out the missiles before launch. It is thought that these bays are in the process of being redesigned to accommodate 6 missiles using a new ejection rack, and research is underway to reduce the diameter of future missiles to assist with packing as many as possible into the bays without having to use the four underwing hard-points that will spoil its stealthy profile. The Kit This is a new tooling from MENG that was released in the last days of 2023, taking some time to reach Europe, and it is the most recent of only a few kits of this type in 1:48, so should more closely represent an in-service airframe. It does appear to have the Diverterless Supersonic Inlet (DSI) bulges that were more recently added to the design, one of the engineering innovations that both improves the aircraft’s stealth, and reduces its weight by offloading additional complexity of the intakes, hiding the rotating engine faces by using a serpentine trunk within the fuselage. The kit arrives in a substantial top-opening box with a painting of a J-20 launching missiles from its open main bay, and inside the box there are seven sprues and three fuselage parts in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a clear red sprue, a strip of four polycaps, a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret, decal sheet, and the instruction booklet, printed in colour on glossy paper, and stapled into a portrait sub-A4 format. For a change, construction begins with detailing the upper fuselage part, adding two polycaps in sockets for the canards on the fuselage sides, fitting two clear sensor windows forward and aft of the cockpit opening, and applying the shallow refuelling probe bay on the starboard edge of the nose chine. Modern cockpits are relatively simple by comparison to earlier fighter jets, with many of the knobs and switches moved to a large Multi-Function Display (MFD) that takes up most of the instrument panel. The cockpit tub is fitted with rudder pedals, plus side console mounted throttle and stick, using the ‘Hands on Throttle and Stick’ (HOTAS) schema that is common to modern fighters. Once painted, the tub is inserted into position, locating on four turrets within the upper fuselage, applying plenty of glue for a strong bond. At the rear of the upper fuselage, the serrated cowlings of the twin engines are fitted on a pair of turrets with a healthy overlap for strength, and two more polycaps are inserted in cups that are glued under the pivot-points of the twin tail fins, one each side of the engines. The intakes are made up from two halves each, adding a circular insert depicting the engine front to the aft end, and joining them together on two pins and sockets that hold them both at the correct angle. After painting the trunk interiors a pale greyish-blue, the completed assembly is mated to the lower nose part, fitting the nose gear bay, a detailed insert for the forward sensor, which is glazed over with a faceted clear part, and has a clear red window fitted on either side. To be able to close the fuselage, the three weapons bays must be prepared, starting with the main bay, the largest of the three. This is made from a large roof with moulded-in end walls, adding the side walls and a central divider, painting it white before building the missiles, which are almost complete save for two fins at the rear and a conduit down one side of the missile body, after which they are mounted on a slender pylon and four of them can be installed within the bay. The completed main bay is then clipped into the lower fuselage, locating on three turrets, then turning to the intake-mounted weapons bays. The main parts of these are moulded in a C-profile, fitting end walls to each of them, and installing those in the sides of the intakes, along with the main gear bays that are made from three parts each, and all bays painted white. A clear red window is inserted in a cut-out in the port intake side, reducing the number of sub-assemblies before fuselage closure to two. Those two are identically built exhausts, which can be made with the petals constricted or opened, by using different sets of petal parts around the central circular former. Each petal section has a detail insert on the interior face, then six sections are arranged into a cylinder around each former, the aft section differing in shape to depict your chosen exhaust shape. The exhaust trunk is made from two half cylinders that are closed around the afterburner ring, and has a representation of the rear of the engine closing the forward end, joining the petal assembly to the opposite end of the trunk, and painting it accordingly with shades of burnt metal. The lower fuselage receives the two exhausts in the rear nacelles, while the nose and intake trunking assembly is installed in the front of the part, extending the lower fuselage to full-length. The upper fuselage is then glued over the lower, and it’s worth noting that the two fuselage halves have stiffening ribs criss-crossing them to add strength to the assembly, and much of the blended wing structure is moulded into the fuselage halves, as is often the case with modern stealthy aircraft models. You have a choice of portraying the weapons bays open or closed, showing off the unique talents of these short-range weapons bays that allows them to close the doors with the weapons extended for use. The simplest option is to nip the overflow pips from the doors and fit them in the closed position, ready to move on to the next step. To extend the missiles first requires the building of one or two missiles, which have two separate fins, a nose part, and long pylon, painting and stencilling them before installing them. The bay has a flat-faced insert glued into the bay, which has three curved supports for the missile so that it is suspended outside the bay and slightly below so that the door can still close. The closed doors are each one part with three small slots in the bottom of the doors to cater for the supports, while leaving the doors open adds another part with internal ribbing structure, plus hinges that suspend it from the upper edge of the bay. This is repeated on the opposite side, with a choice of three options per side, which you can mix and match at your whim. The main bay doors must be open to deploy missiles, so there are two choices, the simplest being the closed doors, which is depicted by a single part with serrated edges and hinge lines engraved to give the bay a realistic look. To pose the doors open, three door sections are fitted together with an actuator ram at either end, mounting on the outer edges of the bay, with a scrap diagram showing how they should look from ahead. The landing gear is safely tucked away inside the jet during flight, so only their doors need to give low-observability a thought, and as such their structure is very familiar. The tyres are moulded as two halves, as are the hubs, joining together to make each main gear wheel, which fits to the lower end of the sturdy struts, adding separate oleo-scissor links and a lightened retraction jack that is formed from three parts, with another small strut near to the top of the leg. The two legs are handed, and are fitted inside each bay, locating firmly in the bay for strength. The nose gear leg has two tyre halves that close around a single hub part, flexed into position between the two yoke legs. The strut is adorned with separate scissor-links, twin landing lights with clear lenses, and the retraction jack plus a captive bay door, for which there is a separate scrap diagram to assist with detail painting the part. This too is mounted securely in the bay, with a side-opening bay door with three hinges attaching it to