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  1. American Civil War Confederate Infantry Set #2 (35024) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd The American Civil War was triggered partly by slavery, and the fact that the Northern or Union states had abolished it, while the South or Confederate states wanted to retain the status quo and keep their slaves by seceding from the union. It started in April 1861 and lasted for four years, at the end of which General Lee signed the surrender almost exactly on the four-year anniversary. By that time much of the infrastructure of the Southern US was in ruins, although some Confederate soldiers carried on fighting until later that year. Some four million slaves were released, with their rights established during the following Reconstruction era, although progress is still ongoing. The Kit This is the fifth set from ICM depicting the American Civil War in the predominant AFV scale, so that if you have a cross-over of interests, the two types of models won’t look out of place side-by-side in your cabinet. Union & Confederate Soldiers, a Civil War arms set and a second set of Union fighters, now it is time for a second set of Confederate soldiers. This set arrives in ICM’s smaller top-opening box with captive inner lid, and inside are three sprues of grey styrene, two of which were previously included in the armament set. The instructions consist of drawings of each soldier with part numbers in black, and paint codes called out by a letter within a small red box. This relates to a table under the sprue diagrams over the page, giving colour swatches, colour names, ICM’s own paint codes, plus Revell and Tamiya codes that should enable most modellers to find an equivalent even if they don’t have any of those brands. This set, like those preceding it, contains parts for four figures of the Confederate army, who generally wore a grey tunic and pants, as opposed to the blue tunics of the Union. The figures are shown in battle, striking various action poses. One man is wearing his bedroll diagonally across his chest and is bringing the bayonet of his rifle down over his head in a stabbing motion, another is carrying out a similar action but with his butt-stock, while the third uniformed soldier is running forward with his bayoneted rifle held to the front. The fourth soldier is not in uniform, but is wearing civilian clothes and is also wearing a bedroll round his torso, defending himself with his rifle braced in both arms across his body. As always with ICM, the sculpting is excellent, especially the faces, moulding clean, with excellent natural poses and drape of materials. Parts breakdown is sensible and generally along the seamlines of garments, with separate arms, heads, torso, legs and various types of hats. Their equivalent of modern-day webbing is also present on the sprues, looking quite ungainly in comparison, as do the massive flint-lock rifles, made even longer by their bayonets. The weapons are on the two smaller sprues, along with pouches, water bottles, mugs, loose bayonets, holstered and loose pistols, swords in and out of scabbards, and even a trumpet for rudimentary battlefield communications. Conclusion If you’re interested in the American Civil War, and a lot of people are, these figures are excellent examples of the Confederate side of things, with superb-looking figures that should look even better once suitably painted. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Currently out of stock, but there’s a 10% reduction for pre-orders for the next shipment. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Gotha Go.242B Glider (48225) 1:48 ICM via Hannants Germany broke new ground in WWII in the successful use of Paratroop landings in gliders that met with some initial successes, although that method of delivering soldiers and materiel hasn’t seen much use since the end of WWII, possibly following the experiences of the Allies later in the war and around D-Day. Gotha created the small DFS 230 that was used by Fallschirmjager units during the early part of the war, and the RLM subsequently issued a specification for a larger glider that could carry 20 fully equipped troops into action, or alternatively bring equipment of an equivalent weight to the battle. Gotha’s offering was a simple tapered box on wings, but with a twin-tail boom that allowed the cargo version to unload from the rear using a simple flip-up rear fuselage, and later the troop carrier could also unload from the rear with the addition of new doors. The type entered service soon after its initial flight in 1941, with over 1,500 manufactured in various guises. The initial A series was split into troop and cargo types, with the following B series being improved from experience and sporting upgraded landing gear, plus double rear doors for faster troop exit. A further C series was intended for water landings using a boat-shaped hull to carry explosive-laden small boats to maritime targets, although that never reached service. Gotha later added engines in nacelles that extended the twin booms past the leading edge of the wings, allowing it to get aloft under its own power, rather than being towed by a Heinkel He.111 or adapted Stuka, but take-off was marginal with a heavy load, so RATO bottles were developed to give the aircraft an extra boost. The Kit This is a brand-new kit of this boxy glider, and the first of a number of variants no doubt. Despite their difficulties at the moment, ICM have worked hard to keep on producing kits, and our collective hats have to go off to them for that. The kit arrives in a top-opening box that has the Ukrainian flag emblazoned in the top right corner, and a painting showing the aircraft from below with its jettisonable landing gear clearly visible. The outer lid is extremely tight, and if you can get it off the usual captive inner lid is exposed, with eight sprues in grey styrene, one of clear parts, the instruction booklet in spot colour, and a long narrow decal sheet. The first thing that’s evident on perusal of the sprues is that the aircraft is larger than I expected, and the designers at ICM have put a lot of effort into the detail that’s moulded-into the model, especially the sections that are fabric over a tubular framework. Construction begins with the large floor space, which is made up from the fabric outer skin with visible ribbing, onto which the floor surface added in two sections, after drilling a number of 1mm holes in the skin first. The forward section is then enclosed by a tubular framework that stops at the centre bulkhead, which also has short spars moulded-in, with a bulkhead between the passenger and pilot sections. The twenty passenger seats are each made from horizontal and vertical sections that are then arranged into two rows of 10 and are fitted out with diagonal braces that mate with the rear legs, plus a length of top brackets that allow the seats to stand clear of the wall. Both rows are glued into the passenger compartment either side of the central spar, and a triangular section of framework is attached to the aft section of the area, following which the side walls are made up from two parts each and a number of windows that are applied from the inside. These are fixed to the floor assembly along with the roof once the cockpit is made up. Note that there are a few ejector-pin marks to erase on the interior if you're interested. Punched discs of styrene sheet, CA, or filler should do the trick. This is a training variant, so the controls are duplicated on both sides of the cockpit, starting with a well-detailed pair of rudder pedals that each comprise of four parts. The control column differs between stations, with the trainee having a two-part right-angle column with separate yoke, while the trainer has a straight stick for when he needs to take over. The seats differ too, as the trainee has a sturdier five-part seat that has an adjustment wheel, while the instructor has a simple two-part affair. These are all inserted onto a cockpit floor that is placed within the front of the fuselage at the time when the sides and roof are both added with a single tube bracing the top of the diagonal rear divide. The insertion and addition of the sidewalls are shown out of order in the instructions, but allowances have to be made for the little things under the circumstances. The cockpit surround is incomplete at this stage, having the nose added along with a simple instrument panel on a pair of supports fitted, then underneath a clear window is inserted beneath the instructor’s feet, plus two panels of side glazing and a single windscreen part that has an optional 0.8mm hole drilled in it before fitting if you are mounting the guns. Take it easy if you decide that’s the option for you, as clear styrene is much easier to damage because of its brittle nature. Light pressure and plenty of patience is the way to go. The wings of the 242 are necessarily long, as once the towing aircraft cuts it loose, the only way is down, so a long glide slope is an absolute necessity. The wings are each moulded as top and bottom skins, which have some lovely ribbing and other details moulded-in as you can see above, and have the flying surfaces as separate sub-assemblies of two parts each. Once the halves are joined, they have the front fairings of the booms added top and bottom, then have the two flap sections and long ailerons slotted into the trailing edges. This is repeated twice of course, and the two wings are slotted onto their projecting spar sections, taking care to put them on with the leading edges and canopy pointing in the same direction. A pair of supports are added underneath in recessed sockets, although I’d be tempted to leave those off until after main painting was complete so they don’t get damaged. The aft section of the fuselage is missing at this stage, giving it the look of a “ute”, but this part is next to be assembled. The tapering sides have windows inserted from inside and the internal framework added, then they are spaced apart by three more framework sections, after which the lower part with window, internal floor with steps, and roof with framework and observation window (the reason for the steps) added, to be finished off with a transparent end cap giving even better field of view, just in case they’re being stalked by a fighter from behind. The door pivots upward between the booms, and can either be glued closed, or propped open with five supports holding it at the correct angle. The booms are simple and made from two parts each, with separate rudders and a single elevator panel with separate flying surface. The instructions show the completed assembly being offered up to the rear of the model, but it may be more sensible to glue one boom in place first, then add the other with the elevator once the glue is set on the first boom. A number of actuators and mass balances are added all around the flying surfaces, but first the landing gear struts are added, beginning with the two main gear legs that are simple two-part assemblies with a corrugated gaiter over the suspension tube. The nose gear is a strange affair, made from a two-part yoke that traps the wheel between it, with a pair of V-shaped braces (moulded as one part) at the front, which fixes to the underside of the nose. The main wheels and nose wheel are each are two parts, and the former slide over the short axles to complete the gear. The final parts are used for two optional self-defence machine guns that are fixed to the windscreen and in front of the observation window in the aft section of the fuselage. Markings There are two decal options on the sheet, both very similar and sporting yellow wingtips with a tail band in the same colour. ICM have also included a printed template for masking the copious glazing that’s present on this aircraft, which should come in handy, and save some hassle, even if you’re OK with masking things up yourself. From the box you can build one of the following: Gotha Go.242B-2 Schleppgruppe 4, 1943 Gotha Go.242B-2 Germany, 1942 Decals are by ICM’s usual partner, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is cool. The side profile alone sells it to me, but I do like the weird stuff. The detail is excellent, and apart from wishing there was a little more variety in markings options, it’s a big thumbs up for a kit that has been produced under very difficult circumstances. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Benz Patent-Motorwagen 1886 (24042) 1:24 ICM Easy Version We’ve been addicted to petroleum for over a century now, but in the late 1800s the predominant motive power source was still steam, although that simply a transfer another form of fossil fuel, usually coal. When Karl Benz applied for a patent for his Motorwagen in 1885, it became the first petrol-powered production vehicle that was designed from the outset to use this method of propulsion. When you look at its three-wheel design it appears to have been the product of the mating between a horse carriage, a bicycle and a grandfather clock, with a little bit of chaise longue thrown in for good measure. A rear-mounted engine with a solitary cylinder, two seats without any weather protection and a kind of tiller for steering doesn’t really gel with our understanding of what represents a car these days, but they had to start somewhere. There were only 25 made, but the precedent had been set and travelling at a heady 16kmh was found to be quite fun and started us down the long road to becoming die-hard petrol-heads, much to our environment’s distress. The Kit This is a partial re-tooling of ICM’s 2020 kit of this pivotal vehicle, and although it was way out of my usual wheel-house I was quite taken with it, especially when I opened the box to reveal the quality of the contents. This boxing proudly bears the Ukrainian flag in the top right corner, and the build has been simplified to include styrene spoked wheels to appeal to those that were perhaps put off by the Photo-Etch (PE) spokes and drive-chain of the original boxing. This boxing has one main sprue for the majority of the parts, with two new smaller sprues in the same grey styrene for the wheels and chain. We have a stapled-together colour inkjet printed instruction booklet with our boxing, which may be down to the fact that things are very difficult in the Ukraine at time of writing, thanks to Russia’s efforts (that’s all I’m going to say). The fact that ICM are still able to produce models at all is an amazing feat, so more power to their elbow, and also to the rest of Ukraine with their current struggle. This boxing has styrene moulded spoked wheels that should appeal to folks that either don’t like PE, don’t want to spend the time putting the multi-media wheels together, or for whatever other reasons known or unknown. Instead of wrangling the mixture of PE spokes and styrene tyres, you just have to glue two styrene halves together and make sure you align them so your tyres have the correct tubular carcass profile. Construction begins with the subframe and suspension, which looks more like a carriage than a chassis. Leaf-springs support the main axle beneath the slatted foot well, and an additional frame is applied to the rear with a set of three small pulley-wheel parts fit on a bar and form a transfer point for the drive-belt that’s added later, with a choice of two styles for the centre section. At the very rear of the chassis is a stub-axle that mounts a huge flywheel made up from two parts to create a rim, then the single-cylindered engine is built, bearing more than a passing resemblance to an air compressor that you might have under your desk somewhere. There are a few colour choices called out along the way, and the finished assembly is then mounted on the cross-rail, overhanging the flywheel. Various small ancillary parts are added to the engine “compartment”, another drive pulley is mounted perpendicular to the large flywheel, then the two are joined by the drive band, which you can make up from the two straps on the sprue, or by creating your own that fully wraps around the pulleys for a more realistic look. A toolbox is added next to the engine, then fuel and radiator tanks are built and installed along with their hosing. There is a surrounding frame for the seat added to the small upstands on the chassis, which holds the moulded upholstered cushions to which the framed back and side-rests are fixed, with extra padding attached to the back and arms before it is inserted and glued in place. The power that has been transferred to an axle under the foot well is sent to the wheels by a bike-style chain, which is moulded in styrene with the rings as well as the links, having one per side. The wheels are each made from two halves that have half of the tubular tyre moulded into the rim, so their assembly is straight forward and includes zero PE. The shape of the parts also sets the correct dish to the wheels with a hub added like a bike wheel. There are two large wheels and one small and it would be well worth scraping the seams and painting the insides of the spokes beforehand. The main wheels slot straight onto the axle, while the front wheel is clamped in place by a two-part yoke, much like a set of forks on a bike. In order to steer the vehicle, the tiller is made up from a few parts and slots into the footwell floor, with a small step added to the right front corner of the well to ease access. A steering linkage joins the fork and tiller together, a small adjustment wheel projects from the footwell, possibly a fuel valve? I don’t know, as I’m not quite that knowledgeable on the subject, and it was before my time. The final part is a long brake lever, which is probably intended to make up for the lack of servo assistance by using leverage. Markings There are no decals in the box again, as there isn’t enough of a vehicle for anything other than a lick of paint. The colours for each part are called out in boxed letters as the build progresses, and that’s a very good idea for such a stripped-down framework with assemblies strapped to it. The codes refer back to a chart on the front of the booklet that gives ICM’s own paint brand, Revell and Tamiya codes plus the colour names in English and Ukrainian. Conclusion The original was a totally left-field hit from my point of view, and this boxing although simplified slightly is still well detailed, very cool and just as endearing. Extremely highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  4. OV-10A Bronco US Attack Aircraft (48300) 1:48 ICM via Hannants The Bronco was conceived as a light attack, long loiter aircraft of modest size, enabling it to operate from roads close to the combat zone. As so often seems the case, the final design turned out to be much larger and heavier due to the requirements of the avionics and ejection seats, thus limiting its use to conventional airfields. The twin boom aircraft first flew in 1965 and was destined to serve with the US Navy, Airforce and Marines as a replacement for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog & O-2 Skymaster. The Marines were the first to take the OV-10 into service as a forward air controller platform operating both night and day missions. Whilst the Bronco is best known for its operations in Vietnam, it also served in later conflicts as late as the Gulf War before being retired from US service in 1995. The USAF received Broncos in 1968 and deployed the aircraft in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role, using smoke laying methods initially, and later using laser targeting designators. Eventually it carried its own ground attack armament including rockets, machine guns and bombs that gave it the capability of Light Attack Aircraft, and made it a daunting prospect for the enemy to see overhead. Seven export contracts were signed with other foreign operators including Germany, Columbia and Indonesia, the very last of which will be leaving service in the near future after long service. The Kit This new tooling from ICM relieves us all of the ancient Testors kit with its legendarily incorrect wings and nacelle locations, which could only have been fixed with the help of a Paragon Designs set. This is a relief for this modeller, as there were also other blank areas that would have required some further work. Back to the matter in hand. A 100% new model from ICM, which arrives in one of their standard top opening boxes with the captive inner lid, and has ten sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, two sheets of decals and a glossy instruction booklet with spot colour inside and glossy colour profiles on the back pages. De-bagging the sprues reveals the detail is excellent, and the booms have raised as well as engraved rivets on their surface, which is just as it should be if you check out any walk arounds that get close enough to the aircraft to see them. The clear parts have been engineered so that they fit together as individual facets, and are crystal clear, allowing the modeller to see their hard work in the cockpit, providing they don’t put any gluey fingerprints on the glazing during the build. Overall, it looks like it will build into an excellent replica of the aircraft. Construction begins predictably with the cockpit, starting with the crew seats, of which there are two. The base of the seats are made from the curved lower and cushion, while the backs are formed from a shell with two cushions, one for the pilot’s back, the other for the headbox. The two elements are brought together and a small part is added to the headbox, then different rear detail and a launch rail are added to the rear of them both. There are colour call-outs as we go along, and two warning decals are supplied for the seats, although these are shown applied to the cushions, which seems odd, but having checked some references, that’s where they go. Every day’s a school day! The rear seat is glued to the cockpit floor which has a bulkhead and a shelf moulded into the rear, then side consoles are fixed onto the floor around the seat with control column on a lateral support, and a throttle quadrant that sits on top of a raised portion of the port console. A divider between the two seats is prepared with rudder pedals and other details, then has a choice of either of two instrument panels added atop the flat section, based on your decal choice. These are well detailed and have dial decals for each option. The divider is glued in place, then the front cockpit is made up starting with the seat again, but with a different set of launch rail parts with “antennae” to the side of the headbox. He too gets a control column and floor-mounted rudder pedals, after which the seat is bracketed by side consoles that have detailed tops, but no decals which is a shame. A bulkhead for within the footwell of the front cockpit is created from a number of parts, and fixed in place with the details facing forward, forming the rear bulkhead of the nose gear bay. The pilot gets a well-appointed instrument panel with coaming and decal, plus a number of small parts sitting on top of the coaming. This is glued in, and more details are added to the rear shelf in the shape of equipment boxes that probably have festive twinkling lights on the real thing, especially at Christmas. The cockpit is put to the side briefly while the crew nacelle is prepared with interior sidewall details, plus an internal frame that runs up the side of the canopy. You are advised to align this with the canopy sides, which have a shallow groove running top to bottom, so it would be an idea to glue the parts, then tape the canopy sides in place and align the frame with the groove, taping it in place until the glue sets. With the sides complete and painted internally, the cockpit can be secured inside and locked in place by bringing the two halves together. Providing you have painted the front of the crew nacelle, the nose gear bay is already