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  1. Mike

    Me.262A-2a 1:48

    Me.262A-2a 1:48 HobbyBoss The 262 was the first production jet fighter of WWII on any side, and gave a pretty good account of itself, all told. Thankfully for the Allies, it was delayed hideously by Hitler's insistence that it should also be able to carry bombs, as well as the advances in metallurgy that were needed before they could get sufficient reliability in the engines to make jet powered missions practical. There are a plethora of variants that were either planned, proposed or in development, while only a few types actually saw service. Of the fast bomber or Schnellbomber variants, the A-2a was the definitive in-service variant, which was the "Sturmvogel" that Hitler so obsessed with, to attack the expected invasion beaches with little in the way of retaliation due to the Sturmvogel's speed differential. This insistence helped the Allies immensely, leaving fewer fighter variants to attack the incoming bombers and fighter bombers supporting the invasion. The A-2a had only the lower two 30mm Mk.108 cannons in the nose for defence/offense, and had two mounting points for either 250kg or 500kg bombs under the nose. The Kit This is one of the latest editions from HobbyBoss in a long and growing line of kits that represent great value, as well as providing plenty of detail into the bargain. The kit sprues are modular to squeeze best value from them, and if you've seen one kit, you've seen the majority of the parts already, so you'll know what to expect. We've reviewed a few of the previous kits already, and you can see the A-1a/U1 here and the B-1a here if you need a refresher. Although the box art sometimes lets them down, the contents of the box does not, and this variant even includes some decent box art painted by forum member Kostas Karvathias no less! Inside the box are ten sprues of various sizes, two small clear sprues, a metal nose-weight/gear bay part, decal sheet, the instruction booklet and separate colour printed painting guide. The build is as you'd expect, with a cockpit tub that has plenty of detail and also forms the inner section of the main gear bays. The gun bay shows all four Mk.108s installed, but only the bottom two were carried in reality, so you could either leave them out and add some more nose weight, or put them in anyway. The upper gun troughs in the nose are shown blanked over in contemporary photos, and you're incited to use part P9 that has them covered by a flat fairing. If you were going to leave the gun bay panels open (which is an option), you'll need to do some research to check how the open bay looked without the cannons. The bay is fitted to the top of the nose gear bay former, which is a chunk of white metal to provide nose weight, although there is a styrene equivalent left on the sprues. The nose gear leg can be added now with a choice of smooth or treaded tyres that also require different strut parts, but share retraction struts and door parts. Before the fuselage can be closed around the two assemblies, a quantity of parts are added to the rear fuselage in the shape of radio gear and other small parts, which only will be seen through a small bay door on the fuselage side if left open. The interior of the fuselage has been moulded with ribbing detail to accommodate this option, so check your references and add any wires and extra parts that you think will be seen through the open hatchway. Oddly, the interior of the engine nacelles also have the same ribbing moulded-in, but none of this will be seen with the intake bullet and exhaust cones installed and their fairings added front and rear. It's possible that they're either a hangover from a more ambitious earlier nacelle design that included opening panels, or that the rigidity that they imbue to the parts is desirable. Needless to say, you build up two nacelles, which are handed left and right, but once complete they are difficult to mix up due to their angled exhaust fairings and keyed joints. The lower wing is full width with cut-outs for the engines, and this is joined to the two upper wing panels, leaving a gap where the fuselage will sit, which receives some additional detail parts for the main gear bays. Check the fit of the fuselage in the wing assembly, and fettle as necessary, after which you can add the nose cone and cowlings to the nose, and then the rear deck behind the pilot plus his three part canopy, consisting of a windscreen that has a small section of the surrounding fuselage moulded-in, the canopy opener, and the fixed rear section. A piece of bullet-proof glass is added inside the windscreen, and head armour is inserted inside the canopy, which can be posed open by leaving the attachment lugs on the starboard side. The engines are installed under the wing, and two panels under the nose that contain the location points for the bombs and shell ejector chutes finish off the fuselage. The main gear legs have separate oleo-scissor links and retractor jacks, plus a two-part captive bay door on each leg, with the inner doors hinging together on the fuselage centre-line. The large nose bay door has its own retractor part, and that's the basic build completed. The Sturmvogel's main purpose was to drop bombs, and these are included in the kit, with 250kg or 500kg options both in the box. The bombs are in two halves, with fin braces added at the rear from slim styrene parts, while the stubby pylons are made up from two halves, the smaller ones having separate sway-braces. It's your choice which size you use, or you could leave the pylons un-loaded. Markings The Luftwaffe were keen on mottle to help camouflage their aircraft against Allied attacks, and the two decal options provided in the kit make heavy use of these techniques, but one is easier to carry off than the other! From the box you can build one of the following: Me.262A-2a White Y of I./KG51, 1944/1945 – RLM82/02 squiggle pattern over an RLM76 base. White nose cone and tail tip. Wk.Nr.500200 Black X of II./KG51, 1945 – RLM82/83 splinter camo on upper sides and heavy mottle on the sides, over an RLM76 base. Red nose cone and tail tip. The decals are printed in-house as usual, and are up to the task, although I'm not massively impressed with the resolution of the black, which has some stepping evident under magnification. Registration between black and white on the swastikas is fractionally out on our sample, but colour density appears good, and there is a thin glossy carrier film over each decal. The swastikas are printed in halves, and a handy set of instrument panel decals are included to spruce up the cockpit, although their carrier film might need trimming to ease fit. Conclusion Another solid Me.262 from HobbyBoss and a couple of fun colour schemes, the first of which will really test your fine line skills with your airbrush, with a price-point that is very appealing. There are more variants in the works including some of the more unusual types, and they're constantly calling on me to build them from the stash. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Soviet BA-3 Armoured Car Hobbyboss 1:35 History The BA-3 was an improved model, following an 1932 army specification asking for a model equipped with the T-26 turret, and its high velocity 45 mm (1.77 in) 20K gun (60 rounds), allowing excellent antitank capabilities. The armament was completed by a coaxial DT machine-gun and another in the front compartment co-driver ball mount. The Izhorskij plant chose to radically improve the BA1 design, lengthening the rear part of the hull by 50 cm (1.64 ft) to cope with the extra top-weight of the new T-26 turret. The ring was also reinforced, as the entire rear compartment. The riveted armour was also thickened and the engine compartment received extra exhaust vents, as the GAZ engine proved prone to overheating. It was also remarkable that it was tested and equipped with spare chained tracks for its rear wheels, for a quick conversion into a half-track. Each track comprised 25 80x35 mm (3.14x1.38 in) soft steel links and weighted about 74 kg, stored on the rear mudguards. The conversion could be performed in just 10 minutes ensuring largely improved off-road capabilities and overall versatility in operations. Like the BAI, the hull and turret were partly welded. The front compartment was higher than the rear fighting compartment, giving this model a lower profile. Access to the fighting compartment was allowed by a rear door and two hatches served the driver compartment. The suspension was of the leaf spring system. The two rear axles held double wheels, so, in fact, no less than twelve tires were needed. The hull weight 5.82 tons, and the water-cooled GAZ A M-1 engine gave a power-to-weight ratio of 8 ton/hp with a net power of 40hp@2800rpm. Top speed was 56 km/h (34.8 mph) on road and range about 160 miles (240 km). Tests were performed in June 1934 at the NIIBT unit, Kubinka proving grounds. Cross-country speed proved less than 35 km/h (21.7 mph) and the engine also overheated badly, imposing better cooling and a reinforced front suspension, which were added on the next series. Production was part of the 1st Five Year Plan and was partly assumed by Vyksunskij (Gorki Works), the first series based on the US-based Ford-Timken truck chassis converted into a 6x4, and later production vehicles received a new Russian-built GAZ AAA chassis. When the production ended in 1935, 180 have been delivered to the Red Army. The Model Having released the BA-10 version of this armoured car series it was great to see Hobbyboss release this, the BA-3. The kit come in a top opening box with an artistic impression of the vehicle stopped on the battlefield firing its main gun. Inside there are eleven sprues of beige styrene, the single piece body, one small sprue of clear styrene, two sheets of etched brass, twelve rubber/vinyl tyres and a small decal sheet. As usual for a Hobbyboss kit the parts moulding is really well done, with some nicely reproduced surface details, no sign of flash or other imperfections and not too many moulding pips making for an easy clean up job. Whilst not a large model by any stretch of imagination, there are quite a few parts, many of the small, so care with handling them will need to be exercised. Construction begins with the modification of the two chassis rails. Each of the rear ends need to be cut away, and whilst not measurements are given in the instructions the point is clearly marked on the rails themselves. With this done, three crossbeams are fitted between the rails, the rear one provided in three parts and forms part of the rear suspension. Each of the two differentials are assembled form two parts, onto which the two axles are attached. The two part universal joints are then added to each differential, followed by two suspension mounts fitted to each end of the axles. The leaf springs are then attached to the mounts, forming a solid unit with the axle/differentials, along with the anti-roll bars. The drive shaft connecting the two differentials is then slid into position. The completed assembly is then fitted to the chassis, along with a three piece storage box and the steering rack gearbox. The kit comes with a very nicely detailed engine made up of a two piece block to which the sump is added, followed by the cylinder head, crankcase, air intake pipe and coolant pipe. The two part bell housing is attached to the clutch plate housing before being fitted to the engine. This is followed by the fitting of the exhaust manifold various bits of pipework such as the exhaust pipe, auxiliary drive belt, cooling fan and the drive shaft. Rather unusually the accelerator pedal and clutch pedal are fitted to the top of the gearbox cover, complete with linkages and separate pedal pads. The completed engine/gearbox assembly is then fitted to the front of the chassis. The front wheel mount is made up of a three part triangular structure on to which the single cross-mounted leaf spring, along with its fittings is attached to the axle arm. Each of the two inner hubs are fitted with their ball joints and axle link before being fitted to the axle ends, followed by the steering rack between the two wheels. The front wheel assembly is then fitted to the chassis, along with two drop links, the three part silencer and exhaust end, and transfer box cover. Each of the ten wheels are made up of the outer hub and tyre, ensuring that the correct hub is used as there are three different styles depending on where they are fitted. With the wheels assembled they cna be fitted to the axles. The chassis and running gear are finished off with the fitting of the final drive shaft, and the rear suspension upper leaf springs. The body assembly begins with the fitting of the firewall bulkhead to the chassis which has oil and fuel filters attached, at the same time the large air filter unit is fitted to the engine. The main cab floor is attached to the chassis, ensuring the gearbox mounted pedals are carefully positioned through the gap in the floor. The handbrake leaver is then fitted, as are the gearstick and gear range selector. Each of the drivers and gunners seats are made up of the seat base, squab, backrest with associated supports, which when assembled can be glued into position. The instrument binnacle is glued to the lower coaming panel which is then fixed to the bulkhead. The steering column is carefully slid through the hole in the bulkhead and attached to the steering rack gearbox fitted earlier, and finished off with the steering wheel and indicator/light stalks. The upper coaming panel in then glued into positions, along with eh radiator and front mounted scoop like panel. With the above assembly put to one side, it’s on with the turret build. The turret is made up of left and right halves which, when joined together are fitted with the turret roof, rear panel, and front gun mounting panel. The outer mantlet is fitted with an moveable internal mount which is fixed to the mantlet via two trunnion mounts. The mantlet is then fitted to the turret, followed by the two top hatches, three eyebolts, periscope cover and ventilation mushroom. Before the single piece barrel can be fitted the barrel support bracket is attached to the mantlet along with a grab handle and two PE eyebolts. With the main gun and machine gun barrels fitted the turret is finished off with a small PE bracket which fits underneath the barrel support. Finally, we’re on the home straight, with the fitting of the drivers/gunners panel, complete with four part machine gun mount, to the front of the single piece armoured body. The body is then mounted to the floor/chassis and fitted with the rear armoured panel covering the drive train/suspension. This panel is then fitted with the PE number plate, whilst on the body itself the rear access door is attached, as is the PE rain channel above the left hand pistol port. On each side of the drivers compartment the armoured panels that protect the underside are attached. These are followed by the cooling louvers on each side of the engine compartment, two spare wheel mounts, two engine access panels and two armoured radiator doors. The large wheel arches that cover the rear sets of wheels are each fitted with PE strengthening strips on the inside before being mounted on the body. The drivers and machine gunners doors are then attached, along with the roof mounted hatch and front wheel arches. The vehicle is finished off with the fitting of the footstep supports, with PE steps, headlights, with clear lenses, taillights, radiator cap, front bumper, complete with separate number plate, grab rails around the rear of the body, three piece horn and last, but by no means least, the turret assembly. Decals The small decal sheet is sparse to say the least. What there are, are nicely printed and if previous experience has taught me, quite thin. The turret markings, for use on an overall green machine, include a unit badge and the dotted line that goes round the turret top. Care will be needed for this, not only to get it all level, but doing so without tearing it. The other two decals are for the drivers instruments. Conclusion There is something about these large armoured cars. They have an enigmatic air about them, as well as being slightly bonkers, as most of the interwar armoured cars seem to be. Having built an Eastern Express BA-20 armoured car, I can be pretty sure that this kit will be a dream to build in comparison. It will certainly make a nice addition to any collection, along with the previously release BA-10. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Chance Vought F4U-5N Corsair, Early version Hobbyboss 1:48 A 1945 design modification of the F4U-4, first flown on 21 December 1945, was intended to increase the F4U-4 Corsair's overall performance and incorporate many Corsair pilots' suggestions. It featured a more powerful Pratt and Whitney R-2800-32(E) engine with a two-stage supercharger, rated at a maximum of 2,850 hp (2,130 kW). Other improvements included automatic blower controls, cowl flaps, intercooler doors and oil cooler for the engine, spring tabs for the elevators and rudder, a completely modernized cockpit, a completely retractable tail wheel, and heated cannon bays and pitot head. The cowling was lowered two degrees to help with forward visibility, but perhaps most striking as the first variant to feature all-metal wings, a total of 223 were produced. The F4U-5N was a radar equipped variant with the radar housed in a pod mounted under the port wing, between the cannon bay and the wing tip. A total of 214 were produced and proved very successful in combating the low and slow night intruders used by the Communist forces in Korea, which the US jet powered night fighters found troublesome to intercept. Originally pitted against night flying Yak 9’s early in the war, they couldn’t cope against the Mig jet fighters. The Model Continuing their release schedule with the different variants of F4U Corsairs, Hobbyboss have now released the F4U-5N. The top opening box has a nice artistic impression of the aircraft in flight whilst inside there are nine 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. The one thing that jumps out on you is the wings. The 5N had all metal wings but, unfortunately Hobbyboss have included the original fabric covered outer wing panels used on their earlier marks. This is a great shame and shows the sort of laziness that has plagued the Hobbyboss brand, certainly with their aircraft kits. Fortunately the styrene looks thick enough for the modeller to sand the “ribs” down to make a nice flat surface. Of course some research will be required to add any panels that were fitted. Apart from the wing style problem this kit, as with most of their aircraft kits, should go together fairly easily. It’s not a complicated build, but there are areas that 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 to the floor. The rudder pedals are glued to the back of 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 panel is then fitted to the top of the console ends, whilst the front bulkhead, with separate compass attached is glued to the front of the floor and the rear bulkhead with separate headrest attached is glued to the rear. The joystick and control wires are glued to an under floor section, which is glued into position with the joystick passing through the hole in the cockpit floor. 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. 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. The elevators and rudder appear to have the same problem as the outer wing panels, in that they are shown to have a fabric covering. As with the wings, the 5N also had metal control surfaces with the possible exception of the elevator trim tabs, which from historical photographs look like they still had a fabric covering. Bearing that in mind, and the extra work involved in correcting the problem, it’s probably best to do so before fitting to the fuselage. Once the outer wings have been rectified you will need to open up the flashed over holes for the cartridge ejectors and rocket stubs, although I’m not sure if these were always fitted to the 5N, just the standard 5’s. Another oddity is the fact that Hobbyboss have provided all the cannon bay access doors as separate items, and yet haven’t provided detailed cannon bays. So you might want to glue all the doors into position before adding the lower halve of the wing to ensure getting a flush fit. With the wing halves joined together the fold joint rib is fitted, along with the cannon muzzles and separate ailerons and outer flaps. The outer wings can now be fitted to the inner wings and in whatever position you have chosen. The windscreen, canopy and fin/rudder are also fitted at this point in the instructions. 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 two piece radar pod, single piece four bladed propeller, propeller hub, three aerial masts and two exhaust deflector strips are attached. Finally the two, two piece drop tanks are assembled, fitted with what looks like a vent tube, and glued into position via their pylons. The rocket stubs, if fitted are also attached, finishing the build. Decals There is just a single aircraft option provided on the decal sheet , that of F4U-5N of VC-2, Korea 1953. Although well printed, in register and with good opacity, there’s something not quite right with them. I’ve searched the interweb for corroborating pictures and there seems to be some confusion out there as well. Some photos show the aircraft with white codes whilst others show the aircraft as having green codes, and Stars and Bars, even the box art seems to show everything in white. I can see why they would have been green since they were painted on a night fighter so maybe Hobbyboss have them right. They certainly look slightly odd, particularly due not being used to seeing them that colour. 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, but only if you ignore the fabric effect on the outer wings, rudder and elevators. If you can’t ignore that stuff, then it’s time for the sanding sticks, maybe some filler and a scribing tool, to get to something that resembles like the real thing. It’s entirely up to you. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf.B 1:35 MiniArt The Panzer III was a pre-WWII design that saw extended service throughout the war in many variants, although it became out-classed and redundant as a tank killer early on. The B variant was classed as a prototype with only 10 built, although some limited service was seen in the Polish campaign. It was lightly armoured to say the least with only 15mm on the front, 10mm on the sides, and a miserly 5mm on the underside. Later variants improved on this, as it was soon realised that the armour was woefully insufficient. Carrying a 37mm gun, the firepower was also inadequate, and later models again had 50mm and 75mm units installed, but the turret had already been designed to cater for the larger guns, so the innovative 3-man turret crew were able to do their job without distractions from multi-tasking. This was a legacy that soon propagated to the Allies, as well as future German tank designs. With only 10 vehicles produced carrying terrible armament and armour, the B was soon removed from service, with development accelerated to counter the T-34. Despite its inadequacies against more modern designs, the Pz.III stayed in the fight until the end of the war, mostly as a infantry support tank. Production of the Pz.III ended in 1943, with many chassis re-engineered to become the feared StuG III. The Kit MiniArt craft a nice AFV, and this kit is of