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  1. MAN LKW 5t MIL GL Truck Hobbyboss 1:35 In the 1960s the Bundeswher was looking to replace its fleet of vehicles which stemmed from the birth of the modern German Army. They wanted a fleet of 2, 3 & 4 axle vehicles in the 4 to 10 tonne payload range which had to be amphibious. As it was a large task it was suggested that bidding companies form a common development company for a unified project. This was set up under the leadership of MAN and included Klockner-Humboldt-Deutz, Bussins, Krup, and Henschel. The specification agreed was for a cross country capable, amphibious, all wheel drive, run flat tyres, steel cab, NBC protection, and a multifuel engine. In 1975 the German Army & MAN signed the contract to produce 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 vehicles. The 4x4 or KAT I & KAT I A1 vehicle is the type 452 (and 462 with fitted winch). They are powered by a V8 Deutz diesel engine and are mainly flatbed or covered type trucks. The distinctive cab with the cut away corners stems from the need for the vehciles to be rail transported on standard flat cars. Earlier trucks had fixed cabs but later ones tilting ones which made engine maintainance much easier. All vehicles feature a mount for a MG3 machine gun (basically an MG42!). The Kit The kit arrives on 12 sprues plus the drivers cab and the tyres, a nice inclusion is masks for the windows. For a standard 4x4 truck the box is packed with parts. Construction starts with the gear box and differentials for the transmission. These are made up and the suspension components (air bags & springs) are added. The tuck chassis is then made up from a surprising number of components and the gear box, differentials and drive shafts are then added. These are highly detailed and made up from a number of components. Once the chassis is finished the wheels can be built up, the tyres added and then they are attached to the chassis. Work then moves to the cab. The dash board is built up with some of the drivers foot controls added underneath it. The base plate of the cab has the gear controls and a few other parts added then the dash is fitted. Once this is in the drivers seat and steering wheel are added along with the bench seat for the passengers. This is then the lower part of the cab complete. Moving onto the upper part the windows added along with a couple of internal parts and the main rear bulkhead. The upper cab can then be attached to the floor. The spare wheel and carrier are completed and attached to the cab, followed by the main doors being completed and added. The rightside equipment locker is also built up and added. On the outside of the cab the front bumper is added along with the roof hatch, mirrors, wipers and parts for the engine hatch. The completed cab can then be added ot the chassis. After this is done the exhaust system is built up and added. Along with some additional parts under the cab. Next up the truck bed needs to built up. The side stanchions are added to the flat bed and the drop down side panels can then be added. The fixed head board is added along with the steps to access up the cab. If the seating for the rear bed is to be used this then must be made up, and added. Weapons racks can then be made up and attached to the head board if using the seating. Moving on to the underside of the truck bed supports are added along with the mud flaps and racking for ancillary equipment. This includes fuel cans, wheel chocks and equipment lockers. Hoops and the frame for the tilt covering for the flat bed can then be added if needed. If the modeller wants the rear to be covered then they will need to make their own covering. To be honest any plastic moulded one will not probably look great so in a way its good they left this off. Once the load bed is complete it can be added to the chassis and the truck is then complete. Decals Theses are minimal as the vehicles did not carry many markings. Decals are supplied for a UN attached truck in overall white and a KFOR deployed vehicle. Conclusion It is great to see a modern support vehicle being made available, this gives many diorama possibilities as well as a great stand alone model. The kit is nicely complex and should build up to be a great looking kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Soviet Self-Propelled Gun SU-85 w/Interior MiniArt 1:35 History Early in World War II, Soviet tanks such as the T-34 and KV-1 had adequate firepower to defeat any of the German tanks then available. By the fall of 1942, Soviet forces began to encounter the new German Tiger tank, with armour too thick to be penetrated by the 76.2 mm guns used in the T-34 and KV tanks at a safe range. The Soviet command also had reports of the Panther tank, that was in development then and possessed thicker armour than the Tiger; both represented an advance in German tank design. Although the Panther was not seen in combat until July 1943, the new generation of German vehicles meant the Red Army would need a new, more powerful main gun for their armoured formations. In May 1943, work was begun on a new anti-tank gun. Military planners directed the design bureaus of both Gen. Vasiliy Grabin and Gen. Fyodor Petrov to modify the 85mm anti-aircraft gun for use as an anti-tank weapon. Petrov's bureau developed the D-5 85mm gun. Though much too large for the T-34 or KV-1 turret, it was thought the gun could be mounted upon the chassis of the SU-122 self-propelled gun to give the weapon mobility. The version of this gun intended to be mounted upon the SU-85 was called the D-5S, with the "S" standing for self-propelled. Initially the production factory at Uralmash rejected the proposed design. Nevertheless, the administrators at Uralmash were persuaded to proceed, and the new design was put into production. The weapon was later modified to include a telescopic sight and a new ball gun mantlet. This vehicle was renamed the SU-85-II. The SU-85 was a modification of the earlier SU-122 self-propelled howitzer, essentially replacing the 122 mm M-30S howitzer of the SU-122 with a D-5T high-velocity 85 mm antitank gun. The D-5T was capable of penetrating the Tiger I from 1000 m. The vehicle had a low profile and excellent mobility. Initially given an armoured commander's cap on the first batch, the SU-85's observational optics were improved by the introduction of a standard commander's cupola - the same as on the T-34-76 model 1942, along with the already existing prismatic observation sights installed in left side and rear. On later vehicles, the same optics were added, almost allowing all-around observation The SU-85 entered combat in August 1943. It saw active service across the Eastern Front until the end of the war. Though a capable weapon, it was found that its 85 mm weapon was not adequate to penetrate the armour of the larger German armoured fighting vehicles. It was replaced by the SU-100. The SU-85 was withdrawn from Soviet service soon after the war, and was exported to many Soviet client states in Europe and elsewhere. Some SU-85s were converted to use as command and recovery vehicles. In places such as North Korea and Vietnam, it remained in service for many years’ The Model This kit is the latest iteration of MiniArt’s SU-85 and is the Mod 1943 Mid Production version, and has the added interest of having a full interior. MiniArt really are going great guns these days, with a new website and new style boxes for their kits, very nice they are too. The kits too are getting better and better. The new colourful boxes are very sturdy, and they have to be as they are filled to the brim with parts. The numerous sprues are all contained in a large poly bag, inside of which the various combinations of sprues are in other poly bags, not quite separate, but in bunches. Now, the way MiniArt mould their sprues means that there are in fact seventy six in total. The reason for so many sprues and parts, as mentioned above, this kit has a full, and I mean FULL interior. Even with so many sprues, the parts are all moulded beautifully, with no sign of imperfections, short shots, surprisingly few moulding pips, and certainly no flash. Seeing as there are literally hundreds of small parts it’s nice to note that the sprue gates are small and the parts look like they will be easy to remove and clean up. The only really awkward parts are the suspension springs, which will be trickier to clean as the gates are on the spring sections themselves and the track links, but more on those later. So, where the heck do you start with building? Some modellers will construct the various sub-assemblies in their own way before adding them all at the end. This would certainly aid with the painting and weathering, but if you go by the instruction booklet, which is surprisingly clear to read, the modeller needs to start with the engine. As with most things in the kit this is a very complex part, and is assembled just as a real engine would be. Every parts is included, all you‘d have to add are the ignition harness and some of the hoses. The assembly begins with the eleven piece block, onto which the two, six piece cylinder heads are attached before being finished off with the starter motor, coolant hoses, exhaust manifolds and the four piece engine mounting box. Each of the two large radiators are made up from three parts, glued to the sides of the engine assembly, and then connected up with five hoses. The gearbox/transfer box is next, with the main section requiring fourteen parts, before being glued to the aft end of the tank floor. The drives for the sprockets, each made up from four parts and fitted with a PE brake band are then attached to the gearbox, supported by two five piece brake linkage cradles. The four piece, impellor style, flywheel is then attached to the rear of the gearbox. With the gearbox attached, the floor is then detailed with numerous parts, most of which I don’t recognise, not being au fait with the intimate details of tank internals. What I can identify, are the control sticks and brake pedals, and their associated linkages, oh, and the fighting compartment floor. The seven piece driver’s seat is next, followed by various covers for the drivers control links. The engine is then attached to the dividing bulkhead, between it and the gearbox, and the fitting of the two air intake pipes and their filters. The whole engine assembly is then fitted to the floor and the gearbox mounted universal joint. On each side of the floor there are four, seven piece spring dampers for the suspension, the rear pair of which are joined together with two PE straps, which do look a little awkward to fit, seeing that the radiators are in the way, so dig out your finest tweezers for the job. The fighting compartment and driver’s compartment are then fitted out with a number of spare shells, shell racks, control boxes and the idler axle fittings. The lower hull sides are fitted out internally with crew seats, fire bottles, fuel tanks, radios, escape hatches, and various other unidentifiable items. The sides are then attached to the hull floor. On the outside, the sprocket gear covers are attached, followed by the torsion spring suspension/axles are fitted, these also attach to the spring dampers. There more shells fitted to the rear of the fighting compartment, ten in fact, each of two parts and kept in place by a long beam. The front armour plate is fitted on the interior with various sights, hatches, hatch fittings and two large springs, which I presume are part of recoil system to prevent the plate from cracking when the gun fires. The completed plate is then attached to the hull, along with the lower glacis plate, and rear mounted drive cover. The main gun is assembled from separate slides, barrel, recuperator, and breech block before being fitted to the two trunnion mounts, complete with elevation wheel. The recoil guard is then attached, along with the elevation spring units, seven piece sight, and sight mounting frame. Nineteen more shells are then assembled and fitted to their storage rack, which is then fitted with a supporting beam and three cordite bags. The gun assembly is then slotted into position in the front plate, which is also fitted with the lower gun recess. The bulkhead separating the fighting compartment and engine compartment is then glued into position, followed by the shell stowage assembly and rear hull bulkhead and its attachment frame. The gun barrel is then attached, along with the inner mantlet and the six piece outer mantlet. The fighting compartment side panels are fitted out with more cordite bags, pistol ports, vents, and stowage boxes, whilst on the outside they are fitted with pioneer tools, air filters, and a single headlight. The completed panels are then glued into position. The roof panel is similarly fitted out, with a selection of ports, vents, sights, and the main hatch With the model slowly looking more like the vehicle it portends to be, the sprockets, twin road wheels and idler wheels are assembled and attached to their associated axles. The exhaust pipes are fitted to the rear bulkhead along with their covers, and the engine deck intake gills are each assembled from four parts. The main engine deck, complete with track guards, is fitted with spare track links, the two engine intake grills, before being fitted to the hull, along with the fighting compartment roof panel and the numerous shackles, lifting eyes, engine hatch, and stowage boxes. The tracks are each made from seventy two links, with each link held onto the sprue by four gates, so there will be quite a lot of cleaning up required. Looking at the links, they are rather plain, particularly on the inside, but having checked out a few images on the internet, they are accurate. Looking at the links closely, the ones with guide horns have small pins, whilst the plain ones are moulded with corresponding holes, so they “should” just click into place. The pins do seem rather fragile, so whether this works in practice is another thing. It’ll probably be best to run some glue on the joints once the tracks are fitted, just to make sure they don’t fall apart. With the kit almost complete, it’s just a matter of fitting the front and rear mud guards, rear mounted rolled tarpaulin with its PE straps. The fighting compartment rear panel is then attached; along with the various grab handles, spare fuel tank supports, four fuel tanks, their associated PE straps, and the PE straps for the spare track links. Lastly the aerial is glued into position. Decals Whilst the decal sheet contains markings for two depicted vehicles, there are a complete set of individual numbers in both red and white. The decals themselves have been printed by MiniArt and although looking rather matt, they are well printed, in register and with good colour density. The two options are:- SU-85 number 214 from an unidentified unit Red Army, Winter 1943-1944. SU-85 under the name of the Czech hero – “Kapitan Otacar Jaros”, of the 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade Conclusion This is yet another superb kit from the burgeoning catalogue from MiniArt and another for the detail nuts, with the full interior, the options of having the hatches open and everything on view would be too much to resist. With the amount of parts and the amount of time it will take to build, it must make this kit one of the best value for money kits around. Review courtesy of