complete and just needs the main strut, a diagonal support that goes far back under the canopy, and a pair of bay doors. The underside of the cockpit floor is then covered over by a well-detailed underside panel that has recesses ready for the stubby weapons pylons, and has a small central strake added toward the rear. Here it will be key to align the nacelle skins before the glue sets to avoid having to make good later and risk losing any of that lovely detail. The weapons “wings” need four holes drilling in their underside if you are going to hang weapons from them, then they are closed up around a small rectangular insert that the barrels later plug into, the wingtips are added, and each one has an insert applied to the leading edge that makes up the rest of the fairings for the weapons. These are glued into their recesses on the underside, and are fitted with shackles on the twin pylons on their undersides if you plan on using weapons. Another small nose gear door fits to the diagonal leg, and the four-part nose wheel with separate hub parts is first trapped between the yoke, which is then glued to the bottom of the nose strut along with the other half of the oleo scissor-link. I suspect this could be a weak point of the nose gear, so ensure you leave this to set up for a good while before attempting to put weight on it. The addition of the four gun barrels to the winglets and a couple of sensors completes the crew nacelle for now. The upper wing of the Bronco is a single full-width part that also has a section of the fuselage upper and the twin boom tops moulded-in, while the underside is in four sections. Before the two surfaces are joined, two spar sections are attached to the upper wing straddling the future location of the engine nacelles, and if you plan on adding wing pylons, there are a few holes to be drilled in the outer lower panel of the wings. All the flying surfaces are separate and the twin flap sections per side are made of three parts laminated together, while the ailerons are a single part each to which are added balances and trim actuators. When completed, the six flying surface sections are fitted to the cut-outs at the rear of the wing unit along with a pair of actuators for the ailerons, a pair of exhaust deflectors on top of the engine nacelles, and a large sensor blister at the centre-rear. The wing assembly is then mated to the crew gondola, and the canopy is begun. The blown windscreen that offers the pilot a good field of view has a sight fitted to the top centre before it is glued to the front of the cockpit, then has the clear canopy roof put in place, bridging the gap between the windscreen and cockpit rear. The two canopy sides are next, and these parts are each single pieces, which doesn’t give the modeller the opportunity to prop the front two sections in the open position without taking their life in their hands and cutting the parts with a razor saw or fine scriber and a lot of trepidation. No doubt an aftermarket company will step-in here. Building of the two nacelles begins with the gear bays, which starts with the making of the gear legs that have two main partss and a Y-shaped insert that traps the lower section in place but leaves it movable. Two more parts make up the suspension strut, which are also trapped in place by a V-shaped insert, and then glue is applied to the previously mobile joint, setting the correct angle for the leg permanently. It is glued to the stepped bay forward roof with a number of small parts, after which it is joined by the detailed sidewalls, rear bulkhead and another few parts to close over the rear of the roof and add more detail. The nacelle sides have a couple of holes drilled on each side, and these are joined around the bay assembly, capped off at the front by the intakes and propeller backing plate. Underneath, the triangular inserts with their many raised rivets are glued in carefully to avoid damaging that lovely detail, and two optional towel-rail antennae are glued into the holes on the sides of the nacelle. The two-part rudder is fixed to the tail, and an exhaust is made up from two halves, with baffles within. Align these carefully to minimise the join-line and check your references to get these right. A small intake is added to the side of the nacelle just forward of the exhaust. This process if carried out twice of course, in mirror-image so your Bronco doesn’t fly round in circles. The large horizontal elevator panel is made from top and bottom surfaces plus the elevator itself, and this is slotted into position between the nacelles as they are glued into place under the wings. You might need to grow another hand or two to make this happen, or get yourself one of those wonderful jigs like that of EBMA to help hold everything in place for this. Four optional shark-fin spoilers can be glued onto their corresponding slots in the top of each wing if you wish, or leave them in the box for a clean upper wing. The twin props have the three blades moulded as one, with a front and back boss, and take care to install the correct props on the nacelles, as the blades (and the turboprop engines) are handed, spinning in opposite directions to cancel out the effect of torque steer. A windscreen wiper and various sensor lumps are added around the fuselage, with more underneath, at which point you’ll notice that the main gear is without wheels. Each of these are made of a two-part wheel and two-part hub, with no weighting moulded-in, although that’s easily remedied by a quick sanding of a flat-spot on the bottom, just don’t overdo it so it looks like it needs more air. Fun with weapons is next, and this modeller thinks that the Bronco looks best when loaded for bear, as they say. There are two wing pylons on long supports to add to the outer wing panels, then it’s just a case of choosing which munitions you want to hang from them. There is a diagram showing which weapons can be fitted to which pylons, but if you’re aiming for realism, check your references to establish real-world load-outs for training and live-fire missions. In the box you get the following: 2 x LAU-33 twin rocket pods 2 x LAU-069A 21 rocket pods 2 x Mk.77 Incendiary bombs 2 x LAU-68 6 rocket pods 2 x 150gal fuel tanks 2 x Mk.81 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.81 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.82 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.82 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x LAU-10A 4 rocket pods The detail of the individual weapons is excellent, with multiple parts for fins, fuses and rockets, and only the seamlines to clean up along the way. The canopy is about as clear as can be, so it’s going to be important to mask it up before you inadvertently ruin the startling clarity. Although masks aren’t included in the box, there is a handy template near the back of the instructions that you can place tape on and cut out masks for your use on the model. Each section is numbered and there is another drawing showing their location on the canopy. Very handy! Markings There are five options in the rear of the instructions in various shades of grey and camouflage green, and there’s also a new paint set from ICM themselves that gives you all the shades you’ll need to paint the majority of the airframe as depicted in this boxing. You can read about that in a later review that we’ll link back once we’ve had chance to spray them out. From the box you can build one of the following: OV-10A 155471 Light Attack Sqn. 4 (VAL-4), ‘Black Ponies’, Binh Thuy, 1971 OV-10A 155456 Marine Observation Sqn. 6 (VMO-6), Quang Tri, 1969 OV-10A 67-14649, 20th Tactical Air Support Sqn., Da Nang, 1972 OV-10A 155416 Marine Observation Sqn. 2 (VMO-2), Da Nang, 1969 OV-10A 155416 Marine Observation Sqn. 2 (VMO-2), Da Nang, 1970 The 4th and 5th options depict the same airframe at different periods, which possibly had light grey wings earlier in its career, which was later painted green on the topside, and may have been painted a lighter or darker grey on the underside. The profiles give you the option and leave it up to you. Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The weapons all have stencils to apply, which are shown next to each profile, as their colours varied over time. There are also rear and white tip decals for the props, and the large wide T-shapes on the upper wings are also included as decals, as are the tapered exhaust gas “hiders” on some of the decal options. Conclusion I’m a happy bunny. I’ve always liked the Bronco, and this new tooling is an excellent looking model that is crammed full of detail that will doubtless encourage new decal sheets into the market to cater for the many buyers. The launch of the paint set is a clever move, encouraging modellers to try their new(ish) paint system. You know you want to! Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Type G4 Partisanenwagen with MG34 (72473) 1:72 ICM via Hannants Ltd Like many long-standing German companies, Mercedes isn’t overly keen on being linked to their work on vehicles used by the Nazis during WWII, particularly those used to transport their leader, for obvious reasons. This huge touring car was developed by Mercedes on their W31 platform that was notable not only because of its size, but also the fact that it had a third axle at the rear, with both rear axles driven by a 5 litre V8 engine that could lock out the differential for maximum traction, and used a four-speed gear box, some of which were synchromesh – a luxury feature at the time. It was complex and expensive to manufacture, so only a small number reached the German military, and these were soon co-opted into use by the SS and senior members of the party. By 1938 a larger engine was installed, and it was this later model that was used by Adolf Hitler during parades and other such high-profile appearances. Only 30 of the last variant were made, with production finishing in 1939 as war broke out. They were used throughout the war by the Nazis, and thanks to their cost and cachet, the Wehrmacht never saw sign of them for their use. Their seven-seat passenger compartment was luxurious by comparison to other vehicles of the era, and the drop-down hood was ideal for their use as a VIP transport, although Hitler’s cars were fitted with additional armour and bullet-resistant glass, further slowing its top speed thanks to the extra weight. It was capable of driving on all terrain, depending on whether the correct tyres were fitted, but this also limited its top speed to just over 40mph. How fast the armoured variants were(n’t), you can probably imagine. The VIP examples had rear-view searchlights installed to blind anyone aggressively chasing the vehicle, and a pair of MG34 machine gun mounts could be installed, although the passengers probably wouldn’t have appreciated the hot brass raining on them in the event of an ambush, but it’s better than being killed. These were used as convoy protection from ambush by Partisans, hence the name. The Kit This is a reboxing with new parts of ICM’s 2015 kit of this six-wheeled monster, which has been reboxed a few times since its original release, and is now with us in the Partisanenwagen guise, complete with a pair of MG34 machine guns mounts in the passenger compartment. Inside the box are four sprues in grey styrene, a small sprue of clear parts, three short metal rods, two sprues of black flexible plastic tyres, and the instruction booklet with a page of colour profiles on the glossy back cover in full colour. Construction begins with the bodyshell sides that are joined together at the rear, and spaced out with the rear seats and the windscreen, after which the floor is clipped into place from below on two clips on the integral rear fenders, after drilling a hole for the machine gun mount on the right side of the floor. The radiator and bonnet/hood cover up the nose, then the chassis with integral front fenders is detailed with a simplified V8 engine with block, cylinder head, transmission, and interlinking drive-shafts between the two back axles. The exhaust is separate and is inserted after the two halves of the vehicle are joined together, allowing the flexible manifolds to mate to the side of the cowling. The rear suspension has two inverted leaf-springs per side, one above and below the central pivot, with a pair of metal axles slotted through. It attaches to the chassis and has a pair of thick covers slotted over the top once it is in place. The front axle has separate stub axles moulded into the suspension units, and are joined together by a length of I-beam, with steering linkages added before you start adding the wheels. The rears are of one type, with the fronts having separate numbered hubs, so take care when fitting them, as pulling them off too many times may weaken the friction fit. The passenger compartment is decked out with a full set of driver controls plus two rows of additional seats with grab-handles for easy mounting and dismounting the vehicle. With the steering wheel mounted on the left, the sun visors are fitted, and the side windows are applied to the sills of the vehicle as single parts per side. Two spare tyres are attached to the engine cowling on turn-buckles, with the large trunk on the rear plus light clusters and numberplate holder, then a folded-away canvas roof covering the top of the rear, with added depiction of the folded framework further forward. Add the lights and short flag-poles to the front fenders, numberplate holder under the radiator, and you’re left with the two MG34s that are on separate mounts, which have moulded-in folded bipod and separate drum mag, plus a concertina-style guide fitted to direct the spent brass downward and away from the passengers as far as possible. The longer mount installs in the hole in the floor you drilled earlier, and the shorter mount is fitted to the rear on the left by drilling another 0.8mm hole just inside the fabric hood. Markings There is only one option offered for this kit, and that is panzer grey. It’s not going to light any fires in terms of originality, but that’s the colour they were, unless you wanted to do something fanciful. From the box you can build this big lump: There are no decals in this boxing, so if you plan on depicting a specific vehicle you’ll need to obtain plates and flags as appropriate. Conclusion A welcome re-release of a brute of a car that was used extensively by the Nazis, despite the small numbers. If you get a few, you could depict a convoy of them on their way to or from an arm-lifting engagement with Mr Hitler sat in one of them. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. G7117 Truck (35597) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-syncro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The G7017 had a cargo bed with canvas top, while the G7117 was the same except for the addition of a winch to give it some static pulling power. They were well-liked by their drivers and crews, and were adapted to other tasks due to their ubiquity, such as being used by the Soviets to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The Kit This is a new boxing of a brand-new tooling from ICM, and a number of these kit variants is in your favourite model shop as I type this. It’s an ICM kit, and a full interior kit too, with engine cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the chunky tyres, now complete with winch, deployed load cover behind the cab. It arrives in one of ICM’s medium-sized top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner flap, and inside are six sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure with a short length removed to accommodate the winch. The drum is depicted with a full roll of cable, with a pair of spoked ends, axle and motor at the ends, and a strong set of beams boxing it in, plus a new front bumper with in-built roller to protect the cable from wear. A small C-shaped template slots over a bump on the chassis rail, then the winch is slid into the rails until it comes to a stop thanks to the jig. The rear bumper irons, fuel tank, and transfer casing are installed, before the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front, and a short drive-shaft at the rear that links to the transfer box in the middle of the chassis. The front and rear axle are made up and fitted with another drive-shaft each, while the front axle gets the steering arm installed, which keeps the twin ball-jointed hubs pointing in the same direction, providing you’ve not been over-enthusiastic with the glue. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, and the battery box attaches to the outside of the ladder chassis next to a pair of tread-plated steps, then from the left of the engine, the air box and intake are attached to finish it off. The crew cab is next, beginning with the dashboard that inserts in the front bulkhead along with a top panel, then is joined with the cab floor and decked out with a pair of levers, gear stick and hand-brake on the floor, three foot pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in the diagonal floor section in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits into the rear floor of the cab and has the back wall with small ovalised window, then the roof fitted, after which the doors are made up with handles, winders and glazing, fitting within the frame in the open or closed position as you see fit. On the front of the firewall a vent is glued to the scuttle panel, and two reservoirs are attached, then the cab is mated to the chassis along with a couple of additional engine ancillaries and linkages to the front axle. The radiator is laminated from core, surround and tin-work, with a bezel fitted to the front and the assembly is then applied to the front of the engine, attaching to the chassis and input/outlet hoses that are already there. The cowling sides and front fenders are installed to permit the front grille to be attached, plus the bonnet on top. Behind the cab a spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and attention turns to the load bed. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture down the walkway, and a thick rear section with hooks, and the reflectors moulded-in, and a frame to stiffen it up. The same is true of the shallow sides, which also have a series of tie-down hooks fixed along their lengths, and the front upright gets the same treatment. An upstand incorporating two vertical pillars is glued to the front, and a pair of sides that consist of siding on five pillars per side are made up and are added to their locations, while underneath the floor is stiffened by adding four lateral supports, a trapezoid rear valence with lights, and four vertical mudguard boards and their diagonal supports. The front valance has a hole with a length of hose for the fuel filler to travel, and the final position of this tricky part is shown in a scrap diagram to help you with placement. It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two halves each, and twin wheels at the rear axle, put together with two two-part wheels each, and two hub parts added to the finished pair. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, and all wheels are secured in place by a central cap. There is a choice of steps when completing the load bed, as the lower portion of the sides can be built either vertically to make maximum use of the cargo area, or with the lower sections flipped down to form seats for the transport of troops. This is accomplished by using a different set of supports, fitted vertically for stowed, or diagonally below for deployed. Both options then have the five tilt hoops fixed into the tops of their pillars to finish off. The new alternative is a canvas tilt in the erected state, which is made up from roof, ends and sides, with one end open and the flaps tied back. This assembly is installed over a set of upright sides, but without the hoops of the skeletal option. The model is finished off with front light with clear lenses, door handles, bonnet clasps, wing mirrors, and a choice of open or closed front windscreen parts, which requires the fitting of alternative wipers to accommodate the horizontally stowed screen, which has small supports fitted diagonally against the A-pillars, as shown in scrap diagrams at the end. Markings These vehicles were usually left in their arrival scheme of olive drab although the Navy painted theirs grey, but were personalised with unit and other markings on the doors or somewhere equally prominent. Some would probably have been re-painted at some point, but that’s down to your references. From the box you can model one of the following machines: US Army, 1941 US Army, 1942 154th Engineer Battalion, US Army, 1943 US Navy, 1940s Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Finally, there is a decal provided for the central instrument binnacle in the cab, which is nice to see. Conclusion Maybe it wasn’t very high profile at the time, but this was an almost ubiquitous vehicle in the Lend-Lease supplies to Soviet Russia that helped to carry out the crucial task of keeping the front-line supplied with weapons and supplies. Moulded in great detail as we’ve come to expect from ICM, and with the tilt parts it’s even better than the previous boxings. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Hi all, I made this vintage esci 1/72 panzer III Ausf M with my seven year old son. I added the zvezda panzer grenadiers and vignette base for him. The decals are for the 3rd panzer division which situates the tank during operation Citadel (the decals are hard to make out through the weathering.). Last July we finally made it out of Northern Ireland to go back to my home in London and see my dad for the first time in two years (Usual Covid restrictions story.). Whilst back home I got to convince the wife of a trip to RAF Hendon with our boys. Of course whilst their I had to go around Hannants,, which is just down the road from the museum. I spent a small age in their just chatting to the guy behind the counter. He incidentally pointed out another bloke in their from Northern Ireland (he turned out to be another English bloke who lived about ten minutes down the road from us in Ireland and was getting the same ferry back with us from wales that night!). The man who was the owner of Hannants was super nice, really knowledgeable and helpful. Once I was leaving he gave this esci kit to my son which I thought was so generous and such a nice gesture. Anyway 7 months later we finally made it... Their are several mistakes, all of which are my fault! I made a small sacrifice to the floor gods with one of the head lights, after knocking it off for the fourth or fifth time I gave up. The schurzen is wrong and the chassis was warped but I didn't straighten it out correctly, same with the gun barrel being slightly bent....anyway hey ho still really enjoyed working on it which I suppose matters much more. I took a couple pics before it was 75% covered with troops and foliage: Its all brush painted. For xmass we bought our son a v-tech kids video camera (as he really loves youtube and wants to be a 'youtuber'.) So we filmed the process of making the tank after xmass and I'll eventually get around to editing the vid together and posting up some time. And a couple pictures of the vignette/base before the tank and Grenadiers below: I made the grass from Jute twine and painted it with oil paints, this way I got to play with loads of different hues of colour which was good fun. I put tile grout on to the foam board so it would crack and look distressed, like an old Russian cottage/farm house. Thanks for taking peek, Paul
