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  1. OT-34/76 WWII Soviet Flame Tank (35354) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in incredible volume by extremely crude methods, and thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front. The designers combined a number of important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without grinding to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The flame variant depicted in this model mounts an internal ATO-41 flame thrower that is fed from the tanks at the rear, and would doubtless put the fear of whatever deity the opponents were fond of, as all soldiers are very easily dismayed by the appearance of a flame thrower of any type, never mind one that also sports a 76mm gun and thanks to the heavy armour can’t easily be destroyed like the man portable devices could. The Kit The model arrives in a top opening box with ICM's usual captive inner lid with painting of the tank and gun in a combat situation, blasting an unseen opponent with a stream of flaming jellified fuel. Inside the box are six sprues in green styrene plus two hull parts in the same colour, four lengths of black flexible plastic rubbery tracks and two towing cables still on their sprues in the same material, a small sheet of decals and an instruction booklet that has colour profiles at the rear. Detail is good throughout, and the new sprue provides the parts for the replacement for the bow machine gun. Construction begins with the fitting of the engine cover onto the rear decking and the missing bow machine gun’s armoured fairing. The two intake covers are then assembled and also fitted to the rear deck. Four plates that are fitted to the underside of the rear decking to blank them off, with the large radiator panel fitting over the aft portion of the deck, then having the rear bulkhead detailed and attached. An adaptor is attached to the outside of the bow machine gun opening, then the flame throwing gun is inserted from within, having some nice detail moulded into it. The driver’s hatch is made up from two parts plus a couple of smaller covers before being glued into position. The rear bulkhead is a flat panel to which the armoured exhaust covers are fixed, with the tips of the exhausts glued within, then the assembly is added to the back of the upper hull, ledging on ridges inside the hull. Inside the lower hull the eight Christie suspension boxes are fitted and the driver’s controls sit justified to the front left, whilst the rear mudguards are fitted to the rear. The final drive housings and five stub axles on their swing arms are glued to the hull sides as are the idler wheel axles at the very front of the hull. Two comfortable-looking seats for the driver and machine gunner are made up and slotted into place, then the two hull halves can be joined together. The road wheels are made up from pairs with moulded-in tyres, while the idler wheels are bare, as are the drive sprockets, all of which are fitted to their respective axles. Towing hooks are attached front and rear, then grab handles, stowage rails and smaller lifting eyes are added to the upper deck, then it’s time for the tracks. These rubbery plastic tracks are moulded in black, and are made up from two halves that are glued together with epoxy or super glue (standard liquid glue doesn't work), then draped around the road wheels to complete the run. If you are looking at making them more realistic, painting them is a great start, and you can also glue some sections to the road wheels to give them the correct sag. This isn’t an interior kit, but you get a fairly detailed breech and coax machine gun, which fits to the back of the pivot that is hidden behind the mantlet once they have been attached to the hull, leaving the pivot unglued to maintain movement after completion. The lower turret with integrated ring is glued to the upper, and if you check your references, you’ll see that some were an absolute mess, so be careful not to make things too tidy! The mantlet and tip of the coax MG fit over the front and are joined by a 3-part mantlet cover with the barrel halves glued together then threaded through. Hinges, hatches, mantlet rain-cover, vision ports, lifting eyes and stowage rails are all scattered over the surface of the turret, which incidentally has an improved cast texture moulded-in, in case you didn’t spot it. Speaking personally, I would wash it with some liquid glue to soften the texture a little and give it a more irregular height in places. Final assembly includes two boxy additional fuel tanks at the rear for the flame thrower, spare track links, pioneer tool boxes and aerial base, plus a folded tarpaulin, headlight, horn, the two flexible towing cables and a large saw attached before the model can be sent for painting. The towing cables are suffering from a little flash, and as the instructions give you an alternative of using your own braided cable and plastic towing eyes, this is probably your best option. Markings There are three markings options in the box and they’re all Russian Green. From the box you can build one of the following: 509th Independent Flamethrower Tank Battalion, Summer 1943 509th Independent Flamethrower Tank Battalion with different markings, Summer 1943 Factory Test vehicle, 1943 The decals are printed in-house, colour density and sharpness for the sheet is good. Conclusion A nice alternative to the usual T-34 that are probably ten-a-penny out there. With a few extra parts ICM have made this kit much more interesting to us, and a lot scarier for any 1:35 scale German figures in the cabinet. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Yak-9K (32091) 1:32 ICM via HG Hannants Ltd The Yak-9 was an evolution of the successful Yak-7 fighter, and was intended to retake the initiative from the Nazis’ new Fw.190 and improved Bf.109s, which it successfully did. Production started in late 1942, and by summer 1943 there were enough in service to make a difference, playing a part in the crucial Kursk battle, thanks to its agility in the denser air at lower altitudes and the heavy armament it carried. It was made in a number of different variants with diverse intended uses, with the D fitted with additional fuel tanks for longer range, and the DD for longer range still. The Yak-9T was armed with a larger 37 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 cannon firing through the spinner but with only 30 rounds of armour-piercing ammunition carried, which it could fire in two or three round bursts and was intended for use against maritime targets and light armour, where it was quite effective. Careful aim was key of course due to the shortage of ammunition, but when used against another aircraft, a solitary shell strike would rip an opponent to pieces, making the enemy’s day end very badly. Because of the additional weight of the massive gun and its ammo, the cockpit had to be moved aft slightly to counter the change in centre-of-gravity, and various issues reared their heads thanks to the substantial vibrations from firing the cannon. Its standard armament of a 20mm UBS cannon still carried a full complement of 220 rounds as an auxiliary to the main armament. Almost 3,000 were made, and the designers later went one further and installed a 45mm cannon in the Yak-9K that had to be fitted with a muzzle brake to counter recoil of crippling proportions that could cause loss of flight control if fired at slower speeds, as well as instigating leaks of all manner of fluids due to the severe vibrations set up during firing. The pilot also wasn’t immune from the recoil, being tossed around the cockpit on firing, although a good aim was possible at high speed, and the impact of two or three 45mm rounds would literally disintegrate any aircraft that got in the way in a dramatic manner. Post war saw the continued development of the type, which involved the installation of a more powerful engine, and these were later hived off to Soviet-friendly satellite states at the end of the 40s, where they served into the 50s, although their unusual manual lubrication system saw accidents caused by engines seizing due to pilots that were engrossed in flying and fighting their aircraft forgetting to operate the hand-cranked lubrication lever in the cockpit. The Kit This is a minor additive reboxing of a brand-new tooling of this capable Soviet fighter from our friends at ICM, and it arrives in one of their standard top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner lid, and an attractive painting of the subject matter on the top. Inside the box are six sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue in its own bag, a rectangular decal sheet and the instructions with colour covers and spot colour throughout, plus colour profiles for the decal options on the rear. Detail is crisp throughout the model, but don’t expect too many rivets to be visible on the exterior, as the metal structure was hidden away inside an outer layer of plywood impregnated with phenolic resin, that is better known in the west by its brand-name Bakelite. Construction begins with the port fuselage, which is adorned with the tubular cockpit framework and has six exhaust stubs on a runner pushed through the slot in the cowling from inside. The tips aren’t hollow, so prepare your pin vice if that bothers you at all. The starboard fuselage half goes through the same process, but adds the structure of the chin intake and its oil radiator cores, then the upper parts of the cockpit are made up, starting with the seat that has a pencil-rolled back cushion, and attaches to the short deck behind it, slotting into the starboard fuselage half along with a bulkhead and the instrument panel, which has a number of additional parts and a dial decal added along the way. With the completion of the tail-wheel assembly the fuselage can be closed up around these sub-assemblies, with an insert added under the chin, while most of the underside is open to the elements at this stage. The kit includes an engine that you can show off or hide away in its basic form of block with cylinder banks that is made out of nine parts plus another two for the cannon, which is similarly basic, but as none of it will be seen if you close the cowlings, that hardly matters. The muzzle brake can be found in the prop assembly if you’re in the mood to drill it out. The basic assembled engine slides into the front of the fuselage with the breech of the cannon slipping through a depression in the bulkhead, after which it can be covered over by two sections of cowling after removing a pair of pips that stand up from the seamline. If you intend to expose the engine however, the power plant is further detailed with an additional twenty parts for the engine itself, and another gaggle for the compartment around it, adding ancillaries, hoses, cowling support structure, the .50cal auxiliary cannon, and a pair of ammo cans for them both that slip into the aft section in front of the cockpit to create a nice replica with plenty of detail. The surround to the cockpit aperture is detailed with the gunsight mount and a piece of clear armoured glass behind the pilot, a small coaming, and the fixed rear canopy part, with the windscreen and its separate clear armoured panel, which is best “glued” on using a clear varnish such as Klear, taking care not to trap any bubbles in between the layers. The opening canopy slides back over the aft section, or you can leave it closed up to keep the snow out. In preparation for the wings, a short spar is created with a fluid tank in the centre and a couple of jacks at the ends, then a raised platform is made of the cockpit floor, which has the control column, rudder pedals and a flare pistol fixed in place for later attachment. The lower wing is full-width, and has the central radiator with textured front and rear panels added underneath, and the spar assembly inside, which forms the rear walls of the main gear bays that are joined by a number of other wall sections and internal ribs that are closed in by adding the upper wing halves. The bay roof is moulded into each wing half, with a little detail visible, but a single ejector-pin mark is visible, and is best dealt with before you glue the assembly together. The ailerons are individual parts that can be posed deflected, then the cockpit floor is glued in and a pair of tapering boxes are inserted in front, although I couldn’t divine their real-world purpose. The wings and fuselage are joined by carefully lowering the latter over the former, taking care not to bend or snap the control stick. The elevators and their fins are each two parts, and these also can be posed deflected if you wish, as can the rudder, which is also made of two parts and glued to the moulded-in fin. The landing gear is a little contrary in that it adds retraction jacks for the struts and inner bay doors first, which are also fitted at this time, with a scrap diagram showing the fine placement of the jack within the bay. The main wheels are each made from two halves with moulded-in hubs, and these are fixed to the axles at the bottom of the struts, with a separate scissor-link and captive bay door on each one, then they mate with the bays on a transverse pivot point, linking to the retraction jacks installed earlier. The model is finished off by adding the clear wingtip lights, gear-down indicator stalks on the wing tops, radio antenna on the fuselage spine, and the propeller assembly, which is made from the moulded-together blades plus front and rear spinner, then the brake of the new 45mm cannon’s barrel, which will need drilling out with a 1.4mm bit if you would like a hollow muzzle. Markings There are three markings options on the decal sheet, with three pages of profiles giving concise locations for the decals and letters showing the colours in reference to a table on the front page that gives names and codes in ICM, Revell and Tamiya brands of paint. From the box you can build one of the following: 274th Fighter Aviation Regiment, August 1944 43rd Fighter Aviation Regiment, 1944 812th Fighter Aviation Regiment, Germany 1945 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. A decal for the instrument panel can be found in the top left of the sheet, with just the dials and white lines defining the sections of the panel, allowing the paint to show through from below. There are also a pair of fuel gauges for the wing tops that can be viewed by the pilot from his seat, rather than taking up space on the main panel. You might notice that the red stars have been cut in half by the decal designers, and the stars on the profiles are just a series of five < shaped points in white. Understandable under the circumstances. Add them yourself for historical correctness, or leave them off. Your choice, dear modeller. Conclusion A welcome new tooling of this impressive Soviet fighter that has the bigger 45mm, unreliable gun that should please many a large-scale modeller, with plenty of detail to be had from a relatively simple construction. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Normandie-Niémen (32092) 1:32 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The Yak-9 was an evolution of the successful Yak-7 fighter, and was intended to retake the initiative from the Nazis’ new Fw.190 and improved Bf.109s, which it successfully did. Production started in late 1942, and by summer 1943 there were enough in service to make a difference, playing a part in the crucial Kursk battle, thanks to its agility in the denser air at lower altitudes and the heavy armament it carried. It was made in several different variants with diverse intended uses, with the D fitted with additional fuel tanks for longer range, and the DD for longer range still. The Yak-9T was armed with a larger 37 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-37 cannon firing through the spinner but with only 30 rounds of armour-piercing ammunition carried, which it could fire in two or three round bursts and was intended for use against maritime targets and light armour, where it was quite effective. Careful aim was key of course due to the shortage of ammunition, but when used against another aircraft, a solitary shell strike would rip an opponent to pieces, making the enemy’s day end very badly. Because of the additional weight of the massive gun and its ammo, the cockpit had to be moved aft slightly to counter the change in centre-of-gravity, and various issues reared their heads thanks to the substantial vibrations from firing the cannon. Its standard armament of a 20mm UBS cannon still carried a full complement of 220 rounds as an auxiliary to the main armament. Almost 3,000 were made, and the designers later went one further and installed a 45mm cannon in one variant that had to be fitted with a muzzle brake to counter recoil of crippling proportions that could cause loss of control if fired at slower speeds. In 1942, as part of a stipulation by Charles De Gaulle that Frenchmen should serve on all fronts, a group of French pilots were sent for training in England then onto the Eastern Front to serve with Soviet forces in a squadron that became known as ‘Normandie’. They fought alongside the Soviets in Soviet fighters in several campaigns, and were well-regarded by Stalin, who added the word Niémen to their name in recognition of their participation in the Vilnius Offensive, fighting the battle of the Niémen river. Marcel Lefevre was one of the original pilots and an ace of the squadron, achieving numerous kills, and in later times flying a Yak-9T, although following the end of WWII the pilots and their aircraft were permitted to fly back to France with the Yak-3s they were flying at that time by personal order of Stalin. The Kit This is a reboxing of a brand-new tooling of this capable Soviet fighter from our friends at ICM, and it arrives in one of their standard top-opening boxes with the usual captive inner lid, and an attractive painting of the subject matter on the top. Inside the box are six sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue in its own bag, a decal sheet and the instructions with colour covers and spot colour throughout, plus colour profiles for the decal option on the rear. Detail is crisp throughout the model, but don’t expect too many rivets to be visible on the exterior, as the metal structure was hidden away inside an outer layer of plywood impregnated with phenolic resin, that is better known in the west by its brand-name Bakelite. Construction begins with the port fuselage, which is adorned with the tubular cockpit framework and has six exhaust stubs on a runner pushed through the slot in the cowling from inside. The tips aren’t hollow, so prepare your pin vice if that bothers you at all. The starboard fuselage half goes through the same process, but adds the structure of the chin intake and its oil radiator cores, then the upper parts of the cockpit are made up, starting with the seat that has a pencil-rolled back cushion, and attaches to the short deck behind it, slotting into the starboard fuselage half along with a bulkhead and the instrument panel, which has several