  3. Russian MiG-31 Foxhound 1:72 Trumpeter The Mikoyan MiG-31, known by the NATO reporting name 'Foxhound' is an all-weather interceptor and replacement for the more famous but far less capable MiG-25 Foxbat. Although the MiG-31 bears a close resemblance to its predecessor, it is only the basic elements of the design that are shared. The MiG-31 is a much more modern aircraft and benefits from a very capable suite of avionics which provides full look down/shoot down capability against targets are small as cruise missiles. One thing it does have in common with the venerable Foxbat is its speed. The Foxhound is one of the fastest combat aircraft around and can show a clean pair of heels to most comparable jets. The weapon of choice for the Foxbat is the long-range R-33 missile, but it is also capable of using the now obsolete R-40, as well as the short-range R-73. Some variants can deploy the KH-31 and KH-58 anti-radiation missiles in the SEAD role. Trumpeter have filled gaps in the stashes of a lot of modellers with a penchent for Russian hardware of late. This kit follows their MiG-29, Su-24 and Su-27/33/34 families, although it doesn't quite have the same impact as we've had a decent and buildable kit from Zvezda for quite some time. It also follows the 1:48 scale kit from Trumpeter's sister company Hobbyboss. As we shall see, the two kits are closely related. In classic Trumpeter style, the kit arrives in a large sturdy box, with the parts packed so well that it is almost impossible to get them back in the box once unpacked. The box contains an impressive 340 parts, although this is relatively modest compared to their Su-34. The difference is largely down to the fact that Trumpeter haven't included 40-odd missiles in the box. The parts are well protected and the quality of moulding is up to the usual Trumpeter standard, with fine, consistent panel lines and plenty of detail. The overall breakdown of parts is incredibly similar to its big sister, complete with the slide moulded fuselage section, which seems to be a perfectly scaled down version. The cockpit is nicely replicated, with detailed instrument panels and sidewalls, as well as neat two-part K36 seats. The nose gear bay has to be built around the landing gear leg, which means painting the whole thing before it goes into the kit, but does at least replicate the detail of this part accurately. The nose and forward fuselage is a seperate part to the rest of the airframe, so I guess it could be assembled and put to one side while the rest of the beast is gradually assembled from its component parts. Construction moves on to a number of major sub-assemblies, most of which have to be completed at this stage in order to progress the build. The massive engine air intakes are full length, and contain eight parts each, not including the engine compressor blades. The main landing gear legs and bays also have to be assembled at this stage, although they look both well detailed and reasonably sturdy. Once complete, the nost gear bay, main gear bays and engine intakes can all be cemented into the large, slide moulded lower-rear fuselage, while the nose section can also be slotted into place. In order the bring the whole thing together, the single span upper wing can have the lower wing surfaces added and be joined to the rest of the airframe. With the collosal fuselage complete, most of the rest of the build is spent adding a few more large parts and a whole host of finishing details. Unlike the Hobbyboss kit, the vertical tails are moulded as solid parts and have plenty of rivet detail moulded in place. This is so fine, however, that I am reasonably confident that it will disappear compeltely under a coat of primer, particularly given that the whole kit has quite a rough, textured finish. The jet exhausts are each made up from three parts and are suitably imposing, although not quite the dustbin-like cans of the MiG-25. The canopy is moulded so it can be finished in the open position. I'm not sure quite how well it will fit if you want to close it all up. The airbrakes are also molded seperately and are designed to be finished in the extended position. Trumpeter aren't usually shy when it comes to ordnance, so you get fair deal with this kit. Included in the asking price are: 4 x R-33 air-to-air missles; 2 x R-40T infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-40R radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-73E air-to-air missiles; and 2 x drop tanks. The MiG-31 is strictly VVS only, so don't expect variety when it comes to options to markings. The painting and marking guide shows 24 Blue and 08 Red "Boris Safanov", but bonus points are awarded to Trumpeter for including sufficient bort numbers to allow pretty much any aircraft to be built. Stencils are included for the airframe and ordnance, which is also nice to see. The decals themselves look nicely printed and should perform well. Conclusion This is very nice kit which comfortably moves straight to the top of the tree when it comes to MiG-31s available in this scale. It's big - but not too complex - well detailed and includes a fair selection of ordnance. On the other hand, it's far from cheap, especially when compared to the main competition (note - it is currently available with a 25% discount from @Creative Models Ltd - link below). My main criticism of the kit is that the panel lines and rivit detail are incredibly fine and will surely disappear under a layer of primer. Not good for an aicraft that really needs a panel line wash to match the grubby appearance of the real thing. Nevertheless, if you do choose to build one, you will be rewarded with an impressive kit. Review sample courtesy of
  4. A-4E Skyhawk 1:48 Hobby Boss The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was a carrier capable ground attack aircraft developed for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. It is a delta winged single engine aircraft. It was developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company originally under the A4D designation, latter changed to A-4. The A-4 was designed by Ed Heinemann to a 1952 US Navy specification for a carrier based attack aircraft capable of carrying heavy loads. For this an aircraft was to have a maximum weight of 30,000Lbs, and be capable of speeds up to 495mph. Initially the Douglas design with a specified weight of only 20000 Lbs was greeted with scepticism. Ed Heinemann had in fact designed a very small aircraft. This was to be roughly half the weight of its contemporaries. In fact the wings were so short they did not need to fold for stowage below decks. Having a non-folding wing eliminated the heavy wing folds seen in other aircraft, one reason for a low overall weight. The prototype also exceed the maximum speed the US Navy had specified. In fact not long after the aircraft would set a new world record of 695mph for circuit flying, bettering the specification by 200mph. The A-4A was the initial production aircraft with 166 being built. The A-4B was ordered with additional improvements over the initial design. These were to be; Stronger rudder construction, a pressure fuelling system incorporating a probe for in-flight refuelling, external fuel tanks, stronger landing gear, additional navigation equipment, an improved ordnance delivery system, and an external buddy refuelling package. A total of 542 A-4Bs were to be made with fleet deliveries beginning in 1957 only a year after the first A-4B flight was made. The A-4C would then follow giving an all weather capability with the AN/APG-53 radar, a new auto pilot and bombing system and a more powerful J65-W-20 engine. The E model was a major upgrade to previous aircraft included a new Pratt & Whitney J-52-P-6A engine with 8400 lbs of thrust. The air-frame was strengthened and two more weapons pylons were added. Improved avionics were installed including a TACAN, doppler system, radar altimeter, and a bombing computer. Later an even more powerful J52-P-8 with 93000 lbs thrust was added. The E would then see the addition of a dorsal hump on the fuselage spine to house extra electronics as appeared on the later A-4F. The Kit This a new tool from Hobby Boss of this famous Douglas aircraft. The kit itself is on three sprues is fairly simple much like the real thing. Construction starts in the cockpit you will be surprised to know! The two part Escapac seat is put together and placed into the cockpit tub after the aft wall is installed. The seat is fairly basic and there are no belts included in the model. The control column is then installed along with the instrument panel (details by decal), this is followed by the area just behind the seat. The completed cockpit is then installed onto the top of the front wheel well along with the rudder pedals. Next up the wings are completed. This is standard single part lower wing with left & right uppers. Once complete it is placed to one side. Construction then moves to the main fuselage. The completed cockpit assembly and the intake duct are installed in the main fuselage as it is closed up. The avionics hump or the top fuselage fairing are installed depending on which decal option is being modelled. Two side intakes are added along with the main wing assembly. Two small parts then need to be removed from the tail. Lastly the engine exhaust is added along with a rear underside panel. Next up the left and right engine intakes are assembled and added to the main fuselage. The instrument coaming and HUD are added to the cockpit and the 20mm cannons & fairings are added to each side. Two small fairings are added to the rear fuselage. The all moving tails are made u (conventional upper & lower construction) and added, along with the air brakes. The canopy is added along with two strakes just above the cannon barrels. The underwing/fuselage pylons are then made up and added along with the gear doors. The front undercarriage leg is added which has the nose wheel moulded on to it. The rear legs and retraction struts are added along with the wheels. To round things off the arrestor hook and til bumper are added. Weapons Hobby Boss aren't known for being stingy with these, and as you'd expect there are plenty to choose from, infact 5 sprues in this kit are devoted to underwing stores. As always, check your references for likely load-outs if you are going for accuracy, or slap them all on if not. It's your choice! Included are; 12 x Mk.82 Bombs 12 x Mk.20 CBUs 2 x AiM-9B Sidewinders 2 x Wing tanks 1 x Centreline tank Sway braces are provided where needed, as are launch rails and multiple ejector racks. There are other weapons on the sprues not used here so good for the spares box. The back page of the instruction booklet shows the pylon positions of the various options, but as above, check things over before you proceed. Stencil locations are shown on a separate colour page, with positions and colours all called out. Markings Hobby Boss often supply only one option with their kits, but this one has two, one is documented incorrectly, the other is not. It is really about time HB started giving some information about its decal schemes in the kits rather than modellers going on-line to work it out themselves. The decals are printed in house, and are of good quality. 150056 VC-1 US Navy - No data is provided but the box art is very similar to an image from 1972 from NAS Barbers Point, Oahu,HI 151074 VA-155 USS Constellation 1966 wearing experimental 3 tone camo. Note this aircraft did not have the dorsal hump despite the painting instructions showing it. Now preserved at Naval Air Facility Atsugi Conclusion This is a nice new tool of the A-4E from Hobby Boss. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. German Leopard 2A4 AGDUS Training System 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models The AGDUS system is a Laser training system similar to the US MILES system (but not compatible). The tactical laser-based training system is used by the German Bundeswehr fir combat simulation. It can be used with all weapons to simulate line of sight weapons. The laser is eye safe. The beams fired are coded so that it can inform who fired, when, and how severe the hit was. Like MILES umpires have a reactivation key. Rheinmetall Defense Electronics GmbH have recently been awarded a contract for the 2nd generation of the system and to integrate it into the latest TPz Fuchs. The Kit This is another release from Meng no one was expecting, though it does complement their excellent Leopard 2A4 kit. The set includes includes the muzzle laser emission device, the laser receiving devices around the vehicle, and the control components on top of the turret. The parts are excellently cast in resin and very fine, maybe a little to fine in some cases. The one major draw back of this set is it comes with no instructions. There are box top pictures which lack contrast, and one picture on Meng's website. (Picture from Meng, circles by us) Conclusion Another great release from Meng of a subject that will be welcome for armour modellers to create a tank being used in traning. It would have been nice to have some actual instructions though. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Russian BMR-3M Armoured Mine Clearing Vehicle 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models The BMR-3M Vepr is the latest Russian mine clearing vehicle. The BMR-2 was based on thr T-54 chassis, and the BMR-3 the T-72. The New BMR-3M which is a private venture from Uralvagonzavod utilises the T-90 chassis. The turret has been replaced by a welded on deck housing which for additional protection is fitted with Explosive Reactive Armour Blocks. The space inside allows for a crew of three and two engineers to assist with mine clearing, all having blast suppression seats. The vehicle is fully NBC protected and the crew can live inside for 2 days. For its mine clearance role a composite construction belly armour plate has been fitted. Actual mine clearance is provided by KTM-7 mine rollers. These will detonate pressure mines, and chains strung between the rollers will detonate rod type fuses. The BMR-3M is also fitted with mine ploughs to removed panted in mines. Depending on conditions a clearing speed of upto 12kmh can be achieved. In addition to the convention mine clearing attachment the vehicle is also fitted with a full electronic counter measures system. For self protection the BMR-3M is fitted with a remotely operated turret with a 12.7mm machine gun. This can also be used to detonate surface mines. For road travel and when not mine clearing the vehicle is fitted with its own crane and racks in order that the mine rollers are lifted onto the back deck of the vehicle. The Kit This is another left field release from Meng, though it is good to see these types of vehicles being kitted. The first thing that strikes you is that it is a big box, it needs to be as its stuffed with plastic. & sprues of tracks, plus 7 lots of end connectors. The there are 25 sprues of plastic, the two main hulls, a length of chain, some PE, a flexible sprues and a set of jigs for the suspension and the tracks. Construction starts with the running gear. Two idler wheels, tweo drive sprockets and 12 road wheels are built up, all have a poly cap centre. Next up the additional belly armour is added to the lower hull. The track return rollers are added along with mounts for the idler wheels. At the front additional armour which also mounts the mine rollers is added. The torsion bar suspension is added next and if glued in correctly will work like the real thing. The rod go through to the other side where only the ends (as shown on the instructions) are added. There is a Jig supplied to ensure everything stays at the right angle while the glue sets. The rear bulkhead is then added along with the drive sprocket fixings. All of the wheels can now be added. The tracks are a work of art, but you have to follow instructions carefully and not be too free with the glue if you want them to remain workable after completion. The hollow guide horns are supplied as pairs, which clip onto the central area of the track pins, which are moulded into the main track parts. You must assemble short lengths before separating the two from their little sprue-runner to ease handling, then insert the runs into the two-piece jig that is supplied on its own sprue. Then you insert the flexible styrene track-ends into yet another part of the jig, cut them from their runners, and apply them to the ends of the track pins in runs of five on each side using no glue! The track pads are added once the tracks are complete if you wish, though this is not shown on the instructions. Two sets of 81 links are needed, so again, you'll be working for some time with the jig, but the results should be well worth the effort. The tracks are then wrapped around the wheels and closed with two of the flexible end parts. Once the tracks are on then its onto the main upper deck housing. This is built up from 4 sides and the top, it is then added to the upper main hull along with the frontal plate to which the ERA blocks are added. The side upper track fenders are added along with the front mud guards and exhaust covers. Some smaller attachments are added along with the rear PE grills and their covers. Next up is to concentrate on the rear deck. Various handles and brackets are added and then the mine roller stowage rack is added along with a beam and the auxiliary fuel tanks (drums). Flexible pipe is supplied for the tank connectors. A stowage box and an additional ammunition box are added to the rear along with an antenna base. Moving onto the main superstructure a whole host of smaller parts are added including antenna bases which have to be made up, the smoke grenade dischargers and additional ERA blocks. The drivers hatch and vision block is also added. The side crane for lifting the mine rollers is made up and added, with one major part stowed on each side of the vehicle. The crew hatches are made up and added. Following this the track sides skirts are then built up, and all of their ERA blocks are fitted. Once complete they are added to the hull. The remote weapons station is also built up and added at this time. Next up is construction of the mine rollers. These are little kits in their own right. They are handed but each builds up in the same way. 6 mine-roller wheels are added together on a main axle, the axle has different diameters for the different wheels so they should all slot easily into place. The axle then attaches to the side parts and additional bars front an rear are added. Short lengths of the chain need to be added to each mine roller. Next each side has an ECM system built up and attached. The roller arm assemblies are next to be built up and added. I would suggest using wire instead of the string supplied by Meng as it will undoubtedly look better. The KMT-8 mine plough arms are then built up added to the roller/arm assembly. Once complete these can be added to the main body of the vehicle. Markings There are no markings supplied with the kit, but there are three different camouflage schemes included from the 2009, 2014 & 2015 Russian Arms Expos. Conclusion Another great release from Meng of a less than traditional subject. The parts count is high but not unnessasarly given the complex nature of the Mine Clearer. Once completed it will look like an impressive model. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Quad Rocket Launcher 1:35 MENG Arriving in a brown cardboard box with a black label, on which a faint outline of a pick-up truck is just visible. On the back of the truck, or Technical as they are sometimes known, is a slightly brighter outline of a rocket launcher. It is this launcher that is the subject of the model inside. MENG have released a number of these Technicals, in both vanilla and armed with a variety of weapons that the users seem so adept at fitting to them. They are now releasing separate weapons systems for you to do your own conversions. Inside the box there are three bubblewrap bags with various amounts of resin parts in them. There are nineteen parts in total, in a dark grey resin. All the parts are well moulded with very little sign of flash or other imperfections and all with the thinnest of attachment points to their moulding blocks, so removal and cleaning up shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Construction begins, once all the parts have been separated and washed in warm soapy water, with the joining of the two pairs of two launchers, on above the other, plus the base plate, two trunnion plates and a gear elevation quadrant. The two support plates are attached to the trunnion plates and thence to the five piece launcher base turntable, a hand wheel, locking leaver and foot pedals. On the right hand side there is an actuator unit fitted. The two part support stand is then assembled and the base unit glued to it. The whole assembly is fitted into your chosen vehicle. Conclusion This is certainly an unusual subject and one which could find use in many scenes and dioramas than the one it was intended. The moulding quality is superb and the completed unit will look quite effective with a bit of weathering. Review sample courtesy of