  8. Mistel S1 Composite Training Aircraft (48101) 1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Mistel came about partly due to the lack of already developed heavy bombers in the German inventory, which forced them to consider using one aircraft to guide another to the target, then set it loose to crash to the ground, triggering the explosives that had been packed into the bottom aircraft in advance. They usually used old, outdated and worn-out medium bombers such as the Junkers Ju.88, with the crew compartment and nose removed, and a large stepped-cylindrical bomb unit bolted in place instead. The guiding aircraft was typically a fighter such as the Bf.109 or Fw.190, and these too were usually earlier versions due to the alterations needed to install the hardened locations that joined the two aircraft together on a trestle that separated the two with enough space to allow for props to spin and reduce the aerodynamic interference between them to an acceptable minimum. This was not a task that a pilot could tackle fresh from flying a standard solo fighter, so training rigs were made that retained the cockpit, left out the explosives for obvious reasons, but otherwise had the same flight characteristics as the more dangerous “live” version. The crew in the bomber were there just in case there was a problem and to regain control of the aircraft after the fighter separated in a simulated attack, allowing the re-use of the “bomb-plane” for subsequent training missions. Just like the actual mission, the fighter was then supposed to fly back to base to carry out successive missions until they were considered competent, when they would get to fly one of the more explosively converted bombers on a real mission over enemy territory. The Boxed Set Just like the real thing, this is a composite of two kits from ICM’s stable, the Bf.109F-4 from 2006, and the Ju.99A-4 from the last few years, which was very well received just a few years ago. The new mating parts are held on a separate sprue, and these consist of the link between the two aircraft. The decals for the two models have been merged into a single sheet too, as has the thick, glossy-covered instruction booklet, which has colour profiles on the rear few pages. It’s worthy of note that ICM have drawn out the shapes for a set of masks for both of these models for you to lay kabuki tape over and cut your own masks without the faff of doing it live on the model transparencies, or the expense of buying a commercial masking sheet. Good to see. Junkers Ju.88A-4 The Ju-88 was designed as a schnellbomber in the mid-30s, and at the time it was faster than current fighter designs, so it was projected that it could infiltrate, bomb and exfiltrate without being intercepted. That was the theory at least. By the time WWII began in the west, fighters had caught up with the previously untouchable speed of the Ju.88, and it needed escorting to protect it from its Merlin equipped British opponents. It was a sound deign however, and turned out to be a jack of all trades, being of use as a competent night fighter, dive bomber or doing reconnaissance to improve the accuracy of its brethren that were bombing Britain. They even popped a big gun on the nose and sent it against tanks and bombers, with variable success. The A series sported a pair of Jumo 211 engines in cylindrical cowlings producing over 1,000hp each, and was improved gradually up until the A-17, at which point it was replaced by the C and D, skipping the B, which became the Ju.188 in due course. The Kit Detail is right up there in terms of quality and crispness, with ICM really improving over the last few years, which has to be great news for modellers, as they aren't frightened of tackling what to us may seem niche subjects to some. Construction begins with the fuselage and the addition of sidewall details in the capacious cockpit area. Rear bulkhead, side consoles and seats are all added to the cockpit sides for a change, with an insert in the fuselage for the circular antenna and tail wheel added into the starboard side. The instrument panel is supplied with decals, and fits into the fuselage during joining. The missing floor is added to the lower fuselage panel that includes the lower parts of the inner wings and gives the structure some strength. It also receives the rudder pedals, control column, and the two remaining crew seats before being joined to the fuselage. The tail plane has articulated flying surfaces, and the wings are supplied as top and bottom, with the flaps and ailerons separate from the box, and neat curved fairings so they look good when fitted at an angle. The flaps include the rear section of the soon-to-be-fitted nacelles, which are added as separate parts to avoid sink-marks, and these and the ailerons run full-span, terminating just as the wingtip begins. This variant was fitted with the under-fuselage gondola, and each side has separate glazing panels inserted from inside, and a seam running vertically through its length. It is added to the hole in the underside of the fuselage, with the front and rear glazing minus machine guns that weren’t fitted to this training aircraft. At this time the landing gear is made up on a pair of upstands that are added to the underwing in preparation for the installation of the nacelle cowlings. The engines have to be built up first though, consisting of a high part count with plenty of detail, and a rear firewall that securely fits inside the cowling. Even though this is an in-line engine with a V-shaped piston layout, the addition of the annular radiators gives it the look of a radial, with their representation added to the front of the cowling, obscuring much of the engine detail. The side panels can be left off to show all that detail however. The cooling flaps around the cowling are separate, and the exhausts have separate stacks, which aren't hollow but are large enough to make boring them out with a drill a possibility. The completed nacelles fit to the underwing over the top of the main gear installation, securing in place with four pegs, two on each side of each nacelle. The props are made from spinner, backplate and a single piece containing all three blades, sliding onto a pin projecting from the engine front, which will require some glue if you want to keep them on. At this point the instructions recommend adding the canopy glazing, which consists of a nose cone and the main greenhouse for the cockpit aperture. The rear portion is made from two additional parts due to its double "blown" shape that normally accommodates the two rearward gun positions, so that the gunner's head isn't pressed against the canopy. While the airframe is flipped over, the two-part wheels and twin main gear bay doors are added, both having good detail and the former a radial tread. Markings The kit includes two markings options from the sheet. There are halfed Swastikas on the sheet, but the Balkenkreuz are whole. From the box you can build one of the following: German Research Institute for Gliding (DFS), Ainring, Germany, 1944 Nordhausen, Germany, Early 1944 Messerschmitt Bf.109F-4 The Bf.109 needs little introduction, suffice to say that it was the Luftwaffe’s mainstay frontline fighter throughout WWII, and went through many incarnations in the constant leapfrogging of technology in order to keep up with and in some cases surpass the allied fighters it was up against. The F variant was the second major redesign of the basic airframe, including a further uprated engine and the attendant strengthening of the airframe that required, plus adding rounded tips to the wings that remained for the rest of the 109’s career. It fought in small numbers toward the end of the Battle of Britain and was finally phased out of front-line service in 1942 to be replaced by the Gustav, thereby freeing up airframes for use as Mistel chaperones. This kit first hit the shelves in 2006, and while it isn’t the newest 109 in the world has all the parts you’d expect, and the flash seen on earlier pressings seems to have reduced, which is good to see. The cockpit is straight-forward, based upon an angled L-shaped floor with the central cannon breech between the pilot’s knees, and the instrument panel supported on a panel projecting from the forward bulkhead. The clear gunsight, rudder pedals, control column and seat pan finish that off, then the DB601E engine, which is quite well-detailed and includes exhaust stubs and flame-guards over the top is made up and attached to the front of the cockpit by joining the engine bearers, then between the two sub-assemblies are placed a pair of machine guns and ammo canisters. With the addition of a trim wheel on the fuselage sidewall and some paint, the fuselage can be closed up around the completed interior. The elevators are each single parts, and are installed in their slots, then joined later by a separate rudder that can be posed deflected. Two side cowlings are installed around the engine and the fuselage is joined to the lower wing, which is full width and has the upper halves glued to the top, then the wingtips are inserted into the newly formed slots. The windscreen with bullet-proof insert is glued in place along with fixed rear canopy and the opener, which has a set of head-armour installed inside. The supercharger intake trunk is applied to the left side of the cowling, and underneath the nose the chin intake for the oil cooler goes in, then the two radiator baths are inserted into their underwing positions with the flaps put into their tracks in the trailing edge. The narrow track main gear legs are each made up from strut, captive bay door and wheel, which are narrow enough to be moulded from a single part each, and these are both laid flat into the gear bays, as the 109 has no use for its wheels in the Mistel configuration. The tail wheel is a single part and slots into the rear under the tail, then it’s back to the front for the prop with spinner and retaining ring. Markings Two similar markings options from the same locations as the Ju.88s (predictably) are supplied for the 109 and can be seen in the sheet above, and from the box you can build one of the following: German Research Institute for Gliding (DFS), Ainring, Germany, 1944 Nordhausen, Germany, Early 1944 Joining the Kits There is a complex drawing of the undersides of the 109 and top of the 88 showing exactly where the various holes should be drilled in the two aircraft to enable you to fit the supports for the 109. The main support parts are three V-shaped struts under the centre of the fighter, and a single support pole under the tail, with a lazy-V shaped antenna behind the supports, probably relocated from the spine during the conversion. Conclusion The Mistels were a sign of desperation from the Nazis to an extent, although the Allies also sent some worn out B-17s and B-24s to Germany piloted by radio control, one of which famously killed one of the Kennedy family by detonating prematurely over England. A nice pair of well-detailed kits depicting the less well-known phase of development of these composite aircraft from WWII. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Battle of France, Spring 1940 (DS3514) 1:35 ICM via Hannants After Nazi Germany had finished either annexing or invading the East of Europe with the tacit agreement of Soviet Russia, it turned its gaze to the West, and its long-standing enmity toward France who were amongst the Allied powers that humiliated Kaiser-led Germany at the end of WWI. France had joined Britain in declaring war on Germany after their refusal to pull-out of Poland in 1939, and on 10th of May 1940 German forces moved forward through the Ardennes and the low countries, joining battle with French and British troops as well as the native troops of the other countries. There was a degree of unpreparedness, possibly partly through disbelief, and the newly implemented tactic of Blitzkrieg or Lightning War swept all before it, with armoured columns circumventing irrelevant pockets of resistance that were later mopped up by follow-up forces. The Allies were pushed back, fighting valiantly against the onslaught, but suffering from poor communications that resulted in them quickly being corralled in the coastal town of Dunkerque. The pocket remained viable for longer than expected, which allowed the swarm of little ships from Britain to take off thousands of British and French troops before it collapsed, with British and French rear-guard actions fighting bravely to protect their friends and colleagues at the very end. On the 25th of June 1940, France capitulated after signing a second armistice in the same railway carriage that the Treaty of Versailles had been signed at the end of WWI. The Kit This is a boxed set containing three of ICM’s kits, two of which were new in 2021, the other having been tooled in 2015. There is a French FCM 36 light tank, a Panhard 178 armoured car, and the odd-looking Laffly V15T artillery tractor, all of which saw action during the conflict. These vehicles were outclassed by some of the more modern German vehicles and tanks at the time, but they were thrown into battle crewed by brave soldiers to do what they could to hold up the advancing spearhead of the German army. FCM 36 French Light Tank The FCM 36 was a light infantry tank that was the result of a proposal issued by the French government in 1933 after Hotchkiss had offered a design to the ministry. Of the resulting series of designs from the different manufacturers, three were taken forward including designs by Hotchkiss, Renault and of course FCM, which stands for Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, who were based at Toulon in the French Riviera. The FCM offering was well-liked due to its sloped welded armour, and was continued despite the fact that they couldn’t get the thing working during the initial test period. It was sent back for repair and upgrade, which turned up a number of other issues such as weak suspension and insufficient armour, increasing weight even further over the original limit. It was originally equipped with a pair of machine guns in much the same way as the German Panzer I, but one was removed in favour of a 37mm cannon, mounted in a turret that was intended to become the standard turret design for all French light tanks, despite a number of problems. One of the reasons it was well-liked was that it was considered to be the design with the most potential, which was in part responsible for some serious delays spent working on an upgraded version that eventually came to nothing. By the time they had reverted back to the comparatively superior original it was outdated, and too late to fight the advancing Germans in any great numbers. The Kit This is still a new tool from ICM, so is a thoroughly modern kit, spread over six sprues of grey styrene, two runs of flexible black tracks, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet, the latter having colour painting guides on both sides of the glossy rear cover. It is crisply moulded with lapped panels, rivets and weld-lines over the exterior, and although there is no interior, the crew hatches can be posed open as long as you either block the view with figures or prepare yourself for some scratch-building of any visible areas. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is made up initially of the floor and two sides, with bulkheads added to the sides to support the lower sponson panels that give the vehicle more ground clearance. The running gear is made up from a three-part drive sprocket, eighteen sets of twin wheels that are fitted to eight double bogies and two singles, then the big idler wheels at the rear of the hull on sliding tensioning axles. The sloped armoured upper sponsons are installed along the way, with the mud-shedding “windows” on each side. Two pairs of return rollers on the top run are glued inside the sponson, then the flexible black “rubberband” tracks are glued together, the instructions neglecting to mention that styrene glues won’t join them, so you should use super glue or epoxy instead. Each run has two sections, with the joints best placed in the centre of each run so they stand less chance of being seen on the finished model. Detail on the tracks is very nice, with twin guide horns and perforated centres like the real thing, but of course the links will curve round the ends, rather than give the correct faceted look that individual links provide. The upper hull is mostly complete, needing some small facets adding near the glacis, and some louvered vents on the engine deck and sides. Lifting eyes, latches and other small parts are added around the rear and sides, then are joined by a set of pioneer tools, a loop of cable, and a large bifurcated exhaust system that exits the top of the engine deck and has two mufflers, one on each rear fender with a hollow flared exhaust pipe. Stipple those with some Mr Surfacer and paint them lots of shades of rust, and they should be a nice focal point of the model. The driver’s pop-up hatch has grab handles, armoured vision port and large exposed support ram on the left side that can pose the hatch open if you wish. Hinges for the moulded-in lower panel on the glacis are also fitted at this time, as is a folded tarp on the left side. Despite the kit having no true interior, you get a full breech and coaxial machine gun that slots through a perforated inner mantlet that bears a passing resemblance to a piece of swiss cheese, then has supports added to the sides, which are in turn glued to the turret bottom with the upper dropped over it, and an outer mantlet cover slid over the barrel. The barrel is tipped with a hollow muzzle, a domed recuperator cap, and armoured bell-shaped cover for the machine gun barrel, then the various vision ports are fixed to the sides, and the large trapezoid hatch at the rear is made up and can be attached open or closed. A couple of grab-handles are glued to the sides of the hatch aperture to assist the commander in and out of the turret, then the completed assembly is twisted into position on a pair of bayonet lugs that should hold it in place throughout most of its traverse. The final task is to make up four lengths of chain from the two sprues of oval-shaped styrene parts, which are held on the towing eyes front and rear by a pair of pegs. Markings There are two decal options on the small colourful decal sheet, both being French as you’d expect. From the box you can depict one of the following: FCM 36, 7th BCC, Chemery, France, 14th May 1940 FCM 36, 4th BCC, France, 10th June 1940 The decals have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Panhard 178 AMD-35 French Armoured Car The Panhard 178 was in 1935 an advanced reconnaissance armoured car used by the French armed forces, the 178 being Panhard's internal project number. The vehicle features 4-wheel drive, a 25mm main gun supplemented by a 7.5mm machine gun. It was the first 4-wheel drive type of vehicle mass produced for a major power. A notable feature of the vehicle was a driving position in the front for the driver, and a separate one at the rear for a second driver to get out of trouble in a hurry. The second driver also doubled as a radio operator in command vehicles. The main gun used was a shorten version of the 25mm Hotchkiss L/42.2, which was the standard French Anti-tank tank gun. To allow for the shorter barrel the gun used a heavier charge that could penetrate up to 50mm of armour using a tungsten round. Secondary armament was a coaxial Reibel 7.mm machine gun for which 3,750 rounds were carried, approximately half of them being armour piercing. A further machine gun was carried that could be mounted on the turret for anti-aircraft use. The magazines for this gun were carried on the internal walls of the fighting compartment. Approximately 370 vehicles were completed and available for use when war broke out, and they were employed by infantry units as well as the Cavalry. When in combat with German vehicles armed with 20mm cannon the Panhards often came out much better than the enemy vehicles, but following the French defeat nearly 200 (many brand new) were used by German reconnaissance units. An interesting modification made by the Germans was to develop the Schienepanzer as railway protection vehicles that were fitted with special wheels to allow them to run on railway tracks. The Kit The kit is a re-release by ICM of their new tool kit from 2015. It has a full interior, both in the fighting compartment, with the two driving positions and in the engine bay. The detail on the parts is very well done, down to the rivets on the main hull to the tread-plate main floor, and the louvres on the engine covers. There are 4 sprues of grey styrene, four rubber tyres, instruction booklet and a small decal sheet for this part of the set. Construction begins with the fighting compartment floor being glued to the lower hull, followed by the rear driver’s bulkhead and both drivers’ seats. The longitudinal bulkhead between the rear driver’s compartment and engine compartment is then fitted into position, followed by the well-detailed eleven-piece engine. The drivers’ steering columns and steering wheels are next, along with the gear sticks and foot pedals. The rear driver’s transverse bulkhead is then installed, as is the rack of shells for the main gun, which is glued to the fighting compartment bulkhead. Both sides of the hull have a door that can be posed either open of closed to display the interior if you wish, and on the inside of each side there are numerous ammunition drums for the machine gun to be glued into position, along with the driver’s instruments and a spare machine gun. The sides are then glued to the lower hull, followed by the front and read bulkheads plus front glacis plate. The rear engine deck is then attached, along with the fighting compartment roof, followed by engine louvres and rear mid-bulkhead hatch, which can all be posed open should the modeller wish. The rear wheel arch mounted storage boxes are then fitted and finished off with their respective doors. Fortunately, the running gear and suspension on this kit is really simple, with just two axles and two-piece differentials plus drive shafts that are assembled, then the four suspension spring units are fitted to the underside of the hull, followed by the axles/drive shafts. The steering linkages are attached along with brake accumulators, drop links, horn and towing hooks. The wheels are each made up from two-part hubs and a flexible black “rubber” tyre, with the completed assemblies glued onto their respective axles. The rest of the hull is then detailed with grab handles, door handles, pioneer tools, headlights and a rack on the rear bulkhead. The turret is then assembled beginning with the co-axial machine gun, which is made from three parts before being fitted to the left-hand front of the turret. The main gun comes in two halves, which once joined together are fitted with the trunnion mounts and elevation wheel. This is fitted to the turret ring along with the turret traverse mechanism. The turret ring and turret are then joined and the commanders and gunner’s seats are assembled and glued into position. The commander’s hatch is fitted with a handle and vent before being fixed into position, and the two rear hatches on the turret can be posed open or closed. There are a pair of two-piece periscopes fitted forward on the turret roof, and two lifting eyes on the rear sides. The completed turret is then twisted onto the turret ring on the hull, and the last parts added. These include two more driver’s viewing ports, which can also be posed open; the two-piece exhaust silencer; wing mirrors and four miscellaneous panels. Markings The small decal sheet provides markings for four vehicles; 1st Platoon, 6th CUIR, 1st DLM, France Spring 1940 2nd Platoon, 6th CUIR, 1st DLM, France Spring 1940 3rd Platoon, 6th CUIR, 1st DLM, France Spring 1940 3rd Platoon, 8th CUIR, 2nd DLM, France Spring 1940 Laffly V15T French Artillery Towing Vehicle The Laffly V15T was a particularly niche entry into the French Artillery Tractor roster, with only 100 being made before production ceased at Laffly to be taken over by another company. The type saw limited service in the French