that ilk, having a huge part count of 1,127, although almost 500 of those parts are related to the tracks. Inside the box are three large sprues and eighteen smaller sprues in a mid-grey styrene, plus two hull parts and two turret parts, off the sprues. There are also eighteen sprues of track-links and a small styrene jig to track construction, again in the same styrene. A small sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a small decal sheet complete the kit, with only the instruction booklet and integrated painting guide left to mention. The high part-count may put some folks off, but when you look at the tracks and their almost 500 parts, it's not that daunting, and you do get some rather nice interior detail in the turret area. It is a highly detailed kit though, so don't expect it to go together in an afternoon. The only part that leaves me scratching my head is the decision to provide one "multi-sprue" and then chop three more of the same sprue up to supply the rest of the parts, when only two small spruelets aren't used. I'd have imagined that it would be far better for the spares to languish in our cupboards than their warehouses – unless of course they have another use for them, or switched off those sections of the sprue to save styrene? Who knows. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is made up from the floor, sides and rear bulkhead, to which the early leaf-spring suspension is added along with the necessary linkages, swing-arms and bump-stops. The drive sprockets are built up with their final drive bell-housings, which have a trio of PE parts added to the outside, and a little careful gluing will be needed if you want to keep the sprockets capable of rotation. The idler-wheels are two simple wheels with a small hub, and axle projecting from the rear, which attaches to a bulky track-tensioning device at the rear of the hull. The road-wheels are built up as pairs onto their bogies, which fit into a complex split-axle that will require very careful gluing to remain mobile after installation. Just in case, it is good advice to ensure that all the bogies are straight and level before they set up, or adjusted to any terrain you might be placing it on. There are four bogies on each side, plus three pairs of large paired return rollers, so you'll be painting forty four wheels in total, excluding the all metal drive sprockets and idler wheels. The upper hull is composed of three main sections, the front glacis place with separate drive-train access panels, the rear engine deck with removable engine access panels, and the raised crew compartment, which has the turret ring cut-out in the centre. The main part has separate front and rear walls, with the bow-mounted machine-gun and driver vision slits added to it. The MG-34 is very nicely moulded, with a twin drum-mag and bag to catch the spent casings in, and an eye-cup sight attached to the inside of the ball-mount. The driver also has a side-facing window, which has a clear vision block added to the inside. The fenders are also separate from the upper hull, and are dressed with the usual complement of pioneer tools, as well as front and rear fenders, which have some PE fittings for extra realism. These are added to the brackets on the sides, and a pair of trapezoid filters sit on top parallel with the grilles on the engine deck. Now for those tracks. The parts count will have some trembling already, but when you realise how quickly you're going to go through them, they suddenly seem a lot less daunting. You are going to have to cut around 180 of the links from their sprues, and these have five gates each, but in their favour, you can remove the stubs in either two or three at a time with a sanding stick, shortening the preparation process to a more tolerable level. You build the tracks in lengths of eight links on the small styrene jig provided, and using two runs of eight track-pins still attached to their sprues, you insert them into the finely moulded holes in the edges of the track. The sprue is then removed carefully, and that's when you'll need to apply some glue – again, very carefully. Having done a quick test run, I would leave the pins on their sprues whilst applying a small quantity of liquid glue, then nip each one off, and push them all home with a flat surface. Any rough ends can be lightly sanded once the glue is dry to give the best finish. I managed to get eight links done in 10 minutes or less, and that's bound to get quicker as you progress. I was also pleased to note that all my links were still workable, making attaching them an easier job. To close the track-run, just add individual pins to complete the job once the tracks are on the wheels. The result is definitely worth the effort, and the track pin detail coupled with the hollow guide-horns look great once finished. Construction of the turret starts with the basket, which is a simple circular floor panel that is suspended by struts from the underside of the turret, and mounts three seats for gunner, loader and the commander. The turret controls are added to the bottom of the turret at the front, and these terminate with hand-wheels, linked together under the breech by connecting rods. The commander's cupola is akin to a raised dustbin festooned with rivets and vision blocks, which has been slide-moulded as a single piece, into which the clear blocks are added before the two-part clamshell hatch is added at the top. The coaxial machine-gun is actually a Zwilling, or twin on the early Pz.III, with two MG-34s mounted on a frame offset slightly fore-to-aft to allow closer fitting without the magazines interfering. They are held in place by an armoured shroud, with the eye-cup for the sighting mechanism over the top. These slide into the mantlet along with the main gun and its sight after completion of the breech is finished. A dump-bag is provided for both MGs and the main gun for the spent brass. Before the mantlet can be installed, the fixtures inside the turret must be added in the shape of vision blocks with clear lenses, the side crew access doors with PE frames, and some minor parts on the outside. The outer mantlet slides over the inner part, trapping the location pegs between the turret and itself, with a short shroud fitting around the base of the barrel. The cupola fits atop the turret in a slightly exposed position, and two armoured covers for both gunners' sights can be added swung up for firing, or down in the closed position. Markings The front cover of the instructions show the five options that decals are supplied for, all of which are the early war Panzer Grey, with only one sporting some dark brown camouflage to break up its outline. From the box you can build one of the following: 2nd Battalion Unidentified Unit, Poland, Sep 1939 – white crosses and markings II01 on the turret. Unidentified Unit, Chomutov, Sudetes, Czechoslovakia, October 1938 – 231 on turret sides and rear, and brown soft-edged camouflage on the upper surfaces. Unidentified Unit, Poland, Sep 1939 - white crosses and 234 on the turret sides and rear. 1st Battalion 1st panzer Regt. Poiland, Sep 1939 - white crosses and 222 on the turret sides and rear. In service during the Poland campaign, 1939 - white crosses on the turret sides and rear. Decals are printed courtesy of Begemot, and are up to the job, although the white does have a distinctly cream hue to it. This probably won't notice on a grey surface however, and the fact that the printing is a little "off" adds realism to the usually hand-painted or stencilled markings that WWII AFVs carried. Conclusion A great package with plenty of detail for most mortal modellers, especially at a shade under £35. The interior is very nicely done, although it doesn't extend throughout, and the opening hatches on the engine deck and at the front would just expose the lack of detail, so are of limited value unless you plan a scratch-build or aftermarket interior. The exterior is very well done, as are the tracks, which even with my easily fatigued hands shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to do them. It's a lesser seen early variant of this major mark, but it has been done justice by MiniArt's kit designers. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Soviet T-28 Medium Tank (Early) 1:35 Hobby Boss The T-28 was one of the first medium tanks, and like the larger T-35 was inspired by the British Independent Tank, even though that never progressed beyond prototype. It suffered many of the same problems as the T-35 too, such as unreliable engine & transmission, being under-armoured, and poor out-dated suspension. The tank had a main turret lifted directly from the T-35, and two small machine–gun turrets from the T-26. The main gun was a hefty 76mm cannon, which was upgraded late on to a more effective longer barrelled unit. After the initial poor showing in the Winter War with the Finnish, the armour was upgraded by adding appliqué panels, which were sometimes fitted in the field. Many T-28s in the Winter War were knocked out and repaired many times due to the close proximity of a suitable factory. The tank was advanced when first developed, but by 1940 it was hopelessly outdated, and was overshadowed by the new T-34, as well as the flexibility of its main opponent, the German Panzer IV. It left service after a few attempts to bring it up to date with newer suspension, but it was totally outclassed by the T-34's superior design, with the last one rolling off the line in 1941. The Finns pinched a couple which they still have in museums and storage, with another in the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia. The Kit Just like its sibling kit, the new T-35 from Hobby Boss, this tank has only been kitted before in this scale by Alanger/ICM, and it now long out of production. A completely new tooling that shares a few parts with the T-35, which arrives in a standard box with a shiny T-28 parading on Red Square. Inside are thirteen sprues in tan styrene, five in brown styrene, two clear sprues (containing one part each), two hull parts, three turrets, two Photo-Etch (PE) brass frets, and a small decal sheet. A length of braided copper wire is also included, although the instructions refer to it as brass, but colour implies otherwise. The instruction booklet is standard HB fare, and the double-sided painting and decaling guide is printed in colour on glossy paper. Construction starts with the road-wheels as you'd expect, with four wheels added to each bogie with a central suspension rod installed vertically in the centre. Twelve bogies are made up of varying sorts, plus two each of the multi-part drive sprockets and idler wheels. The hull is closed up next, and is already moulded with plenty of surface detail, including the underside, and some very neatly moulded turret rings with teeth lining the inner edges. Unusually, the tank's main road-wheels are sat on an extension of the underside, which projects out from the sides of the tank, to which the bogies, separating pads and so forth are added, while the return roller axles are added to the sides of the hull. Large suspension units are then added to the top of the extensions, with their ends appearing to go through the plate and mate up with the tops of the bogies. The various gaps are then filled with angles plates to shed mud from the top run of track, before a full-length plate is installed over it, which has PE skins added to the sides of the stepped areas, and the side-skirts covering most of the suspension and road-wheels up. Various shackles, engine bay doors and a circular radiator fan arrangement are added to the rear deck, in much the same way as the T-35, together with angled sections across the front of the glacis to give it extra strength. A large double-ended exhaust sits in the middle of the engine deck with a shroud added to its front, and a central driver's compartment is installed in the space between the two machine-gun turrets, with a vision block inserted on the back-side of the separate front hatch-with-a-hatch. The engine deck is then given two vaguely triangular sectioned breather vents, which have PE grilles, and sit facing in toward the middle of the deck. Return rollers are added to both sides made up from four pairs of wheels per side, and then it's track-building time. Five sprues of individual links are provided, which differs from the T-35, which had long lengths moulded together for the top and bottom runs. Each link has four sprue gates on curved surfaces, so a little sanding is all that's needed after they are nipped from the sprues. If you fancy counting the links in the diagram you could turn the tracks into link-and-length yourself with little additional effort above the clean-up of parts. With the tracks done, the side-skirts are inserted into their retaining slots, detailed with PE straps, and the armoured louver is added over the radiator fan, which doesn't have see-through louvers, but does have louver detail moulded inside if you feel like posing it open. You'll need to remove a few ejector pin marks if you do, but they're quite easy to get to. Large stowage boxes are added to the fenders each side of the main turret, and pioneer tools are dotted around the sides, as are two spare bogies and two jacks. The rear formation light is shrouded with a PE protector, and a styrene light is placed inside, with one installed on each fender. Another stowage bin with a framework side is added to the port rear fender, and two more road wheels are added to the very back. The towing cables are built up from lengths of copper wire that is topped and tailed with styrene eyes and shackles, before being draped around the sides of the two machine-gun turrets with the other end attached to the front towing hooks. Possibly for ease if they were prone to frequent break-downs? The turrets are the final part of construction, and should be familiar if you've got a T-35, as the two early T-26 turrets mount a machine-gun in a ball mounting with a poseable hatch, while the main turret sports a short-barrelled 76mm gun and separately mounted machine-gun in another recessed ball-mount. There is only one choice of towel-rail aerial that runs around the turret, and it is supplied essentially as one part, but with an armoured lead running from an exit on the top of the turret into the aerial tube on the starboard side. The turrets just drop into place on their respective rings, and that's the build done. Markings Russian Green is the order of the day, and two schemes are available from the box, although schemes might be a bit of an over-statement. One scheme has a red stripe running around the main turret with no other markings, and the other scheme has no markings at all. The red stripe is supplied as a decal, and that's the sole decal on the sheet. The red looks suitably dense and crisp enough, and as there is only one colour printed as a decal, there are no registration concerns. Conclusion Another super kit that relegates the old Alanger offering obsolete, and as I understand it we can expect "late" versions of both this and the T-35 with upgraded armour and sloping turret faces in due course. These things are quirky, and represent the tank's struggles while developing, and the influence that the British efforts had on designs, while happened again after WWII with the Tortoise. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. Soviet T-35 Heavy Tank (Early) 1:35 Hobby Boss The T-35 was a Russian answer to the British Independent, a multi-turreted super-heavy tank that was intended to crash through the enemy front-line (albeit at a slow pace), and was intended to be virtually impregnable to the enemy. Although this was a dead-end in the tank's development, considering them useful in a trench-warfare situation reminiscent of WWI, there were plenty of supporters, so a prototype was built with a 76mm gun in a single turret, and then upgraded with four additional smaller turrets sporting two 45mm guns and two machine guns by the time of the 3rd prototype. The weight had increased by over 10 tonnes during the gestation, and a new engine had to be installed to drag along the extra turrets. Only 61 T-35s were built in total, with some of the later ones having sloped armour on their turrets, and they saw service in the defence of Moscow, where most of them were lost to mechanical failures due to poor design of the transmission. The only survivor is the training machine that spent the whole war behind Russian lines. The Kit This is a new tooling from Hobby Boss, and fills a gap in the market left by the demise of Alanger/ICM's rather archaic tooling. It arrives in HB's standard ribbed card box with a painting of a T-35 on parade on the front, which was where it spent most of its active duty, impressing the dignitaries. Inside the box are thirteen sprues of green styrene plus two hull part, two smaller turrets, two sprues of brown track-links, three tiny sprues of clear parts, three frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a short length of braided copper wire, decal sheet instruction booklet and colour painting and markings guide. It's a very full box, and the hull parts are secured by a card insert that keeps them safe during transport, along with the PE and other sprueless parts. Detail appears to be excellent, and the sheer size of the hull – or rather the length – is impressive. Unsurprisingly, construction starts with the bogies, which have two pairs of wheels mounted on a pivoting arm around a central axis, which is damped by a pair of springs on each side. The springs are moulded as pairs in a single part, with a mould seam running down their sides that are probably not worth tidying up, unless you're showing any part of the suspension by removing some side-skirt sections. You will need to make eight of these bogies, as the T-35 had a lot of wheels to try to spread the weight around. With these completed, you then glue the two hull parts together, doing a little remedial filling of holes, drilling of new ones, and removing a bullet splash-guard from in front of the driver's hatch. A small rectangular insert is also added to the sloping aft part of the rear deck. The upper hull looks like the aftermath of trench warfare, due to the profusion of holes in it. There are five turret rings, plus another hole in the rear for the big cooling fan that is inserted later. Firstly, the suspension fixtures are added to the hull sides, with axles for the bogies and return rollers, plus the dividing plates that are there to prevent the suspension clogging with mud, but to me look like they would only exacerbate the problem. The return rollers are twin-wheels, and there are five of them on each side, which will be visible through the small gaps at the top of the side-skirts. The engine deck receives the main hatch with mushroom vent, plus the aforementioned circular fan that is inserted from outside the hull and sits on a lip around its edge, before being covered by a raised armoured louver. Two big exhaust boxes with exit pipe sit between the two assemblies with an armoured shroud covering the front, and the driver's hatch is added along with his vision hatch at the front of the glacis plate, next to twin headlamps that have clear lenses. The bogies are then added with the small pre-idler wheel, and the fenders are added to the mounts on the top of the hull. The large idler wheel and drive sprockets are added to front and rear stations respectively, and you will then need to start on the tracks. If you're phobic about individual links, fret not, because these are link and length, with long runs across the top, the bottom, and the angled sections, and individual links to accommodate the drive and idler wheels, plus the transitions at the bottom of the track run. The top run seems a little devoid of any sag, but it looks like there was precious little from period photos, so this is correct. The next step is to add the close-fitting sideskirts, which have stand-off brackets added to the insides, which should sleeve into the return-roller axles, plus the locating lugs moulded into the divider plates, and lastly the bosses on the centres of the suspension bogies. In practice, getting all this lined up will be tricky if you don't loosely set the skirts in place while the glue holding all the parts is curing. The other option is to shave off any lugs that don't fit exactly. A set of PE straps are then attached after being bent around the edge of the fenders, which are adorned with a full set of pioneer tools and towing cables, using styrene eyes and short lengths of the braided copper wire that's included in the box. Two more armoured vents are added to the sides of the engine cover, and additional track-links are set on brackets on the fender next to the louvered panel, with a PE locking bar holding them in place. The profusion of turrets is now built up, with two each of the smaller T-26 derived turrets, with either a machine-gun mount or long-barrelled 45mm cannon with coax machine-gun, and removable hatches if you have enough Russian tank figures to go around. The main turret has a short barrelled 76mm cannon with a pair of searchlights mounted above it, and the barrel of the larger calibre guns are all slide-moulded with a hollow muzzle, which is good to see. The main turret has an egg-shaped planform, with the sides moulded as a single part, and the roof a separate part with curved edges, and the communist star standing proud from the roof like some 1950s aircraft model! That was a real feature of the vehicle however, so don't sand it off. The large hatch behind the star is separate, and the mantlet fits into the front from the outside, as does the separate machine-gun on a ball-mount to the right of the mantlet, which can't really be called a coax as a result. The large antenna for the radio is fitted to the finished turret, and this is moulded as a single part and the sprue was wrapped in protective foam due to its delicate nature. Cut it carefully from the sprue, perhaps shaving the moulding seams before you remove it, and it should fit neatly onto the mounting pads that are marked out on the turret with very fine raised lines. There is an armoured feeder wire rising from the roof in a protective shroud, which links into a socket on the inside of the rail. There is also another variant on the antenna "towel-rail", so check your references and install the correct part for the vehicle you are planning on portraying. The supporting rails are subtly different between parts, so good luck with that! With all the turrets built, the superstructure needed to raise the main turret above the smaller ones is constructed with PE skins on the tops of the side-mounted stowage bins. A pair of large jacks are mounted outboard of the stowage bins, which I understand are to raise the turret, but I'm not entirely sure how or why that would be done. Whatever their function, they are nicely moulded and each one is made up from five parts to achieve a good level of detail. Add a couple of PE crew ladders to both sides of the tank at the front and rear, drop in all the turrets, and that's the build finished. You can see my colleague Dave's take on the build here, and his over-riding comment was that it almost fell together. Always nice to hear! Markings Russian Green is the name of the game with most Soviet tanks, and this no exception. Because the majority of its life was spent showing off Soviet might on the parade circuit, the two schemes presented with the kit are ceremonial, and have decorative striping around the turret tops, so you'd have to go easy with any weathering if you were to use the decals. Both