  8. Soviet Self Propelled Gun, SU-122 Mid Production w/Full Interior MiniArt 1:35 History Soviet High Command became interested in assault guns following the success of German Sturmgeschütz IIIs. Assault guns had some advantages over tanks with turrets. The lack of a turret made them cheaper to produce. They could be built with a larger fighting compartment and could be fitted with bigger and more powerful weapons on a given chassis. However, assault guns generally aim by orienting the entire vehicle, and were thus less suited for close combat than tanks with turrets. In April 1942, design bureaus were asked to develop several assault guns with various armaments: 76.2 mm ZiS-3 divisional field guns and 122 mm M-30 howitzers for infantry support, and 152 mm ML-20 howitzers for attacking enemy strongholds. A prototype assault gun, armed with the 122 mm howitzer and built on the German Sturmgeschütz III chassis was developed, designated SG-122. Only 10 of these were completed. Production was halted when the vehicle was found to be hard to maintain and judged to be unsuccessful. Simultaneously, a SPG based on the T-34 medium tank was also developed. Initially the T-34's chassis was selected for the 76.2 mm F-34 gun. This vehicle, the U-34, was created in the summer of 1942 at UZTM (Uralmashzavod – Uralsky Machine Building factory) design bureau, by N. W. Kurin and G. F. Ksjunin. It was a tank destroyer with the same armament as the T-34, but without a turret. The vehicle was 70 cm lower than a T-34, had thicker armour, and was 2 tonnes lighter. It did not enter production. UZTM then worked on combining features of the U-34 and the SG-122. Initial design work was completed between July and August 1942. The project emphasized minimizing modifications to the platform and the howitzer. It used the same chassis, superstructure, engine and transmission as the U-34 and was armed with (the then new) 122 mm M-30S howitzer from F. F. Petrov's design bureau. This vehicle also used the same gun bed cover and mountings as the SG-122, to keep costs low and simplify production. It had 45 mm thick frontal armour. The M-30S howitzer could be elevated or depressed between −3° and +26° and had 10° of traverse. The five-man crew consisted of a driver, gunner, commander and two loaders. By 25 November 1942 the first U-35 prototype was ready. Trials ran from 30 November to 19 December 1942, and uncovered various faults in the design including insufficient elevation, a flawed shell transfer mechanism, poor ventilation for the crew compartment, and the fact that the commander had to assist in operating the gun which made him unable to successfully carry out his other duties. The U-35 entered service with the Red Army as the SU-35 (later renamed SU-122) despite these faults. Production SU-122s were based on an improved prototype built after trials were conducted. They incorporated several modifications including slightly less sloped front armour to ease production, modified layout of the fighting compartment (the location of crew member stations and ammunition racks were changed), fewer vision slots, and a periscope for the commander. The first production vehicles were completed before 1943. The first SU-122s produced in December 1942 were sent to training centres and two new combat units, the 1433rd and 1434th self-propelled artillery regiments. Initially, each of these mixed regiments consisted of two batteries with four SU-122s each and four batteries with four SU-76 tank destroyers each. Each regiment had an additional SU-76 tank destroyer as a command vehicle. It was planned to raise 30 self-propelled artillery regiments operating within armoured and mechanized corps. In January 1943, the 1433rd and 1434th self-propelled artillery regiments were sent to the Volkhov Front near Leningrad as part of the 54th Army. On 14 January they saw combat for the first time in Smierdny region. After that it was decided SU-122s should follow between 400 m and 600 m behind the attacking tanks; sometimes this distance was shortened to between 200 m and 300 m. The use of SU-76 tank destroyers together with SU-122s proved unsuccessful. Based on combat experience, the organization of self-propelled artillery regiments was changed; the new regimental organization consisted of two batteries of SU-76 tank destroyers and three batteries of SU-122s, for a total of 20 self-propelled guns. In April the organization of self-propelled artillery regiments was again changed. Separate regiments were created for SU-76 tank destroyers (light self-propelled artillery regiment) and SU-122s (medium self-propelled artillery regiment). The medium self-propelled artillery regiment consisted of four batteries of four SU-122s each. Each regiment was also equipped with either an additional SU-122 or a T-34 for the commander and a BA-64 armoured car. This organization remained in place until the beginning of 1944 when the SU-122 started to be replaced by the SU-152, ISU-122 and ISU-152 heavy self-propelled guns and the SU-85 tank destroyers. The SU-122 proved effective in its intended role of direct fire on strongholds. The massive concussion of the 122 mm high explosive round was reportedly enough to blow the turret off even a Tiger I if a direct hit was scored, a trait shared with the larger 152 mm howitzers. A new BP-460A HEAT projectile was introduced in May 1943; however its primitive warhead design was only minimally more effective than brute concussive effects of the old high explosive shell. However, like most howitzers the accuracy of the M-30 was less than that of contemporary weapons designed for the anti-tank role. The Model Continuing the theme of big Russian self propelled guns, this is MiniArts second release of a SU-122, but this time in the mid-production guise. It is, naturally, very similar to the first initial production release, for all the parts are in the box, so read the instructions carefully to use the right parts. This kit comes in a nice sturdy box with a great study of the vehicle on the front. Inside, is filled to the brim with sprues, all contained in a large poly bag, inside of which the various combinations of sprues are in other poly bags, not quite separate, but in bunches. Now, the way MiniArt mould their sprues means that there are in fact seventy three in total, most other companies could probably have moulded the parts onto about twentyish, but that’s the way they like it. The reason for so many sprues and parts, this kit has a full, and I mean FULL interior. Even with so many sprues, the parts are all moulded beautifully, with no sign of imperfections, short shots, surprisingly few moulding pips, and certainly no flash. Seeing as there are literally hundreds of small parts it’s nice to note that the sprue gates are small and the parts look like they will be easy to remove and clean up. The only really awkward parts are the suspension springs, which will need to be trickier to clean as the gates are on the spring sections themselves and the track links, but more on those later. So, where the heck do you start with building? Some modellers will construct the various sub-assemblies in their own way before adding them all at the end. This would certainly aid with the painting and weathering, but if you go by the instruction booklet, which is surprisingly clear to read, the modeller needs to start with the engine. As with most things in the kit this is a very complex part, and is assembled just as a real engine would be. Every parts is included, all you‘d have to add are the ignition harness and some of the hoses. The assembly begins with the eleven piece block, onto which the two, six piece cylinder heads are attached before being finished off with the starter motor, coolant hoses, exhaust manifolds and the four piece engine mounting box. Each of the two large radiators are made up from three parts, glued to the sides of the engine assembly, then connected up with five hoses. The gearbox/transfer box is next, with the main section requiring fourteen parts, before being glued to the aft end of the tank floor. The drives for the sprockets, each made up from four parts and fitted with a PE brake band are then attached to the gearbox, supported by two five piece brake linkage cradles. The four piece, impellor style, flywheel is then attached to the rear of the gearbox. With the gearbox attached, the floor is then detailed with numerous parts, most of which I don’t recognise, not being au fait with the intimate details of tank internals. What I can identify, are the control sticks and brake pedals, and their associated linkages, oh, and the fighting compartment floor. The seven piece drivers seat is next, followed by various covers for the drivers control links. The engine is then attached to the dividing bulkhead, between it and the gearbox, and the fitting of the two air intake pipes and their filters. The whole engine assembly is then fitted to the floor and the gearbox mounted universal joint. On each side of the floor there are four, seven piece spring dampers for the suspension, the rear pair of which are joined together with two PE straps, which do look a little awkward to fit, seeing that the radiators are in the way, so dig out your finest tweezers for the job. The fighting compartment and drivers compartment are then fitted out with a number of spare shells, shell stands, control boxes and the idler axle fittings. The lower hull sides are fitted out internally with crew seats, fire bottles, fuel tanks, radios, escape hatches, and various other unidentifiable items. The sides are then attached to the hull floor. On the outside, the sprocket gear covers are attached, followed by the torsion spring suspension/axles are fitted, these also attach to the spring dampers. There more shells fitted to the rear of the fighting compartment, ten, in fact, each of two parts and kept in place by a long beam. The front armour plate is fitted on the interior with various sights, hatches, hatch fittings and two large springs, which I presume are part of recoil system to prevent the plate from cracking when the gun fires. The completed plate is then attached to the hull, along with the lower glacis plate, and rear mounted drive cover. The main gun is assembled from separate slides, barrel, recuperator, and breech block before being fitted to the two trunnion mounts, complete with elevation wheel. The recoil guard is then attached, along with the elevation spring units, seven piece sight, and sight mounting frame. Nineteen more shells are then assembled and fitted to their storage rack, which is then fitted with a supporting beam and three cordite bags. The gun assembly is then slotted into position in the front plate, which is also fitted with the lower gun recess. The bulkhead separating the fighting compartment and engine compartment is then glued into position, followed by the shell stowage assembly and rear hull bulkhead and its attachment frame. The gun barrel is then attached, along with the inner mantlet, and four piece outer mantlet section. The fighting compartment side panels are fitted out with more cordite bags, pistol ports, vents, and stowage boxes, whilst on the outside they are fitted with pioneer tools, air filters, and a single headlight. The completed panels are then glued into position. The roof panel is similarly fitted out, with a selection of ports, vents, sights, and the main hatch. With the model slowly looking more like the vehicle it portends to be, the sprockets, twin road wheels and idler wheels are assembled and attached to their associated axles. The exhaust pipes are fitted to the rear bulkhead along with their covers, and the engine deck intake gills are each assembled from four parts. The main engine deck, complete with track guards, is fitted with spare track links, the two engine intake grills, before being fitted to the hull, along with the fighting compartment roof panel and the numerous shackles, lifting eyes, engine hatch, and stowage boxes. The tracks are each made from seventy two links, with each link held onto the sprue by four gates, so there will be quite a lot of cleaning up required. In this kit you also have a choice of track type, plain waffle or split waffle with the addition of 7 sprues of links to the original kit.. Looking at the links, they are rather plain, particularly on the inside, but having checked out a few images on the internet, they are accurate. Looking at the links closely, the ones with guide horns have small pins, whilst the plain ones are moulded with corresponding holes, so they “should” just click into place. The pins do seem rather fragile, so whether this works in practice is another thing. It’ll probably be best to run some glue on the joints once the tracks are fitted, just to make sure they don’t fall apart. With the kit almost complete, it’s just a matter of fitting the front and rear mud guards, rear mounted rolled tarpaulin with its PE straps. The fighting compartment rear panel is then attached; along with the various grab handles, spare fuel tank supports, four fuel tanks, their associated PE straps, and the PE straps for the spare track links. Lastly the aerial is glued into position. Decals The small decal sheet contains markings for three vehicles, The decals themselves have been printed by MiniArt and although looking rather matt, they are well printed, in register and with good colour density. Some of the decals have even been printed with a well worn appearance. The five options are:- SU-122 from the 5th Guards Tank Corps of the Red Army which fought on the Voronezh Front in August 1943 SU-122 from of an unidentified unit of the Red Army from December 1943. SU-122 from an unidentified unit of the Red Army from 1944. Conclusion Well, what can you say? MiniArt sure like to give us modellers a challenge, and they’ve done it again with this kit. The sheer number of parts will make some to whimper, but for anyone who wants a highly detailed kit in their collection this is certainly the one to go for. The full interior also gives the modeller plenty of options, whether it’s a cutaway museum piece, or in a diorama, all opened up, engine out etc, the world is your lobster. Review courtesy of