army pulling the outmoded 25mm anti-tank guns, and after capitulation, in service with the Wehrmacht as transport or radio wagons. The unusual aspect of this vehicle was the four apparently ‘vestigial’ wheels on axles spurring off the chassis rails that were intended to increase the off-road abilities of the type. When viewed from the side however, the small balloon-wheels appear to be above the level of the main axles, so whether this actually worked anywhere but in the deepest ruts is another matter. We don’t see them on modern vehicles, so I’m guessing they were more trouble than they were worth. The Kit This is a brand-new 2021 tool from ICM, and it’s typical of modern ICM in that it is well-stocked with detail. There are seven sprues of grey styrene inside, plus a clear sprue, four flexible black tyres, a small decal sheet and the glossy-covered instruction booklet with spot colour and colour profiles to the rear. It’s a full interior kit including engine, chassis and crew compartment, so there are plenty of parts to get your glue on. Construction begins with the chassis, with an option to remove the rounded rear-end where the towing hitch attaches, which is cut off easily with a scalpel or razor saw using the red outlined section on the drawings as a guide. A number of cross-braces are added, and a jig is placed under the inverted chassis onto which the rear suspension arms are laid, so that they set up at the correct angle, taking care not to glue the arms to the jig. If you have left the rear section on the chassis, the towing eye and other parts are glued in place, then the various leaf springs, ancillary axles and other suspension/steering parts are attached to the sides, with a sizeable transfer box and twin drive-shafts placed in the centre facing aft. The front axles are made up and glued in place with twin springs above them on the chassis, two more drive-shafts pointing forward, and more suspension/steering parts for the small wheels. The little balloon tyres are each made from two halves each, and four are created to affix to the small axles that project from the chassis rails, the front one of which has some limited steering capability. The 4-cylinder 2.3L petrol engine is next to be built, beginning with the two-part block and adding the sump, timing pulleys, transmission, exhaust manifold and finely-moulded cooling fan, plus other ancillaries that should result in a highly detailed rendition that just needs some HT-wires and sympathetic painting to complete. It is laid into the centre-front of the chassis along with the airbox and intake hosing, then is bracketed by a pair of tapered inserts that fill the gap between the block and the chassis rails. The main cab is based on the shaped floorpan, with sides, aft bulkhead and some internal structures added along the way, which later form ammunition storage bunkers around the sides of the rear portion. The front crew have a seat each with separate backs, and there is another optional wider seat in the middle of the rear compartment, which installs over a moulded clamshell door with pull-handles. A set of driver controls are added to the left front of the body, then a firewall with pedals, a breadbin-like compartment and other small parts is fixed to the front of the body, with a steering column and wheel added after the bodyshell is fixed to the chassis. The dashboard with dial decal is added over the wheel, and the area is covered over with a curved scuttle panel. In the rear compartment, the tops to the stowage boxes are fitted, and these have the individual sections and their handles moulded-in. Returning to the engine compartment, the steering column is extended into the lower chassis and a horn is fixed to the trim panels, then the three-part radiator is assembled and glued to the front of the vehicle, defining the engine bay. A loop of hosing joins the radiator to the engine, and the cowling panels are closed over the compartment, although you have the option to leave them open if you wish. Some small parts are added to the lower edges of the cowlings, which has crisply detailed louvers moulded-in. A pair of curved front wings are glued to the lower body over the wheels, and each of the four main wheels have a brake drum part added to the end of each axle, after which the wheels themselves are made from two hub halves that mate inside the hollow tyres and glue to the axles, allowing the vehicle to stand on its own wheels. At the rear, an axe and shovel are fixed to the bulkhead with a stop sign and the towing hook, a folded tilt is added to the rear, and the windscreen is made up from a frame and two individual clear panes. A trio of rolled-up canvas anti-splatter covers are pinned to the fronts of the door apertures and the two headlights have their clear lenses glued on before they are put in place on their mounts next to the tiny wheels at the front. The final parts are a front number plate board and an optional square unit plaque on the left front wing. What a weird little truck! Markings There are two decal options provided on the sheet, and they’re both painted in a US Green shade, despite being French. From the box you can build one of the following: Light Mechanised Brigade Anti-Tank Squadron, France, early 1940 France, Summer, 1940 Conclusion These three kits are full of detail, and represent great value in their own original boxings, but when you put them all in one box that isn’t much larger, they represent excellent value, and make for a much more compact stash, or you can at least tell yourself that if you like. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  10. B-26K with USAF Pilots & Ground Personnel (48280) 1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd The A-26 was built by Douglas during WWII as the successor to the A-20 Havoc. Two types were designed, The C with a glass bomber nose and the B with a full metal nose filled with either 6 or 8 .50cal machine guns, which coupled with the three in each wing gave it quite a punch, deserving of the Strafer title. It also had a pair of turrets on the fuselage mid-upper and dorsal positions, which were both operated by a single gunner using a complex remote mechanism that flipped between the upper and lower turrets depending on where the gunner was looking through his binocular sights. This trained the guns accordingly and also calculated the correct offset for parallax and lead, but was very complex and caused some delays to it entering service, and even more issues with maintenance in the field. In 1948 it was re-designated as the B-26 by the US Air Force to confuse us, and later on back to the A-26 just to complete the process of befuddlement. It was developed a little after the Marauder and despite using the same engines it was conceived totally separately from its more rotund colleague. It was initially less than popular in the Pacific theatre where its poor cockpit view due to the canopy and engine position rendered it unloved by the first users. It was more popular in the European theatre and was accepted as a replacement for the Havoc fairly quickly. After the war it served in Korea, early Vietnam engagements and other conflicts, ending its days in US service with the Air National Guard in the early 70s. In the mid-1950s some Aircraft were converted to the Drone controller role with the DC prefix to launch Ryan Firebee drones in support of combat training. In a late twist the B-26 would be brought back in the 60s for the Vietnam War because it could still hold its own in combat. The aircraft externally still looked very much like the WWII aircraft, but the turrets were removed in favour of fixed forward firing guns and four hard points were fitted to each wing, allowing the carrying of 8,000lbs of ordnance. The wings of these aircraft were rebuilt and strengthened, the rudder was enlarged and permanent tip tanks (65 US Gal) were added to the main wings. Anti-icing was added to the airframe to cope with cold weather and higher altitudes, and a new anti-skid braking system was also added. In the cockpit the dials and displays were updated and a secondary control yoke was added to allow control from either seat. New 2,500hp engines were added inside the nacelles, along with cuffed broad chord props to cope with the enhanced power delivery. The USAF ordered 40 of the "new" aircraft which were known as Nimrods locally to their crews. As well as combat operations in South east Asia some aircraft flew on the down-low with the CIA in the Congo. The last aircraft were finally retired by 1969 when AC-130 gunships took over their night interdiction role. Only 6 of the type survive, with "Special Kay" having been restored to Flight as a memorial to crews who fought the covert missions in South East Asia. The Kit This is a new variant from the recent tooling from ICM, and this is the second boxing now of the so-called Counter Invader. While you get many parts from the original Invader boxings, this edition features a new fuselage sprue, new wing sprues, a new rudder, new engine nacelles, a pylon sprue, and weapons sprues ICM previously released as a stand-alone US Armament set. It also includes a new sprue filled with five crew figures, which we’ll cover toward the end of this review. It arrives in the familiar top opening box with a captive inner lid to the lower tray. Inside the box are a healthy fifteen sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, two decal sheets and the instruction booklet plus two extra instruction sheets for the armament & figures. A quick look over the sprues reveals that panel lines are very crisp, narrow and restrained, the surface is matt and very neat-looking, with plenty of engraved and raised details on the parts, plus subtly indented flying surfaces simulating their fabric covering. There are a number of red blocks printed over the sprue map, which shows how many of the parts will be left on the sprues once you have completed construction, such as original wings, props, cowlings and one of the canopies. If you’re a bit ham-fisted and plan on building many Invaders, you could well find these come in useful down the line. New Parts Original Parts Construction begins with the internal bomb load, which is then placed within the port fuselage half along with some detail panels and bulkheads. The former gunner’s position and the cockpit are next, creating the pilot's seat, instrument panel (with instrument decals), centre console with throttle quadrant before adding those and the twin control columns to the floor. The aft compartment is built up around the front wing spar with a set of radio gear hanging from a pair of risers and a pair of wing spars, so you'll have to do some detail painting as you go. After this the starboard fuselage side is prepped, with the right side of the cockpit and bomb bay with its detailed ribbing. With that and a quantity of detail painting you can then slide the starboard fuselage over the two spars, and it would be a good idea when fitting those spar parts to let the glue set up with the starboard fuselage taped in place to ensure they make the correct angle when they're set in place permanently. The instructions then have you building up the tail feathers, with the elevators having separate single-part flying surfaces, plus a two-piece rudder to attach to the moulded-in tail fin. The gun-nose comprising the fixed lower and rear section of the nose are built up out of three parts, making space for the 40g of nose weight you are encouraged to fit before you add the single cowling panel that covers the gun bay, with a pair of four-barrel gun-inserts added through the holes to depict the .50cals. You'll need to drill out the muzzles or take the lazy way out and get a set of Master barrels. The nose section is a straight-forward butt joint to the fuselage, with a small half-moon cut-out that should help align it. The new wings are next with a small radiator intake prism moulded-in to which you add a radiator panel, and the lower parts have holes and long depressions ready for the four pylons per wing. You'll notice that there are fairings and a hump in the upper wing where the engine nacelles will be, and these are separate assemblies to be built up later. First, the separate two-section flaps, and the ailerons are prepared and added to the trailing edge of the wings, the latter being of one piece each and slotting into the wing via two tabs. The tip tanks are made of two halves and are glued in place, and underwing landing lights are added from clear parts. At this stage the instructions have you sliding the wings onto the spars and gluing them in place. Whether you'd rather wait until you've added the engine nacelles though is entirely up to you. It’s your model! There are of course two engine nacelles and these build up pretty much identically apart from their outer skins, which are handed to fit their respective fairings as you'd expect. They are split vertically, and each half has internal structure moulded-in, with bulkheads added fore and aft of the gear bays, coupled with bay lip inserts that bulk out the edges and also hold captive their bay door. This may require some clever masking and a little care during handling, but it shouldn't hold you up too much, as the hinge-points are relatively robust. The two halves are joined together, the prominent intake on the top of the nacelle is made up from two parts, then is added to the nacelle front which is in turn glued to the rest of the nacelle, with the completed assemblies attached to the wings from the underside, as yet without their engine cowlings, engines or props. The engines are added later in the build, and the Twin Wasps are depicted in their entirety with both banks of pistons, push-rods, ancillaries and reduction housing at the front, plus the collector ring and exhausts at the rear, the latter made up from eight parts each. Again, the engines are identical and interchangeable with each other, and they fit to the nacelles with a teardrop-shaped tab, after which the engine cowling is slotted over them. The cooling flaps are last to be added in four sets around the rear of the cowling. The top of the fuselage is still open at this point, as it has an insert with the faired over section where the top turret used to be, with another for the former dorsal turret fitted later on. Each of the three tyres are made from two halves with separate hubs applied from either side, then hung on their respective legs, which have retraction jacks and scissor links added along the way. Happily, these can be fitted late in the build, so the open bays can be masked quicker than if they were present. Speaking of bays, you can depict the bomb bay open or closed by using either a one-piece door for closed, or two separate doors with internal detail for open. This is nice to see, as it's always a little tricky to join two doors and get them aligned with the fuselage so there are minimal join-lines. The main airframe is ostensibly complete save for some antennae and the new broad-blade props, and if you've been sparing with the glue when assembling the engines, the latter should still spin once complete. The four pylons per wing are each made from two parts, and should have some 0.8mm holes drilled in their lower surface for later use, then you need to make a choice what to put on the pylons, with the help of a load-out diagram provided, or from your own references. US Aviation Armament (48406) As well as the internal bomb load, there are four sprues containing various munitions, as follows: 2 x LAU-10A Pods of 5" Rockets 2 x LAU-69 Pods of 2.75" Rockets 2 x LAU-68 Pods of 2.75" Rockets 2 x BLU-23 500LB Fire bombs (Can be made with or without the fins) 2 x BLU-27 750LB Fire Bombs (Can be made with or without the fins) 2 x Mk.77 750LB Incendiary Bombs 2 x SUU-14 Dispensers 2 x Mk.81 Snakeye Bombs* 2 x MK.81 Low Drag Bombs* 2 x Mk.82 Snakeye Bombs* 2 x Mk.82 Low Drag Bombs* *All of the above bombs can be fitted with Fuse extenders In addition, there are 2 MERs with Sway braces, with what look to be 12 Flares to load on the MERs. All of the parts are well moulded and there are enough parts to give some additional detail to the weapons. US Pilots & Ground Crew Personnel - Vietnam (48087) This new set is designed for this kit, but could equally be used elsewhere. There are two pilots getting ready for flight, one of whom is carrying a helmet. An officer figure (possibly maintenance) is standing around with a clipboard in hand, with two ground crew reaching above their heads to fiddle with things such as the external weapons. The uniforms are Vietnam era and the sculpting is up to ICM's high standards. Markings In this diorama-style boxing there are four similar options included on the decal sheet, all of which are in Vietnam light and dark green, brown and black camouflage. From the box you can build one of the following: 64-17651, 56th Special Operations Wing, 609th Special Operations Sqn Nakhon Phanom 1969, "Mighty Mouse" name and artwork 64.17649, Davis-Monthan AFB, 1970 "Sweet Therese" name 64-17645, 56th Special Operations Wing, 609th Special Operations Sqn Nakhon Phanom 1969 64-17679, 1st Special Operations Wing, USAF Late 1960s "Special Kay" name. This aircraft has been restored and is the only B-26K flying The decals are printed anonymously, although they look like DecoGraph's output to my eye. They have good registration, colour density and sharpness, and include a number of stencils that are legible with the right optics. The decals for the armaments are of the same quality and sharpness. Conclusion This model is excellent for anyone wanting to create a diorama or at least add a few weapons and figures to their model. Detail is excellent and the addition of the figures and weapons is great news. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  11. G7117 Truck with WWII Soviet Drivers (35594) 1:35 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-syncro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The G7017 had a cargo bed with canvas top, while the G7117 was the same except for the addition of a winch to give it some static pulling power. They were well-liked by their drivers and crews, and were adapted to other tasks due to their ubiquity, such as being used by the Soviets to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The Kit This is a new boxing of a brand-new tooling from ICM, and a number of these kit variants is in your favourite model shop as I type this. It’s an ICM kit, and a full interior kit too, with engine cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the chunky tyres, now complete with winch, deployed load cover and a crew of two drivers to fill the cab. It arrives in one of ICM’s medium-sized top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner flap, and inside are eight sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure with a short length removed to accommodate the winch. The drum is depicted with a full roll of cable, with a pair of spoked ends, axle and motor at the ends, and a strong set of beams boxing it in, plus a new front bumper with in-built roller to protect the cable from wear. A small C-shaped template slots over a bump on the chassis rail, then the winch is slid into the rails until it comes to a stop thanks to the jig. The rear bumper irons, fuel tank, and transfer casing are installed, before the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front, and a short drive-shaft at the rear that links to the transfer box in the middle of the chassis. The front and rear axle are made up and fitted with another drive-shaft each, while the front axle gets the steering arm installed, which keeps the twin ball-jointed hubs pointing in the same direction, providing you’ve not been over-enthusiastic with the glue. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, and the battery box attaches to the outside of the ladder chassis next to a pair of tread-plated steps, then from the left of the engine, the air box and intake are attached to finish it off. The crew cab is next, beginning with the dashboard that inserts in the front bulkhead along with a top panel, then is joined with the cab floor and decked out with a pair of levers, gear stick and hand-brake on the floor, three foot pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in the diagonal floor section in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver (more about them later) share a bench seat that is made up from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits into the rear floor of the cab and has the back wall with small ovalised window, then the roof fitted, after which the doors are made up with handles, winders and glazing, fitting within the frame in the open or closed position as you see fit. On the front of the firewall a vent is glued to the scuttle panel, and two reservoirs are attached, then the cab is mated to the chassis along with a couple of additional engine ancillaries and linkages to the front axle. The radiator is laminated from core, surround and tin-work, with a bezel fitted to the front and the assembly is then applied to the front of the engine, attaching to the chassis and input/outlet hoses that are already there. The cowling sides and front fenders are installed to permit the front grille to be attached, plus the bonnet on top. Behind the cab a spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and attention turns to the load bed. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture down the walkway, and a thick rear section with hooks, and the reflectors moulded-in, and a frame to stiffen it up. The same is true of the shallow sides, which also have a series of tie-down hooks fixed along their lengths, and the front upright gets the same treatment. An upstand incorporating two vertical pillars is glued to the front, and a pair of sides that consist of siding on five pillars per side are made up and are added to their locations, while underneath the floor is stiffened by adding four lateral supports, a trapezoid rear valence with lights, and four vertical mudguard boards and their diagonal supports. The front valance has a hole with a length of hose for the fuel filler to travel, and the final position of this tricky part is shown in a scrap diagram to help you with placement. It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two halves each, and twin wheels at the rear axle, put together with two two-part wheels each, and two hub parts added to the finished pair. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, and all wheels are secured in place by a central cap. There is a choice of steps when completing the load bed, as the lower portion of the sides can be built either vertically to make maximum use of the cargo area, or with the lower sections flipped down to form seats for the transport of troops. This is accomplished by using a different set of supports, fitted vertically for stowed, or diagonally below for deployed. Both options then have the five tilt hoops fixed into the tops of their pillars to finish off. The new alternative is a canvas tilt in the deployed state, which is made up from roof, ends and sides, with one end open and the flaps tied back. This assembly is installed over a set of upright sides, but without the hoops of the skeletal option. The model is finished off with front light with clear lenses, door handles, bonnet clasps, wing mirrors, and a choice of open or closed front windscreen parts, which requires the fitting of alternative wipers to accommodate the horizontally stowed screen, which has small supports fitted diagonally against the A-pillars, as shown in scrap diagrams at the end. Figures This boxing includes the driver and co-driver dressed in their standard WWII-era fatigues with quilted jackets. One has a cap while the co-driver has one of those prototypical fur hats with the ear-flaps tied over the top. They’re up to ICM’s usual high standard, and have a separate sheet of instructions that show painting and build numbers. Markings These Lend/Lease vehicles were usually left in their arrival scheme of olive drab, but were personalised with unit and other markings on the doors or somewhere equally prominent. Some would probably have been re-painted at some point, but that’s down to your references. From the box you can model one of the following machines: Unknown Red Army Unit, East Germany 1945 Vehicle from a Lend/Lease Consignment 1944 Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Although undocumented, there is a decal provided for the central instrument binnacle in the cab, which is nice to see. Conclusion Maybe it wasn’t very high profile at the time, but this was an almost ubiquitous vehicle in the Lend-Lease supplies to Soviet Russia that helped to carry out the crucial task of keeping the front-line supplied with weapons and supplies. Moulded in great detail as we’ve come to expect from ICM, and with the new tilt parts and figures it’s even better than the previous boxings. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Royal Marines Officer (16012) 1:16 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Royal Marines are a naval fighting force that can trace their lineage back to the 1600s, and are a proud group of soldiers that go through a tough selection process that sorts out the wannabes from the actual hard-men that can handle the rough and tumble of their taxing schedule, which includes official duties as well as their Commando and other roles that they undertake when required. The Kit This figure model depicts a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines (If I’ve read his shoulder boards right) dressed in his dark blue ceremonial uniform with red piping down his pants, and with his ceremonial sword held out at waist height resting over his right shoulder, a white and red peaked cap atop his head, and three medals on his left breast pocket. The uniform is Best Blue, and the sword is based on the Infantry Sword pattern of 1897, with a three-quarter basket guard on the hilt, pierced and beautifully etched with a pattern incorporating the royal cypher of the Queen. The scabbard is held at rest vertically by his free hand on a belt-mount that has an over-shoulder stabilising strap. It arrives in ICM’s usual top-opening box with captive inner lid, and inside are two sprues of grey styrene, a sprue of black styrene and plinth, plus a single instruction sheet printed in colour on both sides. At the bottom of the box you will also find a print of the photo-realistic artwork, which could be framed and hung if you're so minded. Construction and painting guides are shown on the same set of diagrams, using the parts on the grey sprues, which comprise separate head, torso, legs and arms, plus individual tails to his jacket and two shoulder boards. Due to the position of the hands around the sword and scabbard, the fingers are supplied separately moulded, with two strap sections for the scabbard on the left. The sword is finely sculpted and has a separate hand guard that slips over the blade during construction. The base is moulded in black styrene, and has a choice of four different surfaces for the top and a flat base for the bottom. The choices comprise a flat asphalt surface plus three styles of cobble or paving stones. Markings There are no decals included in the box, but the various badges, medals and emblems are all shown with colour call-outs, and they are all large enough to be painted carefully by hand, although the piping down the trousers will need a steady hand, some decal strip, or careful masking. Conclusion This is a handsome kit of a ceremonial uniform worn by one of the most elite British soldiers with a huge vault of history standing behind this young officer. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Model T 1914 Fire Truck with Crew (35606) 1:35 ICM Via H G Hannants Ltd The Ford Model T has gone down in history as the world’s first mass produced car, introducing the production-line in a manner that would still be familiar to modern eyes, only perhaps with not so many robot arms flailing around. That production line ran from 1908 to 1927 with over 15 million sold. Its so-called three-speed transmission included a reverse gear rather disingenuously, and the four-cylinder 2.9 litre engine could output a whole 20bhp through the rear axle to reach a top speed of just over 40mph at some point after you floored it downhill with a trailing wind. It was capable of 25mpg with a light foot, and over the course of production, many different applications and body styles were envisaged for the first world-car, including armoured cars, trucks and vans. The Kit This is a new boxing of the recently released base kit with new parts specific to its task and a set of crew figures to give it some human scale, which you’ll find near the bottom of this review. It is in the predominant AFV scale of 1:35, although ICM have also tooled a 1:24 series of kits that have been released alongside these to appeal to the car modellers in their main scale. It arrives in a medium-sized top-opening box with ICM’s usual captive inner lid, and inside are fives sprues in grey styrene (three for the figures), a small sprue of clear parts, no decals and a glossy colour instruction booklet with the painting guide on the rear page in full colour. Construction begins with the radiator surround that is moulded to the front axle and has the Ford logo in the centre of the core insert, and on the header tank of the surround. This is fitted to the floor pan, which has two styles of tread-plate engraved into the footwells and the running boards between the fenders. Some small parts are added under the front, then the engine block is made up with its transmission and other ancillaries added along the way. Incidentally, this engine stayed in production until 1941, long after the Model T became extinct as a complete vehicle. The engine is fitted into the bay behind the radiator, and is plumbed into it with entry and exit hoses. Underneath is the long exhaust pipe with a single muffler box that is made from two halves with the exhaust tip moulded to the separate part that extends it to the back of the vehicle. The drive-shaft with its large differential housing is fitted between the rear drive-shafts and suspension part, and is inserted into the underside with the drive-shaft mating to the back of the angular transmission housing. Suspension braces are added to the front and rear axles, along with the steering arms that fit to the rear of the front axle, then the single-part spoked wheels with pneumatic tyres moulded-in are clipped over the ends of each axle. The wheels are very well moulded, with air valves and sharp spokes on each one, plus a well-defined rim and tyre tread detail. The early Model T had a faceted five-faced cowling over the engine until 1914, the two sides lifting up on a central hinge that ran from front to rear of the top face. The hinge is attached between the bulkhead and the radiator, and the two lift-up panels are added over the top to complete the cowling, although you could also leave one or both open to show off the engine, but you’ll need to remove a couple of ejector-pin marks, which is easily done because the cowlings are flat-surfaced and should be a little thinner to be more realistic anyway. The front floor pan has the Ford logo in the passenger well according to the instructions, but there’s just a section of ribbing there on the plastic, as well as some more treadplate patterning, and this is sandwiched between the two lower sides of the body, with a spacer at the rear. It is lowered onto the chassis and the three foot pedals and handbrake lever are inserted into their slots on the left (wrong) side. A quick trip to the furniture store has you making up the front seats (read “couch”) from an L-shaped seat pad with quilted surface, and matching texture is also present on the arms. The completed soft furnishing is fitted within an outer shell that is made from base, back and two side panels, then it is installed on the raised platform between the front and rear areas. A rear lamp is made up with a clear three-sided wrap-around lens, then the rear passenger compartment is filled with a pair of water tanks, which are three parts each, and joined together by a frame that has control wheels at the rear, along with pressure regulators with more valves on the top. A large stowage box is fitted on a frame over the tanks, and each side is perforated to form a diamond mesh pattern, with a coiled hose placed in the bottom, linked to the manifold in the rear of the vehicle. The driver’s fifth wheel has a pair of controls mounted at the top and a long column added, then it is slid into a hole in the sloped part of the floor in front of the pedal box. Two front lights are made up in the same manner as the rear lamp, but they have handed brackets to fit on the bulkhead, while a two-layered ladder is fastened to the left side of the vehicle on a pair of brackets that form part of the rear equipment area. Two more headlamps are each given clear lenses and their cylindrical bodies are made of two halves, split top and bottom. Another lamp, this time a searchlight also has a clear lens and fits to the top of the bulkhead, with a bell for the dinging-of on the opposite side next to the driver. Two types of fire extinguisher and a short drum are the final parts that fit on the right running-board, with the optional hand-crank for the engine slipped into the front under the radiator. Markings There is only one colour option supplied on the back page, and it’s not going to surprise anyone that it’s predominantly red with a bit of brass for the fitting, plus a pale grey set of old-fashioned bicycle-like tyres. When did tyres become black? There are no decals as already mentioned, so registration and all that aren’t of any interest for a change. Cool. The Figures This figure set depicts a brave crew of four lads to populate the area around your model or diorama base. They are attending a fire in their great-coats, big boots and wide-brimmed hats that were often made of heavily treated leather, and sometimes still are. They arrive in a small top-opening box with captive inner lid, and inside are three sprues in grey styrene, plus a folded instruction and painting sheet. There are four figures on the large sprue, with their hats and equipment spread over two small identical sprues to complete the set. They are all standing, and three are wearing the afore mentioned gear, while another is carrying his hat in one hand and a bedraggled moggie in the other, presumably having just been rescued from the fire. The other three all have moustaches, and one of them (the men, not the moustaches) is pointing up at something whilst holding his helmet in place, another has a fireman’s axe over his should, and the third is carrying an equally bedraggled child in tattered clothing in his arms, walking away from danger and into the waiting arms of a medical team or his worried parents. The sculpting is up to ICM’s usual high standard, and breakdown is sensible with separate arms, torso, legs and lower tails of their coats that fit over slimmed-down thighs to keep things in scale. The jackets have crisply moulded brass clasp-type closures, and the helmets have the prominent seams visible where the leather sections of the crown are sewn together. The prominent badges on the front of their helmets are separate with a pointed support piece in addition, as they stand higher than the helmet’s cap, and are again better detailed as a result. There are two separate raised collars too for added detail, the little boy is broken down in a similar manner to the main figures, and even the cat has a separate head to give it a more realistic level of detail. Conclusion ICM have done really well with this range of Model Ts in both scales, although the 1:35 kits are of more interest to me personally. Moulding is excellent, with some really crisp detail on show, both in the bodywork areas as well as those ever-so-comfy front seats. Adding the figures broadens your options for displaying your model, and the excellent sculpting matches the quality of the rest of the kit. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  14. American Fire Truck Crew 1910s (35622) 1:35 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The fire crews in the early 1900s had a lot more work to do than modern crews thanks to the haphazard nascent electric networks of the day, and the probabilities that some of the least well-to-do were still using candle-power or gas to light their way, and coal or log fires to keep themselves warm. Add to that the fact that a lot of early fire crews were volunteers, and their protective gear was a large shaped leather hat with a wide brim, a thick coat and heavy boots, and it’s largely a thankless task. They still used to go out risking life and limb whenever the bell rang though, rescuing people and pets wherever they were able. This figure set depicts a brave group of four lads doing just that. Attending a fire in their great-coats, big boots and wide-brimmed hats that were often made of heavily treated leather, and sometimes still are. They arrive in a small top-opening box with captive inner lid, and inside are three sprues in grey styrene, plus a folded instruction and painting sheet. There are four figures on the large sprue, with their hats and equipment spread over two small identical sprues to complete the set. They are all standing, and three are wearing the afore mentioned gear, while another is carrying his hat in one hand and a bedraggled moggie in the other, presumably having just been rescued from the fire. The other three all have moustaches, and one of them (the men, not the moustaches) is pointing up at something whilst holding his helmet in place, another has a fireman’s axe over his should, and the third is carrying an equally bedraggled child in tattered clothing in his arms, walking away from danger and into the waiting arms of a medical team or his worried parents. The sculpting is up to ICM’s usual high standard, and breakdown is sensible with separate arms, torso, legs and lower tails of their coats that fit over slimmed-down thighs to keep things in scale. The jackets have crisply moulded brass clasp-type closures, and the helmets have the prominent seams visible where the leather sections of the crown are sewn together, and now I’m wondering how I know this? I think we can blame TV’s “How It’s Made” for that. The prominent badges on the front of their helmets are separate with a pointed support piece in addition, as they stand higher than the helmet’s cap, and are again better detailed as a result. There are two separate “popped” collars too for added detail, the little boy is broken down in a similar manner to the main figures, and even the cat has a separate head to give it a more realistic level of detail. Conclusion Excellent detail throughout, and I suppose that we should say there are six figures in the box if we’re including the boy and the cat. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  15. OV-10D+ Bronco (48301) 1:48 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The Bronco was conceived as a light attack, long loiter aircraft of modest size, enabling it to operate from unprepared fields and roads close to the combat zone. As so often seems the case, the final design turned out to be much larger and heavier due to the requirements of the avionics and ejection seats, thus limiting its use to conventional airfields. The twin boom aircraft first flew in 1965 and was destined to serve with the US Navy, Airforce and Marines as a replacement for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog & O-2 Skymaster. The Marines were the first to take the OV-10 into service as a forward air controller platform operating both night and day missions. Whilst the Bronco is best known for its operations in Vietnam, it also served in later conflicts as late as the Gulf War before being retired from US service in 1995. The USAF received Broncos in 1968 and deployed the aircraft in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role, using smoke laying methods initially, and later using laser targeting designators. Eventually after extensive modernisation to the -D model with the addition of a FLIR turret and new avionics, then another upgrade to the -D+ version that involved replacement of much of the wiring loom and further stiffening of the wings to enable it to carry more and fly harder. By this time it carried its own ground attack armament including rockets, machine guns and bombs, plus targeting equipment that gave it the capability of Light Attack Aircraft, and made it a scary prospect for the enemy to see overhead. Seven export contracts were signed with other foreign operators including Germany, Columbia and Indonesia, Each having their own letter suffixes, and the very last of which will be leaving service in the near future after long service. The Kit This reboxing of a new tooling from ICM that relieved us all of the ancient Testors kit with its legendarily incorrect wings and nacelle locations, has been partly retooled to reflect the changes to the fuselage sponson and tail booms that had occurred by the time the D+ went into service. It arrives in one of their standard top opening boxes that has their usual captive inner lid, and has ten sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, two sheets of decals and a glossy instruction booklet with spot colour inside and glossy colour profiles on the back pages. De-bagging the kit reveals that one of the sprues has been snipped in half to fit within the smaller bags, the detail is excellent, and the new booms have raised as well as engraved rivets on their surface, which is just as it should be if you check out any walk arounds that get close enough to the aircraft to show them. The clear parts are the same, and have been engineered so that they fit together as individual facets that are crystal clear, allowing the modeller to see their hard work in the cockpit, providing they don’t put any gluey fingerprints on the glazing during the build. Overall, it looks like it will build into an excellent replica of the aircraft. There is also a diagram containing templates for masking up the canopy in the rear of the booklet, which will come in useful if you don’t trust your own skills or have the Eduard masking set that is probably making its way here as I type this. Construction begins predictably with the cockpit, starting with the crew seats, of which there are two. The base of the seats are made from the curved lower and cushion, while the backs are formed from a shell with two cushions, one for the pilot’s back, the other for the headbox. The two elements are brought together and a small part is added to the headbox, then different rear detail and a launch rails are added to the rear of them both. There are colour call-outs as we go along, and two warning decals are supplied for the cushions, and that’s exactly where they should go. The rear seat is glued to the cockpit floor, which has a bulkhead and a shelf moulded into the rear, then a divider between the two seats is prepared with rudder pedals, equipment and other details. The front seat with its “ears” is inserted into the cockpit, and side consoles are fixed onto the floor around him with control column and pedals on a lateral support, plus a throttle quadrant that sits on top of a raised portion of the port console. The consoles have detailed tops but no decals, which is a shame. A bulkhead for within the footwell of the front cockpit is created from a number of parts, and is fixed in place with the details facing forward, forming the rear bulkhead of the nose gear bay, then the pilot gets a well-appointed instrument panel with coaming and decal, plus a number of small parts sitting on top of the coaming. This is glued in, and more details are added to the rear shelf in the shape of equipment boxes that probably have blinking lights on the real thing, just in time for Christmas. The cockpit is put to the side briefly while the crew nacelle is prepared with interior sidewall details, plus an internal frame that runs up the side of the canopy. You are advised to align this with the canopy sides, which both have a shallow internal groove running top to bottom, so it would be an idea to glue the parts, then tape the canopy sides in place and align the frame with the groove, taping it in position until the glue sets. With the sides complete and painted internally, the cockpit can be secured inside and locked in place by bringing the two halves together with a small bulkhead and linking hose added into the new nose. With the fuselage closed up, a small insert is glued into the hole in front of the cockpit, and the underside of the cockpit floor is then covered over by a well-detailed underside panel that has recesses ready for the stubby weapons pylons, and has a small central strake added toward the rear. Here it will be key to align the nacelle skins before the glue sets to avoid having to make good later and risk losing any of that lovely detail. Providing you have painted the front of the crew nacelle, the nose gear bay is already complete and just needs the main strut, a diagonal support that goes far back under the canopy, and a pair of bay doors. The weapons “wings” need four holes drilling in their underside if you are going to hang weapons from them, then they are closed up around a small rectangular insert that the gun barrels later plug into, the winglet-tips are added, and each one has an insert applied to the leading edge that makes up the rest of the fairings for the weapons. These are glued into their recesses on the underside. Another small nose gear door fits to the diagonal leg, and the four-part nose wheel with separate hub parts is first trapped between the yoke, which is then glued to the bottom of the nose strut along with the other half of the oleo scissor-link. I still suspect this could be a weak point of the nose gear, so ensure you leave this to set up for a good while before attempting to put weight on it. The addition of the four gun barrels to the winglets, the weapons shackles underneath, the FLIR turret and a couple of sensors completes the crew nacelle for now. The upper wing of the Bronco is a single full-width part that also has a section of the fuselage upper and the twin boom tops moulded-in, while the underside is in four sections. Before the two surfaces are joined, two spar sections are attached to the upper wing straddling the future location of the engine nacelles, and if you plan on adding wing pylons, there are a few holes to be drilled in the outer lower panel of the wings. All the flying surfaces are separate and the twin flap sections per side are made of three parts laminated together, while the ailerons are a single part each to which are added balances and trim actuators. When completed, the six flying surface sections are fitted to the cut-outs at the rear of the wing unit along with a pair of actuators for the ailerons, a pair of exhaust deflectors on top of the engine nacelles, and a large sensor blister with infrared dazzler turret at the centre-rear. The wing assembly is then mated to the crew gondola, and the canopy is begun. The blown windscreen that offers the pilot a good field of view has a sight fitted to the top centre before it is glued to the front of the cockpit, then has the clear canopy roof put in place, bridging the gap between the windscreen and cockpit rear. The two canopy sides are next, and these parts are each single pieces, which doesn’t give the modeller the opportunity to prop the front two sections in the open position without taking their life in their hands and cutting the parts with a razor saw or fine scriber and a lot of trepidation. Hopefully an aftermarket company will step-in here