the starboard side. While the model is upside-down, the two canards are push-fitted on the intake sides, two strakes are glued to the sponsons on either side of the exhausts, adding leading-edge slats that can be deployed or retracted by using different parts. A four-lensed sensor is fitted on the belly with a clear lens inserted from behind, and a tubular assembly is located next to it, which appears to be a Luneberg Lens, which is the mechanism by which any stealthed aircraft can be tracked during peacetime. It is understood that the latest airframes have a retractable version of this lens, so they can transition to a war footing without landing. At the trailing edge of the wings, two flap sections with stealthy actuator fairings moulded separately are fitted, selecting different parts for the flaps down option. The final flying surfaces are the all-moving fins, which have a fixed portion glued to the fuselage, through which the pin on the fin projects, securing it in the polycap fitted at the beginning of the build. This should allow them to be removed for easy painting and decaling, and later offset if you feel the urge. Whilst most of the cockpit was built very early in the build, it is missing some key components, one of which is the ejection seat. This is made from two halves of the chassis, adding three seat cushions and a flip-up pair of arm rests, with a detail insert under the base cushion to depict the pull handle. A flat cover is applied to the back of the seat, with scrap diagrams and colour call-outs helping with accurate painting of the assembly. You then have a choice of using the included pilot to crew your model, or fit the supplied PE seatbelts to the empty seat, using the scrap diagrams to assist you with shaping them before installation. The pilot figure has separate arms, a two-part helmeted head, and an oxygen hose, with another detailed painting guide with two views to the side, colour call-outs given in MENG colour and Gunze Acrysion codes. The pilot’s instrument panel is next, applying decals to the panel’s large screens and detail-painting the various buttons moulded into the part. The coaming is glued to the top of the panel, adding the HUD from two clear parts, one inserted into a styrene frame, painting the front pane a transparent green before installing the completed assembly in the front of the cockpit, remembering to detail paint the instrument cluster in the coaming edge. A pair of angle-of-attack probes are fitted to the sides of the nose at the same time, then you have another choice to make. Create the canopy from a simplified set of parts, or go for more detail that includes PE parts. The simple canopy has the det-cord to shatter the canopy before ejection moulded-in along with a couple of interior frames, which are recessed within the part, and can be painted with white or grey acrylic or other water-based paint, wiping the excess away before it has chance to dry, leaving the paint in the recesses to represent the cords. Both options use the same lower frame, which is prepared by fitting two side frames, a small triangular support at the rear, and demisting tubing at the windscreen end. If you are using the PE parts, there is a separate blank canopy, and it is suggested that you bend the PE det-cord and heater hoses before gluing them to the lower frame, fitting the canopy in place over it once they are painted. The simplified canopy with the cord moulded-in is similarly glued in place over the lower frame without the PE parts if you don’t fancy your chances wrangling them. Either completed canopy can be fitted to the cockpit in the open or closed position by selecting the appropriate opener strut, adding a two-pronged hinge part to the rear of the open option that slots into the front of the spine. The choices aren’t quite finished yet, as you can close the refuelling probe bay by fitting the door over the area, but if you wish to deploy the probe, it has a tapering ladder support and a different door part, inserting the rear of the probe into the bay and setting the correct angle courtesy of the support. It has a bright red section near the business end of the probe, which is best painted before installation. Speaking of ladders, which we kind-of were, there is a crew ladder included on the sprues, made from just two parts, one of which is well protected by a deep extension to the runner next to it, protecting the rungs moulded into that half of the assembly. This is latched over the lip of the cockpit on the port side, and you can leave it loose or glue it in place as you see fit. Markings There is just one scheme given on the rear pages of the instruction booklet, but a full set of tail-codes are included, so you can build any airframe in the low-viz grey cloud camouflage shown below: Decals are printed in China with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. It includes many stripes around the weapon and gear bays, which are supplied as sensibly designed sections that should remove as much frustration as possible whilst applying them. Slime lights and various sensor dielectric panels are also included on the sheet, and on an addendum sheet (not pictured) that is barely the size of a postage stamp, a single “bunny-ears” decal numbered 25 is included, so be careful not to lose it. Conclusion This is a large aircraft, around the same size as the immense Mig-31, and MENG have done a good job of representing the detail. Most modellers could build it straight from the box thanks to what’s included, although some aftermarket is bound to come out soon. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. U-2R ‘Dragon Lady’ Senior Span (81740) 1:48 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd Back in the 1950s, extreme high-altitude anti-aircraft missiles weren’t yet available, and aircraft could over-fly foreign nations with a degree of impunity, as long as they could stay high enough to keep out of range of enemy fighters and less capable missile batteries. Lockheed’s Skunk Works were tasked with creating a new aircraft on reasonably short notice that could fly higher than any previous aircraft or missile, virtually on the edge of space, to accomplish the task of gathering intelligence on America’s Cold War enemies, predominantly over-flying the Soviet Union. They took the fuselage of the new F-104 Starfighter that was then in development, adding massively extended wings more suitable to a glider, and shortening the fuselage, leaving sufficient space to carry high-definition optics and/or electronic intelligence gathering equipment. Developed in secret using black project money from the CIA, the airframes were developed in close proximity to the engineering staff, embedding them in the factory to quickly resolve any issues that came up, which resulted in the initial order coming in on time and under budget. New high-altitude fuel had to be developed, and the custom optics were designed specifically for use in the aircraft, which garnered the designation U-2, the U standing for Utility, to confuse anyone hearing about it, thus delaying its discovery a little longer. Once flights over the USSR had begun, it was discovered that the Soviets were regularly tracking the aircraft, which led to a project to reduce the type’s radar return, which was initially unsuccessful, but later was revisited by covering the skin in a Radar Absorbent Material (RAM) that was a matt black colour on application. There have been many upgrades and alterations to the type since it was initially fielded, leading to an aircraft that looks somewhat like the original, but is hugely different in terms of capabilities, especially when it comes to intelligence