  9. GAZ-233115 STS Tiger-M SPN SPV 1:35 Meng Model Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or GAZ for short are the leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles in Russia, and specialise in all-wheel drive heavy duty trucks, buses and light commercial vehicles. The Tiger is a development of the GAZ 2330 4x4 that is designed as a troop carrier for police and military forces, with good offroad capability, high speed and good handling on sand and steep gradients. The Tiger is an upgraded vehicle with ballistic protection to the sides and roof, with a large two-man turret-ring on the roof to allow both a machine gun and grenade launcher to be used simultaneously. It is known colloquially as the Russian HUMVEE, and like the HUMVEE it does not provide much in the way of IED protection, other than a suite of electronic countermeasures. Its flat ladder chassis differs from the newer designs like the American M-ATV, which has a sloping hull to deflect blast away from the occupants. It has plenty of space for radio gear, the aforementioned ECM fit, plus ammo stowage and of course four troops in the rear, with a two man crew in the front seats. This boxing is for the newer Tiger-M vehicle which features a slightly revised body style and additional armour. The Kit The kit was originally reviewed here; this re-boxing from Meng is virtually the same vehicle. They have re-tooled the main body to reflect the new body style and added a new sprue featuring the up-armoured doors and different dashboard configuration of the new vehicle. Markings There are two options included in the box. One is camouflaged Russian Green, black and sand, while the other is plain Russian Green, but with large red parade stars. Their details are as follows: Tri-colour camouflage unknown unit vehicle. Russia Victory Day Parade 2016 The tri-colour vehicle is shown in five views, which with the tri-tonal camo will alleviate any confusion as to where the individual colours extend to on each side. Unlike the original boxing the instructions and camo diagrams here are only in Black & White. The decal sheet is quite large due to the camouflage material that is applied to the interior of the vehicle and the instrument panel decals, with two rows of digits, three red stars and four number plates relating to the outside. The decals in this boxing are printed in house where the originals were but cartograf, they seem thicker than the cartograf ones. Carrier film is clipped very close to the camouflage decals, which will be helpful when working in confined spaces, and the decals have been sectioned to fit each of the facets of the passenger cab. Conclusion Another classy kit from Meng, and a welcome addition to the collection of any modern Russian armour buff, or casual buyer alike. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Russian T-37A Light Tank HobbyBoss 1:35 History The T-37A was a Soviet amphibious light tank. The tank is often referred to as the T-37, although that designation was used by a different tank which never left the prototype stage. The T-37A was the first series of mass-produced fully amphibious tanks in the world. The tank was first created in 1932, based on the British Vickers tankette and other operational amphibious tanks. Production started in 1933 up until 1936, when it was replaced with the more modern T-38, based on the T-37A. Overall, after four years of production, 2552 T-37A’s were produced, including the original prototypes. In the Red Army, they were used to perform tasks in communication, reconnaissance, and as defence units on the march, as well as active infantry support on the battlefield. The T-37A’s were used in large numbers during the Soviet invasion of Poland and in the Winter War against Finland. The T-37 A was also used by the Soviets in the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, but most of them were quickly lost. Surviving tanks of that type fought on the front lines until 1944, and were used in training and auxiliary defence until the end of World War II. The Model The kit is packaged in the standard Trumpeter style top opening box with an artistic representation of the tank emerging from a river. Inside, there are nine sprues, two separate hull parts moulded in green styrene, seven sprues of brown styrene, two small sheets of etched brass and a small decal sheet. As we have come to expect from Trumpeter, all the mouldings are very well produced, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and only a few moulding pips. The details are nicely reproduced and even the rivets seem about right for this type of tank. Although this is a very small tank, this kit comes with individual track links, which, whilst well moulded are joined to the sprue are three points, so not only will they take quite a bit of careful cleaning up, they will need a lot of patience putting a full run of eight six links per side together. Construction begins with the assembly of the road wheels and their suspension parts. Each pair of wheels is made up form eight parts and there are two pairs fitted per side. These assemblies are then fitted to the lower hull section, along with two return rollers per side and the idler wheel axle bearings. The sprocket wheel gearbox covers are attached followed by the sprocket wheels themselves. At the rear of the hull the propeller shaft housing and propeller are fitted, as is the propeller guard on the underside of the hull and the rudder. The idler wheels are then attached and the assembled tracks can be fitted. The upper hull is then glued to the lower hull and the separate engine cover fitted. There are a couple of areas on the upper hull that need to be removed in accordance to the instructions on each side of the front glacis plate and a couple of holes on the engine deck need to be opened up. The two, two piece watertight sponsons/fenders are assembled and fitted to the hull, along with the pioneer tools. The sponson fixing brackets are attached, fixing the sponsons to the front glacis plate and the frontal armour on the fighting compartment is fitted. The two piece exhaust is attached to the engine deck via four PE brackets, with further PE brackets being fitted around the upper hull. The engine intake grille is covered with PE mesh, and the drivers hatch is glued into place. The simple machine gun turret is fitted with the two piece machine gun, turret hatch, three vision ports and two PE plates. The external section of the machine guns ball socket is glued into position, meaning that the machine gun cannot be posed in anything other than straight without modification. The completed turret is then slotted into position on the hull, completing the build. Decals The small decal sheet only provides four different styles of turret stripe, one for each of the colour schemes included on the paint chart. T-37A, in Russian Green overall, red upper stripe with white dotted stripe below. T-37A, in Dark green overall, with blue stripe on white background. T-37A in Russian green overall, with red brown dots all over and solid red turret stripe over a red dotted stripe. T-37A in Grey green overall, with dark green spots and a thick solid red stripe on the turret. Conclusion Hobby boss have released quite a few of these small Russian tanks now and they still manage to find more to release. This is a great little kit of a very small tank, but will keep you busy for hours trying to get the tracks assembled and fitted. Probably not for the novice due to the tracks, as it may put them off indie links completely, but a nice addition to any tank collection, particularly if you like you tanks a little on the weird side. Highly Recommended Review sample courtesy of
  11. Northrop P-61C Black Widow Hobbyboss 1:48 The Northrop P-61 Black Widow, named for the American spider, was the first operational U.S. military aircraft designed specifically for night interception of opposing aircraft, and was the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar. The P-61 had a crew of three: pilot, gunner, and radar operator. It was armed with four 20 mm Hispano M2 forward-firing cannons mounted in the lower fuselage, and four .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns mounted in a remote-controlled dorsal gun turret. It was an all-metal, twin-engine, twin-boom design developed during World War II. The first test flight was made on 26 May 1942, with the first production aircraft rolling off the assembly line in October 1943. The last aircraft was retired from government service in 1954. Although not produced in the large numbers of its contemporaries, the Black Widow was effectively operated as a night-fighter by United States Army Air Forces squadrons in the European Theatre, the Pacific Theatre, the China Burma India Theatre and the Mediterranean Theatre during World War II. It replaced earlier British-designed night-fighter aircraft that had been updated to incorporate radar when it became available. After the war, the P-61—redesignated the F-61—served in the United States Air Force as a long-range, all weather, day/night interceptor for Air Defence Command until 1948, and Fifth Air Force until 1950. The subject of this kit is the P-61C, which was a high-performance variant designed to rectify some of the combat deficiencies encountered with the A and B variants. Work on the P-61C proceeded quite slowly at Northrop because of the higher priority of the Northrop XB-35 flying wing strategic bomber project. In fact, much of the work on the P-61C was farmed out to Goodyear, which had been a subcontractor for production of Black Widow components. It was not until early 1945 that the first production P-61C-1-NO rolled off the production lines. As promised, the performance was substantially improved in spite of a 2,000 lb (907 kg) increase in empty weight. Maximum speed was 430 mph (690 km/h) at 30,000 ft (9,000 m), service ceiling was 41,000 ft (12,500 m), and an altitude of 30,000 ft (9,000 m) could be attained in 14.6 minutes. The P-61C was equipped with perforated fighter airbrakes located both below and above the wing surfaces. These were to provide a means of preventing the pilot from overshooting his target during an intercept. For added fuel capacity, the P-61C was equipped with four underwing pylons (two inboard of the nacelles, two outboard) which could carry four 310 gal (1,173 l) drop tanks. The first P-61C aircraft was accepted by the USAAF in July 1945. However, the war in the Pacific ended before any P-61Cs could see combat. The 41st and last P-61C-1-NO was accepted on 28 January 1946. At least 13 more were completed by Northrop, but were scrapped before they could be delivered to the USAAF. Service life of the P-61C was quite brief, since its performance was being outclassed by newer jet aircraft. Most were used for test and research purposes. By the end of March 1949 most P-61Cs had been scrapped. Two entered the civilian market and two others The Model This kit is the third release in the series of P-61 Black Widows from Hobbyboss and comes in a sturdy top opening box with some very nice artwork on the lid of the aircraft in flight over some rather threatening clouds. Inside there are nice sprues of medium grey styrene, two separate engine cowlings, two sprues of clear styrene, six metal parts and the decal sheet. On inspection of the sprues it becomes quite clear that there is a pretty major problem with the kit, and that is the fact that although the box artwork and photographs on the internet show the aircraft, (the only option on the decal sheet), with a dorsal turret, it is completely missing from the kit. There isn’t even provision for one on the fuselage parts. Although this omission doesn’t make the kit unbuildable, purists will no doubt be hunting round for a spare turret to fit. It is a great shame though, that the company’s research or lack of, has let them down again. If I can find a decent photograph of the aircraft, (which is still extant in the National Museum of the United States Air Force), in seconds, why couldn’t Hobbyboss? That said, it still looks like it is a nice kit, not particularly difficult, in fact it looks quite a bit simpler than the old Monogram release. I’ve seen the A version built at my club and it looked fantastic, so there’s no reason that this shouldn’t build up the same, albeit incorrect. The build begins with the front cockpit and the fitting of the pilot and co-pilot seats, joysticks, two piece gun sight/controller, heater unit, rudder pedals and instrument panels, each with decal instruments, to the single piece floor. The nose wheel bay is then fitted out with the three piece nose wheel leg and wheel, which has the distinctive mudguard moulded to it. On top of the wheel bay the first of the metal parts is attached, before the bay is glued to the underside of the cockpit floor. Another, much large metal part is glued forward of the pilots instrument panel. Inside the two fuselage halves, the cockpit side walls are attached, as are the four 20mm cannon muzzles. The rear cockpit is then assembled, from floor, rear bulkhead, with moulded radio sets, joystick, two piece gun sight/controller and seat. The front and rear cockpits are then enclosed within the two fuselage halves. The radar set is made up from the support base, radar dish and two metal parts. The radar is then glued to the front of the fuselage and encased in the clear nose section, which, unfortunately doesn't look quite the right shape, being too short. The single piece front windscreen and canopy is then glued into place, followed by the four glazed areas of the rear cockpit. The clear parts are exceptionally clear, as can be seen in the photographs. The nose wheel bay doors are then added before work moves on to the two booms. Each boom comes in two halves and fitted with the main wheel bays, which are fitted with a separate mid bulkhead, main oleo, retraction jack, scissor link and main wheel. The wheel bays are sandwiched between the boom halves, which are then put to one side to set fully. Each wing is made up of a single piece upper section and two lower sections with two radiators glued between them. If you are going to add the external tanks or bombs then the holes will need to be opened up before the wind sections are glued together. The wings are then attached to their respective booms, and fitted with the ailerons and landing light covers. Each engine is made up from a metal firewall part, just the front bank of cylinders, and gearbox cover, into which the propeller shaft is fitted. The propeller is then attached and the engines fitted to the booms, along with the large inter-cooler intakes and main wheel bay doors. The completed boom assemblies are then attached to the fuselage assembly with the horizontal tail plane fitted in between. The external tanks are each made up from two halves, and include the pylons, whilst the bombs are made from separate bodies and tails, then fitted to the pylons. The bombs and tanks are then fitted to their respective positions. Along with the pitot probe and side mounted aerials. Decals The single aircraft option provided on the decal sheet is for P-61C, Ser. No. 43-8353, Moonlight Serenade in an overall black scheme, with green spinners, cooling gills and upper nose section. The decals are well printed, in register and nicely opaque. They are quite glossy and should settle down well on a gloss varnish as there is minimal carrier film on all but the serial numbers, but it is pretty thin. Conclusion Well, being one of my favourite aircraft, I'm quite disappointed, it’s shame that Hobbyboss have managed to produce another clunker. I guess if you can get some other decals for a P-61C, one which didn’t have a dorsal turret, (were there any during the war?), or build it as a post war test aircraft. It also seems to be over simplified, although that is not necessarily a bad thing in an age where kits seem to be getting more and more complicated. It’ll certainly be good for a beginner, as the parts should all fit well and it will look great when built, and quite large. I do like the idea of the metal parts incorporated in the build to save on finding places to fill with lead. Review sample courtesy of