to help those of us that like to pose our cockpit open. Building of the two nacelles begins with the gear bays, which starts with the making of the gear legs that have two main parts and a Y-shaped insert that traps the lower section in place but leaves it movable. Two more parts make up the suspension strut, which are also trapped in place by a V-shaped insert, and then glue is applied to the previously mobile joint, setting the correct angle for the leg permanently. It is glued to the stepped bay forward roof with a number of small parts, after which it is joined by the detailed sidewalls, rear bulkhead and another few parts to close over the rear of the roof and add more detail. The nacelle sides are joined around the bay assembly, capped off at the front by the intakes and propeller backing plate. Underneath, the triangular inserts with their many raised rivets are glued in carefully to avoid damaging that lovely detail. The two-part rudder is fixed to the tail, and an exhaust is made up from two halves, with baffles within that fits into a recess in the nacelle side. Align these carefully to minimise the join-line and check your references to get them right. A small intake is added to the side of the nacelle just forward of the exhaust. This process if carried out twice of course, in mirror-image so your Bronco doesn’t fly round in circles. The large horizontal elevator panel is made from top and bottom surfaces plus the elevator itself, and this is slotted into position between the nacelles as they are glued into place under the wings. You might need to grow another hand or two to make this happen, or get yourself one of those wonderful jigs like that of EBMA to help hold everything in place for this. Four optional shark-fin spoilers can be glued onto their corresponding slots in the top of each wing if you wish, or leave them in the box for a clean upper wing. The twin props have the three short blades moulded as one, with a front and back boss, and take care to install the correct props on the nacelles, as the blades (and the turboprop engines within) are handed, spinning in opposite directions to cancel out the effect of torque steer. A windscreen wiper and various sensor lumps are added around the fuselage, with more underneath, at which point you’ll notice that the main gear is without wheels. Each of these are made of a two-part wheel and two-part hub, with no weighting moulded-in, although that’s easily remedied by a quick sanding of a flat-spot on the bottom, just don’t overdo it so it looks like it needs more air. The weapons are next, and this modeller thinks that any Bronco looks best when loaded for bear, as they say. There are two wing pylons on long supports to add to the outer wing panels, then it’s just a case of choosing which munitions you want to hang from them. There is a diagram showing which weapons can be fitted to which pylons, but if you’re aiming for realism, check your references to establish real-world load-outs for training or live-fire missions. In the box you get the following: 2 x LAU-33 twin rocket pods 2 x LAU-069A 21 rocket pods 2 x Mk.77 Incendiary bombs 2 x LAU-68 6 rocket pods 2 x 150gal fuel tanks 2 x Mk.81 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.81 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.82 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.82 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x LAU-10A 4 rocket pods The detail on the individual weapons is excellent, with multiple parts for fins, fuses and rockets, and only the seamlines to clean up along the way. There are also plenty of stencils for the weapons that you can see below: The canopy is about as clear as can be, so it’s going to be important to mask it up before you inadvertently ruin the startling clarity. Although masks aren’t included in the box, there is a handy template near the back of the instructions that you can place tape on and cut out masks for your use on the model. Each section is numbered and there is another drawing showing their location on the canopy. Markings There are five options in the rear of the instructions in various schemes, that should please a lot of people. From the box you can build one of the following: 155473 Marine Observation Sqn.2 (VMO-2), Saudi Arabia, 1991 155489 Marine Observation Sqn.1 (VMO-1), Aircraft Carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, 1990 155494 Marine Observation Sqn.2 (VMO-2), Saudi Arabia, 1991 155494 Marine Observation Sqn.2 (VMO-2), early 1990s (assumed) 155499 Marine Observation Sqn.1 (VMO-1), early 1990s Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners on bright blue paper, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The weapons all have stencils to apply, which are shown at the bottom of one page and next to each profile in the case of the fuel tanks and props. There are also red and white tip decals for the props, and the large wide T-shapes on the upper wings are also included as decals, as are the tapered exhaust gas “disguisers” on some of the decal options. Conclusion I’m an even happier bunny than I was before. I’ve always liked the Bronco, and this new option with the extended nose appeals to me, and should build into an excellent looking model that is crammed full of detail that will doubtless encourage new decal sheets into the market to cater for the many buyers. I also still can’t believe how cheap it is currently. You know you want one! Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  16. British Torpedo Trailer (48405) 1:48 ICM via Hannants The British 18” Mk.XII Torpedo was an air-launched variant of the earlier Mk.XI that entered service in the early 30s. The Mark.12 was the variant used by the Fleet Air Arm and RAF Coastal Command during WWII, and could be fitted with a break-off wooden tail fairing to reduce entry speed into the water, and the nose was painted red for a training round, or the less visible black for a live round, which goes against the “red for danger” methodology normally used. The Kit This kit is a single sprue of grey styrene in a small top-opening box that contains parts for a complete torpedo, plus a trailer to transport it around the airfield. The torpedo is made first, built from two halves with a double layer screw and a pair of perpendicular fins at the rear, two of which are moulded in. The optional break-off tail is made from two rectangular end panels, with a single horizontal plane stretching between them. The wooden tail includes the tail fins of the torpedo and is a straight replacement to the standard fins, then a spacer and large spinner are fitted to the front. The guts of the trolley consists of two scissor jacks, and these are both made from four parts each that are mounted onto a slotted base, then surrounded by a framework with two small balancing wheels at either end. A short axle projects from the centre of the rails, and these mount a larger wheel with integrated tyre, plus a winder at each end that operates the scissor-jacks (on the real thing). The torpedo is lowered into the cradle along the trolley’s direction of travel to finish off. The instructions have a sprue diagram on the front page, the build steps spreading over the two central sheets, and at the rear are the painting instructions, with codes from ICM’s new paint range, plus Revell and Tamiya codes as well as colour names. There are two painting suggestions, and from the box you can build one of the following: British Torpedo Cart with a Mark.XII Training Torpedo, WWII British Torpedo Cart with a Mark.XII Training Torpedo, WWII Net photo – Copyright unknown. Conclusion A nicely detailed set that will complement any diorama scenario or even to personalise a model placed on the shelves of your cabinet. Notice the Beaufort in the background on the box top? Me too Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Basic Acrylic Colours Set (3010) ICM via Hannants Ltd ICM have long been a plastic model company that is well-known to most of us, but until recently they haven’t had their own paint range, which has now changed. There are 77 acrylic colours in the initial collection, plus three varnishes in matt, satin and gloss, all in the same 12ml plastic bottles. A conversion chart is available that will give you equivalents in AK, Tamiya, Humbrol, Gunze, Testors, RLM, RAL, FS, Revell, AK Real Color, and even Citadel paints, although there aren’t many direct cross-overs in that last one. This set is intended to be a foundation group to expand and vary your stock of ICM paint, and arrives in a card box with a header tab at one end, and inside are six 12ml plastic bottle with white plastic lids and a one-time tear-off safety ring. While they bear a passing resemblance to another brand of paint from ICM’s part of the world, they have stated categorically on Facebook that it is not a collaboration, and having now used both brands, they are indeed substantially different in every way other than being paint. The paint is undiluted, so will need thinning by between 40-60% with water or acrylic thinner for use with an airbrush, and they naturally have a semi-gloss finish that can be adjusted later by the use of varnishes, and are waterproof when dry like most acrylics. During my testing I used Ultimate Thinners, my go-to thinners for any acrylic paint, which helps keep the number of large bottles in my spray booth to a minimum. The paint comes out of the bottle quite thick and viscous, so it’s possible you’ll have to dilute for serious brush painting use although I used it neat during testing, so a small bottle will go a long way in either case. It sprays well when diluted, and like a lot of acrylics a light coat is best initially, then followed quickly after by heavier coats until you have the coverage you require. It dries quite quickly, and is touch-dry in 5-10 minutes in those long-gone summery 20-23oc temperatures, unless you’re in the antipodes as I write this. I have used them to create a number of spray-out cards and spoons for other sets in the range, and they both spray and brush very well, with little issue other than my inexpert application by brush. This set includes the following colours, which while they may seem garish on first inspection, are shades that can be very useful, especially the white and black for lightening and darkening many other colours: 1001 White 1002 Black 1003 Deep Yellow 1004 Deep Red 1005 Dark Blue 1006 Deep Green On the rear of the box are a number of suggestions for mixing of other colours using just the shades within this box, showing how your average artist can create a huge range of shades even from a limited palette, although they’re not hampered so much by the colour police that mutter persistently about Munsell values, argue over colours in black & white photos (eh?) and wave shade cards round like Neville Chamberlain. There are no such issues likely with these solid generic colours, although as usual I am confused by how light everyone else’s idea of dark green and blue is. That’s just a foible I’ve had since my art A Level days, and is unrelated to modelling. Don’t get me started on how limey grass green always seems to be! Conclusion ICM have created a very nice and economical paint system for their customers, which will increase their income stream and make picking up a suitably themed acrylic paint set along with your next ICM or other branded model more likely. We modellers do enjoy convenience. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Vietnam US Airfield (DS4803) OV-10A Bronco O-2A Skymaster & US Marine Figures 1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd. Vietnam was a long, drawn-out war that made use of the current forward observation aircraft of the day, which were the Cessna Skymaster that was at the latter end of its tenure, and the more modern OV-10A Bronco that had been introduced into US Marine and USAF service in the 1960s. They were often stationed at airfields behind the front line with crews and ground crew slumming it to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the size and recency of the base’s establishment. The Set This is a new combination set from ICM that contains their two recent kits of the Bronco and Skymaster, which have both filled a very long-standing hole in the 1:48 modelling universe. Now we have these two brand-new kits available to us, what could be better than having them both in the same box with the addition of a set of figures as the basis for a diorama of a Vietnam airbase from the conflict. The two kits are a direct lift from the standard boxes, even down to the decals, so we’ve taken the liberty of copying and pasting those reviews to save you from having to click around to find what’s what. The figures are at the bottom of the review, and there’s only one box that’s barely any larger than the largest of the three component items. Not only is it good for your modelling spirit, it’s also a great way to slim down the impact on the size of your stash. Rockwell OV-10A Bronco US Attack Aircraft (48300) The Bronco was conceived as a light attack, long loiter aircraft of modest size, enabling it to operate from roads close to the combat zone. As so often seems the case, the final design turned out to be much larger and heavier due to the requirements of the avionics and ejection seats, thus limiting its use to conventional airfields. The twin boom aircraft first flew in 1965 and was destined to serve with the US Navy, Airforce and Marines as a replacement for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog & O-2 Skymaster. The Marines were the first to take the OV-10 into service as a forward air controller platform operating both night and day missions. Whilst the Bronco is best known for its operations in Vietnam, it also served in later conflicts as late as the Gulf War before being retired from US service in 1995. The USAF received Broncos in 1968 and deployed the aircraft in the Forward Air Control (FAC) role, using smoke laying methods initially, and later using laser targeting designators. Eventually it carried its own ground attack armament including rockets, machine guns and bombs that gave it the capability of Light Attack Aircraft, and made it a daunting prospect for the enemy to see overhead. Seven export contracts were signed with other foreign operators including Germany, Columbia and Indonesia, the very last of which will be leaving service in the near future after long service. The Kit This new tooling from ICM relieves us all of the ancient Testors kit with its legendarily incorrect wings and nacelle locations, which could only have been fixed with the help of a Paragon Designs set. This is a relief for this modeller, as there were also other blank areas that would have required some further work. Back to the matter in hand. A 100% new model from ICM, which arrives in one of their standard top opening boxes with the captive inner lid, and has ten sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, two sheets of decals and a glossy instruction booklet with spot colour inside and glossy colour profiles on the back pages. De-bagging the sprues reveals the detail is excellent, and the booms have raised as well as engraved rivets on their surface, which is just as it should be if you check out any walk arounds that get close enough to the aircraft to see them. The clear parts have been engineered so that they fit together as individual facets, and are crystal clear, allowing the modeller to see their hard work in the cockpit, providing they don’t put any gluey fingerprints on the glazing during the build. Overall, it looks like it will build into an excellent replica of the aircraft. Construction begins predictably with the cockpit, starting with the crew seats, of which there are two. The base of the seats are made from the curved lower and cushion, while the backs are formed from a shell with two cushions, one for the pilot’s back, the other for the headbox. The two elements are brought together and a small part is added to the headbox, then different rear detail and a launch rail are added to the rear of them both. There are colour call-outs as we go along, and two warning decals are supplied for the seats, although these are shown applied to the cushions, which seems odd, but having checked some references, that’s where they go. Every day’s a school day! The rear seat is glued to the cockpit floor which has a bulkhead and a shelf moulded into the rear, then side consoles are fixed onto the floor around the seat with control column on a lateral support, and a throttle quadrant that sits on top of a raised portion of the port console. A divider between the two seats is prepared with rudder pedals and other details, then has a choice of either of two instrument panels added atop the flat section, based on your decal choice. These are well detailed and have dial decals for each option. The divider is glued in place, then the front cockpit is made up starting with the seat again, but with a different set of launch rail parts with “antennae” to the side of the headbox. He too gets a control column and floor-mounted rudder pedals, after which the seat is bracketed by side consoles that have detailed tops, but no decals which is a shame. A bulkhead for within the footwell of the front cockpit is created from a number of parts, and fixed in place with the details facing forward, forming the rear bulkhead of the nose gear bay. The pilot gets a well-appointed instrument panel with coaming and decal, plus a number of small parts sitting on top of the coaming. This is glued in, and more details are added to the rear shelf in the shape of equipment boxes that probably have festive twinkling lights on the real thing, especially at Christmas. The cockpit is put to the side briefly while the crew nacelle is prepared with interior sidewall details, plus an internal frame that runs up the side of the canopy. You are advised to align this with the canopy sides, which have a shallow groove running top to bottom, so it would be an idea to glue the parts, then tape the canopy sides in place and align the frame with the groove, taping it in place until the glue sets. With the sides complete and painted internally, the cockpit can be secured inside and locked in place by bringing the two halves together. Providing you have painted the front of the crew nacelle, the nose gear bay is already complete and just needs the main strut, a diagonal support that goes far back under the canopy, and a pair of bay doors. The underside of the cockpit floor is then covered over by a well-detailed underside panel that has recesses ready for the stubby weapons pylons, and has a small central strake added toward the rear. Here it will be key to align the nacelle skins before the glue sets to avoid having to make good later and risk losing any of that lovely detail. The weapons “wings” need four holes drilling in their underside if you are going to hang weapons from them, then they are closed up around a small rectangular insert that the barrels later plug into, the wingtips are added, and each one has an insert applied to the leading edge that makes up the rest of the fairings for the weapons. These are glued into their recesses on the underside, and are fitted with shackles on the twin pylons on their undersides if you plan on using weapons. Another small nose gear door fits to the diagonal leg, and the four-part nose wheel with separate hub parts is first trapped between the yoke, which is then glued to the bottom of the nose strut along with the other half of the oleo scissor-link. I suspect this could be a weak point of the nose gear, so ensure you leave this to set up for a good while before attempting to put weight on it. The addition of the four gun barrels to the winglets and a couple of sensors completes the crew nacelle for now. The upper wing of the Bronco is a single full-width part that also has a section of the fuselage upper and the twin boom tops moulded-in, while the underside is in four sections. Before the two surfaces are joined, two spar sections are attached to the upper wing straddling the future location of the engine nacelles, and if you plan on adding wing pylons, there are a few holes to be drilled in the outer lower panel of the wings. All the flying surfaces are separate and the twin flap sections per side are made of three parts laminated together, while the ailerons are a single part each to which are added balances and trim actuators. When completed, the six flying surface sections are fitted to the cut-outs at the rear of the wing unit along with a pair of actuators for the ailerons, a pair of exhaust deflectors on top of the engine nacelles, and a large sensor blister at the centre-rear. The wing assembly is then mated to the crew gondola, and the canopy is begun. The blown windscreen that offers the pilot a good field of view has a sight fitted to the top centre before it is glued to the front of the cockpit, then has the clear canopy roof put in place, bridging the gap between the windscreen and cockpit rear. The two canopy sides are next, and these parts are each single pieces, which doesn’t give the modeller the opportunity to prop the front two sections in the open position without taking their life in their hands and cutting the parts with a razor saw or fine scriber and a lot of trepidation. No doubt an aftermarket company will step-in here. Building of the two nacelles begins with the gear bays, which starts with the making of the gear legs that have two main parts and a Y-shaped insert that traps the lower section in place but leaves it movable. Two more parts make up the suspension strut, which are also trapped in place by a V-shaped insert, and then glue is applied to the previously mobile joint, setting the correct angle for the leg permanently. It is glued to the stepped bay forward roof with a number of small parts, after which it is joined by the detailed sidewalls, rear bulkhead and another few parts to close over the rear of the roof and add more detail. The nacelle sides have a couple of holes drilled on each side, and these are joined around the bay assembly, capped off at the front by the intakes and propeller backing plate. Underneath, the triangular inserts with their many raised rivets are glued in carefully to avoid damaging that lovely detail, and two optional towel-rail antennae are glued into the holes on the sides of the nacelle. The two-part rudder is fixed to the tail, and an exhaust is made up from two halves, with baffles within. Align these carefully to minimise the join-line and check your references to get these right. A small intake is added to the side of the nacelle just forward of the exhaust. This process if carried out twice of course, in mirror-image so your Bronco doesn’t fly round in circles. The large horizontal elevator panel is made from top and bottom surfaces plus the elevator itself, and this is slotted into position between the nacelles as they are glued into place under the wings. You might need to grow another hand or two to make this happen, or get yourself one of those wonderful jigs like that of EBMA to help hold everything in place for this. Four optional shark-fin spoilers can be glued onto their corresponding slots in the top of each wing if you wish, or leave them in the box for a clean upper wing. The twin props have the three blades moulded as one, with a front and back boss, and take care to install the correct props on the nacelles, as the blades (and the turboprop engines) are handed, spinning in opposite directions to cancel out the effect of torque steer. A windscreen wiper and various sensor lumps are added around the fuselage, with more underneath, at which point you’ll notice that the main gear is without wheels. Each of these are made of a two-part wheel and two-part hub, with no weighting moulded-in, although that’s easily remedied by a quick sanding of a flat-spot on the bottom, just don’t overdo it so it looks like it needs more air. Fun with weapons is next, and this modeller thinks that the Bronco looks best when loaded for bear, as they say. There are two wing pylons on long supports to add to the outer wing panels, then it’s just a case of choosing which munitions you want to hang from them. There is a diagram showing which weapons can be fitted to which pylons, but if you’re aiming for realism, check your references to establish real-world load-outs for training and live-fire missions. In the box you get the following: 2 x LAU-33 twin rocket pods 2 x LAU-069A 21 rocket pods 2 x Mk.77 Incendiary bombs 2 x LAU-68 6 rocket pods 2 x 150gal fuel tanks 2 x Mk.81 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.81 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.82 Snakeye iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x Mk.82 Lowdrag iron bombs with optional daisy-cutter fuse 2 x LAU-10A 4 rocket pods The detail of the individual weapons is excellent, with multiple parts for fins, fuses and rockets, and only the seamlines to clean up along the way. The canopy is about as clear as can be, so it’s going to be important to mask it up before you inadvertently ruin the startling clarity. Although masks aren’t included in the box, there is a handy template near the back of the instructions that you can place tape on and cut out masks for your use on the model. Each section is numbered and there is another drawing showing their location on the canopy. Very handy! Markings There are five options in the rear of the instructions in various shades of grey and camouflage green, and there’s also a new paint set from ICM themselves that gives you all the shades you’ll need to paint the majority of the airframe as depicted in this boxing. You can read about that in a later review that we’ll link back once we’ve had chance to spray them out. From the box you can build one of the following: OV-10A 155471 Light Attack Sqn. 4 (VAL-4), ‘Black Ponies’, Binh Thuy, 1971 OV-10A 155456 Marine Observation Sqn. 6 (VMO-6), Quang Tri, 1969 OV-10A 67-14649, 20th Tactical Air Support Sqn., Da Nang, 1972 OV-10A 155416 Marine Observation Sqn. 2 (VMO-2), Da Nang, 1969 OV-10A 155416 Marine Observation Sqn. 2 (VMO-2), Da Nang, 1970 The 4th and 5th options depict the same airframe at different periods, which possibly had light grey wings earlier in its career, which was later painted green on the topside, and may have been painted a lighter or darker grey on the underside. The profiles give you the option and leave it up to you. Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The weapons all have stencils to apply, which are shown next to each profile, as their colours varied over time. There are also rear and white tip decals for the props, and the large wide T-shapes on the upper wings are also included as decals, as are the tapered exhaust gas “hiders” on some of the decal options. Cessna O-2A Skymaster (48290) The O-2A Skymaster replaced the equally well-loved O-1 Bird-dog in the Observation role, adding Psy-Ops and light attack by the fitting additional equipment. It was developed from Cessna’s Type 337 Super Skymaster, and had additional windows in the pilot's side added to improve vision, the superfluous rear seats were replaced with racks of equipment including military radio gear, and hard-points were added under the wings. The twin props at either end of the stubby airframe gave it an element of redundancy in case of enemy fire, which also necessitated the installation of foam into the fuel tanks to help reduce the likelihood of leaks and subsequent fires bringing down the aircraft. With all the extra weight it was slower than the civilian version, but that was considered acceptable due to the crew and airframe protections it afforded. Like the Bird-dog it replaced, it spent a lot of time in Vietnam where it was used extensively in the role of Forward Air Control (FAC) and designated O-2B (31 converted Type 337 airframes) with the installation of loudspeakers to attempt to psychologically batter the enemy with recorded messages and leaflet drops that clearly didn’t have much effect other than supplying them with toilet paper in hindsight. Less than 200 were made in military form straight from the production line, and they continued service after Vietnam until the 80s, when some were sold on and others used in firefighting duties in the US, while others were flown in the nascent war against drugs in central America. The Kit This is a completely new tool from ICM, and I’m personally very happy to see it, as I have a soft-spot for the Skymaster after building an old Airfix Dogfight Double with a Mig-15 in 1:72 as a kid. There have been kits in 1:48 before, but nothing that could be called truly modern for a long time, so I doubt I’m alone. We’ve had a bigger scale kit within the last year, but this is the one for me and all those 1:48 modellers out there. It arrives in a modest-sized top-opening box with ICM’s usual captive inner flap, with two large sprues that fit snugly within the tray in their foil bag. Within that bag is a set of clear parts, and hidden inside the instruction booklet (which has a new more modern design) is the smallish decal sheet for the four decal options. Construction begins with the equipment racks in the aft fuselage, which are built up onto the bulkhead, then the fuselage halves are prepped with clear windows from the inside, plus an insert at the rear. The top surface of the engine is made up with exhausts and the front fairing that supports the prop axle, which is inserted but not glued. Under this the nose landing-gear bay is fitted with a firewall bulkhead that has the twin rudder pedals inserted before it is mounted into the starboard fuselage half. With those assemblies out of the way, the cockpit fittings are begun. The seats for the pilots have two U-shaped supports and a single piece back each, then the seats and instrument panel (with decals for instruments) with moulded-in centre console and control yokes added are offered up to the spartan cockpit floor, which slides under the already inserted electronics rack. The port fuselage half is decorated with a couple of M16 rifles and an arm-rest, then is joined with the other half taking care to insert at least 10 grams of nose-weight before you do. The aft fuselage has a complex shape that is moulded as a separate insert and is ready for a two-blade prop thanks to its axle and backstop part, and has two moulded-in exhausts under it. The nose gear leg was trapped in the wheel bay during assembly, and the two out-rigger main legs are a single C-shaped part that is trapped in a groove in the fuselage with a set of additional panels over it, making for a strong join, although some enterprising soul will probably make a metal one. Up front the big curved windscreen has a small instrument fitted into a hole in the middle, then is glued in place and the front prop is glued carefully to the axle if you want to leave it spinning. The wings are a single-span part on the top, and has the majority of the roof of the fuselage moulded-in, plus two top windows inserted from inside before fitting. The engine intake is made up from three parts including a separate lip, and fits to the aft of the roof, butting up against the rest of the fairing moulded into the fuselage, with a towel-rail and a small forest of blade antennae attached to the various depressions left for them. The wing undersides are attached after the booms are made up, and you should drill out the flashed-over holes for the pylons if you plan on fitting them. The booms are joined by the wide elevator that is made up of three parts including a poseable flying surface. The two booms are also two parts, and also have separate rudders, which are each single mouldings, and can be posed as you see fit. The instructions show the elevator glued to the booms before they are attached to the wings, but this is probably best done at the same time to ensure a good fit and correct alignment, then the lower wing panels mentioned earlier are glued in, trapping the sponson ends between the surfaces. Front gear door, ailerons and wing bracing struts with their fairings are next, then the main wheels, more antennae, and two raised trunks that run along the main fuselage underside are all fitted in place, plus the four identical pylons if you wish, along with their anti-sway braces. You have a choice of using four rocket pods on all pylons, or rocket pods on the outer stations and SUU-11/A Minigun Pods on the inner pylons. The last page of the instructions shows the placement of the masks that you are given a printed template for on the page, so you can make masks by placing the tape over the relevant template and either marking the tape and cut it later, or cut it in situ. It’s up to you whether you use the templates, but they’re there if you do. Markings There are four decal options from the box, and three of them are the more usual white/grey scheme that most people know. The last option is an all-black airframe, which gives the aircraft a more sinister look. From the box you can build one of the following: No unit details or timescale is given on the profiles, but you get full four view pictures and can use the tail-codes if you want to find out a little more about your choice of aircraft. The decal printers are anonymous, but they are in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The instrument panel decals are also very crisp and clear. US Marine Figures This new set is custom designed for their new 1:48 scale Vietnam era kits, but can just as easily be used elsewhere. There are two pilots getting ready for flying, one carrying as helmet the other wearing a flat cap. There is an officer figure (possibly maintenance) in tan uniform, plus two ground crew in T-shirts, fatigues and high boots. The uniforms and equipment are Vietnam era, and the sculpting is of course up to ICM's usual high standards. Conclusion I’m a happy bunny times two (and some figures). I’ve always liked both the Bronco and the Skymaster, and these new toolings are excellent looking models that are crammed full of detail that will doubtless encourage new decal sheets into the market to cater for the many buyers. The launch of the paint sets is a clever move, encouraging modellers to try their own new(ish) paint system. You know you want to! Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  19. BM-13-16 on G7107 Chassis with Soviet Crew (35596) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, and a four-speed “crash” (non-syncromesh) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The Soviets modified a number of the chassis and cab units to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The rockets were a huge worry for the Nazis as they were forced to withdraw from their former conquests, and although their accuracy wasn’t renowned, they put the wind up anyone in the general target area, who couldn’t tell whether the rockets would fall on them or someone 100m away. Their distinctive howling roar was another psychological weapon, giving the Germans an indication that there were a torrent of lethal rockets heading for them. The stripped-down chassis of this particular installation gave the vehicle a rather lashed-together, Mad Max look. The Kit This is a reboxing with additional parts of a brand-new tooling from ICM, and is the latest kit of a range that is inbound to your favourite model shop very soon. It’s an ICM kit, and a full interior kit too, with engine cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the chunky tyres and the four crew figures. It arrives in one of ICM’s medium-sized top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner flap, and inside are ten sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, tiny decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour (well, mostly green) profiles on the rear pages. Construction begins with the new ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the rear bumper irons, fuel tank, transfer casing and front axle installed, before the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front, and a short drive-shaft at the rear that links to the transfer box in the middle of the chassis. The rear axle is made up and fitted with another drive-shaft, while the front axle gets the steering arm installed, which keeps the twin ball-jointed hubs pointing in the same direction, providing you’ve not been over-enthusiastic with the glue. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, and the battery box attaches to the outside of the ladder chassis next to a pair of tread-plated steps, then from the left of the engine, the air box and intake are attached to finish it off. The crew cab is next, beginning with the dashboard that inserts in the front bulkhead along with an overhead panel, then is joined with the cab floor and decked out with a pair of levers, gear stick and hand-brake on the floor, three foot-pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in the diagonal floor section in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up from back, cushion and a C-shaped spacer surrounding the bottom that fits into the rear of the cab and has the back wall with small ovalised window, then the roof is fitted, after which the doors are made up with handles, winders and glazing, fitting within the frame in the open or closed position. On the front of the firewall a vent is glued to the scuttle panel, and two reservoirs are attached, then the cab is mated to the chassis along with a couple of additional engine ancillaries and linkages to the front axle. The radiator is laminated from core, surround and tin-work, with a bezel fitted to the front and the assembly is then applied to the front of the engine, attaching to the chassis and input/outlet hoses that are already there. The cowling sides and front fenders are installed to permit the front grille to be attached, plus the bonnet and a large front bumper iron that runs full width, and is quite literally a girder. Behind the cab a spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two halves each, and twin wheels at the rear axle, put together with two two-part wheels each, and two hub parts added to the finished pair. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, and is secured in place by a central cap. The windscreen is glued in place and door handles with external hinges are attached to the exterior, with more work done later in the build. On the original kit the truck bed would now be made up (and some of the parts for it are left on the sprues), for this boxing though the rocket launching rails and their elevating apparatus are constructed. The eight rails are built up from three parts each and are then threaded together on three cross members. The modeller will need to line up the spacing of these, and luckily ICM provide a jig for this so you can fix their positions with a little glue. After the rails are sorted the fairly complex support gear is put together, this can be in either the raised or lowered position by exchanging short supports for longer parts. 16 rockets can then be added to the rails (8 on the upper side, and 8 on the lower). The base for the launching system is then built up from three large parts that includes a small degree of rotation capability for fine-tuning the aiming of this blunderbuss of a weapon. It is attached to the back of the truck with a choice of two styles of rear fenders before the ancillary parts and launch rails can then be added on. Various parts are added behind the cab, including power take-off for the rotation mechanism, and a central boss is fixed to the support plate along with more brackets and hinges for the launch frame, then two ground stabilisers are then added to the chassis rear. The launch rails and their frame are put in position on the rear of the chassis, and an optional set of armour panels are made up and fixed over the crew cab to protect them from heat damage during launch. The frame is fixed in place with a rod and clamps, then to finish off the vehicle lights are added behind the protective frames, with a rear-view mirror on a long stalk. Manual adjustment controls are glued to the left side of the vehicle before you can relax and reach for the Russian Green paint. Figures (35648) All four figures are on one sprue with a separate instruction booklet and product code. They are moulded in ICM’s by now familiar lifelike style, with lots of detail, realistic poses and sculpting, and including a number of weapons to sling over their shoulders. Three of the figures are shown loading rockets onto the back of the rails, while the fourth can either be their commander watching over the process, or with the tweak of his arm, he can be propping up the next rocket for loading with one of his hands, as can be seen in the picture below. Markings There are two decal options on the small sheet, which differ only by a pair of stencils on the doors. From the box you can build one of the following: 84th Red Banner Novozybkovsky Guards Mortar Regiment, November 1943 Unknown Guards Mortar Regiment, 1943 The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, and are crisp and clear, with no registration to speak about other than on the instrument dials, which are nicely done. Conclusion A cool-looking lend/lease home-grown lash-up Katyusha with a full compliment of noisy and dangerous rockets. Super detail and a choice of green, green or green for the paint job. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Laffly V15T French Artillery Tractor (35570) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Laffly V15T was a particularly niche entry into the French Artillery Tractor roster, with only 100 being made before production ceased at Laffly to be taken over by another company. The type saw limited service in the French army pulling the outmoded 25mm anti-tank guns, and after capitulation, in service with the Wehrmacht as transport or radio wagons. The unusual aspect of this vehicle was the four apparently ‘vestigial’ wheels on axles spurring off the chassis rails that were intended to increase the off-road abilities of the type. When viewed from the side however, the small balloon-wheels appear to be above the level of the main axles, so whether this actually worked anywhere but in the deepest ruts is another matter. We don’t see them on modern vehicles, so I’m guessing they were more trouble than they were worth. The Kit This is a brand-new tool from ICM, and I imagine we’ll be seeing a combination boxing with a 25mm pop-gun and crew, and probably another in German service. It’s typical of modern ICM in that it is well-stocked with detail, and arrives in their standard small top-opening box with captive inner lid. There are seven sprues of grey styrene inside, plus a clear sprue, four flexible black tyres, a small decal sheet and the glossy-covered instruction booklet with spot colour and colour profiles to the rear. It’s a full interior kit including engine, chassis and crew compartment, so there are plenty of parts to get your glue on. Construction begins with the chassis, with an option to remove the rounded rear-end where the towing hitch attaches, which is cut off easily with a scalpel or razor saw using the red outlined section on the drawings as a guide. A number of cross-braces are added, and a jig is placed under the inverted chassis onto which the rear suspension arms are laid, so that they set up at the correct angle, taking care not to glue the arms to the jig. If you have left the rear section on the chassis, the towing eye and other parts are glued in place, then the various leaf springs, ancillary axles and other suspension/steering parts are attached to the sides, with a sizeable transfer box and twin drive-shafts placed in the centre facing aft. The front axles are made up and glued in place with twin springs above them on the chassis, two more drive-shafts pointing forward, and more suspension/steering parts for the small wheels. The little balloon tyres are each made from two halves each, and four are created to affix to the small axles that project from the chassis rails, the front one of which has some limited steering capability. The 4-cylinder 2.3L petrol engine is next to be built, beginning with the two-part block and adding the sump, timing pulleys, transmission, exhaust manifold and finely-moulded cooling fan, plus other ancillaries that should result in a highly detailed rendition that just needs some HT-wires and sympathetic painting to complete. It is laid into the centre-front of the chassis along with the airbox and intake hosing, then is bracketed by a pair of tapered inserts that fill the gap between the block and the chassis rails. The main cab is based on the shaped floorpan, with sides, aft bulkhead and some internal structures added along the way, which later form ammunition storage bunkers around the sides of the rear portion. The front crew have a seat each with separate backs, and there is another optional wider seat in the middle of the rear compartment, which installs over a moulded clamshell door with pull-handles. A set of driver controls are added to the left front of the body, then a firewall with pedals, a breadbin-like compartment and other small parts is fixed to the front of the body, with a steering column and wheel added after the bodyshell is fixed to the chassis. The dashboard with dial decal is added over the wheel, and the area is covered over with a curved scuttle panel. In the rear compartment, the tops to the stowage boxes are fitted, and these have the individual sections and their handles moulded-in. Returning to the engine compartment, the steering column is extended into the lower chassis and a horn is fixed to the trim panels, then the three-part radiator is assembled and glued to the front of the vehicle, defining the engine bay. A loop of hosing joins the radiator to the engine, and the cowling panels are closed over the compartment, although you have the option to leave them open if you wish. Some small parts are added to the lower edges of the cowlings, which has crisply detailed louvers moulded-in. A pair of curved front wings are glued to the lower body over the wheels, and each of the four main wheels have a brake drum part added to the end of each axle, after which the wheels themselves are made from two hub halves that mate inside the hollow tyres and glue to the axles, allowing the vehicle to stand on its own wheels. At the rear, an axe and shovel are fixed to the bulkhead with a stop sign and the towing hook, a folded tilt is added to the rear, and the windscreen is made up from a frame and two individual clear panes. A trio of rolled-up canvas anti-splatter covers are pinned to the fronts of the door apertures and the two headlights have their clear lenses glued on before they are put in place on their mounts next to the tiny wheels at the front. The final parts are a front number plate board and an optional square unit plaque on the left front wing. What a weird little truck! Markings There are two decal options provided on the sheet, and they’re both painted in a US Green shade, despite being French. From the box you can build one of the following: Light Mechanised Brigade Anti-Tank Squadron, France, early 1940 France, Summer, 1940 The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, and consist of dials, number plates and a few other small decals, with good register, sharpness and good solid colours. Paint Clever folks that they are, ICM have created a box of paints from their new range that are specific to this kit. This set arrives in a card box with a header tab at one end, and inside are six 12ml plastic bottles with white plastic lids and a one-time tear-off safety ring. While they bear a passing resemblance to another brand of paint from ICM’s neighbourhood, they have stated categorically on Facebook that it is not a collaboration, and having now used both brands, they are indeed substantially different in look and use. The paint is undiluted, so will need thinning by between 40-60% with water or acrylic thinner for use with an airbrush, and they naturally have a semi-gloss finish that can be adjusted by the use of varnishes, and are waterproof when dry. Inside the box are the following colours: 1072 US Dark Green 1042 Pale Sand 1052 Hull Red 1039 Rubber Black 1027 Gun Metal 2001 Matt Varnish If you would like to see an in-depth review and spray/brush-out of the paint system, check out our recent review of the set that they made for their new 1:48 OV-10A Bronco, which you can find here Conclusion Until this kit arrived, I had no clue that the type existed, and it’s a curious-looking beast that’s endearing for its unusual shape and design. Detail is excellent, and if you don’t fancy the options on the sheet, a little research will probably turn up some alternative schemes. The paint set is a quick and easy way to get things painted up the correct colour, as well as being quite pocket-friendly into the bargain. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Laffly V15T (35570) Paint Set (3009) Review sample courtesy of