additional parts and a dial decal added along the way. With the completion of the tail-wheel assembly the fuselage can be closed around these sub-assemblies, with an insert added under the chin, while most of the underside is open to the elements at this stage. The kit includes an engine that you can show off or hide away in its basic form of block with cylinder banks that is made from nine parts plus another two for the cannon, which is similarly basic, but as none of it will be seen that hardly matters. The muzzle can be found in the prop assembly if you’re in the mood to drill it out. The basic assembled engine slides into the front of the fuselage with the breech of the cannon slipping through a depression in the bulkhead, after which it can be covered over by two sections of cowling after removing a pair of pips that stand up from the seamline. If you intend to expose the engine however, the power plant is further detailed with an additional twenty parts for the engine itself, and another gaggle for the compartment around it, adding ancillaries, hoses, cowling support structure, the .50cal auxiliary cannon, and a pair of ammo cans for them both that slip into the aft section in front of the cockpit to create a nice replica with plenty of detail. The surround to the cockpit aperture is detailed with the gunsight mount and a piece of clear armoured glass behind the pilot, a small coaming, and the fixed rear canopy part, with the windscreen and its separate clear armoured panel, which is best “glued” on using a clear varnish such as Klear, taking care not to trap any bubbles in between the layers. The opening canopy slides back over the aft section, or you can leave it closed to keep the snow out. In preparation for the wings, a short spar is created with a fluid tank in the centre and a couple of jacks at the ends, then a raised platform is made of the cockpit floor, which has the control column, rudder pedals and a flare pistol fixed in place for later attachment. The lower wing is full-width, and has the central radiator with textured front and rear panels added underneath, and the spar assembly inside, which forms the rear walls of the main gear bays that are joined by several other wall sections and internal ribs that are closed in by adding the upper wing halves. The bay roof is moulded into each wing half, with a little detail visible, but a single ejector-pin mark is visible, and is best dealt with before you glue the assembly together. The ailerons are individual parts that can be posed deflected, then the cockpit floor is glued in and a pair of tapering boxes are inserted in front, although I couldn’t divine their real-world purpose. The wings and fuselage are joined by carefully lowering the latter over the former, taking care not to bend or snap the control stick. The elevators and their fins are each two parts, and these also can be posed deflected if you wish, as can the rudder, which is also made of two parts and glued to the moulded-in fin. The landing gear is a little contrary in that it adds retraction jacks for the struts and inner bay doors first, which are also fitted at this time, with a scrap diagram showing the fine placement of the jack within the bay. The main wheels are each made from two halves with moulded-in hubs, and these are fixed to the axles at the bottom of the struts, with a separate scissor-link and captive bay door on each one, then they mate with the bays on a transverse pivot point, linking to the retraction jacks installed earlier. The model is finished off by adding the clear wingtip lights, gear-down indicator stalks on the wing tops, radio antenna on the fuselage spine, and the propeller assembly, which is made from the moulded-together blades plus front and rear spinner, then the very tip of the 37mm cannon’s barrel, which will need drilling out if you would like a hollow muzzle. The Figure The smallest sprue contains the figure parts, and these should build up into a credible replica of Marcel Lefevre with careful painting. It is broken down into a two-part torso, separate arms and legs, the arms having no hands due to him having his hands in his pockets. His head is also separate with a flat top, and he is wearing a two-part peaked cap, just don’t forget to add the fleecy collar to his jacket before gluing the head in position, or it might be difficult later. In order to paint him, there is a full-page drawing on the rear of the booklet, giving part numbers as well as letter-coded paint suggestions that are converted to ICM, Revell and Tamiya codes on the front of the booklet. Markings There is just the one decal option in this kit, and it has a full page of profiles giving concise locations for the decals and letters showing the colours in reference to a table on the front page that gives names and codes in ICM, Revell and Tamiya brands of paint. From the box you can build the following: 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. A decal for the instrument panel can be found in the top left of the sheet, with just the dials and white lines defining the sections of the panel, allowing the paint to show through from below. Conclusion A welcome reboxing of this new tooling of this impressive Soviet fighter that should please many a large-scale modeller, with plenty of detail to be had from a relatively simple construction. The bravery of the Normandie-Niéman isn’t as well-known as it perhaps should be, so it’s good that it’s getting some attention. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Ki-21-Ib Sally (72203) 1:72 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The Sally, as she was known by the Allies during WWII was a heavy bomber designed by Mitsubishi as a replacement for the Ki-20, in competition with Nakajima, who although they lost out on the design of the aircraft, were given the contract for the power plants, as their HA-5 engines were found to be superior to Mitsubishi’s offering originally installed. A small number of airframes were also built by Nakajima too, with a total of just over 2,000 built between them. It first flew in 1936 and was intended for long-range bombing missions against Soviet and Chinese opponents, first entering service in 1938 in operations against China. Initial experience showed that the design was lacking in some respects, extending to the crucial oxygen system that was found to be unreliable. The Ib was intended to address most of the issues, including the lack of armament and changes to the flying surfaces. It also had a remote tail gun installation, and could mount an additional fuel tank for extreme range missions. The type was pretty much obsolete by 1940, and mounting losses prompted the type’s withdrawal from front line service, and sale of some of the airframes to friendly nations. Uses were still found for the type with the Japanese forces however, and the remaining aircraft were used until the end of the war as cargo transports, trainers, troop transports and communications hacks. The later variants had improved engine performance with Mitsubishi units, some with alterations to the greenhouse behind the cockpit, which was changed to a turret on some, and removed entirely on transport variants. The Kit This is a brand-new tool from ICM, who continue to produce new kits despite the difficult circumstances in their home country. The kit arrives in a shallow top-opening box that has a captive top flap on the bottom tray. Inside are six sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue in a separate bag, decal sheet and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour with colour profiles on the back pages. Detail is well up to modern standards, and extends to ribbing on the interior of the fuselage, full representation of the engines and a nice cockpit, plus a set of crystal clear glazing parts. Construction begins with the fuselage halves, which have the armed Ib tail added to the rear, a lozenge-shaped detail insert to make the wing root recess flush, and the side windows, plus an equipment insert in the cockpit area, and a line of trunking that extends from the trailing edge of the wing to the tail. The cockpit floor is a long part, with a recessed front end for the flight crew, detailed by adding the rudder pedals for the pilot, and the two seats, which both have separate seat cushions. The twin ‘bow tie’ control columns are inserted into the floor in front of the seats, and near the rear of the floor are two large tanks that attach on pins. The assembly is inserted into the starboard side of the fuselage, and has a bulkhead fixed just in front of the crew steps under the mid-fuselage greenhouse. The front bulkhead has a small circular seat glued to the side of the fuselage and additional details with instrument decals, a choice of two clear chin inserts with an instrument panel, gun mount and a rack of bottles added to it during installation, with a choice of two types of machine gun for the belly window that has two spare mags nearby. The port fuselage is prepared with tail, wing insert and windows, plus ammo cans and forward fuselage details, more racks of oxygen bottles and a side-mounted machine gun. The fuselage can be closed around the cockpit after adding the main instrument panel, which has a centre throttle quadrant and dial decals added beforehand. The mid-upper gunner’s suspended seat is also inserted into holes, but can probably be inserted after gluing the fuselage halves together by flexing the support struts. His twin machine guns are added to a mount on a bracket, with a pair of magazines on top, after which it is fitted into the insert that is then glued into the opening in the fuselage behind the main canopy. The main canopy and greenhouse gunner’s canopy are fixed on top of the fuselage along with the nose glazing, which has a choice of two types of machine gun inserted from the inside. The tail begins by adding the elevator fins, which have separate flying surfaces and rudder panel, then the wings are prepared by inserting a two-part bay in each one before joining the upper and lower halves together, adding the ailerons and landing lights in the leading edges. They are then glued onto the wing root fairings on the fuselage, which have a lip to improve fit and joint strength. The wheels are installed under the wings before the engines and lower cowling are made up, starting with the tail-wheel in its yoke, and then adding the two-part wheels to the H-frame main gear, which has a support frame fitted to the front, and a long yoke with mudguard that links the strut lower to the back of the bay. Four small parts are fixed to the wing inside the bays, and the lower cowlings are made up out of two halves plus a round bulkhead, and a pair of intakes top and bottom, then sliding the lower nacelle over the completed wheels and mating the edges with the recessed lip of the lower wing. The engines are built-up on bulkheads with the cooling flaps moulded-in, a separate exhaust stack underneath, and a depiction of both cylinder banks, plus the front bell-housing with push-rods, hiding the prop axle inside without glue so that the props can spin later. The finished engines are covered by two cowling halves and a separate lip, gluing them to the front of the nacelles and finishing them off by adding the three-bladed prop and separate spinner. The model is completed by installing an antenna post and D/F loop over the canopy, and a curious-looking cranked pitot probe in the leading edge of the port wing. Markings There are four options on the decal sheet, all in light green-grey, differentiated by their unit markings. From the box you can build one of the following: 60th Sentai, China, Summer 1940 60th Sentai, 3rd Chutai, China, Late 1940 58th Sentai, Harbin, December 1940 105 Kyoiku Hiko Sentai, Hamamatsu, Presumably 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. As is common now with ICM kits, there is a page of the instruction booklet devoted to the masking of the canopy, using the printed shapes on the right of the page and the diagrams on the left to create your own masks if you wish. It goes up to 130 thanks to the extensive greenhouse glazing. Conclusion A nicely detailed new tooling of this short-lived (in front line service at least) heavy bomber, which should put older toolings from other manufacturers out to pasture. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Gotha Go.242A (48226) 1:48 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd 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 an 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 minor re-tool of their recent kit of this boxy glider, and one of a number of variants, hopefully including the powered option. Despite their difficulties at the moment, ICM are still working 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 the side with its 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 that the wingspan is really quite wide, 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 here the A variant had a different layout to the rear windows, that are applied from the inside. The walls are fixed to the floor assembly along with the roof once the cockpit is made up. This isn’t a training variant, but the controls are still duplicated on both sides of the cockpit for redundancy, starting with a well-detailed pair of rudder pedals that each comprise of four parts. The control column differs between stations, with the pilot having a two-part right-angle column with separate yoke, while the co-pilot has a straight stick for when he needs to take over, for example when landing under fire and the pilot is incapacitated. The seats differ too, as the pilot has a sturdier five-part seat that has an adjustment wheel, while the co-pilot 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 cockpit surround is incomplete at this stage, having the nose added along with a simple instrument panel on a pair of supports fitted and dial decal applied, then underneath a clear window is inserted beneath the co-pilot’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 boarding ladders are cut away from the underside of the fuselage, as the earlier crew were expected to leap up athletically. The wings of the 242 are necessarily long for lift, 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 in mirror-image 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. Again, if you are using the self-defence armament, another 0.8mm hole needs to be drilled near the hatch in the roof of the aft section. The booms are simple and made from two parts each, with separate rudders and a single two-part 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 is made, based on a single axle that is mounted on an extended A-frame that runs under the fuselage, and sports a two-part wheel at each end. The rest of the airframe is supported by a trio of sprung skids, the rear two with tiny wheels on the very end, the forward one having a hook on the tip. 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, both having a moulded-in concertina dump bag for the spent brass, and a double C-shaped ‘snail’ mag draped over the breech. Markings There are four decal options on the sheet, three of which are very similar and sporting yellow wingtips with a tail band in the same colour, while the other is over-painted with a wavy brown camouflage pattern. 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 confident masking canopies yourself. From the box you can build one of the following: Gotha Go 242A, Mediterranean theatre of operations, 1942 Gotha Go 242A, presumably Eastern Front, summer 1942 Gotha Go 242A, southern section of the Eastern Front, 1942 Gotha Go 242A, Eastern Front, winter 1943 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 The Go.242 is a quirky-looking box that appeals due to many factors, including the detail being excellent, so 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
  6. Forward Base (48303) OV-10A Bronco, AH-1G Cobra, US Pilots & Ground Crew 1:48 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd During the protracted period of the Vietnam war, the US Air Force used the OV-10A Bronco as Forward Air Control (FAC) and ground attack aircraft, so they had to be relatively close to the front to maximise loiter-time, often sharing a Forward Base with attack helicopters such as the AH-1G Cobra for similar reasons. These bases were crewed by mechanics for maintenance of the aircraft, as well as the usual force protection, administration staff, cooks & bottle-washers but in smaller numbers due to the risks of being closer to the enemy, who could melt into the jungle just as quickly as they would pop out with guns blazing. The Set This boxed set contains a total of two kits and two figure sets in a single box that is barely any bigger than a standard one, despite the quantity of plastic within. Each kit is separately bagged, and the instruction booklets/sheets have been corralled in a card folder, and have their decal sheets hidden between the pages. Incidentally, the weapons decals were missing from my boxing, but we have a photos from a previous boxing that give you the idea of what will be in your box. On with the motley! AH-1G Cobra This is a recent tool from ICM and brings us a long-overdue update to some of the older kits of the type on the market. This edition depicts Vietnam airframes, and inside the bag are eleven sprues in various sizes in grey styrene, a large clear sprue with a choice of canopies for upcoming versions, a decal sheet and their usual glossy A4 instruction booklet with spot colour throughout, and colour profiles of the decal options in the rear. There are a number of peach-coloured rectangles on the sprue diagrams, as they have been tooled with future boxings in mind, so after you’re done building it, you will likely have a number parts left over. I’d also recommend checking the sprues for parts that have come off the runners during shipping, as a fair few were loose in the initial boxing, so don’t go tossing the bag in the recycling before you’ve checked for stragglers. Detail is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from ICM, especially in the cockpit, the exterior surface and the rotors, and the instruction booklet takes you through the build process with colour and scrap diagrams used to clarify the process. Construction begins with the cockpit, which will be highly visible through the crystal-clear canopy parts, and this starts with the twin tub (no, not a 60s washing machine), into which the quilted rear bulkhead, twin pilot controls and tail rotor pedals are fitted, followed closely by a pair of instrument panels with decals and deep coamings to reduce glare coming though the big canopy panes. The panels are different for front and rear crew, but their seats are very similar with armoured wings and sides on the cushioned seat, made of four parts each. Remarkably quickly we’re starting prep of the fuselage halves by drilling out a number of holes, adding the nose cone and tail fin, taking care to align them carefully as well as choosing the right one, as there are two tails on the sprues. The rotor-head is installed