gathering. They still jettison their wing-mounted stabiliser legs on take-off however, and are stalked on landing by a muscle car to improve the pilot’s situational awareness from his cramped cockpit, which is worsened by the pilots having to wear a space suit due to the altitudes involved that would have a fatal effect on anyone flying whilst wearing a standard flight suit. The largest change other than building two-seat airframes for complex tasks and training of the elite pilots was the U-2R in 1967, which increased the size of the airframe by around 30% and introduced the wing ‘Superpod canoes’ that could be filled with intelligence gathering equipment and gave the aircraft a greater range by the enlargement of the fuel tanks. Despite the age of the basic premise and the march of technology, the U-2 has persisted attempts to retire it, even surviving the introduction of the un-manned Global Hawk, which is capable of many of the same tasks with extended loiter times due to the pilots being ground-based. NASA use a few U-2s, redesignated as ER-2s, which are used for high-altitude civilian research, painted white with the blue NASA cheatline as no-one is likely to want to shoot them down. The Kit This is a new tooling from Hobby Boss that was released late in 2023 and has only recently arrived this far from China, with another boxing depicting the U-2S expected soon(ish). The kit arrives in a top-opening box with a painting of the aircraft flying high, which is what it does best, with the stars visible in an inky black sky. Inside the box are seven sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet, decal sheet, instruction booklet, plus a colour profile sheet in A4, printed on both sides. Detail is excellent throughout, and incorporates some intelligent use of slide-moulding, particularly to create double-wall, single part intake trunks with detail on the interior and exterior. There are also a ton of aerials, antennae, a dorsal pod, and optional flat-spotted forward areas to the Superpod canoes under the wings. There is also plenty of detail in the cockpit, gear bays, and even a pair of detachable wing support wheels on their banana-shaped struts, plus air-brakes that can be fitted in the deployed position with a suitably well-detailed bay behind each of them. Construction begins with the two long fuselage halves, drilling out several holes in the top and bottom, and inserting the air-brake bay parts toward the aft end of the parts. Attention then turns to the cockpit, starting with the ejection seat, which is made from seven styrene parts plus four-point PE belts, which is installed in the detailed cockpit tub along with a two-part control yoke, fitting a bulkhead to the rear, and the instrument panel in front of the pilot, with a decal to depict the dials. Two side wall inserts are then fixed to the top of the consoles to finish the tub, moving on to the rear gear bay, building it from individual wall and roof parts, locating the gear strut between the side walls, and adding small diameter wide tyres to each end of the cross-axles. The exhaust is a simple tube made from two halves, and it is capped by a representation of the rear face of the engine after painting everything a suitable shade of burned metal. The front gear bay is moulded in excellent detail, showing the shape of the merging intake trunks within, to which the front strut and its retraction jacks are fitted, adding another pair of larger wheels to the stub-axle ends, painting both bays a grubby white. The merging intake trunks are made in two stages that are joined together to create a Y-shape, which is blocked at the rear by a part that represents the front of the engine, gluing it to the roof of the front gear bay, then fitting the cockpit, both wheel bays and the exhaust between the two fuselage halves and gluing them together. A forest of antennas is dotted around the underside, adding sideways opening front gear bay doors, a tail-bumper, and the actuators for the air-brakes into the bays near the rear. Yet more antennae are fitted along the belly, a sensor dome is mounted in front of the front gear bay, and the rear bay doors along with the air-brake panels are installed, flipping the model over onto its wheels to fit the instrument coaming to the cockpit, plus another antenna and light to the spine. The canopy is moulded in two parts, fitting a small exterior rear-view mirror on the port side of the windscreen, and PE interior rear-view mirrors to the canopy, gluing both into position, the canopy hinging to the port side if you plan to pose it open. The two intakes are an impressive piece of slide-moulding, having inner and outer surfaces provided as one part, with a hollow interior that reduces the likelihood of sink marks, whilst providing plenty of detail, each one gluing into the openings behind the cockpit. There is a slight seam around the intake lips that is easily removed, but the detail is well worth those few seconds of effort. The dorsal pod is made from two halves with a small raised blister on the pylon added to both sides, fixing it to the spine over the wing roots on pins, while the tail fin is built from two halves plus a single part for the rudder, which has a corrugated surface that is a little too deeply defined. Check your references and either fill the depressions, or sand back the raised portions as you see fit, although several coats of primer and some light sanding of the high spots might be better to retain the original thickness of the part. This also applies to the ailerons and other flying surfaces, so you might as well do them all at once, unless you’re upset by this minor issue. Each wing is made from top and bottom half, adding the majority of the Superpod body to the underside, with the top half of the tail cone a separate part, and the forward section that uses either two halves to create a cylindrical section with tapering nose cone, or by using different parts to create the nose cones with a flat-spot on the outer face, both styles having an optional L-shaped antenna installed on the top. The flying surfaces along the trailing edge are all separate, and are glued to the rear of the wing, with the possibility of deflecting them if you wish. Note that the black RAM isn’t painted under the extended flaps, so take care to check your references to help you paint this area correctly. A spoiler is also fixed to the upper wing around mid-span, near the jettisonable stabilising gear legs that are made from curved struts with a wheel glued to each side of the bottom end. These locate in a socket under the trailing edge of the wings, and of course the same process is carried out in mirror-image for the other wing. The wings are glued to the fuselage sides on three separate slots, and here it will become obvious that they have been moulded with a slight sag, which is correct for wings of this aircraft, so don’t be tempted to correct this. The two-part elevator fins have separate flying surfaces, and these fit to the fairing under the fin using a relatively small tab and slot, taking care to achieve the correct dihedral by checking your references. There are several nose modules used in U-2 missions, and this boxing includes a simple more aerodynamic nose that is made from two halves, plus a single cone tip, with two PE probes fitted to small depressions in the rear edge of the nose. It is glued in place to complete the build phase of the model. Markings Any U-2 after the early days is painted in black RAM, with very few markings, unless it’s one of the civilian airframes. There are three options included on the sheet, predominantly stencilled in red, and most of the decals are applied to the tail fin. From the box you can build one of the following: Hobby Boss decals and the decaling instructions can be a weak point of their products at times, and they are generally printed anonymously in China. This sheet is printed in this manner, but is suitable for purpose, particularly as the majority of decals are printed in red. Registration where it occurs is good, as is colour density and sharpness, with a clear backed decal depicting the dials and switch-gear for the instrument panel. Conclusion The moulding and detail included in the kit is excellent, and other than the excessive corrugated texture on some of the control surfaces, there is little immediately visible to grouch about, although some are still trying. Other than making sure you have enough space in your cabinet to accommodate the enormous wingspan of the Dragon Lady, there’s no reason not to have one. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Bergepanzer BPz3A1 Buffalo ARV (84565) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Büffel as it is known as in its native Germany, is an Armoured Recovery Vehicle based upon the chassis and lower hull of the well-liked Leopard 2E Main Battle Tank, which itself is a variant of the 2A6. Most of the lower hull is identical or similar to its progenitor, but the turret is missing, replaced by a casemate and crane, a winch and a bulldozer blade that allows it to retrieve damaged or immobilised tanks from the battlefield even if the fighting is still ongoing thanks to its armour. It is also equipped with an MG3 machine gun for self-defence purposes, a set of smoke grenade launchers to hide itself and its charge from those that wish it harm. It is powered by a large 12-cylinder diesel engine from MTU Friedrichshafen, a division of Rolls-Royce, that outputs almost 1,500bhp that allows it to travel at good speed across all sorts of terrain, but also to pull its immobilised compatriots, whether they were retrieving Leopards or PzH2000 SPGs, or anything up to a similar tonnage. The BPz3 was a joint project between Rheinmetall Landsysteme of Germany who produced an initial 75 for the Bundeswehr and a further 25 for the Netherlands, where its name lost its umlaut over the U in translation. It was also sold to other countries including Canada where it is known as the L2-ARV, and Spain where it is known as the Leopard 2ER Búfalo, with Switzerland a surprisingly large 25 export, and Sweden taking a number on charge after adapting them to their specific needs to improve armour and customise their electronic systems. For service in Afghanistan, the German vehicles and some Canadian machines were upgraded with new high quality vision systems by Karl Zeiss for the drivers that would give them 24/7 visibility, no matter what the conditions. The crane is electrically driven, and can operate independent of the power-pack, so even the unusual sight of a Buffalo replacing its own broken engine isn’t outside the bounds of possibility, presuming they have enough electrical charge in the vehicle. At time of writing, the type is in the middle of another extensive upgrade programme to give it more capability on the interconnected battlefield. The Bpz3A1 is up-armoured to work under enemy fire, and included the addition of mine protection equipment, and slat armour that is intended to reduce the effectiveness of shaped charge weapons in key areas. The MG has been changed to a remote mount, and the driver’s vision is enhanced by a thermal imager and low-light TV system that are combined as a single picture in front of the driver, improving their situational awareness. The Kit This is a partial retool of a retool of the 2015 release from Hobby Boss, adding yet more new parts to depict the differences between the early Buffalo and the improved variant that is depicted here. The kit arrives in a typically sturdy top-opening box with a painting of a Buffalo at work on another tank, and inside are fourteen sprues and two hull halves in sand-coloured styrene, a small sprue in black, a clear sprue, two trees of poly-caps, a length of braided wire, two Photo-Etch (PE) brass sheets of parts, two flexible black lengths of track, decal sheet and black and white instruction booklet that has the colour painting guide sheet inserted between the centre pages. Detail is good throughout, as we’ve come to expect from Hobby Boss’s armour models for the most part, although there is some thought that the hull is around 4mm narrower than it should be, but that’s a question for your micrometre, not mine. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has the suspension and return roller details added after cutting small sections from some suspension units, while the road wheels are prepared, consisting of fourteen pairs of main wheels, two drive sprockets and two idler wheels, all of which have a poly-cap sandwiched between the two wheels. Once the swingarms with stub-axles plus return rollers are glued in place, the road wheels can be pushed into place for removal during painting if required, thanks to the friction-fit of the flexible polythene sleeves. Quickly, the bulldozer blade is built from large, bulky parts, adding supports and pivots, plus an oversized towing eye at the front of the blade. It is joined to the hull by a pair of large pins that you should leave unglued if you wish to move or remove it later. The track runs are of the “rubber-band” style, but have good detail throughout, and you are advised that they will accept standard plastic glue and paints during construction, however a test with Tamiya Extra Thin glue reveals that this isn’t the case, so test your preferred glue on the short length of sprue at one end of the tracks before proceeding. There is an overlap of two links per run, and once the glue is dry they are slipped over the running gear so that attention can turn to the highly detailed crew interior that is included. The interior is begun by taking a floor panel with a lip around most of the edge, and detailing it with three crew stations, their equipment and comfortable-looking seats. The completed lower half (there is more to come) is glued into the bottom of the hull along with an insert against the lower glacis plate, and at the same time the rear bulkhead with towing eyes and shackles are put in place along with the convoy-light shield that has a PE lighting bracket over it. The next stage of the interior begins with the upper hull half, which first receives an insert over the front that has two holes in it, creating the roof of the casemate in which the crew sit, opening a few small slots in the front of the hull, and drilling out six holes in the short section of roof that is moulded into the upper hull part. A very detailed insert is made up into a four-sided assembly with a lot of equipment placed inside over the next five steps, including tools, some PE parts and stencil decals. That is glued into the casemate and backed up with a box and some brackets, then more equipment and wall panels are dotted around the left side of the casemate after being detailed in rather busy steps around the main diagrams. Similarly, the right side is built around a long insert with five steps that increase the level of detail substantially, and includes PE and styrene parts as well as some more decals for stencils and dials. The driver’s console with D-shaped steering wheel is inserted into the glacis plate, then the assembly is turned over to detail the exterior, first cutting right-angled notches in three of the six triangular supports at the rear of the casemate, using the accompanying diagrams to measure them before cutting. The upper hull’s rear is boxed in with a wide bulkhead