  21. BM-13-16 on G7107 Base (35595) 1:35 ICM via Hannants The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, and a four-speed “crash” (non-syncromesh) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The Soviets modified a number of the chassis and cab units to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The rockets were a huge worry for the Nazis as they were forced to withdraw from their former conquests, and although their accuracy wasn’t renowned, they put the wind up anyone in the general target area, who couldn’t tell whether the rockets would fall on them or someone 100m away. Their distinctive howling roar was another psychological weapon, giving the Germans an indication that there were a torrent of lethal rockets heading for them. The stripped-down chassis of this particular installation gave the vehicle a rather lashed-together, Mad Max look. The Kit This is a reboxing with additional parts of a brand-new tooling from ICM, and is the latest kit of a range that is inbound to your favourite model shop very soon. It’s an ICM kit, and a full interior kit too, with engine cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the chunky tyres. It arrives in one of ICM’s medium-sized top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner flap, and inside are ten sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, tiny decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour (well, mostly green) profiles on the rear pages. Construction begins with the new ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the rear bumper irons, fuel tank, transfer casing and front axle installed, before the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front, and a short drive-shaft at the rear that links to the transfer box in the middle of the chassis. The rear axle is made up and fitted with another drive-shaft, while the front axle gets the steering arm installed, which keeps the twin ball-jointed hubs pointing in the same direction, providing you’ve not been over-enthusiastic with the glue. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, and the battery box attaches to the outside of the ladder chassis next to a pair of tread-plated steps, then from the left of the engine, the air box and intake are attached to finish it off. The crew cab is next, beginning with the dashboard that inserts in the front bulkhead along with an overhead panel, then is joined with the cab floor and decked out with a pair of levers, gear stick and hand-brake on the floor, three foot pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in the diagonal floor section in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up from back, cushion and a C-shaped spacer surrounding the bottom that fits into the rear of the cab and has the back wall with small ovalised window, then the roof is fitted, after which the doors are made up with handles, winders and glazing, fitting within the frame in the open or closed position. On the front of the firewall a vent is glued to the scuttle panel, and two reservoirs are attached, then the cab is mated to the chassis along with a couple of additional engine ancillaries and linkages to the front axle. The radiator is laminated from core, surround and tin-work, with a bezel fitted to the front and the assembly is then applied to the front of the engine, attaching to the chassis and input/outlet hoses that are already there. The cowling sides and front fenders are installed to permit the front grille to be attached, plus the bonnet and a large front bumper iron that runs full width, and is quite literally a girder. Behind the cab a spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two halves each, and twin wheels at the rear axle, put together with two two-part wheels each, and two hub parts added to the finished pair. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, and is secured in place by a central cap. The windscreen is glued in place and door handles with external hinges are attached to the exterior, with more work done later in the build. On the original kit the truck bed would now be made up (and some of the parts for it are left on the sprues), for this boxing though the rocket launching rails and their elevating apparatus are constructed. The eight rails are built up from three parts each and are then threaded together on three cross members. The modeller will need to line up the spacing of these, and luckily ICM provide a jig for this so you can fix their positions with a little glue. After the rails are sorted the fairly complex support gear is put together, this can be in either the raised or lowered position by exchanging short supports for longer parts. 16 rockets can then be added to the rails (8 on the upper side, and 8 on the lower). The base for the launching system is then built up from three large parts that includes a small degree of rotation capability for fine-tuning the aiming of this blunderbuss of a weapon. It is attached to the back of the truck with a choice of two styles of rear fenders before the ancillary parts and launch rails can then be added on. Various parts are added behind the cab, including power take-off for the rotation mechanism, and a central boss is fixed to the support plate along with more brackets and hinges for the launch frame, then two ground stabilisers are then added to the chassis rear. The launch rails and their frame are put in position on the rear of the chassis, and an optional set of armour panels are made up and fixed over the crew cab to protect them from heat damage during launch. The frame is fixed in place with a rod and clamps, then to finish off the vehicle lights are added behind the protective frames, with a rear-view mirror on a long stalk. Manual adjustment controls are glued to the left side of the vehicle before you can relax and reach for the Russian Green paint. Markings There are two decal options on the small sheet, which differ only by a pair of stencils on the doors. From the box you can build one of the following: 84th Red Banner Novozybkovsky Guards Mortar Regiment, November 1943 Unknown Guards Mortar Regiment, 1943 The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, and are crisp and clear, with no registration to speak about other than on the instrument dials, which are nicely done. Conclusion A cool-looking lend/lease home-grown lash-up Katyusha with a full compliment of noisy and dangerous rockets. Super detail and a choice of green, green or green for the paint job. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  22. OV-10A Bronco Acrylic Paint Set (3008) ICM via Hannants ICM have recently released their own brand of acrylic paints on the market, and are creating some kit specific sets to go with their major releases, of which this is one. The set arrives in a cardboard box with six screw-capped bottles inside, each containing 12ml of paint. The bottles are clear Polypropylene, and are capped with cylindrical tops with knurled sides, and a one-time security seal that you break on first opening. A label on the side gives you basic information about the colour and code, a little information regarding application in English and Ukrainian and a bar-code. This set provides the major colours to assist you in painting your brand-new OV-10A Bronco in 1:48 from ICM themselves, and you will find the following colours in the box: 1071 Camouflage Gren 1031 Warm Grey 1032 Blue Grey 1026 Oily Steel 1002 Black 2002 Satin Varnish The paint is thick in the bottle, with plenty of headroom between the surface of the paint and the lip of the neck. I dropped a glass stirring ball into each bottle, and they took a few seconds to disappear beneath the surface, indicating their viscosity. Airbrush I used Ultimate Acrylic Thinners to dilute the paint to spray through my Gunze PS770 airbrush, which has a 0.18 needle chucked in. The paint dilutes well once it has been mixed thoroughly, and sprays well through my airbrush, which has a smaller than usual needle that is a good test of the finesse of the pigment grind of any brand, some of which don’t spray very well though anything less than a 0.3mm needle. There were no problems with blockages at all, and the coverage was excellent after my usual ad hoc dilution method, which was probably nowhere near the 40-60% thinners or water that’s suggested on the pack. The photo below shows the five actual colours sprayed out onto plastic spoons that have been prepared by buffing with a fine grade flexible sanding stick of the kind you use in the penultimate step before buffing to a shine. As the paint dried it obtained a highly matt finish with the exception of the Oily Steel paint, which is clearly semi-gloss. The Satin Varnish also worked very well diluted with water, sprayed over the spoons that were also partially taped up to perform two functions at once. The satin patina that resulted is exactly what was expected, and the tape lifted no paint at all, despite my best efforts to do so. Bear in mind that the spoons were prepped by a buff with a very fine sanding sponge to give them a chance of adhesion. There was very little damage to the cured paint from scraping my fingernails across the surface too. There were track-marks of course, but no lifting of paint at all. Paint Brush As usual I used a #6 synthetic filbert brush from AMMO, which has slightly curved edges to keep tramlines in the paint to a minimum. The colours brushed extremely well with one exception, which was the Oily Steel. It appeared to pull up when over-brushed during application, despite the surface remaining wet, which resulted in the appearance of tiny fibre-like structures in the paint that led to a gritty finish that was also translucent even after two coats, obtaining a rather lumpy opaqueness after three coats. The rest of the colours covered perfectly after two coats with minimal brush marks visible, which was thoroughly impressive to this long-lapsed brush painter, and some were almost completely opaque after one coat, save for the fact that they were laid down over a white surface. The undiluted Satin Varnish brushed out well over the matt surface of the brush painted spoon undersides, and I had to leave it until the next day to have my evening meal. The satin effect was excellent again, and the paint was tough enough to stand up to my fingernail test without lifting, although you can’t avoid leaving tracks across the surface due to the deposition of tiny particles from your fingernail on the surface. Conclusion The paints were excellent through the airbrush with nothing in the way of drama during the testing process, including the Oily Steel and Satin Varnish. The solid colours also brushed out very well, as did the varnish, but what happened to the Oily Steel is a mystery to me at this stage, possibly a bad mix, or some other oddity peculiar to my bottle or batch. There is a little less paint in the bottles than some brands, but a shade more than others, so it’s about average. That is more than offset by the very reasonable price they’re asking for the set, even at RRP. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Currently on back-order, however. Review sample courtesy of
  23. T-34 “Tyagach” Model 1944, Soviet Recovery Machine 1:35 ICM (35371) Like many tanks there are invariably different versions produced and one of these which is needed is that for armoured recovery. The T-34 was no exception, these vehicles were needed to protect the crews when engaged in recovery operations under fire, and had in most cases the power to recover other armoured vehicles, if not tanks. Some older T-34s were built as Tyagach (tractors) with the turrets removed. The Kit Here ICM have re-boxed their 2015 new tool T-34 with the additional parts for the Tractor, indeed it looks like all the parts for the T-34 are still in the box. It arrives in their usual box with the extra flap over the lower tray. Inside are six sprues and two hull halves in green styrene, tracks and towing cables in flexible black styrene, decal sheet and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour and has profiles at the rear for painting and markings. From the description above, you'll note that these are rubber-band tracks, which suits some and not others, and if you're a fan of metal or individual link styrene tracks, you've probably got your favourite brands already. The detail is nice with a little room for improving the detail with some etched grilles etc., but for most of us the detail is pretty good out of the box, and even though this is an exterior only kit, you get an almost complete breech if you want to pose the turret hatches open, plus a driver's position. For a change the build begins with the upper hull, detailing it with bow machine gun installation with a movable ball, the armoured vents and filling in the other cut-outs on the engine deck, plus the driver's large hatch at the front, which is best left closed unless you're planning on scratching a full interior to back up the seats! The rear bulkhead, armoured exhaust spats and the pipes themselves are all added at the back, and it is then put to the side while the lower hull is prepared with some holes that need drilling, the suspension boxes gluing in behind the hull sides, and the fender extensions added at the rear. After saying there's no interior, there is a pair of control levers and two comfy seats to fit inside the lower hull, but unless you're crowding the area with some beefy figures, there's still a big gap behind them that might be seen. The axles with their swing-arms are all fitted to the hull after the two halves are joined, with two attachment points, the final-drive housing is built up at the rear, and the idler axle slots into the front in preparation for the road wheels, which are supplied individually to make into pairs before they are glued onto the axles. The same happens to the idler and drive sprockets on both sides, then some light detail is applied to the hull in the shape of towing shackles, tie-down bars, and the tracks are joined, then installed. The tracks are in two parts each, which link together seamlessly, but don't react to liquid cement at all, so use super glue (CA), although the instructions are mute on the subject. Aligning the joins at the centre of the track run should hide any visible seams, especially if you're going to paint and weather them with some mud and grit. There is a simple round plug with a built in hatch to replace turret. The hull is then finished off with additional fuel tanks and tarp rolls, plus two tow cables. Markings There are no actual markings provided for this one, and the colour is any you want as long as it Russian green Conclusion It is good to see ICM bringing us a kit of a support vehicle like this. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Chevrolet G7107 WWII Army Truck (35593) 1:35 ICM via Hannants The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-syncro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The G7017 had a cargo bed with canvas top, while the G7117 was the same except for the addition of a winch to give it some static pulling power. They were well-liked by their drivers and crews, and were adapted to other tasks due to their ubiquity, such as being used by the Soviets to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. I’d be willing to bet that’s probably going to be one of the later boxings, even if I didn’t know that was the case already. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from ICM, and is the first kit of a range that is inbound to your favourite model shop very soon. It’s an ICM kit, and a full interior kit too, with engine cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the chunky tyres. It arrives in one of ICM’s medium-sized top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner flap, and inside are five sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the rear bumper irons, fuel tank, transfer casing and front axle installed, before the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front, and a short drive-shaft at the rear that links to the transfer box in the middle of the chassis. The rear axle is made up and fitted with another drive-shaft, while the front axle gets the steering arm installed, which keeps the twin ball-jointed hubs pointing in the same direction, providing you’ve not been over-enthusiastic with the glue. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, and the battery box attaches to the outside of the ladder chassis next to a pair of tread-plated steps, then from the left of the engine, the air box and intake are attached to finish it off. The crew cab is next, beginning with the dashboard that inserts in the front bulkhead along with a top panel, then is joined with the cab floor and decked out with a pair of levers, gear stick and hand-brake on the floor, three foot pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in the diagonal floor section in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits into the rear of the cab and has the back wall with small ovalised window, then the roof fitted, after which the doors are made up with handles, winders and glazing, fitting within the frame in the open, or closed position. On the front of the firewall a vent is glued to the scuttle panel, and two reservoirs are attached, then the cab is mated to the chassis along with a couple of additional engine ancillaries and linkages to the front axle. The radiator is laminated from core, surround and tin-work, with a bezel fitted to the front and the assembly is then applied to the front of the engine, attaching to the chassis and input/outlet hoses that are already there. The cowling sides and front fenders are installed to permit the front grille to be attached, plus the bonnet and a large front bumper iron that runs full width, and is quite literally a girder. Behind the cab a spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and attention turns to the load bed. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture down the walkway, and a thick rear section with hooks, and the optional reflectors moulded-in, which are removed for three quarters of the decal options. The same is true of the shallow sides, which also have a series of tie-down hooks fixed along their lengths, and the front upright gets the same treatment. An upstand incorporating two vertical pillars is glued to the front, and a pair of sides that consist of siding on five pillars per side are made up and are added to their locations, while underneath the floor is stiffened by adding four lateral supports, a trapezoid rear valence with lights, and four vertical mudguard boards and their supports. The front valance has a hole with a length of tube for the fuel filler to travel, and the final position of this tricky part is shown in a scrap diagram to help you with placement. It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two halves each, and twin wheels at the rear axle, put together with two two-part wheels each, and two hub parts added to the finished pair. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, and is secured in place by a central cap. There is a choice of steps when completing the load bed, as the lower portion of the sides can be built either vertically to make maximum use of the cargo area, or with the lower sections flipped down to form seats for the transport of troops. This is accomplished by using a different set of supports, fitted vertically for stowed, or diagonally below for deployed. Both options then have the five tilt hoops fixed into the tops of their pillars to finish off. The model is finished off with front light with clear lenses, door handles, bonnet clasps, wing mirrors, and a choice of open or closed front windscreen parts, which requires the fitting of alternative wipers to accommodate the horizontally stowed screen, which has small supports fitted diagonally against the A-pillars, as shown in scrap diagrams at the end. Markings These Lend/Lease vehicles were usually left in their arrival scheme of olive drab, but were personalised with unit and other markings. Some would probably have been re-painted at some point, but that’s down to your references. From the box you can model one of the following machines: Vehicle from Lend-Lease consignment, 1943 14th Guards Mechanised Brigade of the 4th Guards Mechanised Corps, Yugoslavia, 1944 1st Belorussian Front, Poland, Kustrin, Feb 1945 10th Guards Mechanised Brigade of the 5th Guards Mechanised Corps of the 4th Tank Army, Czechoslovakia, May 1945 Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Although undocumented, there is a decal provided for the central instrument binnacle in the cab, which is nice to see. Conclusion Maybe it wasn’t very high profile at the time, but this was an almost ubiquitous vehicle in the Lend-Lease supplies to Soviet Russia that helped to carry out the crucial task of keeping the front-line supplied with weapons and supplies. Moulded in great detail as we’ve come to expect from ICM. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  25. USAAF Bomber Pilots & Ground Crew 1944-45 (48088) 1:48 ICM via Hannants With HKM bringing out a new 1:48 B-17 Flying Fortress, this new set from ICM is timed rather well, which is more than likely no coincidence. It arrives in ICM’s usual top-opening box with captive inner lid, although it’s a smaller one than usual. Inside is a single sprue of grey styrene and a glossy instruction sheet with spot colour profiles of the five figures that can be found on the sprue in parts. There are three flight crew members, two of which are dressed for flight, complete with their life jackets and harnesses, while the third crewman is wearing just his olive drabs and a leather flying jacket with an officer’s cap and his hands in his pockets. Two of them have large kit bags at their feet, while the guy in the peaked cap is carrying a parachute pack in one hand and a glove in his other. The two ground crew figures are dressed in overalls, one kneeling down with a spanner pack to his side, while the other is reaching up with what looks like a screwdriver in one hand. Sculpting is excellent, with an abundance of crisp detail throughout, even down to the sewn-in ribbing on the underside of the crewman’s turned up cap bill. The poses, breakdown of parts and fabric drape is also beyond reproach, and they should build up into an excellent set of figures to dot around the US bomber of your choice. Conclusion Adding some figures to a model, diorama or vignette gives scale as well as a human dimension, and this set will provide just that with the addition of some judiciously applied painting, which is key. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
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