on a flat plate, allowing the head to rotate if you’re careful with the glue, then it is inserted into the fuselage along with the cockpit tub and the short exhaust trunk, closing it up and leaving it to set up so you can deal with the seams, and fill a small hole near the rotor head. With that done, the cockpit is outfitted with more armour panels on the internal sidewalls and on the port side exterior, adding a number of appliqué panels in two parts. The underside of the fuselage is bereft of detail until you add the two armoured panels under the cockpit, and glue an insert into the hole in the underside after drilling out a pair of holes from within for one variant. Two main intakes above that slot into recesses on the fuselage sides. The Cobra has wings! Little ones that are essentially weapons carriers, and these both have a separate wingtip and root mounted ammo pod under each one, the port pod later feeding the M35 gatling gun and a link between the starboard and port pods. At the rear you have a choice of two styles of tail stabilisers, one covered in rivets, the other nice and smooth. Speaking of the tail, the boom is covered in nicely rendered raised rivets, as is correct for the type. Two pylons attach to the underside of the winglets, one in the tip, another fitting into two holes. The short circular exhaust ring is installed at the open end of the trunking, with two small strengthening plates just underneath them. With the fuselage flipped on its back, the nose turret is next, with a pair of inserts added into the main turret part, and a 7.62mm gatling gun in one aperture, plus a 40mm grenade launcher in the other that you’ll need to drill out the muzzles on if you feel the urge. The very tip of the nose cone is separate, and has a pitot probe added near the top, then it’s time to add a few antennae and clear lights, plus the BIG gun, which has a separate hollow muzzle part, ammo feed and two other small parts, which is suspended from the underside of the port winglet, and linked to the ammo pod as mentioned earlier. The skids with the thicker supports and a whip-like safety skid under the tail finish off the main fuselage for now, after which the rotating parts are made. The Cobra had a twin-blade tail rotor that slots straight into a hole in the top of the tail fin, with an M-shaped control mechanism fixed to the centre, and a couple of clear parts added to fairings nearby. The main rotor sits on a chunky axle, over which a faceted washer slides, that is joined to the base by a pair of actuators. The two main blades are moulded as a single item, and are first detailed with additional parts before they are glued to the top of the drive-shaft, and supported by a pair of long control rods linked to the blades to adjust their incidence. A scrap diagram shows the various parts in grey to help you get everything correctly aligned. It is lowered into the top fairing later and glued into place, but first the canopy is completed. The Cobra’s canopy opens on different sides for each crew member, and has the long narrow top is fixed first, with the windscreen moulded-in. A small instrument is glued to the side of the screen, 3.5mm up from the bottom, after which it is glued onto the fuselage. The pilots exit from opposite sides, so after the sloped starboard section and port rear section are fixed in place, the two openers can be mounted in the open position and supported by props to achieve the correct angle for them. In addition to guns the Cobra could carry rocket pods, and two each of the seven-shot M157, M158 and four of the 19-shot M200 pods are included on separate sprues, the M157 & M200 pods cylindrical and with detail inserts in both ends. The bare tubed M158 pods have two ends, a central section and a curved cover at the top that is attached to the pylon. The final assembly is the optional towing equipment pack. This consists of a pair of graft-on wheels that attach to a pair of pegs on the upper rear of the skids, lifting them off the ground, and a pair of towing bars that also have castors near the skid-end to facilitate movement when they’re off the airframe. The bars attach to the front of the skids, then it’s down to you to find a suitable towing vehicle if you wish. Markings There are four options on the decal sheet, which are all Vietnam-based, so are painted predominantly in dark green. From the box you can build one of the following: 66-15262 ‘Hulk’, Company D, 227th AHB, 1st Cavalry Division, Phuoc Vinh, Summer 1970 68-17068 ‘Cindy Ann’ 1st Sqn., 9th Cav., Phuoc Vinh, August 1970 68-17077 ‘Corsair’ Company D, 227th AHB, 1st Cavalry Division, Lai Khe 1970 68-15101 H-Troop, 10th Cav., Pleiku, Autumn 1972 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. OV-10A Bronco 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. This recent 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 new tool from ICM, and inside the bag are 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 this 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. US Helicopter Pilots - Vietnam War (48089) This single grey sprue has parts for five pilots and other crew, broken down as torsos, heads, arms and legs, plus additional parts for details and hats. On the sprue you get two standing pilots in flight gear, one in a cap, the other still wearing a sizeable helmet with comms bulges on the sides, while two of the remaining three figures are dressed in tshirts and combat pants, one standing leaning against something, the other hunkered down. The last figure appears to be a gentleman that loves the smell of napalm in the morning (it smells like victory, apparently), as he is wearing a tailed BDU jacket, a neckerchief, and a traditional US cavalry hat with gold braid and tassles, much like the gentleman from the famous film. US Pilots & Ground Personnel – Vietnam War (48087) This figure set is also on a single sprue, but a slightly larger one than the one above. It also includes five figures broken down in a similar manner, containing two standing pilots, one in a cap, the other holding his helmet under one arm. The three other figures are also standing, one in tan uniform marking something off on a sheaf of papers, the other two in t-shirt and combat pants with one or two arms raised, working on an aircraft. Conclusion Another great value themed set from ICM, with two excellent totally modern aircraft kits from the Vietnam period that is improved on by the addition of the two well-detailed figure sets, totalling 10 figures. Perfect for a diorama or vignette. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Mobile Brigade West – Schnelle Brigade West 1943 (DS3517) 1:34 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd Schnelle Brigade West was formed in France during the Spring of 1943 as a fast response unit to Allied advances, being highly mechanised and capable of rapid relocation when the need arose. German industry was struggling to keep up with demand from their forces at that point, and this necessitated the pressing into service of captured vehicles, as well as captured vehicles that had been adapted to better suit their needs, which included many of the new Marders that were based on French tanks of differing types, some of which were designed by their industrious and inventive commanding officer Major Becker. It also included the quirky-looking Laffly V15T, which had been captured or surrendered after the armistice and been pressed into German service. Despite their relatively light armour and armament, they were available in sufficient numbers to be of use, and the Brigade was soon used to reform the 21st Panzer Division after the original Division surrendered in Africa. This set depicts some of the vehicles that constituted this relatively short-lived unit, at least by that name, with three kits included in the large top-opening box with the usual captive lid on the lower tray. The three instruction booklets have been slipped inside a cardboard folder, and the small decal sheets can still be found within the front pages of each one. Each kit is separately bagged with an orange sticker having the kit number printed on it. Each decal sheet has an option for the Mobile Brigade West, but also has two alternatives if you just wanted the kit for the contents rather than the headline option. 10.5cm leFH 16(Sf) auf Geschutzwagen FCM36(f) The Geschutzwagen (gun vehicle) series of Self-Propelled Howitzers were originally created to fill a need for mobile artillery that could be self-sufficient and yet work in unison with troops and tanks at the high speed of Blitzkrieg, similar to the Marder, but with indirect fire from behind the lines their stock-in-trade. The concept was to mount a large diameter howitzer on a captured tank chassis that had been stripped of its superstructure and given an extended splinter shield around the gun and its crew, whilst leaving the roof open to the elements. Like the early Marders, they were built on captured French tank chassis, such as the obsolete FCM 36, with a large shield that extended almost the whole length of the vehicle, housing a WWI era 105mm leFH 16(Sf) howitzer, which was of 1916 vintage. Incidentally, FCM stands for Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, who were based at Toulon in the French Riviera. Only a very few of these vehicles were made due to the relatively small number of FCM36 chassis that were originally captured, and some say that as few as eight were built, although there are numbers as high as 12 mentioned elsewhere. Either way, there weren’t many. They saw service in Europe during the relatively inactive period after their conquest of France and before D-Day, and by 1944 there weren’t any on charge according to records, which up until that point were pretty reliable. The tank was only lightly armoured to protect their crews from shrapnel, shell splinters or small arms fire from all-round, which is somewhat better than a standard artillery piece would afford its crew, although the open roof would make a tempting target for grenades or demolition packs in close combat. However, they weren’t meant to be near the front line under normal circumstances, so it mattered less than it did with direct fire vehicles such as Marders. It would however have been uncomfortable for the crew in bad weather necessitating a temporary tarpaulin roof to keep the precipitation out, but very little of the cold. This is another re-tool of ICM’s previous FCM 36 kit, adding the relevant parts for the conversion undertaken by Baustokommando Becker at the time. Inside the resealable bag are seven sprues in grey styrene, two flexible black sprues of track links, a decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles in the back pages for painting and markings. The original FCM 36 kit was only released in 2020, so it’s a modern tooling with plenty of detail and this boxing includes the majority of the interior due to the open roof. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is made up initially of the floor and two sides that are cut back slightly to accommodate the different upper hull, as shown in an accompanying diagram, 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 adjustable tensioning axles. The sloped armoured upper sponsons are installed along the way, with the mud-shedding apertures on each side, idler adjustment mechanisms and some towing eyes on the back plate. 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 having the correct faceted look that individual links provide. The upper hull is a new part that was also seen on the recent Marder I kit, and has an opening at the front where the turret would have been, and has the two fender sides fitted to the rear before it is joined to the lower hull, hiding most of the upper track run. At the rear a large louvred panel and fixtures on the final-drive access hatches are glued on first, with the two shrouded exhausts and their mufflers slotted into grooves to their side, and a shallow C-shaped manifold joining them at the top. Pioneer tools and towing eyes are fitted later, because the gun must be made up first, after adding a driver’s panel and vision slit it fixed into the top of the glacis plate. The WWI era 10.5cm leFH 16(Sf) gun, is begun by making up the combined cradle and breech, then adding the cradle trunnions and elevation mechanism on both sides, after which the floor is made up with the underfloor ammo storage depicted by gluing the 36 striking plate charge sections of the two-part ammunition into the box-sections in the forward floor. It is mated to the hull on a substantial C-shaped plinth with a locking washer, covering up the former turret aperture, then adding aim adjustment wheels before the gun’s splinter shield is begun by adding the two faceted side panels and the cheek parts, the former having been fitted out with shell racks, radio boxes and machine gun ammo canisters. The forward splinter shield that moves with the gun barrel is added outside the main shield, preventing stray rounds or shrapnel from entering the cab or damaging the gun slide, the latter part comprising two sides with angled front to deflect frontal shots. A louvred panel is fixed into depressions on each of the side walls, and the back panel with moulded-in access hatch are glued onto the rear of the crew compartment, then two sets of 21 x 105mm shells and a few more separate charges with striker plates are placed next to them. At this stage the pioneer tools can be attached to the exterior compartment walls at the rear of the vehicle, with light cluster, spare track links and barrel cleaning rods at the front, plus an antenna perched atop the side wall to the rear, and a self-defence MG34 machine gun on the front, then you can put on the two-part muzzle brake that gives the impression of a hollow barrel. Markings There are three markings options on the small decal sheet, with variation between them and some interesting camouflage schemes, all of which saw service in 1943. From the box you can build one of the following: Mobile Brigade West, 1943 931st Assault Gun Division, France, 1943 Training Camp of Mobile Brigade West, Summer 1943 The decals are printed 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. Marder I on FCM 36 Base The Marder series of Tank Destroyers were originally created to fill a need for mobile artillery that could be self-sufficient and yet work in unison with troops and tanks at the high speed of Blitzkrieg. The concept was to mount a PaK40 or captured Soviet 76 mm F-22 Model 1936 divisional field gun on a captured tank chassis that had been stripped of its superstructure and given an extended splinter shield around the gun and its crew, whilst leaving the roof open to the elements. Many of the initial Marder Is were built on French Lorraine or Czech 38(t) chassis, but a small number were constructed on the obsolete FCM 36, with a large shield that extended almost the whole length of the vehicle. FCM stands for Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, who were based at Toulon in the French Riviera. They saw use on the Eastern Front initially, then also in the West after D-Day. Although they were intended to be mobile artillery that was capable of destroying most tanks at a respectable range, they were only lightly armoured to protect their crews from shrapnel, shell splinters or light arms fire from all-round, which is somewhat better than a standard artillery piece would afford its crew, although the open roof would make a tempting target for grenades or demolition packs in close combat. It would have been uncomfortable for the crew in bad weather too, necessitating a temporary tarpaulin roof to keep the precipitation out, but very little of the cold or blowing snow. This is a substantial re-tool of ICM’s previous FCM 36 kits, adding the specialised parts for the conversion designed again by Baustokommando Becker. Inside the bag are seven sprues in grey styrene, two flexible black sprues of track links, a decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles in the back pages for painting and markings. The original FCM 36 kit was only released in 2020, so it’s a modern tooling with plenty of detail and this boxing includes the majority of the interior due to the open roof. 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 apertures 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 a new part, and has an opening at the front where the turret would have been, and has the two fender sides fitted to the rear before it is joined to the lower hull, hiding most of the upper track run. At the rear a large louvred panel and fixtures on the final-drive access hatches are glued on first, with the two exhausts and their mufflers slotted into grooves to their side, and a C-shaped manifold joining them at the top. Pioneer tools and towing eyes are the final parts for now, because the gun must be made up first. The PaK40 is begun by making up the cradle and inserting the breech, then the one-piece gun tube and part of the elevation mechanism. The cradle trunnions are held in place by the side frames, which are fixed to the arrow-shaped floor. More of the elevation mechanism is added, then the floor is mated to the hull, covering up the turret aperture, then having armoured supports slipped under the overhang. The gun’s double-layer splinter shield is slid over the barrel and glued to the gun, then the two faceted side panels are fitted out with shell racks, then attached to the side of the vehicle, to be joined by the rear wall after adding some stowage boxes inside and a pair of louvred panels to the sides. Twenty-eight shells are supplied on the sprues to be slotted into the holes in the racks nose down, then some spare tracks are fixed to the sides, and the self-defence MG34 machine gun is fitted to the front shield on a short pintle-mount. An outer splinter shield slides over the gun, and then you can put on the two-part muzzle brake, which gives the impression of a hollow barrel. Markings There are three markings options on the decal sheet, with a nice variation between them, all of which saw action (or training exercises) in 1943. From the box you can build one of the following: 931st Assault Gun Division, 2nd Battery, France, 1943 Training camp of the Mobile Brigade “West”, summer 1943 Mobile Brigade “West” 2nd Battery, Manoeuvres, Spring 1943 The decals are printed 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. Unusually for a model review, we’re going to talk about actual paint. That’s because ICM have launching their own range of paints, the first release a set of 6 pots for this particular model, the rest of the range totalling 77 in all. Here is a link to the paint set in case you’d like to avail yourself of it. Laffly (f) Typ V15T 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, where they bore the suffix (f) to denote their French origin. 