schemes have a big red star on the sides of the skirts, and one has red striping around the turret-tops, while the other has yellow and white. In service, these would probably have been removed with some urgency, and in some contemporary photos you can see where the star has been overpainted due to the difference in tone on the black and white photos. Various small unit markings or turret markings seem to have been the main extent of its service markings, so check your references, and scavenge the decals from where you can. Decals are printed in-house, and are up to Hobby Boss's usual standards, although the stripes and dashes are a little over-blessed with carrier film in places. There is no registration to the decals, but the colour density and sharpness seem up to scratch, but the yellow and white seem a little thin, and suffer a little from translucency. Conclusion These gargantuan dead-ends appeal to my sense of the unusual, so I'm sold already, but the kit is a good one, with plenty of detail and it is a distinct improvement over the previously available (and now unavailable) offering. Prepare for a deluge of the old kits on eBay, if it's not happening already. Incidentally, if you wanted to go for individual links for your T-35 for whatever reason, there is a set available to satisfy your need. You can get those here. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Russian Terminator Fire Support Combat Vehicle BMPT 1:35 Meng The Terminator had a long and faltering gestation, which involved many changes to its design, including a complete change of the base hull on which the offensive equipment is mounted. Initially started under the auspices of the Soviet Union, it was shelved and resurrected on more than one occasion. It even became a private venture during an official fallow period in its development, after significant losses in street fighting in the Chechen war triggered the manufacturers into action. Officialdom soon put a stop to that, but it began again in earnest in the late 1990s, by which time the original T-72 chassis replaced by the more modern and better protected T-90 hull. Although based on the T-90, there are significant differences on the upper surfaces, with a built up deck, and a low-rise turret. On top of this are two 30mm cannons that each have 850 rounds at their disposal, with four 130mm Ataka-T anti-tank missiles, two slung on each side of the cannons. On the front sponsons are grenade launchers, which have an amazing 600 30mm rounds able to be fed to them, and are remotely operated. If that isn't enough, there is also a single 7.62mm machine gun coaxially mounted with the main cannons for close support with 2,000 rounds on a single belt to keep it going. The Terminator is used in pairs as support for, and as advanced suppression for main battle tanks in urban areas, and uses its anti-tank missiles to defeat enemy tanks, and the 30mm cannons to soften up the opposing troops and soft-skinned vehicles, ably assisted by the grenade launchers. In open ground, one terminator backs up two tanks using the same techniques. Protection is both active in the shape of explosive reactive armour (ERA), and the composite armour of the T-90 on which it is based. Slat armour is also added around the rear, which improves protection against Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) over and above its progenitor. All modern Russian tanks can be outfitted with the KMT-8 mine clearance system, which the Terminator retains, and can make good use of to clear the passage for the accompanying tanks. It is able to be raised and lowered from inside the vehicle, so doesn't expose the crew unnecessarily, and as well as clearing mines manually, it can also pre-detonate magnetic mines using equipment to mimic the electro-magnetic signature of a tank projected forward of the hull. The Kit Having recently tooled a T-90A there was hope that the Terminator would be the logical next step, and sure enough here it is a year later. It's another classy box full of styrene, with seventeen sprues of dark green styrene, plus two hull parts, turret and a clear jig for use with the suspension. The tracks are on another 8 sprues in black styrene, 8 more in a slightly flexible styrene, with more jigs on a separate sprue to assist with the construction of the tracks. A fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts and a brass wheel painting template are included, plus poly-caps, a flexible sprue of small parts, a length of string for the tow-rope, a clear sprue, and a sheet containing two self-adhesive mirrored stickers to simulate the prominent wing-mirrors. The instruction booklet is standard Meng fare, with a glossy outer cover, four language introduction, and painting instructions on the rear glossy pages. A well-rounded packages indeed! First impression. Do you really need to ask? Superb. Fine moulding, attention to detail, multiple media used to accomplish the job of building a very well detailed model out of the box that other manufacturers don't seem able to follow consistently. With the exception of a couple of turned barrels for the cannons, there's not much your average modeller would want in addition. Meng's use of other companies' expertise is also a wise investment, as it puts years of research at their fingertips from people with a real interest in the subject. In this instance, it is Gur Khan Books who are bloggers as well as publishers that specialise in Soviet and Russian hardware. Are you ready? Let's build some wheels! Yes – it's time to unleash the poly-caps, as you build up two two-piece idler wheels, two three-part drive sprockets, and twelve pairs of roadwheels, all of which have a poly-cap sandwiched between them to help keep you sane during general painting and construction of the tracks. The underside of the hull is busy, as with many modern Russian tanks, and is worth a look just for the amount of detail that is moulded into it in the shape of suspension bumps, escape hatches and so forth, as well as the holes for the axles of the torsion bar suspension. The lower glacis plate is detailed with a separate panel, and the self-entrenching blade is added to that along with its four actuating rams. The return rollers and idler wheel stations are added first, with six torsion bars with moulded-in swing-arms slid into each side, some of which are damped with additional arms keeping their movement in check. The large T-shaped jig in clear styrene is then draped over the side of the hull and lined up with the axles to arrange all of the swing-arms to the same angle before they are glued into their bearing cuffs. At the rear is a plate to detail up the rear bulkhead, onto which spare track links and the first of the pioneer tools are added. The roadwheels can then be pressed home onto the axles after installing the final drive housing and axle for the drive sprocket at each side of the rear hull. Tracks are the next logical step, and you're in for a treat in terms of detail, as well as for some detailed work, but don't despair just yet, as Meng's designers have supplied two more jigs to help you build them. The tracks have separate guide-horns, track-pads and end-caps, the latter being moulded in semi-flexible styrene, presumably to help the track flex around the ends of its runs and to grab the styrene track pins. The horns are moulded in pairs, and the instructions advise you to leave these paired until you have interleaved them with the track parts, as they are small and may fall foul of gravity (or even defy it as they fly through the air) if handled singly. When you have six links prepared in this way, you cut off the sprues, leaving two sets of 6 track links to place in the jig one after another. A jig-lid is supplied to keep the parts from coming loose, and the end-caps have been moulded at exactly the same distance apart as they will be when added to