that includes rear mudguards, adding another small box on the rear deck, removing a few tiny raised areas and filling depressions nearby. Front mud guards, a front hatch and two side crew hatches are installed with handles, adding an armoured cover over the new rear view vision block. The two hull halves are joined, and a gaggle of small parts are scattered around the engine deck and the casemate, then the side doors are shown being installed again – oops! This time the rear door is fitted with styrene and PE parts inside, while in the front of the engine deck, two PE strips are bent around a pair of raised cylinders on the deck surface. The driver’s almond-shaped hatch is given clear vision blocks before it is inserted into the hole, and at the rear bulkhead several detail parts are fitted. A frame is fitted over the two circular vents, adding three PE mesh sections to the rear, and fitting a foldable panel to the left side, plus more detail parts on the visible part of the deck. The next few steps are incredibly busy due to the upgrading of the type requiring many more parts, creating an L-shaped box that is covered in PE mesh before it is located on the rear right corner of the deck. The top hatch with remote MG3 machine gun station is first fitted with six vision blocks in the toroidal lip, making the hatch from three layers for installation along with another vision block, then adding two bracket-like armoured covers over the top, and fixing the five-part gun and its mount onto the rear edge of the cupola. This is mounted in the socket in the roof, then a huge stowage box is built from styrene parts and PE mesh, installing it on the rear deck over the mesh cover, and fixing smoke discharger packs around the left rear corner and on the back edge of the deck. A lifting brace is detailed with eyes and a large shackle at the top of its sloped upper edge, connecting it to the right side of the engine deck via a pair of pins that mate with supports at each end. Two spare wheels are made and mounted on bobbin-like fittings, attaching it to a shallow tray with brackets around the edge, inverting it and fitting a four-part sled over it and fixing it to the dwindling open area in the centre of the engine deck. A stack of stowage boxes that bear a resemblance to coolers are made with separate lids, mounting two of them on the left side of the engine deck, adding two appliqué armour panels over the glacis above the dozer blade. The main crane is built around a single three-sided jib, the hydraulic lift cylinder is mounted at one end within the three sided part, then closed over by fitting the fourth panel, with a V-shaped cut-out to allow the movement of it and its ram, which is attached to a two-part base and ram with the turntable beneath it, mating them by inserting the ram into the cylinder and positioning the pivot-points at the bottom of the jib with those on the base so that pins can be inserted without glue. Even the crane doesn’t escape the application of pioneer tools, with several items on one side and slat armour at the aft end on the other, plus more details and of course the block and tackle that performs the heavy lifting. The pulleys are assembled with the supplied wire linking them, so some care will be needed, gluing the outer parts and the lifting hook in position, then locating the top pulley into the end of the jib, securing it with a pin from each side, again without glue. Another two towing rods are built in a V-shape with eyes glued to the ends and located on the rear bulkhead by a pair of clamps. The side skirts of the original vehicle have been replaced by new boxy assemblies that are fitted over the forward wheel stations, and have narrow slat armour panels at the bottom, spaced away from the skirts by triangular brackets, using two or three depending on the length of the section. The left skirts have a sloped top-section, while the right are box-shaped, but have the same slat sections on the lower sides. The next two pages are again incredibly busy, adding dozens of additional slat armour panels above the skirts, around the deck and casemate roof, and behind the built-out skirts toward the rear. Additional smoke grenade launchers are mounted on stations in the front corners of the glacis, adding more equipment and towing eyes to the rear of the vehicle, and a pair of antennae on the casemate, one with a flasher unit at the top that should be painted clear orange and used only when the vehicle isn’t on active duty. The quantity of small parts requires concentration and careful study of the instruction steps, as they aren’t always totally obvious, and could easily be missed by anyone skimming the steps. Markings There are two options available from the sheet, one wearing a two-tone green/sand camouflage, the other in all over sand. There are further decals on the main jib that can be found on the instruction booklet, which you will want to refer to during painting. From the sheet you can build one of the following: As usual with Hobby Boss, there’s no information on the vehicle’s location, date or user, so a bit of Googling will be in order if you’d like to know a little more about your model. The decals are well-printed, in good register and sharpness, and are suitable to the task in hand. The instrument decals for the interior equipment with dials has a grey background, although much of the interior is painted white or NATO green. Here, Google is your friend. Conclusion It’s a well-detailed model of a low-profile, but extremely important vehicle in the Bundeswehr and other operators, with a lot of attention paid to the interior, as well as a huge level of detail to the exterior. You don’t get the engine, but that’s not a big deal, and could be a relief, given the already high part count. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Refugees Musician Family (38084) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII there were millions of displaced populations created by the advances of the Nazis across Europe, escaping from combat or persecution, resulting in huge streams of humanity making their way to a perceived safer part of their own or a neighbouring country. People took only what they could carry, unless they were lucky enough to possess a motor car or some kind of cart, whether hand-pulled or horse-drawn. People would take their most important belongings, loading up with their most valuable goods, whether monetarily or otherwise, often comprising items that might be of use in their profession or as currency to trade when they arrived at their destination. The Kit This figure set supplies two figures, plus their possessions that they are carrying and pushing in a pram, although they don’t appear to have a baby with them, so perhaps they picked it up earlier in their journey or they had one in storage at home. The set arrives in an end-opening figure-sized box, and inside are six sprues in grey styrene, plus a sheet of paper that has several pieces of art printed on it to use with the picture frames that are included on the sprues. The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues 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 artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model. The accessories are contained on four sprues, two of which are quite large, and contain several instruments that can be carried by the figures in line with the theme of this boxing. Instructions for the perambulator are found on the back of the box along with the painting guide for the figures, with additional diagrams showing the building of the three cases that are also found on the sprues. The instruments sprue includes the following: Accordion – open (Piano Accordion) Accordion – in case (Piano Accordion) Harmonic – closed (Button Accordion) Harmonic – open (Button Accordion) Marching bass drum with sticks Trumpet Guitar Violin in open case Violin & bow with closed case Mandolin Banjo There are no instructions included for the instruments, which would have been useful, but it wasn’t a stretch to guess that this sprue had been seen before, even with my memory, and it turns out we have reviewed the set when it was first released separately in 2020, which you can find here along with the instructions, just in case you pick this set up and can’t quite figure out how to put some parts together. The smallest sprue has three picture frames moulded into it, with six paintings supplied on the accompanying piece of glossy colour-printed paper, including some very famous paintings that are most likely reproductions, given their provenance. You simply cut them from the backing paper and fix them in place on the narrow rim around the inside of the frame in much the same manner as a real picture frame. If you want to add glass to the frame, some acetate sheet would be much easier to cut to shape than trying to adjust the size and shape of a glass slide cover that is often used to depict broken glass in dioramas. Conclusion The figures are expertly sculpted, and they have a care-worn look to them that would be typical of anyone that has been displaced by war, indicating their profession by their luggage, and adding the possibility of a bereavement in the near past by the presence of the pram. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Russian MiG-29K Fulcrum D (81786) 1:48 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd The Mikoyan MiG-29, known in the West by its NATO reporting name 'Fulcrum' is an air superiority fighter designed and built in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. As with other comparable aircraft of that period, such as the Su-27, F-16, F-15 and Panavia Tornado, it was produced in significant numbers and is still in fairly widespread service with air arms around the world. The MiG-29 was developed as a lighter, cheaper aircraft compared to the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, an aircraft with which it is broadly comparable in terms of layout and design, if not size and weight. As with the Su-27, the engines are spaced widely apart, with the area between them being used to generate lift and improve manoeuvrability. The MiG-29 is powered by two Klimov RD-33 Turbofans, each of which generates over 18,000lb of thrust in reheat. As with many Soviet types, the aircraft is well suited for use on rough airstrips, particularly as the engine air intakes can be closed completely when on the ground, allowing air to be drawn through louvres on the upper surfaces of the wing roots avoiding FOD. Armament consists of a combination of Vympel R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles and R-73 or R-60 short-range air-to-air missiles, as well as an integral GSh-30-1 30mm cannon in the port Leading Edge Root Extension (LERX). The aircraft can be used in a range of roles and can carry bombs and rockets in addition to more technologically advanced missiles. The MiG-29 has been widely exported and is still in widespread use with Russian, former Soviet and aligned nations, including several NATO member states such as Poland. Based upon the MiG-29M, the K was developed in the 1980s as an all-weather carrier-borne multi-role fighter that incorporates modern technologies that make it comparable in terms of generational capabilities as the Eurofighter, Saab Gripen and Dassault Rafale. After two prototypes were built and demonstrated, the Russian Navy didn’t make an order as they were already wedded to the Su-33, and it was an order by the Indian Air Force that saved the project as late as 2009, which the Indian Navy intended to fly from the former Soviet carrier they had bought. The initial order of a dozen airframes was followed by another of 29, plus training and simulation equipment, although a pre-delivery crash put the brakes on temporarily until it was revealed that the crash had predictably been caused by pilot error. Reliability issues of the engines dogged the fleet for a while, solved by India’s efforts that led to their satisfaction with their aircraft, although talk of replacing the fleet at one point was taken seriously by Western aircraft manufacturers. Russia’s Navy eventually decided that rather than build new Su-33s to replace those that were reaching retirement, they would take advantage of the open production lines of the MiG-29K in 2009, adding two dozen to the production schedule, which led to the Russian Navy holding a mixed inventory of MiG-29K and refurbished Su-33s as of 2016 when the last MiGs were delivered. A small number of MiG-29KUBR airframes were built with two cockpits under the same shaped canopy for training, with tandem controls for the student and instructor. The operational airframes were received in time to take part in Russian operations in Syria, losing one that failed to return to base after an operational sortie. The Kit This is a new tooling from Hobby Boss, and it arrives in a sturdy top-opening box with a painting of the subject on the front, and profiles of the decal options on one side. Inside the box is a cardboard divider to reduce movement of parts during shipping and storage, and most sprues are individually bagged, with delicate parts pre-wrapped in thin foam sheets, secured by tape. There are nine sprues, two fuselage halves and four exhaust nozzles in grey styrene, a long clear sprue in a bubble-wrap envelope, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass backed by a piece of card, decal sheet, instruction booklet in black and white, plus a folded sheet of glossy A3 printed in colour with one decal option per side, and another A4 sheet for the painting and decaling of the weapons that are included in the box. Detail is good, with intelligent use of slide-moulding to create additional detail without increasing the part count, and a choice of exhaust nozzles in closed or open positions, with excellent detail moulded into both layers. Construction begins with the K-36D-3.5 ejection seat, which is made from thirteen styrene parts, plus four seatbelts and ejection actuator handle in PE. This is slotted into the front compartment of the cockpit tub, adding the instrument panel and control column, and applying six decals to the panel and side consoles. Additional parts are fitted along with the cockpit sidewalls in both compartments, fixing a rudder bar with two PE foot straps in the front of the cockpit, remembering that most of the rear tub will be covered by an insert later in the build, so don’t waste any time painting and weathering that area. The nose gear bay must be built next, as it will be trapped between the fuselage halves, and this is built up from four parts, with the nose gear leg made from a single strut with integral supports near the top, fitting the oleo and swing-arm to the bottom, plus a clear landing light and other small parts before you attach wheels on either end of the cross-axle, building them from two halves each. The cover for the rear cockpit is raised, and has a grille on the front, plus two small boxes added to the top surface, then the fuselage can be prepared, drilling out several flashed-over holes under the wings, and one on the roof of the space between the engines. The nose gear bay is inserted into its cut-out, adding a pair of extension cups to the main gear bays behind the moulded-in sections, then gluing the cockpit tub into the upper fuselage along with an insert in the nose for a