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 a mystery. We don’t see them on modern vehicles, so I’m guessing they were more trouble than they were worth. This is a reboxing of a brand-new tool from ICM, and I was not wrong when I imagined we’d be seeing a few more boxings, and that’s no bad thing. It’s typical of modern ICM in that it is well-stocked with detail, and 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. Markings There are three varied markings options provided on the decal sheet, one more than the original boxing, and they’re painted in differing shades, depending on where they were based and the prevailing colours at the time. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown Unit, 1941 931st Assault Gun Division, France, Mobile Brigade (West), 1943 Mobile Brigade (West) France, 1943 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. Until the first boxing of 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 didn’t fancy the options on the sheet of the original kit, these alternative schemes are a lot more interesting, and you have to love those weird vestigial wheels. Conclusion These boxed sets from ICM represent excellent value for money to the discerning modeller, and we’ve been blessed with an interesting range of kits included in their various offerings. This one is no different and will look grand either on a shelf or in a diorama. What’s more, the three kits arrive in a box barely larger than that of a single kit, so it’s good for the apparent stash size. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  8. ”Hold the Rope Willi!” (DS3516) 1:35 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The Panther was Germany's answer to the surprise appearance of the Russian T-34 after they finally reacted to the invasion that was Operation Barbarosa. Although the project had been in gestation for some time before, they took some design cues from the T-34 in the shape of the sloped armour, resulting in the Panther that was intended to fill the gap between the Panzer.IV and the (then) new Panzer VI Tiger. It was eventually supposed to replace both the Pz.IV and the earlier Pz.III that was really showing its age, but in reality it often fought alongside the Panzer IV due to lack of production numbers. It was planned as a lighter, more manoeuvrable tank than the Tiger, and was fitted with a high velocity gun from the outset, which gave it enormous penetrating power that was only equalled by the British 17-pounder fitted to the Sherman that turned it into the Firefly. The sloped frontal armour gave it an increased effective armour thickness, but this was not so true of the side armour, which was weaker and more steeply sloped, becoming the preferred target area of allied tanks, especially in urban combat where this was a telling issue. Like most German tanks of WWII, it was complex to produce, so suffered in terms of volume, which led to it being rushed into service with quite a list of problems still to resolve. Later production solved most of these initial gremlins, but loses in the interim were high with many being abandoned after breaking down during combat. Curiously, the Ausf.D was the first to enter production, with the Ausf.A following later in 1943, replacing attrition of the less reliable Ausf.Ds until they themselves were superseded by the Ausf.G, which became the final major variant with increased ammo storage, simplified design to ease production, and further improvements to reliability, although this was never fully cured with a high rate of attrition due to mechanical issues, some of which resulted in catastrophic fires. The Kit This box set contains quite a bundle of kits, including two Panther kits, one Ausf.D, the other an early Bergepanther, a catchily titled le.gl.Einheitz-Pkw Kfz.4 with a Zwilling Anti-Aircraft (AA) mount, and three sets of figures, one of drivers, one of tankers and another of tank riders. It arrives in a compact top-opening box with their usual captive inner flap on the lower tray, and inside are several bags that contain a total of seventeen sprues in grey styrene, either in black, one clear sprue and three small sheets of decals. The instructions are contained in a glossy white folder, and there are seven of them in total, as the figure sets and the AA mount is also available as a separate kit. The two panthers are ostensibly the same except for their turret sprues, or lack of in the case of the Bergepanther, which has its turret removed and replaced by a wooden top cover, a winch and some additional parts that aren’t included in the other kit. We’ll cover the Panther with the turret first, then differentiate between the two kits, then the little AA truck, and finally the figure sets at the end. Px.Kpfw.V Panther Ausf.D This kit is the subject of the Bergepanther’s ministrations, and is a standard Ausf.D that’s combat-focused, and has the following sprues: Construction begins with the lower hull, which is completed by adding the T-shaped rear bulkhead and the armoured surrounds around the final drive housings at the front of the hull. The many stub axles are inserted into the hull with a peg holding them at the correct angle, and these are accompanied by a number of additional suspension parts, bumpers, the housings themselves and of course the interleaved main wheels, plus the four-part idler wheels and two-part drive sprockets. The rear bulkhead is detailed with twin exhausts that hold the detailed jack, and on each side a pair of angular stowage boxes with separate lids are included. The upper hull has the inside of the glacis plate detailed with driver’s hatch and vision blocks, plus two hatches on pegs that insert into the lift-out front section of the forward deck. The rear deck also has a large inspection hatch in the centre that is decked out with mushroom vents and grab-handles, then has the various rectangular and circular vents from the engine compartment added either side, plus a couple more circular vents and lifting lugs. The stowage for the sides of the hull are made up on frames, a couple for each side, plus a tube for the barrel-cleaning rods and two racks of spare track links at the rear. The front mudguards have width indicators added that I’ve not seen before, then it’s time to make up the tracks. The track links are made up from individual parts that are joined together to create the complete run, although you aren’t given a guide figure of how many to use, but from memory I suspect around 90 would be appropriate. They clip together, but need some glue to retain their integrity, so wrapping them around the road wheels while the glue is still flexible, then hold them in place with tape, foam wads and other tools to obtain the correct sag on the return run. The good news is that there are only two sprue gates to deal with per link, but they are on a concave surface, so if you have a circular sanding stick, file or burr for your motor tool, they won’t hold you back for long. There are however two small circular ejector-pin marks in the outriggers of each link’s outer face. Sanding those could be done with a small, flat-tipped burr, or you could make your own and glue some wet’n’dry to it, as I have done in the past. The alternative is to slap some weathering and mud on the tracks to hide any issues you didn’t fix. The turret is moulded as one part with an open back to which the rear bulkhead with its circular hinged hatch is fitted, and at the front the basic breech is mounted on a pair of trunnions that project through the front of the turret and receive the two-layer mantlet. The barrel is made from two halves with the muzzle brake moulded-in, and once the seams are dealt with, it is inserted into the mantlet, locating its notch on a pin within the aperture. The rest of the turret details involve the hinged shell-ejection port, the multi-layer commander’s cupola with pivoting hatch, lifting eyes and grab-handles, the corner-mounted smoke grenade dischargers, and finally the bottom plate, which has the bayonet lugs that secure it in the turret ring with a twist. The model is completed by adding the spaced schurzen side skirts under the sponsons, the twin tow ropes, one on each side, and the gun’s travel lock, which glues on the front between the two hatches, and is made from four parts that should allow it to hinge if you are sparing with the glue. Markings There are two schemes you can depict from the sheet, both based on a dark yellow (dunkelgelb) base and wearing different types of green camouflage. From the sheet you can build one of the following: 52nd Battalion, 39th Armoured Regiment, The Kursk Salient, July 1943 Armoured Regiment of Division “GrossDeutschland”, August 1943 All the decals are by ICM’s usual partner, and are in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Bergepanther Early (35342) This kit builds up the same as the one above until the turret, which is missing for obvious reasons, as is the sprue. Instead, there is a different sprue that includes the wooden two-part hatch that fits over the turret ring, a self-defence machine gun on a short mount on the front right corner and an optional upstand on the other side to move it to if the need arises. Additionally, there is a crane with two supports that fix on brackets at the rear, and hangs over to the side with a twin-sheave block and a pair of hooks to attach the loads on. At the rear is a large two-plate towing bracket with drop-in pin for heavy-duty towing duty. Markings There are two options on the sheet, one in plain dunkelgelb, the other with lengths of diagonal green camouflage sprayed over the yellow, both wearing just a trio of crosses. From the sheet you can build one of the following: S.Pz. Jäger Abt. 653, Kursk, Summer 1943 Panzer Regiment Herman Göring, East Prussia, Autumn 1944 le.gl.Einheitz-Pkw Kfz.4 This bag contains seven sprues in grey styrene plus a single clear sprue and decal sheet, with two sets of instructions with integral painting guide at the rear of the larger one. This is a re-box and amalgamation of the staff car with their Zwillingssockel 36 that is available separately, plus a few extra parts on new sprues that helps merge the two together into the completed vehicle. The chassis is first to be built up with dual springs supporting independent suspension and a driveshaft linking the two transfer boxes, plus the steering linkage front and rear. Fuel tank and stowage are placed to either side of the chassis rails and an exhaust pipe is threaded through to the engine compartment, which is filled with a full rendering of its 4-cylinder 2 litre Stoewer power plant over the front axle. The floor of the cab is built up and added to the chassis, then the three-part styrene wheels with moulded-in tread are fitted to each corner along with the radiator at the front. The firewall and a rear passenger bulkhead are installed next with the former having instruments and transmission tunnel moulded in and pedals attached to the floor. The cab sides, boot/trunk cover, engine cowling and gear shifter are all put in place before the seats are built up from base, cushion and curved back in the front, with a large tread-plated area for the gunners that has just enough room down the sides for spare ammo cans in racks lining the lip. Two rifle stowage points are attached to the front bulkhead, bumpers/fenders and doors are all added with steering wheel, and windscreen also made up between the front and rear compartments with tripods racked on the rear deck of the vehicle. The rear light cluster is fitted to the rear quarters with a spare wheel in between them, and the folded canvas roof above the divide between compartments. Front lights and pioneer tools are attached to the fenders, and windscreen wipers are fitted into the depressions on the frame, with wiper-motor boxes moulded into the frame for completeness. The lights and windscreen all have clear parts so the passengers don't get bugs in their teeth. The guns are built on a separate instruction sheet, and the completed assembly is shown in the main instructions being dropped into place in the rear fighting compartment. To make up the gun, the ammo cans are made up first, joined to the twin frame, which then has the gun mounts fitted on top. The guns are still fitted with their bipods, which along with the breech cover are moulded separately to the rest of the guns. If you’re a detailer, you may want to drill out the muzzles very carefully with a tiny bit in a pin vice. With the guns on their frame, the outer frame is fitted around it in two halves, slotting into the pivot points moulded into the frame, and supported by a cross-brace lower in the frame. Another bracing strut fits across the front and has a canvas brass catcher curtain suspended beneath it that is attached to the tube by a series of rings moulded into the part. The conical base is built from two parts and inserts into a socket in the underside of the outer frame, then it’s a case of making up the seat that fits at the very rear of the outer frame, and choosing the correct sighting part for your chosen pose, pivoting the guns to an appropriate elevation during the process. A pair of scrap diagrams shows the two finished poses, and overleaf is a painting guide in greyscale that could be a tad confusing as it has no paint call-outs on the two greyscale profiles. Markings There are three theatre specific options included in the box with early war Panzer Grey the colour of choice. From the box you can build one of the following: Luftwaffe Ground Units, Greece, 1940 1st Panzer Division, Greece, 1941 11th Panzer Division, Eastern Front The decal sheet is small and printed on a bright blue paper, with good register, sharpness and colour density. German Drivers 1939-45 This small set from ICM gives you four figures to fill those empty seats. It is single sprue with four figures and It's safe to say that all of them are posed in the seated position, while two are dressed in standard Wehrmacht uniforms with a forage and patrol cap on their heads. One other figure has a smock coat over his uniform with a lace-up neck, and the final one is an officer with a rather relaxed hand draped over the top of his steering wheel. Two of the drivers forage cap and smock guy are looking to their left, while patrol cap guy seems to be looking at his steering wheel, perhaps at a map? Each figure comes broken down as torso, individual legs and arms, head and hat, with a couple of ammo pouches for the belt around the smock bedecked gentleman. The instructions are on a single sheet of glossy paper, with part numbers and colour call outs that reference a chart on the rear that shows Revell and Tamiya colour codes, plus the name of the colour in English and Ukrainian (that's a guess). Sculpting and moulding is excellent as we have come to expect from ICM, and the figures will doubtless fit a lot of applications without any adjustment. German Tank Riders (1942-45) Riding is better than walking, and tanks are generally a better way to hitch a ride to or from the battlefield, and also make for a great hiding place if the front isn’t where it was supposed to be. This set arrives on a single sprue in grey styrene that contains parts for four figures, three of which are seated, the standing with a forage cap and MP40 in a semi-ready stance. Two of the seated characters are wearing camouflaged smocks and stahlhelms, one nursing an MG42, the other crouching with a rifle in one hand. The uniformed seated figure has an MP40 over his shoulder and helmet on his head. Parts breakdown is as you’d expect with separate heads, torso, arms and legs, plus helmets that fit over their bald heads with moulded-in chin-straps, except for the cap-wearer, who has his hat moulded onto his head. The additional parts on the sprues include gas mask cylinders, water bottles, pouches, bags, grenades and an ammo box for the MG42. German Tank Crew (1943-45) Another four figure sprue in grey styrene, which includes a standing commander in flat peaked cap checking his watch, an officer in a peaked cap bending over to look at the work being done with a choice of two optional left arms, a spanner twirler on his knees in shirt and trousers, wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his spanner equipped hand, and another crewman in overalls leaning on one hand on his hands and knees. Parts breakdown is standard ICM with separate heads, torsos, arms and legs, with the spanner twirler sporting a nice centre-part while his compatriot has a moulded-on cap. The Officers have flat tops to their heads and separate caps. They also have pistol holsters to fix to their sides. Conclusion How they managed to pack two Panthers minus one turret, a 4x4 Anti-Aircraft truck and three figure sets into this relatively compact box and keep the price so attractive is amazing. The Panthers aren’t the latest toolings, but they should suffice for everyone but the most detail hungry, with tons of detail in the Einheitz, and excellent sculpting on the figures. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  9. ’Jig Dog’ JD-1D Invader with KDA-1 Drone (48289) 1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd The good old B-26 Marau… hang on. The A-26 Invader? Wait, erm... B-26 Invader. That's it, as long as it's after 1948 as that's when 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 my befuddlement. It was developed a little after the Marauder and despite using the same engines it was designed totally separately from its tubular colleague. It was designed to replace the A-20 Havoc, but it was initially less than popular in the Pacific theatre where its poor cockpit visibility 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 replacement for the Havoc fairly quickly. 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. 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. It continued in civilian service as a fire bomber and in other roles, such as actor in the film Always with Richard Dreyfuss playing its brave but ill-fated pilot. The US Navy would also use the Invader originally designating it JD-1, giving rise to the nickname Jig Dog. They were used for secondary roles such as target towing, and drone carriers. The drone carriers had blown clear nose cones and were usually painted in garish schemes to ensure they weren’t blasted instead of the drones. They were usually called ‘Jig Dog’ by servicemen, later officially changing to DB-26Js because, why not? The Kit This is a reboxing of a new tooling from ICM, with extra parts for the US Navy version and a Firebee Drone for under one wing and a fuel tank under the other to balance things out. The kit arrives in the familiar top opening box with a captive inner lid on the lower tray, and inside are twelve sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet. 