  12. No Soldier Left Behind – MWD Down 1:35 Master Box Master Box figure sets often tell a story, and this one tells it well on the boxtop. A Military Working Dog (MWD) has been injured in the course of duty, and is awaiting casevac while two handlers comfort him and two more provide covering fire should it be necessary. The Chinook is coming in hot in the background and the beginnings of a dust cloud are being kicked up. An excellent painting, and the inclusion of the name of the sculptor A Gagarin gives a clue as to the quality of the box content. Inside is a single sprue of grey styrene in a re-sealable clear foil bag, with parts for four soldiers and the hound, as pictured on the box. Each figure is confined to one section of the sprue with their accessories nearby, and the pooch has been moulded in four parts for maximum detail, using the natural breaks in his assault vest to hide most of the joints. Pity help the person that hurt him if my other half ever catches him! The only difference from the box top is that fido doesn't have moulded-in muzzle, so you'd have to fabricate your own if you wanted to. A lot of the dogs used in modern warfare are German Shepherds, but there are quite a few other breeds used, so choose your mutt's colour scheme according to your preference. The other figures are thoroughly modern and have modular US assault vests with MOLLE II loops for the attachment of pouches and packs. A variety of these are included to accessorise the figures, and each figure has some variation to break up the monotony, from dump bags to ammo pouches and comms. Weapons for each figure include a pair of M4 derivatives with ACOG sights, one of which has an Underslung Grenade Launcher (UGL), plus an M14 marksman's rifle, and an L249 light machine gun. Each soldier has a separate head with comms headsets moulded in, and is designed to fit inside the MICH helmets, some of which are fitted with fabric covers, and all having fittings for night vision goggles on the front. One of the kneeling soldiers can be depicted comforting the dog or wielding a side-arm by using an optional arm that is supplied with the kit. The sculpting is superb, and every pouch, MOLLE loop and accessory is crisply moulded, with little in the way of seams filling needed due to the clever placement of the joints. Using the Hobby Elements Molding Flash Sanders in your motor tool (e.g. Dremel) should leave the moulding seams nice and smooth in no time though. Conclusion Even though the idea is for the dog to be wounded, it is posed in such a way that it could be sitting in a more relaxed manner, so without adding any blood it could be used as an uninjured MWD for dioramas or even riding a vehicle. An excellent set for a very wallet friendly price. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. M4 High Speed Tractor (3 in./90mm) 1:72 Hobbyboss Based on the chassis of the M3 'Stuart' Light Tank, the M4 was an artillery tractor designed to tow 90mm, 155mm and 240mm guns and howitzers. Over 5,500 examples were manufactured by Allis-Chalmers of Milwaukee, and it was used by the US Army until 1960. The M4 was also supplied to Brazil, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Yugoslavia. A flexible and tough design, many M4s enjoyed a second career after their military service, being popular vehicles in the logging and road construction industries. After a bit of a hiatus, Hobbyboss appear to have made 2017 the year of the small-scale AFV. A month or so ago we received their new Land-Wasser-Schlepper for review. Now they've followed up with a mini-range of the M4 tractor, starting with the 90mm version. The kit is vintage Hobbyboss, being well-packed in a sturdy box, beautifully moulded and yet incredibly simple due to a focus on ease of construction and through the extensive use of multi-part slide moulds. Construction is simplicity itself. The running gear and tracks are moulded as single parts, with just the inner face of the drive sprocket, the return rollers and the trailing arm for the idler wheel moulded separately. Obviously some compromises have been made in order to mould the tracks in this way, but they really are pretty good considering the low part count. Even though the inside faces of the tracks are relatively untroubled by moulded detail, I probably wouldn't complain if a lot of my small-scale tracked vehicles were supplied with tracks like these. Once the tracks are complete, they can be fitted to the lower hull. In keeping with the rest of the model, this is a simple structure with just the frontal section of the hull moulded separately. A basic interior, including crew and passenger seats and driver's controls, has been included. This is good, as it really would have shown if Hobbyboss had elected to scrimp on the interior. Although sometimes seen unglazed, many photographs of these vehicles show a windscreen in place, so it's a shame that Hobbyboss have omitted this feature. Once the interior has been assembled and painted, you can drop the slide-moulded body onto the lower chassis. The 90mm ammunition box is a separately moulded part (the 155mm/240mm variant is on the way), leaving just the headlight and defensive machine gun to finish the model off. Small details such as the tools have been moulded in place, which doesn't surprise me given the approach Hobbyboss have taken to this kit. Two marking options are provided, but tn historical notes are included to place the marking options in context, which is a shame. Paint references are included for the Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol ranges. Conclusion This kit marks a welcome addition to Hobbyboss's range of 1:72 AFVs. Whilst some compromises have been made, detail is generally good and the one-piece tracks are adequate for this scale. It's a shame that they haven't provided a windscreen, but fitting some clear film should be within the capabilities of most modellers. Other than that, for what it is, this is a really neat little model. Review sample courtesy of
  14. AMX A-11B Trainer 1:48 HobbyBoss The AMX was designed as a replacement to the Fiat G.91 and derivatives, and was the product of a newly create company called AMX International, which was a cooperation between Aeritalia, Aeromacchi and the Brazilian company Embraer. Each partner builds a portion of the aircraft, with the first assembled in Italy for flight testing in the mid 80s. After successful completion of testing, it started to enter into service toward the end of the 80s, as the A-11 Ghibli with the Italian Air Force and the A-1 with Brazil. The B model is the two seat trainer. The aircraft uses a license built Spey engine, which was chosen for reliability and ease of integration with the design, although later other engines were considered. It has been used substantially by both operators and has undergone a number of upgrades of the avionics over time. The two-seat trainer was completed in the 1990s, and many of the approximately 200 airframes are still in service, barring accidents and total loss incidents, of which there have been a few over the years, ironically one of which was due to engine failure. The Kit This new tool from Hobby Boss arrives on eight sprues of grey plastic, a clear sprue, two small sheets of photo-etch, rubber tyres; and two decal sheets. It was evident from the single seater kit reviewed here that a two seat version was planned. Construction starts in the cockpit. First the ejection seat s are made up, they has PE belts. The seats are put in the cockpit tub along with the instrument panels and control columns. Once the seats are in the cockpit sides are added. This is then put to one side. Next up the undercarriage bays are built up. The font bay is a single part to which the 4 part leg is added the front wheel which is a separate hub abd rubber tyre is also added at this stage. For the main gear bays there is a two part leg, a landing light which attached to the leg, the main wheel & hub, plus two retraction struts. Once the gear bays are finished they can be installed in the fuselage halves. Before these are closed up the two part exhaust needs to be fitted inside. The trunking is one part so no seam to worry about. Once the main fuselage is together the intakes are fitted each side along with their attached lights. A note he is that the intakes in the kit appear to rounded and not as square as the real thing. They should be able to be squared up if the modeller wants my a little work. The HUD is made up and attached to the instrument cowling, this is then fitted in front of the cockpit. The front screen then goes over this. For the main canopy there is an internal frame to add, along with three photo-etch mirrors. The next stage is to make up and attach the wings. The wings come with separate flaps and slats which is good, and they can be positioned open or closed, however there appear to be no actuators present. The wings themselves are a single part to which the flaps and slats are added. Once made up they can be attached to the fuselage along with the vertical tail. The tail is a conventional left/right split and there are a pair of aerials to be added from the inside before you close them up. Moving on to the last stages of construction various aerials are added along with a pilots ladder if needed. The gear doors are added along with two prominent rear ventral air scoops for the engines, along with the prominent re-fuelling probe. The arrestor hook is added along with the wing tip & under wing pylons. A wide variety of stores are included with the kit for the modeller to choose from. These are AIM-9P & AIM-9L missiles, MK82 and MK-84 bombs, fuels tanks and GBU-12 guided bombs. Canopy The clear parts in the kit are thin and very clear. As always with Hobby Boss they wrap the clear parts in a protective foam which is a good thing to do. Decals There are two decal sheets in the kit. One provides markings for two aircraft, and the other the markings for the weapons. The two marking options provided are; 32-40, 13 Gruppo, 32 Stormo, Italian Air Force. 2-10, 14 Gruppo, 2 Stormo, Italina Air Force. Conclusion This is good looking kit from Hobby Boss. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. GAZ-233115 STS Tiger-M SPN SPV Sagged Wheel Set 1:35 Meng Model Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or GAZ for short are the leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles in Russia, and specialise in all-wheel drive heavy duty trucks, buses and light commercial vehicles. The Tiger is a development of the GAZ 2330 4x4 that is designed as a troop carrier for police and military forces, with good offroad capability, high speed and good handling on sand and steep gradients. The Tiger is an upgraded vehicle with ballistic protection to the sides and roof, with a large two-man turret-ring on the roof to allow both a machine gun and grenade launcher to be used simultaneously. It is known colloquially as the Russian HUMVEE, and like the HUMVEE it does not provide much in the way of IED protection, other than a suite of electronic countermeasures. Its flat ladder chassis differs from the newer designs like the American M-ATV, which has a sloping hull to deflect blast away from the occupants. It has plenty of space for radio gear, the aforementioned ECM fit, plus ammo stowage and of course four troops in the rear, with a two man crew in the front seats. This boxing is for the newer Tiger-M vehicle which features a slightly revised body style and additional armour. The Set This set is designed as a direct replacement for the kit wheels. Unlike some sets they replace all four main wheels and the spare. The pour blocks for the resin are cleverly designed to follow the tyre tread pattern and should be easy to remove. The casting is superb, nice and crisp with no visible defects. Conclusion This is a good update set for the GAZ Tiger if you don't feel the original rubber tyres are not up to the job, or you just don't like rubber tyres.. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Ferguson TE20 FF30 Tractor 1:24 Heller The Ferguson TE20 ( Tractor England 20 Horsepower) was a very successful agricultural tractor designed by Harry Ferguson with a production run lasting from 1946 till 1956. Part of the ‘Little Grey Fergie’s’ success came from its 3-point linkage that allowed the Fergie to carry out a variety of tasks around the farm using different tools and trailers that fitted to this linkage. The TE20 was imported to France, and was so popular a production line was set up in Saint-Denis, France in 1953 using imported British parts, the number of French parts increased until 1957 when the tractor was built using 100% French parts and became known as the FF30. Outwardly the TE20 and the FF30 looked the same, save some slight differences and FF30 having a red chassis and engine. Not surprisingly, Heller have tooled this kit so it can be built as a British TE20, or a French FF30 with its different seat, steering wheel and front tyres. The TE20 was such a popular tractor many have been restored and a walk around any steam or vintage rally you will pass one or two at least (oddly this is a gap in the walkaround section that needs filling!). The kit comes in a big box with a photo of a very clean example on the lid, the box has an opening lid but the box is thin and flimsy, the box is far too big and there is a lot of fresh air inside. the kit comes on 4 small grey sprues with some black rubber tyres. All the parts are very crisply cast and there is no flash on the review sample. The TE20 doesn’t have a chassis, the backbone of the design is the engine, transmission and back axle, everything else hangs off this assembly. The model follows this sequence with the engine transmission being the first parts to meet the glue. This is cast in 2 parts split down the length and has some good surface detail. If you want a tow hook you need to drill 2 holes in the bottom of the rear axle. The head is added next, with transmission and axle covers following. Being a petrol engine there are some spark plugs and a distributor included but no leads so some thin wire can be added, have a look at some photos online as the sides of the engine are open so some detail could look good here. The fan and radiator are attached to the front of the engine block, along with the front axle. The fuel tank goes on top of the engine with the final few ancillary parts. This is a simple engine, reliable and simple to maintain with the kit being well detailed to the original. The back axle is next with the axle tubes complete with half shafts inside, and the independent rear brakes that allowed the driver to make tight turns, another innovation on this tractor. There are some delicate parts including the rods and foot pedals that will need a lot of care to remove from the sprues and clean up. The big rear wheels are made from 2 parts, with the soft rubber tyre sandwiched between. Make sure you get these tyres the right way around as they are handed left and right sides. The front axle is next on the build, this looks a complex sequence from the instructions, I’ll let you know how this goes when I get the glue out, if anyone has started/ building this any experience let me know! All the drop arms and drag links are next attaching between the wheels and the steering box behind the engine block. The front wheels are in 2 parts, inner and outer, with the rubber sandwiched between. There is a choice of tyres, slick and ribbed so check your reference photos before committing to glue. The wheels have a centre hub to add before clipping them onto the front axle, take care not to break the axle as it looks delicate. You now get to fit the sprung seat, the TE20 uses parts B3 and B7, and the FF30 uses B31 and B9, a more comfortable coil sprung set up over the British bent metal bar spring! The steering wheel is also different between the British and French versions. Finally, you add the rear mudguards, and the bonnet and grill, here you have some options to choose, some TE20 and FF30s came with lights and you need to drill some holes marked on the rear of the parts, and choose your exhaust type, straight up or low out pipe. The famous 3-point linkage is the final bits to make up and fit completing your build. Conclusion A nice little kit form Heller, I’m glad they have made a 1:24 of this iconic little tractor that changed farming. The real TE20 was modified by enterprising farmers, and was also used by Edmund Hillary on the 1955-8 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition. This will be a good build for the detailers and the weathering experts as a tractor is rarely clean! Very well moulded with nice detail. Look forward to building this one. Review sample courtesy of
  17. T-34 Wafer Type Workable Track Links Set 1:35 Miniart These tracks from Miniart are suitable for their T-34 and Su-122 kits. There are 10 sprues of the track links with guide horns and 8 lengths of the intermediate links. The links with the guide horns have small pins on then which are designed to click into holes on the intermediate links. Conclusion While these links do indeed look good, while attempting to get a set to link together to include in the review I found that they would not "click" together easily. I found that the pins in the guide horn links would often bend over, rather than click into the receiving holes. With these it's a one-shot deal, as once they have bent there is no easy way of getting them back, so you end up with track links that you have to glue together. This could just have been my bad luck, or just down to me however your experience may vary. Review sample provided by