refuelling probe, whilst cutting off and sanding back a bulge on the deck in front of the windscreen as per a nearby scrap diagram. The two fuselage halves are brought together, fixing the rear cockpit cover and a small spine insert, then building the HUD from a sloped styrene core with clear lens, PE supports for the two clear panels, and applying a decal to the lens before it is fitted in a recess in the cockpit coaming. Soviet/Russian fighters tend to have built-in FOD guards, which in this case are supplied as large mesh panels that fit into the front of the inner engine intake trunks, that have a cylindrical profile and are blocked at the inner end by an insert that has the front of the engine moulded-into it, inserting the completed assembly into the engine nacelles, painting the inner surface grey, then adding the roof of the trunks to the sloped forward edge. This is done twice of course, and the two finished assemblies are inserted into the underside of the fuselage after adding extra wall detail to the main gear bays that nestle into the outer sides of each nacelle. In preparation, two short cowling sections are fitted to the upper fuselage where the exhausts will later sit. The twin fins are each made from two halves plus rudder, but they are equipped with different sensor fits in the trailing edge of the tip, which is further accentuated by the probe and sensors added to the rear, whilst both share the same T-shaped aerial near the change of angle of the leading edges of the fins. There is a large tapered cylindrical fuel tank between the engine nacelles, and this is built from two halves that are capped at either end, the nose cone made from two halves to include the forward pylon mount. This and the fins are put to one side while other assemblies are built for the underside of the model. This begins with the landing gear, the main gear made from a thick strut with trailing retraction jack, captive bay door, and a two-part scissor link, which receives a two-part wheel with circumferential tread moulded-in, although you’ll have to take a sanding stick to them if you wish to depict the weight of the airframe on the tyres. The exhausts have a short two-part trunk as their starting point, with a double layer depicting the rear of the engine and the afterburner ring, then you have a choice of posing the exhaust petals opened or closed, using two different sets of parts to portray the inner and outer layers of the nozzles. The closed nozzles have their inner part inserted from within, while the opened nozzles have their inner layer slid in from the rear due to the angles of the respective parts, with the resulting detail worth the effort. Both sets of nozzles are glued to the rear of the trunking, and are slipped inside the rear of the fuselage, adding the main gear legs and a bay door actuator to each side, then fitting the chaff & flare boxes on the fairings each side of the exhaust trunking, a pylon under each of the inner wing panels moulded into the fuselage, gluing on leading edges slats, and finally the twin fins that are attached to the fairings to the sides of the engines on pegs for strength. Doors are added to the gear bays, flaperons and their actuator fairings to the rear of the wings, a gaggle of antennae under the nose, and a two-part arrestor hook is fixed between the rear of the engine nacelles, mounting the large central tank between them. The next step is to fit the hinges to the ends of the inner wing panels, which are only applicable if you intend to fold the wings for storage on or below deck. This removes the option for a model ready for, or in-flight, and there is no discussion of the straight-wing or in-flight option in the instruction booklet. It is however possible using the parts provided, and simply involves omitting the hinge parts, laying the hinge cover panel flat to the wing, and fitting the outer wing panel at the same angle as the inner. The outer wing panels are built from two halves, adding slats at the front and ailerons to the rear, plus the hinge cover, which for folded wings should be placed at an angle. It’s best to test fit this in situ to obtain the correct attitude for the various parts. Regardless of whether you choose to fold the wings or not, each tip has a small strake inserted in a slot on the upper surface. More probes and antenna are clustered around the nose along with the refuelling probe with its cover, adding a clear lens to the sensor under the windscreen, which is also fitted at this stage. An actuator for the main canopy is installed behind it, and further aft two jacks for the air-brake are glued in position, which might be best done whilst fitting the panel to ensure they all line up. The canopy has a separate styrene lower frame with a cross-brace, four PE latches on each side, and a pair of rear-view mirrors in the front frame, fitting to the rear of the cockpit opening on the afore-mentioned jack. The elevators/elevons are single parts that fit into plugs on the side of the fuselage, and a gun fairing is fixed in the leading edge of the port LERX with another pair of PE antennae, one on each side of the nose cone, which has a separate pitot probe mounted at the tip. Like many Hobby Boss kits, this boxing has a plethora of weapons to suspend from the various pylons under the fuselage and wings. The following are included: 2 x R-77 (AA-12 Adder) BVR A2A Missile 2 x R-73M (AA-11 Archer) Short Range A2A Missile 2 x MSP-418K active jammer pod 2 x PTB-1150 1,150L Fuel Tanks 2 x KH -29T (AS-14 Kedge-B) TV guided A2S Missile 2 x KH-31P (AS-17 Krypton) Anti-Radiation Cruise Missile 2 x KAB-500Kr TV-guided bomb 2 x KH-35 (AS-20 Kayak) Anti-Ship Cruise Missile The various missiles are moulded as two halves, have separate fins fore and aft, and clear seeker heads where appropriate, adding adapter rails as necessary. The KH-35s however have their aft section removed before they are built, fixing folded fins to the sides of the missile, with a scrap diagram showing how they should appear once completed. A diagram at the end of the instruction booklet shows where the various munitions and pods can be mounted, but check your references for real-world load-outs if you prefer. Markings There are two decal options on the sheet, one in Russian service, the other in Indian colours. From the box you can build one of the following: Blue 39, Russian Navy 672 Indian Navy The various weapons, tanks and pods have a great many stencils that can be applied, using a separate colour page to guide you, all of which adds realism to your model. Decals aren’t always Hobby Boss’s strong point, but these are of good quality with registration, sharpness and colour density that are suitable for the task at hand. They usually go down well, and there are plenty of stencils for the airframe and weapons to add detail to your model, including more detailed instrument panel decals than many other companies provide. Conclusion The MiG-29 is an attractive aircraft, and the Navalised K from Hobby Boss seems a competent representation of what is a niche variant that was only produced in small numbers, including lots of detail and a large quantity of weapons. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Bakery Products (35624) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Inside the figure-sized box are nine sprues in grey styrene, six filled with different varieties of bread and pastries, plus three containing shallow wooden boxes with open tops and hand-holds in the short ends. The rear of the box holds the instructions for making up the trays from their three component parts, with painting examples given in the space below, which is various shades of beige and tan, with a bit of flour dusting here and there. The colour call-outs on the rear of the box are given in Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, plus swatches and colour names to assist with choosing your colours. These refer to the blue colour numbers on the paintings above the chart. As usual with MiniArt figure and diorama sets, sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown on the trays to leave minimal seamlines, and the sprue attachment points of the various bread products are similarly carefully placed. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. RMS Titanic (83420) 1:700 Hobby Boss 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 gaps down the ship’s side due to blown rivets, 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. The ship’s waterproof bulkheads only extended to a level below the main deck, and one-by-one they overflowed, causing the Titanic to settle lower and lower in the water. Less than three hours later she broke into two and slipped beneath the surface with many of the passengers still aboard, and many more forced to jump into the almost freezing water, where most died from hypothermia or drowning. 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 tooling from Hobby Boss, and represents the Titanic on her fateful voyage, although we understand another boxing will be forthcoming soon that depicts her sister ship Olympic in Dazzle camouflage livery, as she appeared during WWI as HMT Olympic, performing troop ship duties. The kit arrives in a rectangular top-opening box with a painting of the Titanic on the front, and two cardboard dividers inside that keeps the various aspects of the kit separately. There are ten sprues in grey styrene, plus the hull and six deck parts of varying sizes, a black styrene stand, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and black & white instruction booklet with separate colour painting guide slipped inside the pages. It’s immediately evident that this kit is intended to be a more “serious” kit than the recent offering from another company that came with a basic lighting kit, as the higher number of parts and monotone grey styrene suggest. When you remove the sprues from their individual bags, the detail is very finely engraved, showing delicate planking to the decks, window frames, doors and other fixtures, found all around on the visible surfaces thanks to a substantial use of slide-moulds that improve the model without increasing the part count unduly. The inclusion of PE parts is welcome, however this is a small sheet, and doesn’t include railings or other fine fittings that would be outwith the scope of most kits, and would cause frustration and extra expense to many modellers, who would see it as unnecessary complexity. They’d be entitled to think so, but the aftermarket producers are able to assist if the urge takes you to super-detail your kit. Hopefully, the research that Hobby Boss have put in is as good as the detail present. Construction begins predictably with the hull, which has hundreds of portholes, fittings and the distinctive banding around the hull moulded into it, plus the tapered stern where the rudder and screws will be placed later. The initial deck part covers the majority of the top surface, leaving the stern and bow to be added later, turning the hull over to fit the port and starboard prop-shaft fairings into grooves in the underside, with three props, one in the centre, which was the only screw with strong rudder authority, making her slow to turn, and could well have contributed to the collision with the iceberg once it was eventually spotted by the lookouts, who weren’t issued with binoculars, amazingly. With the hull righted again, the bow and stern deck parts are installed, and various deck fittings are applied over the next several steps. The superstructure is built from two deck parts, adding sidewalls to the lower layer, and building up the ends to prepare for the next deck, and includes the bridge. Two more deck parts are placed on the raised guides, adding a few detail parts to the smaller section to cover a blank space that couldn’t be dealt with by sliding moulds. The gap between the two superstructure parts is filled by a pair of walls, adding more inserts around the forward area near the flying bridges so that the deck above can be laid on top, detailing the open areas with more deck furnishings. The smaller upper deck areas are each detailed with dozens of parts, including life boats, davits, and a PE compass platform, resulting in seven sub-assemblies that are also placed in situ with guidance from the raised shapes all around the promenade, which is then covered with dozens of benches. The ostensibly complete superstructure is mated with the hull, taking care to align the bridge with the bow end, which shouldn’t be hard thanks to the raised guides that are used to assist throughout. A small forest of deck cranes are mounted on turret-like bases at the bow and stern, adding a couple of PE doors to the sides of the hull near the stern, which are likely either particular to the titanic, or were left off the mould by mistake and added later. Who knows? The Titanic had four large oval funnels, one of which was fake and was used to vent the heat and fumes from the kitchen so that the First-Class passengers didn’t have to smell the cooking odours. The three active funnels are made from halves with nicely engraved and raised details, adding an inner ring near the top, and covering it over with a PE grille. Painting the interior of the funnel tops a deep black should prevent anyone seeing the shallow base, and while the exterior of the aft funnel is identical to the others, the insert has a tube projecting up the centre, plus a pair of holes should be drilled in the floor. The PE grille is also different, with a solid forward section setting it apart from the others. The completed funnels are installed on the decks with their raised oval base plates assisting with placement, and taking care to glue the correct aft funnel at the stern end. Dozens of davits for the life boats are arranged around the sides of the main upper deck, with a few having a different design, and these are pointed out in the instruction steps. The lifeboats are suspended from each pair on the deck, which is best done after the glue on the davits is totally cured, fitting the two masts as the final act. The foremast has a small crow’s nest for the lookouts and an angled jib, while the stern mast has a single level jib facing forward. Both masts will have copious rigging, but there are no diagrams showing where it should be fitted, however the box art should assist with this, as the Titanic is almost directly side-on to the viewer. Markings The Titanic didn’t last long after it embarked on its first and final voyage, floundering without completing a single crossing with huge loss of life. You can build her as she left Southampton below: Decals are printed by Hobby Boss’s usual printers, and are fit for purpose, although under magnification the blue seems very slightly out of register on our sample, but unless someone is very sharp-eyed, it probably won’t be noticed, especially if you don’t use the US flag that’s supplied. Conclusion This is a very nicely detailed kit of the Titanic, particularly at this relatively small scale, with deck, windows and portholes finely engraved. It’s not a gimmicky kit that lends itself to a quick build with lighting, it’s for the modeller that wishes to build a well-detailed model as a little part of maritime history, as an homage to those that lost their lives. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
×
×
  • Create New...