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 mimicking their fabric covering. Construction begins with the cockpit, creating the pilot's seat, instrument panel (with instrument decals) with built-in door to the nose, centre console with throttle quadrant before adding those and the single control column 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. The port fuselage half is detailed with some side console and panel parts, nose gear bay sides, forward spar with radio gear, rear spar in the centre of the bomb bay, sloped aft bulkhead and another frame behind that, followed by the cockpit floor, so you'll have to do some detail painting as you go. After this the starboard fuselage side is prepped, along with an internal detail panel and nose gear bay side, and a hatch that does a credible impression of a toilet lid. Here's where a little cautionary note about sink-marks on the exterior of my sample needs mentioning. The right side of the cockpit and bomb bay with its detailed ribbing has caused the shallowest of sink-marks on the exterior, which would be best dealt with using a little filler before you get busy building. You could have dismissed it as oil-canning of the skin if it were consistent, and on both sides, but as it isn't you'll need to decide whether you're going to fix it. Happily, the majority of it is in areas that are open enough to allow easy sanding back of filler, so it shouldn't slow you down very much. I'll be using some Tamiya Basic on mine in due course and have no doubt it will be just fine. 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 them 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 nose for this version is made up from two halves plus the floor, after which the internal equipment is added and the glass nose is then fixed over the front. A partial bulkhead is fixed between the nose section and the fuselage with a small hatchway for the crew to access the nose, then the nose assembly can then be glued to the fuselage. The wings are next, and the lower parts have a smattering of flashed-over holes ready to drill out for bombs, gun-pods or drop tanks, plus three cartridge ejection chutes to be cut out for the wing mounted .50cals. You’ll also need to open up the holes for mounting the mounting gear for the tank and the drone, which are marked out on a plan diagram of the wings, in relation to the notch in the leading edge that usually accepts the wing gun insert. The faces of the in-line radiator baths are added to the lower wings and then it's already time to bring the halves together. 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 wing via two tabs. The tip lights and underwing landing lights are added from clear parts, and a small insert is glued into the wing that blanks over the wing gun ports. 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 though. 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 back 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 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. So that they are fitted correctly and mesh properly with the nacelles, they are attached using a jig that is discarded later, so remember not to glue it in! 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 to be fitted which encloses where the turret was, and the gunner's compartment is added along with the new glass area for the top that is made from three sections that are assembled on a disposable styrene template. The canopy is glued over the cockpit, and at the rear an insert is fixed under the very rear of the fuselage with the tail light provided in clear. Attention turns to the landing gear, which is of the tricycle variety as became the fashion in late war. 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. The main airframe is ostensibly complete save for some antennae and the props, and if you've been sparing with the glue when assembling the engines, the latter should still spin once complete. Two pylons under the wings a single part to close the bomb bay tidy up the underside, then a pair of mounts are made up from three parts each and inserted into the additional holes under the wings that are level with the landing lights, and fix on V-shaped legs. The fuel tank is of two parts, and can be fitted under the wing on the unused mount, the other being used to carry the drone. KDA-1 Firebee Drone This part of the kit has been available separately for a while, but is now offered integrated to its carrier. All the parts are found on one sprue, and work starts around the engine trunking with an intake fan on a bulkhead and exhaust fan toward the rear. A bulbous bullet is inserted in front of the intake, and the two fuselage halves close up around the subassembly to be joined by the swept-back wings and tail, with the top covered over by a tapering insert, and the tip fairings made from two halves each then inserted over the wing tips. A pair of chevron vertical tips slot onto the elevators, and the assembly is completed by adding the rudder to a slot near the aft of the fuselage. It is painted garishly so that it shows up in the air, as shown on the main painting drawings. Markings In this boxing there are two options of drone controllers in Gloss Sea Blue with yellow wings & tail, along with orange stripes. From the box you can build one of the following: JD-1D 89075, Utility Sqn. VU-3, US Nav, 1950s JD-1D 140356 US Navy, China Lake 1958 The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, and consist of all the necessary markings plus, stencils and a few other small decals, with good register, sharpness and solid colours. Conclusion Any boxing of this model should make a fair few people happy, and consign a lot of old Monogram kits to deep stash or eBay, if they’re not there already. Detail is excellent and made so much nicer by the matt surface, and there's a fair proportion of the interior included for what has become a popular kit and the de facto standard in 1:48. Smear a little filler into those light sink-marks before you get started, and no-one will know they're there. Another great Invader from ICM. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  10. APA-50M ‘ZiL-131’ (72815) 1:72 ICM via Hannants Ltd The military ZiL-131 chassis was a 6x6 general purpose truck chassis that was capable of lugging 3.5 tonnes, developed from the earlier ZiL-130 civilian truck. Its versatility made it useful for many tasks when suitably fitted out with an appropriate cab and load area for the assigned task. The power was provided by a 7 litre V8 petrol engine that gave it a top speed of 50mph under ideal conditions, but it was off-road with all six wheels under power that it came into its own, although 6-7mpg was far from economical compared to a modern vehicle. The cabs were fitted with standard Soviet-era equipment to give the drivers a sense of familiarity, although cost-saving was probably a bigger motivator to those making the decisions. It was often seen around airfields undertaking various tasks, and the APA-50M was a mobile power unit that served in both military and civilian situations. It was fitted with an additional large diesel engine sited in the boxed-in load bed area, which was used to generate sufficient power to keep aircraft running while their engines weren’t burning fuel. It was hooked to its customer via a hefty umbilical, and the chugging diesel would generate the power for starting the engines, or to power the aircraft’s avionics without its own engines having to be started, which was both expensive in terms of jet fuel used, noisy and often dangerous for ground crew venturing behind the aircraft. The driver and crew of the vehicle didn’t even have to get out of their cab to control or adjust the generator, as all the controls were conveniently situated in the cab, possibly because it would often be bitterly cold on Soviet airfields for a good portion of the year, so staying ‘indoors’ was always preferable to avoid frost-bite. The Kit This range of kits was originally started by little-known company Omega-K as a truck with canvas tilt in the 90s, before the tooling was taken over at the turn of the millennium by ICM, since when it has been re-released many times and with various alterations to the basic kit and its chassis. This boxing arrives in a relatively small top-opening box that has a captive lid to the lower tray, and inside are five sprues and two loose cab parts in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small decal sheet and the instruction manual, with colour profiles on the rear pages showing the decal options. Even though its base kit is of a certain age, the detail is excellent throughout, and small amounts of flash are easily removed to expose that detail. Construction begins with the one-piece ladder chassis, which first has two supports removed from each side that are marked in red for your ease. The underside of the engine, transfer box, drive-shafts and various tanks are installed around the ladder, then the twin axles at the rear and single front axle are both inserted below the rails on leaf-spring suspension with the axles interlinked by numerous drive-shaft elements, and a steering link for the front. Underneath, the twin exhaust pipes merge into a muffler then make their way out to the rear as a single pipe, near to a large towing hitch. The six road wheels are all moulded in two halves with chevron tread, and have a separate hub cap for extra detail, with just the seam to clean up in the middle, conveniently located at the centre of the tread pattern. If you want to add some weighting to them, a quick swipe with a coarse sanding stick should do the trick, after which you can glue the wheels with the flat-spot at the bottom. The cab is a really nice crisp moulding that has a little flash here and there, but it’s well worth the effort to remove it, after which the cab floor with various controls and the wheels are inserted from below, then the crystal-clear windows, windscreen and headlamps are inserted to the front, with cages finely moulded, although suffering a little flash that will take care to remove, but again it’s worth the effort. Door mirrors, a small spotlight and a fire extinguisher on the rear corner finish off the detailing of the cab, after which the load box is begun. The floor panel is bracketed by a front and end bulkhead before the sides are added, then two narrow sections of roof, and an upstand with separate roof and curved sides are attached to the centre section, giving the roof a stepped surface. A pair of rails are glued to the edges of the lower roof section, quickly finishing it off, then the three subassemblies can be mated by fixing the cab and body to the chassis, whilst adding the chunky front bumper iron, a section of treadplate between the outer sections behind the bumper, and adding a couple of towing/tie-down hooks to either side of the radiator. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, with two green examples, and one in bright yellow for a little variation. From the box you can build one of the following: 738th Fighter Aviation Regiment, Zaporozhye, 1982 Unknown Military Unit, Soviet Armed Forces, 1980s Civil Aviation of the USSR, 1980s The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, and consist of dials, number plates, warning chevrons, stencils and a few other small decals, with good register, sharpness and solid colours. Conclusion This little kit will look great hooked up to any Cold War Soviet jet or civil aircraft in 1:72, adding a little human scale and interest to your model. Detail is excellent for the size and age of the kit, with just a little flash to work on. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Bundeswehr Vehicles & AFVs Acrylic Colours Set (3017) 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, and that gap in their armoury has now been remedied. There are 77 acrylic colours in the initial range, plus three varnishes in matt, satin and gloss, all in the same clear 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 assist you with painting your Bundeswehr vehicle and AFV kits, which is particularly relevant after the release of their newly tooled Unimog S404 in Bundeswehr service. The set arrives in a card box with a header tab at one end, and inside are six clear 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 in a similar direct to ICM’s part of the world, ICM 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 acrylic paint that is stored in a bottle and contains pigments. 1026 Oily Steel 1060 Middle Stone 1072 US Dark Green 1039 Rubber Black 1052 Hull Red 1073 4BO 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 summery 20-23°c temperatures, but as I write this, we’re heading back to the cooler days of Autumn. 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. On the rear of the box are a number of suggestions for using the shades to paint a Unimog from their new kit, unsurprisingly, but the set will be useful for most Cold War West German military hardware that runs of tracks or wheels. 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
  12. The Game Triangle (16211) 1:16 ICM via Hannants Ltd There’s a TV series out there called ‘The Squid Game’, and I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve not seen it. It’s a South Korean series consisting of 10 episodes that has become a blockbuster on Netflix, that’s insanely popular with Western audiences despite the language barrier, as most of us don’t speak Korean – thank goodness for dubs. It’s about a TV game show that involves hundreds of impoverished players competing in childish games for a huge cash prize that is paid to the ultimate winner, totalling 45.6 billion ₩ (pronounced Won) (that’s £29,129,494.70 or $33,587,701.44 for the Brits and Americans at today’s exchange rates), but the caveat is that these games are deadly. Yousa gonna die if you lose, Ani (do that part in a JarJar Binks voice). Each episode is 55 minutes long, and I have to admit that I’ve picked it up but not watched it yet, so I still don’t know what all the fuss is about. The contestants all wear a loose-fitting jumpsuit in a number of colours to hide their gender and identity, which is further hidden by the black full-face masks that they wear, giving the impression of an ant face, which was deliberate according to the IMDb trivia section. Even the staff wear the same gear, but on the ‘forehead’ of the staff’s masks is a simple white symbol in the shape of a circle, square, or triangle, the reason for which I don’t yet know, as it doesn’t seem to matter which colour jumpsuit they wear. I’d make an awful cryptanalyst. If you’re wondering why it’s called The Squid Game, it’s because the player board is in the shape of a squid roughly scratched into the ground. So I’m told, and no-one has contradicted me yet. The Kits This figure arrives in a small top-opening box with a captive inner lid on the tray, and inside are three sprues in grey styrene, and three in black styrene, a small decal sheet, and the glossy instruction sheet that is printed in colour. The final item in the box is a glossy colour print of the box top art, which you can stick on your wall or not. It’s a simple kit because it’s a figure dressed in a jumpsuit, but it is well sculpted and as detailed as we’ve come to expect from ICM. Construction is carried out according to the same diagram as the painting guide, which uses the same drawings to give paint and part numbers for simplicity. Each figure has a head included in the kit, even though the black mask tends to obscure all the detail, but there it is, so if you wanted to adapt your figure to have the mask off, you can do so by removing the strap with a motor tool or old-fashioned sanding stick. The figure is made up from twenty parts in grey, with separate legs, arms, a two-part torso, two-part hood, a well-detailed head that is wearing a face mask, hands, separate cargo pockets with keyed attachment point, and a single black mask that fixes to the front of the head, which has the retaining strap moulded into it. This figure is armed with a four-part MP5 machine gun with retractable stock, and you’ll need to make the sling for it using your own materials. There is also a camera that is mounted on the figure by a chest rig, the straps moulded into the torso, while the camera enclosure is a separate part. There is also a revolver in a holster included on the sprues, although it isn’t shown being used in the instructions. The gun is moulded into the holster, and a separate pair of parts for an empty holster are also included, but whether that’s of any relevance to the story or not is unknown until I’ve watched the show or someone tells me. 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, and is a constant theme of ICM’s 1:16 series of figures, so they’ll all match. Markings The decal sheet includes one triangle decal for the player’s forehead, and you are advised to paint the jumpsuit blood red, with rubber black (dark grey) and black for boots and other accessories. You can change the colour of the suit to your whim if you know what you’re doing and have watched the series, and some simple masks or decal strip could be used to create the other shapes if you have a favourite or wanted to create a new one. Conclusion A nice figure that hits near the height of popularity of the series, according to my 12-year-old son who gets bombarded by spoilers for it at school. You can use it as intended, or tinker with it to portray other players, staff, or even go totally off-piste and use it in another situation entirely. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  13. Laffly(f) Typ V15T (35573) 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, where they bore the suffix (f) to denote their French origin. 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 a mystery. 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 reboxing of a brand-new tool from ICM, and I was not wrong when I imagined we’d be seeing a few more boxings, and that’s no bad thing. It’s typical of modern ICM in that it is well-stocked with detail, and arrives in their standard compact 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. Markings There are three varied markings options provided on the decal sheet, one more than the original boxing, and they’re painted in differing shades, depending on where they were based and the prevailing colours at the time. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown Unit, 1941 931st Assault Gun Division, France, Mobile Brigade (West), 1943 Mobile Brigade (West) France, 1943 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. Conclusion Until the first boxing of 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 didn’t fancy the options on the sheet of the original kit, these alternative schemes are a lot more interesting, and you have to love those weird vestigial wheels. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  14. A-26C-15 Invader w/Pilots & GP (48288) 1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd The A-26 was built by Douglas in 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 confusion. Development of the Invader was begun shortly after the Marauder and despite using the same engines it was engineered totally separately from its rotund colleague. It was initially less than popular in the Pacific theatre where its poor cockpit visibility 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 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. It continued in civilian service as a fire bomber and in other roles, such as actor in the film Always with Richard Dreyfuss playing its brave but ill-fated pilot. The Kit This is another new Invader boxing from ICM, initially released as the Solid nosed variant, this is now the glass nosed type with the inclusion of additional parts (though all the parts for the solid nose are still in the box), plus another sprue that includes five figures appropriate to the era of operation of the early glass-nosed Invaders. It arrives in the familiar top opening box with a captive inner lid on the lower tray, and inside are ten sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet. 