  18. AMX A-1 Ground Attack Aircraft 1:48 HobbyBoss The AMX was designed as a replacement to the Fiat G.91 and derivatives, and was the product of a newly create company called AMX International, which was a cooperation between Aeritalia, Aeromacchi and the Brazilian company Embraer. Each partner builds a portion of the aircraft, with the first assembled in Italy for flight testing in the mid 80s. After successful completion of testing, it started to enter into service toward the end of the 80s, as the A-11 Ghibli with the Italian Air Force and the A-1 with Brazil. The aircraft uses a license built Spey engine, which was chosen for reliability and ease of integration with the design, although later other engines were considered. It has been used substantially by both operators and has undergone a number of upgrades of the avionics over time. The two-seat trainer was completed in the 1990s, and many of the approximately 200 airframes are still in service, barring accidents and total loss incidents, of which there have been a few over the years, ironically one of which was due to engine failure. The Kit This mew tool from Hobby Boss arrives on eight sprues of grey plastic, a clear sprue, a small sheet of photo-etch, rubber tyres; and two decal sheets. Construction starts in the cockpit. First the ejection seat is made up, this has PE belts. The seat is put in the cockpit tub along with the instrument panel and control column. Once the seat is on the cockpit sides are added. This is then put to one side. Next up the undercarriage bays are built up. The font bay is a single part to which the 4 part leg is added the front wheel which is a separate hub abd rubber tyre is also added at this stage. For the main gear bays there is a two part leg, a landing light which attached to the leg, the main wheel & hub, plus two retraction struts. Once the gear bays are finished they can be installed in the fuselage halves. Before these are closed up the two part exhaust needs to be fitted inside. The trunking is one part so no seam to worry about. Once the main fuselage is together the intakes are fitted each side along with their attached lights. A note he is that the intakes in the kit appear to rounded and not as square as the real thing. They should be able to be squared up if the modeller wants my a little work. The HUD is made up and attached to the instrument cowling, this is then fitted in front of the cockpit. The front screen then goes over this. For the main canopy there is an internal frame to add, along with three photo-etch mirrors. The next stage is to make up and attach the wings. The wings come with separate flaps and slats which is good, and they can be positioned open or closed, however there appear to be no actuators present. The wings themselves are a single part to which the flaps and slats are added. Once made up they can be attached to the fuselage along with the vertical tail. The tail is a conventional left/right split and there are a pair of aerials to be added from the inside before you close them up. Moving on to the last stages of construction various aerials are added along with a pilots ladder if needed. The gear doors are added along with two prominent rear ventral air scoops for the engines. The gun muzzle is added along with the prominent re-fuelling probe. The arrestor hook is added along with the wing tip & under wing pylons. A wide variety of stores are included with the kit for the modeller to choose from. These are AIM=9P & AIM-9L missiles, MK82 and MK084 bombs, fuels tanks and GBU-12 guided bombs. Some aircraft seem to carry a targeting pod when carrying guided bombs which is not in the kit, but aircraft have been observed carrying the bombs only. A good you tube video I found while doing some research shows Brazilian Air Force aircraft carrying out weapons practice. This is a good reference as most of the time they are seen just carrying external tanks. Canopy The clear parts in the kit are thin and very clear. As always with Hobby Boss they wrap the clear parts in a protective foam which is a good thing to do. Decals There are two decal sheets in the kit. One provides markings for two aircraft, and the other the markings for the weapons. The two marking options provided are; A-1A 5530 Esq (Green over Grey camo). A-1A 5506 Esq (two tone grey camo). Conclusion This is good looking kit from Hobby Boss, despite the small error with the intakes it should build up into a good looking model. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Leopard 2A7 German Main Battle Tank 1/35 Meng Models Like many modern weapons system the Leopard 2A7 is not a brand new system but a continuing development of the Leopard 2 family. These are converted ex Dutch A6NL tanks. Using lessons learnt for the Peace support programme, and combat operations in Afghanistan. While retaining the same 120mm smooth bore gun of the earlier variants the 2A7 is able to fire the latest programmable High explosive rounds. The tanks armour has been upgraded with modular armour with frontal protection being improved as well with passive armour and underneath armour for enhanced IED protection. Internally there have been upgrades to the air conditioning system and power systems. More modern sights/thermal systems/rangefinder have been added. The German Army has ordered at present 20 units. With now talk of a Leopard 3, this could possibly be the last of the Leopard 2 line. The Kit This looks to be a new kit from Meng to bring the changes for the new variant. Some of the parts are from earlier Meng kits, however a lot in the box is new for the 2A7. The box arrives packed (more so probably than Meng thought as it is noticeable the box lid does not completely fit). Along with the main upper & lower hull plus the Turret there are six main sprues of parts, two sprues of suspension components, two sprues of wheels; and three spures of track components. In addition there is a clear sprue, three sheets of photo etch, a material tow cable, and a small sheet of decals, plus silver film for the mirrors. Construction starts with the lower hull. Holes must be drilled in the lower hull before construction starts in order to add the additional underside protective plates. The driver and idler wheels are built up along with 14 main road wheels. The suspension components plus the return rollers then need adding to the main lower hull. The rear armour assembly is constructed and added to the lower hull. Next up the bars for the working torsion bar system are added, these slot through from each side and end plates are attached to them. The wheels can now be added, ad as the hull is upside down the additional armour plate can be added on the man hull. Additional protection for the engine compartment are also added at this time with Meng providing a guide which is placed down in order to correctly position these parts. Next up are the tracks.. Unlike other Meng kits, and like the Meng Leopard 2A4 the tracks come as individual links on sprues. Each link has 3 parts; the main track, the connecting rods with end caps, and the track pads. Meng provide a jig to enable 6 links to be put together at the same time. There are 84 links to be joined for each side. Once the tracks are on construction moves to the upper hull. Mirrors, spare tack, headlights, the drivers hatch, and additional armour plates are added at the front. At threar air filter covers, tools and the tow cable are added. The tow cable supplied in the kit is poor and really needs replacing with a suitable aftermarket one, a shame as the rest of the kit is well above standard. The Cooling fan housings for the rear deck are constructed from the included photo-etch. Be careful to use the parts included on the additional fret not the main one. The top hull can now be joined to the lower one and the side skirts added. The main skirts are one part with the front areas being a multipart construction on both sides. Next up is the turret and gun. The gun barrel is a two part one and the fume extractor one part which fits to the front. The gun hen fits into a five part mantlet. I have read on the web that the gun is a slightly weak point of the kit, the fume extractor being a little skinny and short. It is noticeable that the fume extractor on some vehicle has a fibreglass texture to it, Meng have tried to replicate this, but as the part is split down the middle this will no doubt be lost sanding any seams down. The vision blocks can be added to the upper turret and then the two parts can be joined making sure the gun seats properly between them. The upper surface of the turret has sections which feature a rough texture for walking on and Meng have reproduced this on the part. Once the turret is together work can start on adding all of the additional armour pieces to it. These are V shaped and fit to the front and sides. The base plates are made up along with the armour parts. The base plates being fitted first, followed by the armour. Grab handles are then added to the outside. For the rest of the turret the commanders periscope is made up and added, along with the gunners hatch and machine gun. Smoke dischargers are added to both sides along with antenna mounts and the gunners sighting system. Lastly to the rear of the turret the large AC system and main stowage boxes are added, along with additional stowage boxes at each side. The last part to be fitted on top of the turret is the gunfire simulator and its control cable. The turret can now be fitted to the main hull. Decals As there are still not many of these in service decals for one German Army tank only are included. Conclusion This is a great looking kit from Meng and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. KV-5 Soviet Super Heavy Tank 1:35 Trumpeter The KV-5 was a still-borne dead-end offshoot from the KV project that took its name from the initials of the Defence Commissar Kliment Voroshilov, and were a range of (mostly paper) projects coupling heavy armour with heavy armament. The successful KV-1 and KV-2 are the only variants that saw service due to changing requirements, doctrine and projects falling out of favour at the whim of the higher-ups. The KV-3 and 4 suffered a similar fate, which was never reaching even prototype phase before being passed over in favour of more advanced alternatives. The KV-5 was in the Super-Heavy class, and would have weighed around 100 tons, sporting ridiculously thick armour varying from 120-190mm and a 105mm Zis-6 gun inside its blockhouse of a turret. Soviet doctrine called "Deep Battle" required heavily armoured less-agile tanks that could apply pressure to a besieged enemy without significant fear from the opposition's outbound fire. The KV-5 would have been one of the ultimate answers to that need, with a crew of six servicing the 105mm gun in a large turret, protected by heavy armour. The series was ended with the KV-7 consigned to the "paper project" bin and subsequent developments suffering the same fate after Voroshilov fell out of favour, with the alternatives renamed to JS prefixes after their leader Joseph Stalin. The Kit The kit arrives on 10 Main plastic sprues, 4 sprues for the link and length track, 2 part hull and large main turret casting. All the parts are well moulded and free of flash and defects. A small PE fret and a small decal sheet finish off the contents. Like many a tank model before it construction starts with the running gear. 16 main wheels are mad up, these are 4 part each. Each side wheel has its own hub to attach, then the left/right are joined. There are two idler wheels, and two drive sprockets. The drive sprockets have a separate hub on the put side only. Next up the suspension components (20 parts each side) are added to the main hull. Once these are on the main wheels can be added. four return rollers are added to each side (each with 3 parts). Following this eyes and towing shackles are added to the front of the hull. Construction then moves onto the tracks. Here link & length has been provided by HobbyBoss. There is a main length with induced sag for the top run, a shorter main run for the lower section. Individual sections are then included to go around the wheels at each end. The upper hull can now be attached to the tank. Air intakes/cooling grills are added to the engine deck, the front left hand copula is built up and added. This is followed by the front left hand machine gun turret. The upper plates over the tracks with their attachment brackets can then be added. The modeller now moves onto the large main turret. This is a single moulding which is added to the base plate. The two external hatches and upper gun turret are added followed by the gun mantlet. The gun can elevate using the kit parts. There is a top cover to be added once the mantlet is attached to the tank. The only item to be added then is the main gun which is a single part not the dreaded two part barrel. It should be noted that even though some hatches can be posed open there is no interior in the tank at all. Markings A very small decal sheet just provides red stars and a Cyrillic slogan for each side of the main turret. Conclusion This will build up to make an imposing model. It is a pity these tanks never made it into production as they would have made an imposing sight. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  21. Leopard 2A4M CAN (Canada) 1:35 HobbyBoss The Leopard 2A4 models were the most widespread of the Leopard 2 family to be built. Featuring an all digital fire control system, and an improved turret. Following the end of the cold war the Dutch and German Armies had large stocks of these tanks which were now not needed. The 2A4M CAN is an upgraded Tank purchased by Canada from Holland. The Tank was upgraded for use in Afghanistan where the Canadians have played an important, if often overlooked part of NATO operations in the region. It was originally planed to upgrade these tanks with the longer L55 gun as used by Canadian 2A6M tanks, however it was found the shorter barrelled gun was more suited to use in Afghanistan. To improve armour protection applique armour such as that found on the new 2A7 tanks was applied along with slat armour to the rear of the tank. Unlike the 2A6M Tanks the slat armour is only on the rear of the 2A4M CAN. The Kit The kit arrives from HobbyBoss in sturdy box with the main hull and turret parts in a segregated end compartment. In addition to the two part main hull and two part turret you get 10 sprues of plastic, 22 small sprues of track links, two photo-etched frets and a 300mm length of brass wire. All the parts are crisply moulded with no sign of flash or mould defects. Of special note is the slat armour provided. This has been moulded quite thin and HobbyBoss actually protect this sprue in a foam layer to stop it being damaged. Construction starts with the wheels. Two return/idler wheels, two driver sprockets and 14 road wheels need to be built up. Each are two part with a poly cap being sandwiched in the middle. In addition four inboard and four outboard return rollers need to be built up. . Once the modeller is finished with the wheels attention turns to the main lower hull. what look to be additional armour plates are added to the lower sloped are and the vertical sides. A large additional armour plate is attached to the bottom. Both sets of return rollers are also added along with the mounting arms for the idler wheels and drive sprockets. The torsion bar ends for the road wheels are also added. The rear of the tank is then added along with all the remaining wheels. Next up the tracks are built. Each side consists of 80 links. The track sprues here contain 8 links per set. According to the instructions the track centres are removed and clipped together with a central linking part. Then the end caps are added while still attached to the sprue. Once attached they can be cut from the sprues. The instructions indicate no glue to be used. The tracks can then be attached to the lower hull. While this all sounds great in reality after completing 8 links it is not that straight forward. The small links which join the track links in the centre are difficult to handle, with tweezers they just ping off an become fodder for the carpet monster so I found its better to do them by hand. It is then best once the centre part is on to lie it flat and join to the next link. The outer end caps are best done one pair of links at a time as its nearly impossible to line up more than one set at a time. While frustrating to put together they do look the part once done. Next up the side applique armour panels are constructed along with various PE parts. Attention then moves to the upper hull. The rear part is added along with various tools on the rear decking. A large applique armour plate is added to the front surrounding the driver copula. The drivers hatch along with light fittings and mirrors are added. The upper and lower hulls can now be joined, and the side armour added. A tow cable utilising the brass wire can be added. Next the rear slat armour is added to the hull. Attention now moves to the turret. The gun, and gun mantle are built up and these are added to the lower turret part. Once in the top and bottom of the turret can be joined. The rear turret bins are made up and added, along with the side mounted smoke dischargers. The side applique armour for the turret is built up and added, along with the rear sections of slat armour. The hatches are added long with various fittings and the machine guns & mount. Lastly the aerial mounts are added. Once complete the turret can be added to the main hull. Decals There is a small sheet of the minimal markings these tanks carried, plus a larger sheet of black rectangles which seem to be all over the tank. Conclusion The quality of the kit is first rate. Although not a widely used variant of the Leopard family it is great to see this one kitted. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Panzer IV/70 (A) HobbyBoss 1:35 History After the Battle of Stalingrad, in September 1942 the Wehrmacht arms bureau, the Waffenamt, called for a new standard for assault weapons: 100 mm of armour to the front, 40–50 mm on the sides, wider tracks, ground clearance of 50 cm, top speed of 26 km/h and the lowest possible firing positions. The new Panzerjäger ("tank hunter") design would be armed with the same 7.5 cm gun as fitted to the Panther: the Pak 42 L/70. Initially a new chassis was planned, but that of the Panzer IV had to be used. Previous efforts to mount bigger guns on smaller chassis resulted in the Marder series as well as StuG IIIs. The Marder series were tall and had open crew compartments. The new design had a low silhouette and completely enclosed, casemate fighting compartment. The Jagdpanzer IV used Panzer IV chassis 7 (known as BW7), but the almost-vertical front hull plate was replaced by sloped armour plates. Internally, the layout was changed to accommodate the new superstructure, moving the fuel tanks and ammunition racks. Since the Jagdpanzer lacked a turret, the engine which originally powered the Panzer IV's turret could be eliminated. The new superstructure had 80 mm thick sloped armour, which gives a much greater armour protection than a vertical armour of 100 mm. To make the manufacturing process as simple as possible, the superstructure was made out of large, interlocking plates that were welded together. Armament consisted of a 7.5 cm main gun, originally intended to be the Pak 42 L/70, but due to shortages older guns were initially used, the 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/43 for pre-production, and the 7.5 cm Pak 39 L/48 for initial production variant. These were shorter and less powerful than the Pak 42. Installing the much heavier Pak 42 meant that the Jagdpanzer IV was nose heavy, especially with the heavy frontal armour. This made them less mobile and more difficult to operate in rough terrain, leading their crews to nickname them Guderian-Ente ("Guderian's duck"). To prevent the rubber rims of the road wheels being dislocated by the weight of the vehicle, some later versions had steel road wheels installed on the front. The final prototype of the Jagdpanzer IV was presented in December 1943 and production started in January 1944, with the Pak 39 L/48 armed variant staying in production until November. Production of the Pak 42 L/70 armed variants started in August and continued until March/April 1945. On 19-22 August 1943, after the Battle of Kursk, Hitler received reports that StuG IIIs performed better than Panzer IV within certain restraints of how they were deployed. It was thus intended to stop production of the Panzer IV itself at the end of 1944 to concentrate solely on production of the Jagdpanzer IV, but the Panzer IV was in production all the way until the end of the conflict along with Jagdpanzer IV. Panzer IV/70 (V) (Sd.Kfz.162/1) was one of two variants armed with the same Pak 42 L/70 gun. The (V) stands for the designer, Vomag. The most produced version, with 930–940 built in August 1944 - April 1945. Panzer IV/70 (A) (Sd.Kfz.162/1) the other Pak 42 L/70 armed Jagdpanzer IV the subject of this kit. In order to send Pak 42 L/70 armed vehicles to the front as soon as possible, in July 1944 Hitler ordered an interim solution to speed up Nibelungenwerke's transition from Panzer IV production to Panzer IV/70 production. "A" stands for Alkett, a manufacturer of the StuG III that was ordered to redesign the Jagdpanzer IV superstructure to be mounted onto a standard Panzer IV chassis. The Vomag design used a modified chassis permitting a very low silhouette, mounting the superstructure onto the original Panzer IV chassis required additional vertical steel plates mounted onto the chassis to counter height differences. The resulting vehicle was about 40 cm taller and lacked the sharp edged nose of the Vomag variant. Only 278 were built by Nibelungenwerke from August 1944 to March 1945. Minor modifications and improvements were made throughout the production runs of all variants, as well as several field improvements, the most common being the addition of armour side skirts. Originally the Jagdpanzer IV's gun had a muzzle brake installed, but because the gun was so close to the ground, each time it was fired, huge dust clouds would rise up and betray the vehicle's position, leading many crews to remove the muzzle brake in the field. Later variants dispensed with the muzzle brake. Early vehicles had zimmerit applied to the hull to protect against magnetic mines, but this was discontinued after about September 1944. Later vehicles had three return rollers rather than the original four, and adopted the twin vertical exhausts typical of the late Panzer IV series. Some late vehicles also had all-steel road wheels on the first couple of bogies on each side. The Model This is the third ex-Tristar kit to be reviewed on BM and it follows the same pattern as those of the Panzer IV Tauch, reviewed HERE and the Panzer 38(T), HERE in that the box art is the same as the Tristar packaging with the colour artists impression surrounded by a yellow boarder. As with the other kits, all the parts are beautifully moulded, with the sprues and separate lower hull and turret in a sandy yellow styrene. There are fifteen sprues in the yellow styrene, one of clear styrene, one in an odd rubbery material which is apparently similar to Dragons DS, in that it can be glued using standard adhesives. There are also three sprues of dark grey styrene for the track links, three sheets of etched brass, and a smallish decal sheets. There is no sign of flash anywhere, but there are quite a few moulding pips that will need to be cleaned up. Looking at the parts count and layout, it doesn’t appear to be a complicated build, with perhaps the exception of the individual track links which I know some modellers still don’t like. Construction begins with the assembly of the road wheels, of two distinct types. Each of rear sets are made up in pairs and consist of inner and outer wheels, each with the rubber tyres and glued together with a poly style cap. The front sets are similarly built, but with styrene tyres representing the steel used on the front pairs of wheels. The leaf spring suspension for each set of wheels is made up from three parts, whilst the mounting unit on which the axles are attached are each made from four parts. The front two suspension sets on each side are then fitted with the “steel” rimmed wheels and the two rear sets, per side, are fitted with the rubber rimmed wheels. The sprockets are made up from inner and outer hubs and fitted to the gearbox cover via a shaft piece that is slid through the rear of the cover. The idlers are also made from inner and outer hubs and fitted with a separate axle part. The lower hull is then fitted with the rear bulkhead, which in turn is detailed with the two, three piece exhausts, two, three piece idler wheel mounts, a horizontal plate, two piece telephone stowage box, and the four piece towing hitch. At the front end of the lower hull the two sections of lower glacis plates are fitted, along with two angled side plates. On the underside, two lengths of what look like suspension parts are glued into position, whilst on the sides the five, three piece bump stops and four, three piece return rollers are attached. The engine bulkhead is fitted inside the lower hull, whilst at the front the two, four piece towing eyes are attached. All the wheel assemblies are now fitted to their respective positions and the six piece front upper glacis plate, plus the two five piece track guards are glued into position. The engine decking is built up from separate plates, to form a box structure, into which the intake guides are fitted and the whole section covered over with the two hatches and their grilles. The deck is further detailed with the fitting of some pioneer tools, grab handles, hinges and a two piece box. The rear mudguards are then attached, along with the rear light clusters and reflectors, with more pioneer tools and fire extinguisher being fitted to the engine decking, which has been glued to the rear of the hull. The rear of the gun and the breech block are really well detailed with nineteen parts for the rear section of the gun and another ten parts of the breech block which is glued to the rear gun section. The protective guard is then fitted, (another three parts), followed by the four part gun sight. The fighting compartment roof is fitted to its supporting frame, and then detailed on the outside with two curved rails, lifting hooks, grab handles, sight protectors and an air vent, followed by the two multi part hatches. On the inside the hatch hinges are fitted, as well as the periscopes and five piece angled sight. The hatches fitted earlier can be posed open just by rearranging the fitting of the hinges. The rear fighting compartment plate is also fitted with detail on the inside with the spent shell port, a pair of spanners and quite a few unidentifiable PE parts, whilst on the inside of the frontal armour plate there is a three piece ball assembly for a machine gun, which is covered up on the outside by are large armoured box, as well as the drives armoured viewing port. The front, rear, sides and roof of the fighting compartment are then glued together and fitted with the gun assembly from the inside, with the single piece barrel, with its armoured mounting and saukopf fitted from the outside. The completed compartment is then glued to the hull. The track assemblies are now constructed from the individual links, with the instructions showing that you will need ninety eight links per side and fitted. A length of about ten links is also assembled and glued to the upper glacis plate. At this point there are many small parts attached to the hull and fenders, including the lights, two pairs of spare wheels, two gun cradle hinges, various PE brackets and eyelets, along with the six Schürzen plate hangers per side. These are made up from two PE parts, bent to shape, and a single styrene part. The Schürzen plates are single pieces of what look like nickel plated brass and really look the part. The plates are attached to the mounting brackets by PE hangers, bent to shape and a styrene rod. The final part to be fitted is the gun cradle, which can be posed stowed or in use. Decals The small decal sheet contains markings for three vehicles, they are well printed, in register and nicely opaque. They are quite glossy and there is a fair amount of carrier film between the main numbers, but it feels quite thin so shouldn’t cause to much of a problem when applied over a gloss coat. The three vehicles are:- Panzer IV/70 of the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade, during the Ardennes Offensive, 1944 in overall dark yellow with dark green and red brown splotches. Panzer IV/70 of the 23rd Panzer Division used in Hejmakser, Hungary, 1945, also dark yellow overall but with a different style of dark green and red brown splotches. Panzer IV/70 operated by the Red Army in Vienna, Austria, 1945. Camouflage is either dark yellow overall or dark green overall. Conclusion This is a great looking kit, well detailed and not too difficult to build, although there are some very small parts, particularly PE. The Schürzen plates and their hangers are very realistic and will look great on the completed model. I’m glad that these Tristar kits haven’t been lost as they are very nice and this particular kit is should bring enjoyment to all modelling skill levels, with perhaps the exception of a total novice to PE. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. Chance Vought F4U-1 Corsair Hobbyboss 1:48 In February 1938 the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics published two requests for proposal for twin-engined and single-engined fighters. For the single-engined fighter the Navy requested the maximum obtainable speed, and a stalling speed not higher than 70 mph (110 km/h). A range of 1,000 miles (1,600 km) was specified. The fighter had to carry four guns, or three with increased ammunition. Provision had to be made for anti-aircraft bombs to be carried in the wing. These small bombs would, according to thinking in the 1930s, be dropped on enemy aircraft formations. In June 1938, the U.S. Navy signed a contract with Vought for a prototype bearing the factory designation V-166B, the XF4U-1, BuNo 1443. The Corsair design team was headed up by Rex Beisel. After mock-up inspection in February 1939, construction of the XF4U-1 powered by an XR-2800-4 prototype of the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp twin-row, 18-cylinder radial engine, rated at 1,805 hp (1,346 kW) went ahead quickly, as the very first airframe ever designed from the start to have a Double Wasp engine fitted for flight. When the prototype was completed it had the biggest and most powerful engine, largest propeller and probably the largest wing on any naval fighter to date. The first flight of the XF4U-1 was made on 29 May 1940, with Lyman A. Bullard, Jr. at the controls. The maiden flight proceeded normally until a hurried landing was made when the elevator trim tabs failed because of flutter. Production F4U-1s featured several major modifications compared with the XF4U-1. A change of armament to six wing-mounted .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns (three in each outer wing panel) and their ammunition (400 rounds for the inner pair, 375 rounds for the outer) meant that the location of the wing fuel tanks had to be changed. In order to keep the fuel tank close to the center of gravity, the only available position was in the forward fuselage, ahead of the cockpit. Accordingly, as a 237 gal (897 l) self-sealing fuel tank replaced the fuselage mounted armament, the cockpit had to be moved back by 32 in (810 mm) and the fuselage lengthened. In addition, 150 lb of armour plate was installed, along with a 1.5 in (38 mm) bullet-proof windscreen which was set internally, behind the curved Plexiglas windscreen. The canopy could be jettisoned in an emergency, and half-elliptical planform transparent panels, much like those of certain models of the Curtiss P-40, were inset into the sides of the fuselage's turtledeck structure behind the pilot's headrest, providing the pilot with a limited rear view over his shoulders. A rectangular Plexiglas panel was inset into the lower center section to allow the pilot to see directly beneath the aircraft and assist with deck landings. The engine used was the more powerful R-2800-8 (B series) Double Wasp which produced 2,000 hp (1,491 kW). On the wings the flaps were changed to a NACA slotted type and the ailerons were increased in span to increase the roll rate, with a consequent reduction in flap span. IFF transponder equipment was fitted in the rear fuselage. These changes increased the Corsair's weight by several hundred pounds. The performance of the Corsair was impressive. The F4U-1 was considerably faster than the Grumman F6F Hellcat and only 13 mph (21 km/h) slower than the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt; all three were powered by the R-2800. But while the P-47 achieved its highest speed at 30,020 feet (9,150 m) with the help of an intercooled turbocharger, the F4U-1 reached its maximum speed at 19,900 ft (6,100 m), and used a mechanically supercharged engine. The Model Continuing their release schedule with the different variants of F4U Corsairs, Hobbyboss have now released the F4U-1. The top opening box has a nice artistic impression of the aircraft in flight whilst inside there are seven sprues of medium grey styrene, two separately moulded parts, one sprue of clear styrene and a decal sheet. All the parts are very nicely moulded with fine panel lines and rivet detail throughout. There’s no sign of flash or other imperfections and only a few moulding pips, but what there are, are on some of the finer parts, so care will need to be taken when removing them and cleaning up. Fortunately the wing problems that have plagued the previous release are actually correct for this version. As with most of their aircraft kits, should go together fairly easily. It’s not a complicated build, but there are areas that have quite a bit of detail, particularly the engine, where the parts are quite fragile and fiddly. Naturally as with most aircraft builds, construction begins with the cockpit, and the fitting of the two side consoles and two piece seat assembly to the rear bulkhead. The rudder pedals are glued to the front bulkhead, to which the instrument panel bulkhead is attached, followed by the instrument panel for which a decal is provided, even though the IP has dimples where the instruments are mounted, a good panel to use those Airscale instruments and bezels you’ve promised to use one day. The joystick complete with control wires glued through the instrument panel bulkhead and into the front bulkhead. As per the real aircraft, there isn’t a cockpit floor, so side consoles, now attached to the rear bulkhead are then glued to the instrument panel bulkhead forming the cockpit “tub”. The engine is a model on its own, with the two cylinder banks moulded as single items which are then joined together and fitted with the single piece inlet manifold complete with the myriad of pipes. The exhausts are next and care should be taken to get the right parts in the right place as it’s crucial to get them exhausting out of the right places. The two piece crank case is fitted with the two magnetos and with the propshaft pushed through it from behind, glued to the front of the engine along with the pushrod ring. The accessory gear box is made up form three parts and glued to the rear of the engine. The wings are designed such that the modeller has a choice of whether to pose them folded or spread. The choice is pretty much made with the assembly of the wing centre section which includes the lower fuselage and gull wing sections. The two radiator baths are glued to the single piece bottom wing section along with the folding point ribs, before the two upper wing sections are attached. The leading radiator intakes are then fitted with their grilles before being glued onto the wing. The fold points are detailed with three piece fold mechanisms and two piece spars. When posing the wings extended you won’t need to add the mechanisms and you use the straight spar part instead to the bent part. Unfortunately the flaps, although separate have been moulded in such a way that they cannot be posed drooped, although I’m sure with a bit of modelling it can be done should you wish. On the centreline there is a large cooling vent fitted, with the accelerator sling hooks fitted on either side, and the clear panel to the rear. The seven piece tailwheel/hook assembly is now built up and along with the tail hook has the option of being built extended or lowered, do ensure that the correct parts are used for the option you wish to build. The tailwheel, cockpit, and engine assemblies are now fitted to one half of the fuselage, along with the cockpit sidewalls and tailwheel bay structure, which is made up from five parts. The fuselage is then closed up and the centre wing assembly glued into position, as is the engine cowl flap section and cowling. Just behind the cockpit, on either side, two panels are attached, whilst in the cockpit the two part gun sight is fitted. The horizontal tailplanes are each single piece parts, to which the elevators and control rods are fitted. Unlike the previous releases, this kit comes with open machine gun bays, but with the three 50 cals with separate ejector guides and with their associated belt trays, with separate belts included. All the gun bay doors are also separate, and look like they could be a bit awkward to fit in the closed position even though there are nice ledges for them to sit. The outer wings can now be fitted to the inner wings and in whatever position you have chosen. The main undercarriage assemblies are now built up. Each assembly consists of the main oleo, scissor link, retraction actuator legs front mounted door and two piece wheels. The completed undercarriage assemblies are then fitted into their respective bays along with the main and tailwheel bay doors. The single piece three bladed propeller, propeller hub, windscreen, canopy, two aerial masts and spine mounted anti-collision light are attached. Decals There two aircraft options provided on the decal sheet which are well printed, in register and with good opacity. Along with the national markings and individual codes, there are a small selection of stencils for one aircraft, as well as the yellow tips for the propeller blades, for those modellers who don’t like to paint this area. The two aircraft options are 17-F-6 and 17-F-25, both in a two tone Blue Grey over Light Gull Grey scheme, at least that’s what’s on the colour callouts. Conclusion Well, what can I say here that I haven’t already said in the review? It’s a great looking model, which will probably be a nice quick and fairly pain free build. It’s nice to see Hobbyboss adding the armament to this version; perhaps they do read reviews and comments? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Focke Wulf Fw190D-13 1:48 Hobbyboss History Arguably one of the best fighters of the time, the Fw 190 was widely used during the Second World War. A total of over 20,000 were produced, including some 6,000 fighter-bomber variants. The 190 remained in production from 1941 until the end of the war, going through multiple redesigns. The Fw.190 made a name for itself as a true Luftwaffe workhorse and was used in a wide variety of roles, including a high-altitude interceptor (especially the Fw.190D), escort fighter, fighter-bomber and night fighter. When the Fw 190 started flying operationally over France in August 1941, it quickly proved itself to be superior in all but turn radius to the Royal Air Force's main front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V. The 190 wrested air superiority away from the RAF until the introduction of the vastly improved Spitfire Mk. IX in July 1942 restored qualitative parity. The Fw 190 made its air combat debut on the Eastern Front in November/December 1942; though Soviet pilots considered the Bf 109 the greater threat, the Fw 190 made a significant impact. The fighter and its pilots proved just as capable as the Bf 109 in aerial combat, and in the opinion of German pilots who flew both, provided increased firepower and manoeuvrability at low to medium altitude. The Fw 190 became the backbone of the Jagdwaffe, along with the Bf 109. On the Eastern Front, and was versatile enough to use in Schlachtgeschwader (Battle Wings or Strike Wings), specialised ground attack units which achieved much success against Soviet ground forces. As an interceptor, the Fw 190 underwent improvements to make it effective at high altitude, enabling it to maintain relatively equal with its Allied opponents. The Fw 190A series performance decreased at high altitudes (usually 6,000 m (20,000 ft) and above), which reduced its effectiveness as a high-altitude interceptor, but this problem was mostly rectified in later models, particularly in the Junkers Jumo 213 inline-engine Focke Wulf Fw 190D series, which was introduced in September 1944. In spite of its successes, it never entirely replaced the Bf 109. The version this kit depicts, is that of the D-13 which was based on a D-11, Fitted with the up-rated Jumo 213F series engine similar to the Jumo 213E used in the Ta-152 H series but minus the intercooler. Two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons were installed in the outer wings to complement the 20 mm MG 151s in the inboard positions, but also fitted with a MG151/20 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub. The Model This kit is the sixth Fw-190 released by Hobbyboss, and is based on the original D-9, released in 2013. The kit come ins a smallish, but quite well filled box, with an artists impression of a D-13 parked up at an airfield, which has obviously been captured, as the hapless pilot is being led away by a British soldier. Inside, there are eight sprues of various sizes, all in a light grey styrene, one sprue of clear styrene, a small sheet of etched brass, plus the decal sheet. As usual for a Hobbyboss kit, all the parts are well moulded, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, and only a few moulding pips. The instructions are very clearly printed and easy to follow, there being only eight steps to completion. Construction naturally begins with the cockpit and the fitting of the front and rear bulkheads to the single piece floor pan, complete with side consoles. Also fitted to the floor is the rudder bar, with its separate foot pedals attached, the joystick, lower instrument panel, with decal instruments, along with the seat and its supporting frame. The supercharger is then assembled, consisting of five parts it is then attached to the engine fire wall, along with the two piece oil tank. The exhaust stubs are fitted to each fuselage half from the inside before the firewall bulkhead, cockpit assembly, upper instrument panel, also with decal instruments, and four piece tail wheel assembly are sandwiched between the two fuselage halves. It is at thsi point when you realise that you not be able to see anything of the supercharger detail. The closed up fuselage is then fitted with the top forward decking complete with separate air intake, gunsight, PE rear canopy decking, horizontal tailplanes and rudder. The windscreen is then glued into position and the canopy, fitted with the pilots head armour and support, plus the three piece slider assembly, is also fitted. The main undercarriage bays are then glued to the single piece lower wing, the bays having been detailed with wing mounted cannon, plus centre and outboard cross braces. If the model is to be fitted with the various bomb racks, the holes of these will need to be opened up before the upper wing panels are attached. The trailing edge is fitted with separate flaps and ailerons, the wing tips fitted with clear navigation lights and the starboard wing tip with the pitot probe. There is a choice of cowling, one with closed gills and one with open gills, to be fitted to the nose of the fuselage. The wing assembly is then fitted to the fuselage assembly and it starting to look like an aircraft. Each main undercarriage is made up from a single piece oleo, bay door and wheel. Each undercarriage is then glued into position and fitted with a retraction actuator and spring unit. Whilst the model is upside down for undercarriage fitment, three aerials and the footstep are attached. The big fat prop is fitted with the separate backplate and spinner, before being fitted to the model, along with the large four piece intake scoop that is fitted to the starboard side of the forward fuselage. The model can be fitted with two bombs outboard of each undercarriage leg each bomb is fitted with two crutch pads and fitted to a pylon. On the centreline you can fit a quad bomb carrier. Made up from four bombs, again each fitted with two crutch pads, a four point stores carrier, with another pair of crutch pads and the long pylon. Decals Along with the instrument panels, the decal sheet carries national markings and unit markings for just one aircraft, that of Fw-190D-13, Yellow 10, W.Nr.836017, as used by Stab JG 26, based at Flensburg airfield. The decals are well printed with minimal carrier film. Ehy are slightly glossy, with good opacity and in register. There is a full set of stencils included, whilst the swastika has been printed in two halves, to get round the laws in some European countries. Conclusion This whole series of Fw-190s by Hobbyboss have been great little kits, maybe not as complicated, or some would say accurate as the Eduard offerings, but a nice kit none-the-less. Yes it’s a fairly simple kit, which can be a good thing if you’re trying to break modellers block, and also be a good kit to practice painting German mottle scheme for that bigger, more expensive kit you have in the stash. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Russian T-38 Light Tank HobbyBoss 1:35 History The T-38 was derived from the T-37 amphibious tank, itself based on the Vickers amphibious tank purchased from Great Britain in 1930. Perhaps it was also influenced by the French AMR-33. The Vickers was quickly modified into the mass-production T-37A. By 1935 the model had already shown many shortcomings which needed a solution in an improved model. Zavod n°37 in Moscow studied a replacement and eventually a prototype was constructed that year. The range of modifications was rather limited. The turret and driver positions were shifted (from the left side to the right), friction couplings were added to transmit power to the tracks and a new, vibration free, running gear suspension was added and perfected for better driving and crew comfort. Moreover, the T-38 was sightly simplified, lower, lighter, slightly larger and buoyancy characteristics were also better. The Zavod 37 R team choose to not deviate greatly from the original model and only applied a set of modifications to improve, most of all, the handling, driving and mobility characteristics on all terrains. It was thought the firepower could be improved greatly by fitting a 20 mm (0.79 in) SchWAK gun in the drivers compartment, in a fixed position, but the solution proved far too cumbersome and was only briefly tested. The T-38 hull was substantially lowered, with the upper superstructure almost blended with the lower hull and widened at the same time. So were the hollow mudguards to improve buoyancy as well as the handling in water. The double-drive system was unchanged as well as the Ford-derived GAZ engine, transmission, gearbox, drive sprocket and idler configuration, but friction couplings were added. A small three-bladed propeller screw did the job when submerged and, in shallow water, the widened tracks provided more underwater grip and friction surface. On land attention was focused on the sprung bogie suspension, which was substantially reworked to reduce the vibration level at high speed. The larger tracks also lowered the ground pressure. The shifted driver/commander positions improved driving visibility and handling (optimized for right-hand drivers). The hull was made of light rolled steel plates bolted on a frame, specially sealed. Protection was unchanged, as well as the armament, the usual belt-fed DT machine-gun. No provision was made for a radio. Production started at Zavod 37 in 1936 and was discontinued in 1939 when it became apparent that the lack of a radio and the firepower were two major issues, later corrected with the T-40. Numbers built differ greatly from source to source, ranging from 1200 to 1500 units delivered and put into service before the war started. In 1936 a handful of these vehicles were displayed during the May Red Square parade, under the belly of TB-3 bombers. Numerous exercises were performed for deep battle operations and each paratrooper unit was allocated 50 vehicles, and infantry battalions 38 vehicles each. The T-38 entered service in 1937 and showed that, in operations, the lack of radio was a major flaw. Once the radio-equipped vehicle of a platoon was destroyed, the unit had no means to communicate the enemy position, except to physically dispatch a vehicle to the HQ. Plus, the lack of protection and armament meant that in most encounters with an enemy their military value was scarce. Their first mass-engagement came in Finland, especially in the summer because of the swampy and marshy terrain. But they proved that even machine-gun bullets could pierce the armour and these were gradually phased out when the all-out improved T-40 was introduced in 1941. By the time of the German invasion, many seem to have been transformed into dug-out pillboxes in fixed positions on various lines of defence. Large numbers were destroyed, but an equally large numbers were captured, either by the Finns, for their own use, or the Germans which turned them to the Luftwaffe for guarding their advanced airfields. The Model The kit is packaged in the standard Trumpeter style top opening box with an artistic representation of the tank emerging from a river, much like the T-37A kit reviewed HERE. The difference is that this box has to be the absolute minimum size that Hobbyboss could get away with, being about 2/3rds the size of the T-37A box. Inside, there are eight sprues, a separate lower hull and a separate turret, all in a pale beige styrene. There are also seven sprues of brown styrene, one small sheet of etched brass, a length of brass wire and a small decal sheet. As with the previously reviewed kits from Hobbyboss, the mouldings are very well produced, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and only a few moulding pips. The details are pretty much as per the T-37 kit, in that they are well rendered with some very nice rivet detail. It also shares the same track system as the T-37, with the individual track links, which, whilst well moulded are joined to the sprue are three points, so not only will they take quite a bit of careful cleaning up, they will need a lot of patience putting a full run of eighty six links per side together. As with the T-37A kit, construction begins with the assembly of the road wheels and their suspension parts. Each pair of wheels is made up form eight parts and there are two pairs fitted per side. The difference is that with each of the bogies there is a length of brass wire, bent to shape with a mould provided, fitted between each upright. These assemblies are then fitted to the lower hull section, along with two return rollers per side and the idler wheel axle bearings. The sprocket wheel gearbox covers are attached followed by the sprocket wheels themselves. At the rear of the hull the propeller shaft housing and propeller are fitted, as is the propeller guard on the underside of the hull and a towing hook assembly with the rudder fitted between them.. The idler wheels are then attached and the assembled tracks can be fitted. The towing shackles on each side of the rear panel are made by the modeller bending the brass wire to shape, using a suitably shaped mould provided on the sprues. The upper hull is then glued to the lower hull and the separate engine cover, with added PE mesh grille and crew access hatch fitted. The two fenders are attached to the hull, whilst the horn and various brackets are fitted to the upper hull. The tow cable is fitted to the right hand fender and other fittings fitted to the left hand fender. The two, two part headlights are then attached to the front of each fender. With the pioneer tools fitted the two part exhaust is attached to the rear engine deck and a two piece storage box fitted to the right hand fender. The simple machine gun turret, with separate base, is fitted with the single piece machine gun, turret hatch and two PE plates. The external section of the machine guns ball socket is glued into position, meaning that the machine gun cannot be posed in anything other than straight without modification. The completed turret is then slotted into position on the hull, completing the build. Decals The small decal sheet only provides two sets of markings for the two vehicles provided on the colour chart. Both of which are in overall Russian Green, which is a shame, as there are quite a few colour schemes that could have been chosen, including those for the captured Finnish and German vehicles. although the Finnish swastikas are included in a split form. There is quite a lot of information on these schemes on the internet, so it shouldnt take long to find a different scheme for your model. Conclusion Yes, its yet another small Russian tank from Hobbyboss. They must be reaching the limit of production types by now. At least they are different enough to have a small squadron of them in your collection, and they do look rather cute, especially if posed next to a monster T-35. Now theres an idea for a diorama. Highly Recommended Review sample courtesy of
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