the tracks. These are then placed in another jig and cut from their sprue gates, leaving them in the jig for now. The jig is offered up to the open sides of the tracks, and the two holes accept the pins from adjoining links, effectively attaching them together. So far there has been no glue used either!!! The only glue used in this part of the build attaches the individual track-pads to the outer surface of the track links, but these are optional and can be left off if you feel the urge. Each run is 81 links in length, and an individual slot for an end-cap has been provided to assist you in joining that tricky last link to both sides of each run. On the upper hull, a block of reactive armour is built up with the front light clusters and added to the glacis plate, along with the access hatch rings for the grenade launcher operators, and with a stowage box in between them behind the driver's hatch, which has its own clear periscope. The front fenders are made up and each has a return spring that keeps them down in action, as well as installing a substantial lifting lug at the rear. On the engine deck the PE grilles are added, as is the exhaust stub with heat-dissipating shroud on the left fender. The fenders on Russian tanks are often used for stowage, and this one is no exception, having some substantial superstructure added, the forward areas of which contain the grenade launchers and their muzzles. These are added once complete, and are further augmented by more sub-assemblies at the rear left, which I think contains the APU that runs the tanks systems when stationary, so that the huge power of the main power unit isn't idling unnecessarily, using up precious fuel. The engine deck is protected from ingress of shot by a series of barriers, and slat armour, all of which complete the circle of the splash guard, whilst being demountable for maintenance of the turret. The side-skirts are single lengths with an additional part added to the inner face in order to get the correct angle with the hull when installed. There is also an additional panel that fits between the top of the sponsons and skirts, plus a large moulded in grille on the left side for the exhaust gases to exit. At the rear the towing cables are made up from two 100mm lengths of string, using the printed rules to cut them properly. They have two-part towing eyes that cement to the end, locking them in and stopping any fraying. These are arranged around the rear of the tank, held in place by shackles and cable guides around the towing eyes. A two-part slat-armour panel is installed on the four mounts, and there is no sign of the slats being oversized due to moulding constraints – it looks right to my eyes. With the lower hull completed for the most part, a pair of drop-in mini-turrets are assembled for the two grenadiers, which sit either side of the driver. Each one has a raised ring onto which the top is glued, with an old-fashioned vision block and a newer high-tech one at the front, which is protected by a shroud that doubles as the hinge-point for the wedge-shaped hatch, with internal liner and closure system depicted nicely. On top of each of these are fitted what looks like a miniature heli-deck, consisting of a circle of tread-plate on stand-off mounts, which hinges up as the hatch is opened. Additional tread-plate is added around the turret ring, which must be used when maintaining the weapons overhead. The turret is more of a blister than a true turret, but has NBC liners moulded in, plus two hatches to which a number of vision blocks are added, with protective shrouds. Stowage boxes and traditional smoke grenade launchers are also present, as are the sort of modern optics found on most tanks these days. These are all well detailed and made up from a number of parts, with clear parts for the front of the turret-shaped unit that sits atop the right hatch. The 30mm cannons are assembled in their blast jackets, which have realistic drape and folds moulded in, with two holes into which the single part slide-moulded barrels are installed with additional collars from PE. This attaches the breech box, with maintenance panels moulded in, which have separate grab handles for additional detail, and the central coaxially mounted 7.62mm machine gun above the barrels in the centre. On each side of the breech assembly is a long pin onto which the mount for the ATAK-T missile launchers are added after construction, and here the poly-caps come in handy again, allowing you to push the assemblies on with friction fit keeping them in whatever pose you select. A central panel links the two mounts together, which is further strengthened by the addition of a bullet splash guard under the cannons, which is encrusted with equipment. At the rear left of the turret, another turret-shaped sight assembly for use by the commander is assembled, then added, again with a clear part for the lens. The ATAK-T missiles are depicted in their launch tubes, with frangible covers front and rear. The tubes are split vertically with the covers moulded as separate parts, so you will need to do a little scraping of the seams to tidy up here. Times four, for all the tubes. Each missile is attached to a rail with shackles for the tube, and are then paired up on a flat panel with wiring before being attached to the sides of their mounts. A long aerial is mounted to the rear of the turret along with other antennae, and a chute is attached to the rear of the breech to direct the spent shell casings away from the turret ring to prevent jams. The turret can then be added to the hull by a twist-to-lock bayonet system. If that's as far as you want to go, you just add a pair of triangular fillets to the edges of the front fenders, and start with the painting. If you're going to build the mine clearance plough, you have a little more work ahead of you. The mine plough is actually two separate blades, split left and right, and clears a path somewhat wider than the tanks tracks in the real world. Each ram is built up from a number of parts, and the blade attached at the business end, with a mirror image done for the other side. Inboard of the ploughs are a pair of arms that hold the Electronic Countermine system, covered by a cylindrical fairing, which is raised and lowered with the ploughs as required. These are attached under the front glacis plate, with some smaller parts added to the rear, the function of which I've not been able to fathom. If you don't fit the plough, there's a simple cover-panel for the mounting points at the rear, so don't switch off at step 36 if you're not using the plough. Markings This is a fairly new vehicle that will only reach proper series production in 2015, so it hasn't been blessed with many colour schemes thus far in its career, meaning Meng having to depict it as seen at three different arms expos, as follows: Russian Expo Arms 2009 – sand/green/dark green/black hard-edged camo. Russian Expo Arms 2011 – sand/green/brown hard-edged camo. Russian Expo Arms 2013 – sand/brown/dark brown digital splinter camo. There are no decals, as the Terminators wore no insignia at the exhibitions, but you do get the silver mirror stickers to make up for that. Conclusion Another superb edition from Meng, which should be popular with modellers, regardless of whether they "do" Russian hardware. It is unusual looking, and has plenty of menace, resembling a ground-based Hunter Killer "tank" from the film series Terminator, which is likely where its nickname came from. Even if I'm wrong, it's still a good nickname. Although this isn't a model of a prototype, it is possible that the equipment fit may differ between now and entering service with the Russian army (and others), but the kit does a fine job of depicting this urban assault vehicle as it looks now. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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