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 detail on the parts, plus subtly indented flying surfaces mimicking their fabric covering. You might also notice that there are parts for an open or closed canopy, the open one having the flat top surface, while the closed canopy has the slightly blown roof that was used after 1944 to improve visibility. That might give you some latitude in case you can't wait to build a WWII aircraft. Construction begins with the cockpit, creating the pilot's seat, instrument panel (with instrument decals) with built-in door to the nose, centre console with throttle quadrant before adding those and the single control column 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, then a pair of bombs on their racks, the reason for which will become clear in a moment. The port fuselage half is detailed with some side console and panel parts and then has the bomb racks, nose gear bay sides, forward spar with radio gear, rear spar in the centre of the bomb bay, sloped aft bulkhead and another frame behind that, followed by the cockpit floor, so you'll have to do some detail painting as you go. After this the starboard fuselage side is prepped, and here's where a little cautionary note about sink-marks on the exterior of my sample needs making. The right side of the cockpit and bomb bay with its detailed ribbing has caused the shallowest of sink-marks on the exterior, which would be best dealt with using a little filler before you get busy building. You could have dismissed it as oil-canning of the skin if it were consistent and on both sides, but as it isn't you'll need to decide whether you're going to fix it. Happily the majority of it is in areas that are open enough to allow easy sanding of any filler, so it shouldn't slow you down very much. A 0.8mm hole is drilled in the section behind the canopy and the two remaining bomb racks are added inside along with an internal detail panel, nose gear bay side, and a hatch that does a credible impression of a toilet lid. With that and a quantity of detail painting, you can then slide the starboard fuselage over the two spars. 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 glass-nose is appropriate for this model, but as it's a modular part that in real-world situations could be swapped for the gun-nose in a short time. This is built up and added on as a complete unit along with its glazing. The wings are next, and the lower parts have a smattering of flashed-over holes ready to drill out for bombs, gun-pods or drop tanks, plus three cartridge ejection chutes to be cut out for the wing mounted .50cals. The faces of the in-line radiator baths are added to the lower wings and then it's time to bring the halves together. 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 (oddly with no deployed option), 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 lights and underwing landing lights are added from clear parts, and a small insert is glued into the wing that includes three more barrel stubs each and will again need drilling out. 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. 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 back 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 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. So that they are fitted correctly and mesh properly with the nacelles, they are attached using a jig that is discarded later, so remember not to glue it in! 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 top turret to fit in place, with another for the dorsal turret fitted later on. The remote turrets are both made up together with the ability for the twin .50cals to be left movable if you wish. The top turret has its mechanism and ring made up first, with the two halves brought together on either side of the insert before being glued into the fuselage, closing up that area. Then the gunner's compartment with simple seat and periscope is made up and installed under the glazing that sits behind the top turret. Flipping the model over, the lower turret is added to the insert and glued in place too. Another clear light is added to the very rear of the fuselage, and attention turns to the landing gear, which is of the tricycle variety as became the fashion in late war. Each of the three tyres are made from two halves with separate hubs applied from either side, then they are 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 props, and if you've been sparing with the glue when assembling the engines, the latter should still spin once complete. Your final choice is bombs, tanks or gun-packs hung under the wings. The bombs are made up from two halves each with a spinner insert in the rear and their attachment points moulded into the port side, the gun-packs have a handed three-part pod that fits around the central gun-tray, and the drop tanks are simple two-part assemblies with their attachment points moulded into the port side again. They are all mounted on pegs, and fit into their holes that you remembered to drill in the wings before you closed them up, didn't you? Pilots and Ground Personnel Figures (48088) Inside a separate bag 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 your new Invader kit, or another WWII US bomber of your choice. Markings In this boxing there are three options included on the decal sheet, two in bare metal, the other in black. From the box you can build one of the following: A-26C-16DT, 553rd Bomb Sqn, 386th Bomb Group, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France, March 1945 A-26C-20DT, 86th Bomb Sqn, 47 Bomb Group, Grosseto, Italy Early 1945 (Overall semi-gloss black) A-26C-30DT, 646th Bobm Sqn, 410th Bomb Group, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France, June 1945 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 magnification. Conclusion This model should make a good number of people happy and represents improved value with the inclusion of the figures. Detail is excellent and made so much nicer by the matt surface, and there's a fair proportion of the interior included for what is bound to be a popular kit. Smear a little filler into those light sink-marks before you get started, and no-one will know they're there. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  15. The Game O (16212) 1:16 ICM via Hannants Ltd There’s a TV series out there called ‘The Squid Game’, and I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve not seen it. It’s a South Korean series consisting of 10 episodes that has become a blockbuster on Netflix, that’s insanely popular with Western audiences despite the language barrier, as most of us don’t speak Korean – thank goodness for dubs. It’s about a TV game show that involves hundreds of impoverished players competing in childish games for a huge cash prize that is paid to the ultimate winner, totalling 45.6 billion ₩ (pronounced Won) (that’s £28,887,214.61 or $35,040,289.44 for the Brits and Americans at today’s exchange rates), but the caveat is that these games are deadly. Yousa gonna die if you lose, Ani (do that part in a JarJar Binks voice). Each episode is 55 minutes long, and I really must pick it up at some point so I at least know what all the fuss is about. The contestants all wear a loose-fitting jumpsuit in a number of colours to hide their gender and identity, which is further hidden by the black full-face masks that they wear, giving the impression of an ant face, which was deliberate according to the IMDb trivia section. On the ‘forehead’ of the mask is a simple white symbol in the shape of a circle, square, or triangle, the reason for which I don’t yet know, as it doesn’t seem to matter which colour jumpsuit they wear. I’d make an awful cryptanalyst. If you’re wondering why it’s called The Squid Game, it’s because the player board is in the shape of a squid roughly scratched in the ground. So I’m told. The Kit This figure arrives in a small top-opening box with a captive inner lid on the tray, and inside are three sprues in grey styrene, and three in black styrene, a small decal sheet, and the glossy instruction sheet that is printed in colour. The final item in the box is a glossy colour print of the box top art, which you can stick on your wall or not. It’s a simple kit because it’s a figure dressed in a jumpsuit, but it is well sculpted and as detailed as we’ve come to expect from ICM. Construction is carried out according to the same diagram as the painting guide, which uses the same drawings to give paint and part numbers for simplicity. The figure is made up from thirteen parts in grey, with separate legs, arms, a two-part torso, two-part hood, a well-detailed head that is wearing a face mask, hands, separate cargo pockets with keyed attachment point, and a single black mask that fixes to the front of the head, which has the retaining strap moulded into it. It was surprising to see a head included in the kit, as the black mask tends to obscure all the detail, but there it is, so if you wanted to adapt your figure to have the mask off, you can do so by removing the strap with a motor tool or old-fashioned sanding stick. 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 The decal sheet includes one O decal for the player’s forehead, and you are advised to paint the jumpsuit blood red, with rubber black (dark grey) and black for boots and other accessories. You can change the colour of the suit to your whim if you know what you’re doing and have watched the series, and some simple masks or decal strip could be used to create the other shapes if you have a favourite. Conclusion A nice figure that hits near the height of popularity of the series, according to my 12-year-old son who gets bombarded by it at school. You can use it as intended, or tinker with it to portray other players, or even go totally off-piste and use it in another situation. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  16. US Cargo Trucks Acrylic Paint Set (3019) ICM via Hannants ICM have fairly 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 G7107 US Truck in 1:35 from ICM themselves, and you will find the following colours in the box: 1046 Blood Red 1003 Deep Yellow 1066 Grass Green 1068 Olive Green 1001 White 2003 matt 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. During testing, 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. Apart from the varnish, the other paints all dry to a matt finish. It’s worth noting that in small letters on the side of the pack that if the ambient temperature is in excess of 25°c/77°f, you should use some flow improver to prevent the paint from drying on your brush/airbrush. That’s probably true of most acrylic paints to an extent, and good advice considering the silly temperatures we seem to be enduring lately. In past tests, the Satin Varnish 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 the best chance of adhesion. Using a brush, the colours cover well two coats with minimal brush marks visible. Conclusion The paints are an excellent and cost-effective set. 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 when you take into account the amount of thinning that will be needed and 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. Review sample courtesy of
  17. DH.82A Tiger Moth with Bombs (32038) 1:32 ICM via Hannants Ltd The de Havilland Tiger Moth was one of the most important and most widely produced trainer aircraft to have seen service with the RAF. It was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland himself in the 1930s and was based on the Gypsy Moth, suitably redesigned to meet Air Ministry Specification 13/31. In comparison to its predecessor, the Tiger Moth's wings were swept and repositioned, and the cockpits were redesigned to make escape easier. The airframe was also strengthened and the engine exhaust system was redesigned. The Tiger Moth entered service with the RAF in 1932 and remained in service until well after the war. Over 8,000 examples were completed and the type also served with the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force as well as a great many other military and civilian operators. In service it proved itself to be ideally suited to its role; easy enough to fly, but challenging enough to weed out the weaker students. It was also cheap and easy to maintain. Further variants would be the DH.82C fitted with an enclosed hood for cold weather operations in Canada; and the Queen Bee which was an unmanned radio-controlled target drone that resulted in a thinning of the herd of surviving airframes. Always popular with civilian users, many Tiger Moths found their way into private ownership after the War, with many maintained in flying condition to this day. The Kit This is a reboxing of the recent tool from ICM that was first released in 2020, so it’s a thoroughly modern model. It includes additional parts that permitted the Tiger Moth to carry bombs, usually as a training device, but if there was nothing airborne and aggressive above the enemy, it’s possible to drop bombs on them from this frail little aircraft, hoping they don’t get the bright idea of shooting back before you have scarpered. The detail is excellent as we’ve come to expect from ICM, and providing you aren’t phobic about rigging, should make a straight-forward build. Construction begins with drilling holes in the two fuselage halves, using holes that are pre-thinned from the inside to ease the way. The fuselage halves are then detailed with throttle quadrants, instrument panels with dial decals, and the bulkheads between the two seating areas. At this time there are a couple more 0.3mm holes drilled in the top cowling in front of the cockpit to insert more rigging wires, which you’ll need to supply yourself, along with more threaded through the holes in the fuselage sides that you drilled earlier. Helpfully, the instructions tell you the length of wire that you should plan for, although I’d be tempted to use the numbers as a minimum value, just in case. You can always cut some off, but adding some on is much more of a skill. With that the fuselage is closed up, a firewall is inserted into the front, and an elevator inserted onto a rectangular peg in the rear of the fuselage, with a choice of narrow insert in the top of the tail area, or the wider strakes that are fitted to two of the decal options, followed by the standard rudder fin, which has the tail skid moulded into the bottom. There is a good representation of the four-cylinder Gypsy Major engine that outputs less power than my perfectly normal family car, which makes one stop and think for a second. The block is in two halves that trap the conical drive-shaft inside, exhaust manifold, mounts and other ancillaries, with a baffle on one side, after which it can be glued into the firewall at the front of the fuselage, and have the cowling parts installed along with the open or closed access doors for the crew, small intake on the starboard cowling, and bumper-strips on the forward edge of each cockpit aperture. A blind-flying hood is supplied in two parts in the retracted position for one decal option, but it is shown on all three, so ignore that. The lucky crew have a three-faceted windscreen placed in recesses in front of them to keep the bugs out of their teeth, then we move onto the wings. The wings are full-width parts, and the lower wing is made first, drilling rigging holes in the top surface, and leaving off the underside of this and the topside of the upper wing until after the rigging is complete. Whilst that might work for some, I’d be a little wary of gluing big parts such as the wings together after painting, although that’s just my opinion. You may have noticed there were no more cockpit details made up earlier, which is because the rest of the cockpit is built on the lower wing centre, as that’s where you will find the cockpit floor. A narrow control assembly is made first with rudder bars and control columns in duplicate, fitting into the cockpit floor on eight small rectangular slots, then joined by the aft seat, and the weird front seat that is moulded as a deep depression into the bulkhead between the two. The lower wing (upper only) is then mated with the fuselage, completing the cockpit at the same time. The interplane struts are individual parts in the outer wings, with two Z-shaped cabane struts fixed high on the fuselage sides just in front of the cockpit. More rigging holes are drilled into the lower half of the upper wing before joining it to the struts and adding the ribbed fuel tank to the centre of the upper wing. The next two diagrams shows the location of the rigging using red lines, dotting them where they pass out of sight, and numbering them in a dot-to-dot fashion. After completion of rigging, the upper-upper and lower-lower wing halves are glued in place, hiding any messy rigging knots that you might have left. It does make for a clean job of the rigging, but I’m no expert at rigging. The upper wing has a pair of slats added to the leading edge, and ailerons to the lower trailing edge, then it’s time to make the landing gear. The wheels of the Tiger Moth are moulded in two halves, and slide over the axle-ends of a single complex W-shaped (ish) strut, which once it is in place is buttressed by four support struts that prevent the gear collapsing on landing. A little L-shaped tube glues to the underside of the fuselage while it’s upside down, and actuators are added under the ailerons, plus a couple of support struts are fitted between the elevators and fuselage, which also have triangular actuators added to small slots that are mirrored on the rudder, with more rigging added there later on. The prop is a single part that snugs into the tapered drive-shaft, and then it’s bomb-time! The Tiger moth could carry eight bombs on two palettes suspended from the underside of the fuselage, which are made up from the flat palette, plus four upstands with two anti-sway braces each. The bombs have one side and the full core of the tail moulded as one part, to which the other side and two-part cylindrical tail are fitted, gluing four into each palette, then attaching them to the underside according to the diagram. After completion of the final rigging to the tail, a further diagram has a set of shapes printed that you can use to pattern your own masks for the two canopies if you don’t want to spend extra money on a masking set. I like these, but haven’t used them yet, and would suggest reducing the tape’s stickiness by applying it to a clean surface first, to avoid tearing the paper when you remove it. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet, with two in typical British camouflage with yellow undersides, although they have different demarcations, plus an all-silver aircraft that was posted overseas. From the box you can build one of the following: No.1 Elementary Flying Training School (1, EFTS), RAF, 1940 Malayan Volunteer Air Force, Singapore, winter of 1942 (probably) No.1 Elementary Flying Training School (1, EFTS), RAF, 1943 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. The inclusion of instrument dials is good news, as they’re just dials in isolation from the panel, so you can paint the panel yourself, rather than having to put up with sometimes unrealistic panel background that are often included in panel decals. Conclusion Another grand reboxing of this kit that has probably already made more than a few 1:32 modellers happy since 2020, as well as anyone that has flown in one when they were cutting their pilot’s teeth. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  18. Italian Infantry in Armour (35721) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd. WWI was a meat-grinder that chewed up millions of soldiers on all sides over the course of the conflict, and during the early years Italy tried to minimise its overall casualties by using shock-troops that were more colloquially known as Death Companies due to their heavy losses in the vanguard. They were volunteers to a man, and wore armour that bore more than a passing resemblance to the gear worn by medieval knights from the Middle Ages. The armour consisted of a pot-like helmet and frontal cuirass-style chest-piece with separate shoulder-pads or pauldrons, both of which were snugged to their wearers by leather straps, and cushioned to reduce discomfort and chaffing as the soldiers walked around the battlefield. The armour was made to withstand a rifle bullet at a reasonable range, but it was cumbersome, heavy and restricted the wearer’s movement and left his legs and most of his arms exposed to enemy fire, so wasn’t a total solution. They were intended as stormtroopers that would press forward through the enemy lines and open up the front for the infantry behind them, and primarily used grenades and trench-knives, but also carried forward armoured barriers with props to stand them up at an angle, with small loupes through which their rifles could be aimed at the enemy. The Kit This is a brand-new figure set containing four figures and their armour, plus a huge quantity of weapons, packs, pouches and other equipment, and a set of shields for each figure. It arrives in a small top-opening box with the usual captive inner lid, and inside are two main sprues, plus another four smaller sprues on which the shields, armour and Farina helmets are found. The four figures are built as normal with separate arms, head, legs and torso, although some surface details have been flattened off to accommodate the armour, with moulded-in straps that link up to the armour plates on the torso of the figures. Three of the figures are stood upright and are holding rifles in various poses, one also holding a grenade ready to launch it, while the fourth figure is kneeling with a bayoneted rifle at an angle, as if he is sheltering behind one of the shields. The armour just slips over the front of the figures, and the helmets go over their heads, covering their ears but leaving their eyes exposed, with flat tops to their heads and smoothed down ears to fit under the helmets. The accessory sprue has been available separately before (35686), and is filled with various styles of Mannlicher-Carcano rifles with and without bayonets, pistols, even a Villar-Perosa M1915 twin-barrelled 9mm machine gun, axes, a studded cudgel, shovels, bayonets, daggers, grenades, water bottles, ammo pouches, satchels, binoculars, more pistols in holsters, map case, lots of spare helmets and armoured versions of the same type that have side flaps and an armoured grill to the front. Clearly, the four men would be unlikely to be able to even stand if they were festooned with everything from the sprues in addition to the weight of their armour, but there is plenty that would be left over for your WWI Italian infantry spares box for future use. Conclusion Whilst not the weirdest WWI figure set we’ve seen yet, these guys must have been brave just to poke their heads over the parapet and stagger forward weighed down by partial armour into withering fire, and it’s hard to believe that they were absolutely real, just like their Allied counterparts. An interesting addition to anyone’s figure collection. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Tupolev Tu-2T (72030) 1:72 ICM via Hannants Ltd. The Tupolev Tu-2 was a twin-engined, high-speed light bomber, comparable to the Junkers Ju-88 and, to a lesser extent, the De Havilland Mosquito. It was developed during the early part of World War Two and first flew in late January 1941. It entered frontline service in March 1942 and served until well after the end of the war. The aircraft was powered initially by two Shvetsov ASh-82 14-cylinder radial engines, a Soviet powerplant which could trace its origins back to a licence-built version of the famous Wright Cyclone. These engines gave the Tu-2 a maximum speed of 325mph and the ability to carry over 8,000lb of bombs. The Tu-2T ‘torpedonosets’ was a torpedo-carrying variant that was in testing at the end of WWII and was handed over to the Navy in that dedicated role in 1946, serving into the 50s in reasonably small numbers. The Tu-2 was well regarded by its pilots for its speed, manoeuvrability and ability to withstand damage, as well as its considerable load-lugging abilities. By the time production ended in 1948, almost 3,000 examples had been completed. Some examples found their way into the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force and saw action against the British during the Korean War. The last examples were not retired from Chinese service until the late 1970s. The Kit This is a re-release of a kit that has its origins back to 1997, although new parts have been added along the way with various reboxings and editions. While it isn’t high-tech and modern, it does have a lot of surface detail in the shape of engraved panel lines as well as raised surface details and rivets that are very fine and give the impression of the slightly uneven surface of your average WWII Soviet aircraft. Time has introduced a little flash into some of the parts, and although that will slow down production, it is preferable to short-shot parts any day of the week. The clear parts are also of a similar quality, although they should be adequate for most of us, being a lot thinner than many, even today. The kit arrives in a shallow top-opening box with captive lid to the under-tray, and inside are five sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, decal sheet and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour with some pictorial steps to the build, and colour profiles on the rear pages. Construction begins with the cockpit floor, which is a long part with a downward slope toward the front and a pair of supports forward and aft. Seat, control yoke, rudder pedals and consoles are fixed to the floor, with a pair of crew figures added if you wish later, and the instrument panel attached to the fuselage when it comes time to close it up. Meantime, the twin ASh-82FN engines are made up, or rather aren’t, as they are negative space hidden away within the cowlings, covered over at the front with a ring of shutters. The cowling tube is made from two halves, with the lip and shutters added to the front, and the prop bracketed by front and back halves of the spinner and inserted into a central hole in the cowling. A washer holds it in position, and careful gluing should result in it being left able to spin. The two main gear legs and their wheels are built, with two halves per wheel, and three parts for the struts, while the tail-wheel has a split yoke, and a single wheel, attaching to a small shield-shaped bulkhead that fits the fuselage at that point. The gunner figure is cemented to his two-party seat on an insert that forms the bottom of the fuselage when installed. Completion of those assemblies mean it’s time to close up the fuselage, trapping a pair of long spars, the cockpit, instrument panel, radio shelf, three circular windows in each side of the aft fuselage, the tail-wheel and the pilot with his hunched-up buddy in a simple chair behind and to his left. Flipping the fuselage over shows that the underside is open, which is remedied by adding the mid-upper gunner on his ‘canoe’ and a bomb-bay cover, with another pair of inserts on the topside that leave a hole for the gunner and the tail assembly. The elevator is a single part with two-part rudders, and a fairing at the rear. Before starting to work on the wings, a number of holes are drilled in the inner wing lower panels to accept the torpedo shackles later on. The upper wing is glued to the spars and fuselage, then has the two lower wing sections and the engine nacelle halves added, with an exhaust ring secured inside the front of the nacelle. The landing gear assembly and power pod are both added, and the lower nacelle is built up from two parts to form an intake. A retraction jack joins some struts that were added earlier, and two bay doors are cut from a single part to fix on either side of the bay. Apart from a landing light under the port wing, the starboard wing and nacelle builds up in a similar manner. The glazing starts to see action at this point, with your Tu-2T starting to look the part. Under the tail is a window with gun projecting through, and two small bay doors for the tail-wheel, again cut from one part. A clear light also fixes to the very rear of the fuselage. The canopy has an antenna and machine gun inserted, with the bomb-aimer’s window in the lower nose, then another canopy is fixed over the mid-upper gunner with the addition of his gun and mount. A pair of tubular intakes are glued into the top of the engine nacelles, and an optional machine gun barrel in the leading edge of each wing root, then it’s torpedo time! Two torpedoes were carried under the inner wings of the aircraft, with the bomb bay housing an additional fuel tank to extend the mission range, which was generally longer over water anyway. The torpedoes are each made from two halves with a two-part screw trapped between the halves at the rear. The perpendicular fins are separate parts, and a shackle with contoured fixture is glued to the half-way point of the body, forming a rudimentary pylon that is augmented by a pair of vertical supports with struts preventing sway in-flight. A pair of photographic steps show how the torpedoes fit on the wing and against the fuselage. Markings There are three decal options available on the included sheet, all in different camouflage styles to appeal to a wide audience. From the box you can build one of the following: 5th Mine Torpedo Aviation Regiment, Black Sea Fleet, late 1940s 25th Mine Torpedo Aviation Regiment, Bulgarian Air Force 1950s Pacific Fleet, late 1940s The decals are printed by ICM’s usual partner and are in good register, sharpness and colour density, with some simple instrument panel and side console decals to add a little detail to the cockpit. Conclusion It’s not the youngest kid/kit on the block, but it should build up into a good model with some care, and now I’ve seen it carrying a pair of torpedoes, it makes me want one in my preferred scale. Oh, and it’s also given me an issue with typing the word 'torpedo' that I never had before. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Battle of France, Spring 1940 (DS3515) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd After WWII began following the invasion of Poland in 1939, there was a lull from a British point of view, that was sometimes referred to as the Phoney War. Suddenly in Spring 1940, the Nazi behemoth awoke and rolled through Belgium, the Netherlands and into France, using the Blitzkrieg tactic to plough through static defences that were more suited to WWI, leaving trailing units to mop-up, while they pushed on toward Paris. They also steamrolled the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) along with the brave French soldiers, who held off the Germans while the flotilla of Little Ships helped to rescue over 300,000 troops from Dunkirk, turning defeat into a victory of sorts that gave Britain another chance to stave off the Nazis during the crucial Battle of Britain that followed. The Boxed Set This set from ICM sees the amalgamation of three individual AFV kits, plus three separate figure sets, giving you six kits in one box. The kits are squeezed into a compact box, each one in its own resealable bag, while the instruction booklets are collected within a card folder for your ease, with the decals slipped inside the three larger booklets. There are two Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.A half-tracks with almost identical sprues, differing by one tasked with general troop carriage as an APC (/1), the other having radio gear and a bedstead antennae on the roof (/6). The third vehicle is an le.gl.Einheits-Pkw (Kfz.2), which also has a set of radio gear in the rear. The figure sets include a set of German Infantry, Drivers, and Command Crew, all of which we have seen before either separately, or included in other boxings from ICM. The Hanomag Sd.Kfz.251/1 was the mainstay of the German armoured Personnel Carrier fleet, but was flexible enough to also take up many other tasks within the Nazi War Machine, from Anti-Aircraft duties to Howitzer carriage and back again to armoured reconnaissance, which led to a lot of variants. With two steering wheels at the front, the rear was carried on tracks, giving it good clearance and rough ground capabilities that a truck simply could not manage once the going got tough. It was armoured sufficiently to deflect non-armour piercing rounds from small arms fire, but with an open top it was susceptible to both grenades and aerial bombardment, where the armour would concentrate the blast and reduce the interior to a tangled mess. The Ausf.A was used at the beginning of WWII alongside the Ausf.B, and was generally fitted with an MG.34 on the front cab wall, operated from inside. There were more than 20 official variants and more unofficial field modifications, but despite their seemingly ubiquitous nature in German service, not many were preserved after the war, and they are highly sought after now, with many examples being based upon post-war builds from Czech factories that have been made to look as convincing as possible by their restorers. While the purist may notice the differences in films, they're still a huge improvement on repainted American half-tracks from an authenticity point of view. Sd.Kfz.251/1 Ausf.A (35101) This kit consists of five sprues of light grey styrene, a clear sprue, and two spruelets of flexible "rubbery" parts. A small decal sheet is found slipped inside the glossy colour printed instruction booklet, completing the package. This is a full interior kit, and has the engine, crew compartment and a substantial number of interior parts, including weapons, stowage and personal belongings, so the build should result in a highly detailed model. First impressions are good, and after the initial pages detailing with sprue diagrams, the instructions jump straight into the build with the underfloor pan, which has its ladder chassis added and is then added to the interior floor, and has stowage bins added on the sponsons. The angular hull sides are held in the correct angle by butting up against the sides of the bins, and the rear bulkhead with door cut-out completes alignment. The engine compartment is fabricated from various panels including an armoured sump-guard, and work commences on the engine and compartment fittings. Suspension, steering gear and the block are assembled and fitted in turn, with colour call-outs to help you get the painting right. The firewall is fitted out with the driver's controls and inserted into a ledge within the hull, after which some engine ancillaries fit to the other side of the bulkhead. The driver's seat, bench seats and a range of tools, weapons and spare ammunition are installed with the upper hull plates off, while a hollow former marks the space between the cab and crew compartment, which will be hidden under the upper hull part when it is installed. A number of vision hatches and their hinges are supplied as separate parts, as are the engine compartment doors, plus some small flush forward stowage bins. Spare rifles and machine gun barrels are fitted to the underside of the upper hull on racks, with radio gear, drum mags for the machine guns, after which it is glued to the lower hull, trapping the two hinge frames between its halves. The angled doors are then fitted to those hinges, allowing them to operate if you have been careful with the glue. It's unusual to get this far into an AFV model without building up the wheels, but it's at this stage that it's done here. The sing-arms and stub axles slot into holes in the sides of the ladder rail, with bump-stops fitted where applicable, and the interleaved wheels are then slid onto the axles with the drive sprocket at the front. The two steering wheels are made up from two-part hubs, and have rubberised tyres fitted to them before slotting them onto the front axles, and with the three layers of road wheels installed, the tracks can be wound round the lengths, and glued with normal glue. The build is finished off with a shielded machine gun mount at the front, a tripod mount, pioneer tools, fire extinguisher, number plate, rear machine gun mount, rear view mirrors, headlamps, width indicators and aerial. Markings With this being an early mark, it's any colour as long as it's Panzer Grey, with only the number plates and the style of Balkenkreuz to differentiate between vehicles. From the box you can build one of the following: WH 726465 1.Pz.D., France, May 1940 WH 179074 1.Pz.D., Russia, July 1941 WH 95709 1.Pz.D., Russia, July 1941 WH 179074 1.Pz.D., Russia, Nov 1941 Decals are printed on a bright blue paper, have good register, colour density and sharpness, with decals for the driver's binnacle included on the sheet. Sd.Kfz.151/6 Ausf.A (35102) This kit is essentially the same as that above, but with the addition of another sprue that contains parts for the bed-frame antenna that surrounds the open crew area and the radio gear that it carries. Markings 2 markings are supplied in any colour you want as long as its Panzer Grey. From the sheet you can build one of the following: WH 179467 Command Vehicle of General H Guderian, Poland, 1939 WH 609084 1941 Le.gl.Einheits-Pkw (Kfz.2) After 1933, Germany began to build a modern army. The light off-road passenger car was built by the BMW-Werk Eisenach under the designation BMW 325, as well as Hanomag (Type 20 and Stoewer. The vehicles were used as troop carriers (Kfz. 1), by repair-and-maintenance squads (Kfz. 2/40), by artillery reconnaissance sonic measurement squads (Kfz. 3) and by troop-level aerial defence (Kfz. 4). Almost 13,000 units were built. Between 1940 and 1943, only Stoewer continued to build the R 200 Spezial without the four-wheel steering (Typ 40). The cars weighed 1,775 kg empty (1,700 kg without the four-wheel steering). 90% of all military branches rejected the vehicle as "unfit for wartime service" in a 1942 enquiry, while the much simpler, lighter and cheaper Volkswagen Kübelwagen proved to be far superior in basically every respect. The bag contains four sprues in grey styrene plus a single clear sprue and decal sheet, not forgetting the instructions with integral painting guide at the rear. The chassis is first to be built up with dual springs supporting independent suspension and a driveshaft linking the two transfer boxes, plus the steering linkage front and rear. Fuel tank and stowage are placed to either side of the chassis rails and an exhaust pipe is thread through to the engine compartment, which is filled with a full rendering of its 4-cylinder 2 litre Stoewer power plant over the front axle. The floor of the cab is built up and added to the chassis, then the three-part styrene wheels with moulded-in tread are fitted to each corner along with the radiator at the front. The firewall and rear passenger bulkhead are installed next with the former having instruments and transmission tunnel moulded in and pedals attached to the floor. The cab sides, boot/trunk cover, engine cowling and gear shifter are all put in place before the seats are built up from base, cushion and curved back at the front, with a bench seat at the rear of a similar construction that has just enough room down the sides for two Kar98 rifles to be stowed in shackles. Two more rifle points are attached to the front bulkhead, bumpers/fenders and doors are all added, with steering wheel and windscreen also made up. The rear light cluster is fitted to racks for additional fuel on the rear quarters with a spare wheel in between them, and the folded canvas roof above. Front lights, jerry cans and pioneer tools are attached to the fenders, and windscreen wipers are fitted into the depressions on the frame, with wiper-motor boxes moulded into the frame for completeness. The lights and windscreen all have clear parts so the passengers don't get bugs in their teeth. The additional sprue contains the radio gear that fixes onto the covered rear of the vehicle and palettes, with an aerial strapped to the side of the body. Markings The small decal sheet contains registration numbers for four vehicles, along with unit ID insignia. Three of the four vehicles are painted in the overall tank grey with field grey roof canvas, while the fourth is painted for desert operations. From the box you can build one of the following: Le.gl.Einheits-Pkw (Kfz-2), 29th Artillery Regiment, France 1940 Le.gl.Einheits-Pkw (Kfz-2), 3./JG51, Smolensk, Russia August 1941 Le.gl.Einheits-Pkw (Kfz-2), 6 P.D, Russia, September 1941 Le.gl.Einheits-Pkw (Kfz-2), Ramcke Brigade, Libya 1942 German Drivers 1939-45 (35642) This small set from ICM gives you four figures to fill those empty seats. The bag contains a single sprue of figures in grey styrene with some accessories surrounding the parts - the pic below is sand coloured, but don't let that distract you. It's safe to say that these figures are all posed in the seated position, and two are dressed in standard Wehrmacht uniforms with a forage and patrol cap on their heads. One other figure has a smock coat over his uniform with a lace-up neck, and the final one is an officer with a rather relaxed hand draped over the top of his steering wheel. Two of the drivers forage cap and smock guy are looking to their left, while patrol cap guy seems to be looking at his steering wheel, perhaps at a map? Each figure comes broken down as torso, individual legs and arms, head and hat, with a couple of ammo pouches for the belt around the smock bedecked gentleman. The instructions are on a single sheet of glossy paper, with part numbers and colour call outs that reference a chart on the rear that shows Revell and Tamiya colour codes, plus the name of the colour in English and Ukrainian (that's a guess). Sculpting and moulding is excellent as we have come to expect from ICM, and the figures will doubtless fit a lot of applications without any adjustment, although that isn't guaranteed, so prepare yourself for a little sanding and such to adapt them. German Command Vehicle Crew 1939-42 (35644) This set is also a single sprue of mid-grey styrene and a short instruction sheet. On the sprue are four figures, including a driver figure and two radio operators, one adjusting his set whilst listening in on headphones, the other with his headphones round his neck writing on a pad that is resting on his left knee. The officer of course is wearing his rank appropriate cap, binoculars and riding breeches, and is resting his right arm on the lip of the vehicle's walls and his corresponding foot propped up on a box within the vehicle. His other hand is looped through his belt/over his holster and he is leaning forward as if he is interested in what's going on. The accessories are fairly sparse due to the duties of the crew, and consist of bands for headphones, binoculars, pistol holster and notepad, while the figures themselves are broken down into separate legs, arms, torso, head with moulded in caps, or separate cap for the officer. The driver figure has his arms split at the elbow to obtain a more realistic position while maintaining detail on the hands etc., and to give a little adjustment when fitting his hands onto the steering wheel. German Infantry 1939-42 (35639) This set consists of two main sprues, one containing four infantry figures that are walking or standing around, the other that supplies a lot of accessories, bags, pouches and weapons to complete the figures. As usual all the figures are extremely well sculpted, have sensible mould-lines and parts breakdown, with separate heads, torsos, legs and arms, plus hats for those not wearing forage caps. An officer is standing with binoculars ready looking at a map (not with the binoculars, silly!), another rank is pointing into the distance with an MP40 in his other hand, while the third and fourth characters are carrying an MG34 machine gun and copious ammo in the form of a belt of link round the gunner’s neck, and a pair of ammo boxes in the hands of the assistant. The accessory sprue is covered in the standard gear seen by German soldiers of this era, plus the aforementioned weapons and a Kar98 for the shoulder of the ammo carrier. A tiny sprue also carries two lengths of ammo for the hungry breech of the MG34. Conclusion These sets from ICM are great for everyone. The modeller gets a lot of quality plastic for their money in a very condensed form to keep the stash volume expansion to a minimum, while ICM are reusing recent toolings to generate income coupled with great value. Very highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Brewster Body Shield US Infantry (35720) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd. WWI was a meat-grinder that chewed up millions of soldiers on all sides over the course of the conflict, so when the US finally joined the war, methods had already been sought to reduce casualties, but the Americans brought the Brewster Body Shield with them to try to reduce casualties from the over-the-top frontal attacks that were common. The armour consisted of a frontal helmet and cuirasse-style chest-piece, both of which were snugged to their wearers by leather straps, and cushioned to reduce discomfort and chaffing as the soldiers walked around the battlefield. The armour was made from chrome nickel steel, and could withstand a rifle bullet at a reasonable range, but it was cumbersome, heavy and restricted the wearer’s movement and left his legs and most of his arms exposed to enemy fire, so wasn’t a total solution. There were other more modular designs that found more favour in terms of comfort, but none were particularly successful, mostly due to the weight and heft of the materials available then at the time. The Kit This is a brand-new figure set containing four figures and their armour, plus a huge quantity of weapons, packs, pouches and other equipment. It arrives in a small top-opening box with the usual captive inner lid, and inside are two main sprues, plus another two smaller sprues on which the armour is found. The four figures are built as normal with separate arms, head, legs and torso, although some surface details such as ammo pouches have been flattened off to accommodate the armour, with moulded-in straps that link up to the armour panels, both on the torso and heads of the figure. Three of the figures are stood upright and are holding rifles in various poses, while the fourth figure is kneeling with a pistol, so is likely to be an officer, but it’s hard to tell under all that steel. The armour just slips over the front of the figures, and the helmets have eye-holes, with moulded-in covers that could swing down on the real thing to protect the wearer’s eyes, although how they would find their way around is a valid question. The accessory sprue is filled with rifles with and without bayonets, pistols, even a Lewis gun, axes, a pick, shovels, bayonets, daggers, mills bombs, water bottles, ammo pouches by the dozen, satchels, binoculars, more pistols in holsters, a trench periscope and a few other parts that defy description. Clearly, the four men would be unlikely to be able to even stand if they were festooned with everything from the sprues in addition to the weight of their armour, but there is plenty that would be left over for your WWI spares box for future use. Conclusion This has to be the weirdest WWI figure set we’ve seen yet, and looks more like a renegade prop from an old low-budget 60s sci-fi movie, despite being absolutely real. An interesting addition to anyone’s figure collection. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  22. 10.5cm leFH 16(Sf) Auf Geschutzwagen FCM36(f) (35340) 1:35 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Geschutzwagen (gun vehicle) series of Self-Propelled Howitzers were originally created to fill a need for mobile artillery that could be self-sufficient and yet work in unison with troops and tanks at the high speed of Blitzkrieg, similar to the Marder, but with indirect fire from behind the lines their stock-in-trade. The concept was to mount a large diameter howitzer on a captured tank chassis that had been stripped of its superstructure and given an extended splinter shield around the gun and its crew, whilst leaving the roof open to the elements. Like the early Marders, they were built on captured French tank chassis, such as the obsolete FCM 36, with a large shield that extended almost the whole length of the vehicle, housing a WWI era 105mm leFH 16(Sf) howitzer, which was of 1916 vintage. Incidentally, FCM stands for Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, who were based at Toulon in the French Riviera. Only a very few of these vehicles were made due to the relatively small number of FCM36 chassis that were originally captured, and some say that as few as eight were built, although there are numbers as high as 12 mentioned elsewhere. Either way, there weren’t many. They saw service in Europe during the relatively inactive period after their conquest of France and before D-Day, and by 1944 there weren’t any on charge according to records, which up until that point were pretty reliable. The tank was only lightly armoured to protect their crews from shrapnel, shell splinters or small arms fire from all-round, which is somewhat better than a standard artillery piece would afford its crew, although the open roof would make a tempting target for grenades or demolition packs in close combat. However, they weren’t meant to be near the front line under normal circumstances, so it mattered less than it did with direct fire vehicles such as Marders. It would however have been uncomfortable for the crew in bad weather necessitating a temporary tarpaulin roof to keep the precipitation out, but very little of the cold. The Kit This is another re-tool of ICM’s previous FCM 36 kit, adding the specialised parts for the conversion undertaken by Baustokommando Becker at the time. It arrives in a standard ICM top-opening box that has a captive inner lid, with seven sprues in grey styrene, two flexible black sprues of track links, a decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles in the back pages for painting and markings. The original FCM 36 kit was only released in 2020, so it’s a modern tooling with plenty of detail and this boxing includes the majority of the interior due to the open roof. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is made up initially of the floor and two sides that are cut back slightly to accommodate the different upper hull, as shown in an accompanying diagram, 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 adjustable tensioning axles. The sloped armoured upper sponsons are installed along the way, with the mud-shedding apertures on each side, idler adjustment mechanisms and some towing eyes on the back plate. 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 having the correct faceted look that individual links provide. The upper hull is a new part that was also seen on the recent Marder I kit, and has an opening at the front where the turret would have been, and has the two fender sides fitted to the rear before it is joined to the lower hull, hiding most of the upper track run. At the rear a large louvered panel and fixtures on the final-drive access hatches are glued on first, with the two shrouded exhausts and their mufflers slotted into grooves to their side, and a shallow C-shaped manifold joining them at the top. Pioneer tools and towing eyes are fitted later, because the gun must be made up first, after adding a driver’s panel and vision slit it fixed into the top of the glacis plate. The WWI era 10.5cm leFH 16(Sf), is begun by making up the combined cradle and breech, then adding the cradle trunnions and elevation mechanism on both sides, after which the floor is made up with the underfloor ammo storage depicted by gluing the 36 striking plate charge sections of the two-part ammunition into the box-sections in the forward floor. It is mated to the hull on a substantial C-shaped plinth with a locking washer, covering up the former turret aperture, then adding aim adjustment wheels before the gun’s splinter shield is begun by adding the two faceted side panels and the cheek parts, the former having been fitted out with shell racks, radio boxes and machine gun ammo canisters. The forward splinter shield that moves with the gun barrel is added outside the main shield, preventing stray rounds or shrapnel from entering the cab or damaging the gun slide, the latter part comprising two sides with angled front to deflect frontal shots. A louvered panel is fixed into depressions on each of the side walls, and the back panel with moulded-in access hatch are glued onto the rear of the crew compartment, then two sets of 21 x 105mm shells and a few more separate charges with striker plates are placed next to them. At this stage the pioneer tools can be attached to the exterior compartment walls at the rear of the vehicle, with light cluster, spare track links and barrel cleaning rods at the front, plus an antenna perched atop the side wall to the rear, and a self-defence MG34 machine gun on the front, then you can put on the two-part muzzle brake that gives the impression of a hollow barrel. Markings There are three markings options on the small decal sheet, with variation between them and some interesting camouflage schemes, all of which saw service in 1943. From the box you can build one of the following: Mobile Brigade West, 1943 931st Assault Gun Division, France, 1943 Training Camp of Mobile Brigade West, Summer 1943 The decals are printed 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 Another peculiar, niche, but interesting example of German re-use of captured vehicles, and a nicely detailed one too. Of course, it looks a bit strange and top heavy, but that’s part of its appeal. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  23. USAAF Pilots 1944-45 Paint Set (3012) 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. 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. We recently reviewed a 1:32 figure set from ICM called “A Photo to Remember”, which depicted three pilots posing for a portrait in front of their aircraft, which you can read here. This set is intended to complement these figures, and it includes the following colours, but it would be useful to add white if you don’t already have it for lightening the colours to create many other shades: 1002 Black 1008 Deep Brown 1052 Hull Red 1068 Olive Green 1044 Basic Skin Tone 1059 Green Ochre On the rear of the box are drawings of the figures that are identical to the set mentioned above, with colour call-outs in their own codes, and suggests that they may also be useful for additional ICM kits, such as 1:48 USAF Pilots & Groundcrew 48088, 1:32 A Photo to Remember 32116 and 1:32 USAF Pilots 1941-45 32104. That’s just a few ICM models, but I doubt they’d complain if you used them in conjunction with other manufacturers’ kits. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  24. Over All of Spain The Sky is Clear (DS7202) Tupolev SB-2M-100 Bomber & 2 x Bf.109E-4 1:72 ICM via Hannants Ltd The Spanish Civil War was an ideal proving ground for the nascent Luftwaffe, and a large number of German aircraft and crew were involved under the name Condor Legion, as “volunteers”, flying early Bf.109s and similar era aircraft from the German arsenal on the side of the Nationalists. Communist Soviet Union was supplying the other side with inventory from its arsenal as well as crews during the early stages in a pseudo proxy war of sorts, but the Fascists won with a lot of help from Germany. Although Spain remained neutral in name, they never forgot the help they received from the Nazi, and often assisted them in a clandestine manner. The conflict gave the Luftwaffe sufficient experience that they could run rings around the relatively inexperienced foes they faced, sometimes in outdated machines, in the run up to and in the early days of WWII, allowing their pilots to rack up seriously large numbers of kills that possibly gave them a false sense of superiority when they came up against the RAF. The Set This is a new boxing that contains two Bf.109E-3s from the Condor Legion, and a Tupolev SB-2-100 from the Spanish Republic Air Force. Messerschmitt Bf.109E-3 (72131) The Messerschmitt BF 109 was certainly the most numerous, and probably the best known of all the aircraft used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Almost 34,000 examples were produced between 1937 and 1945, and the type saw active service in every theatre in which German armed forces were engaged. Powered initially by the relatively low powered Junkers Jumo engine and later by various iterations of the more powerful Daimler Benz DB600 series of inverted V-12 engines, the later variants of the BF 109 could achieve speeds of up to 400mph. In comparison with the early A, B, C and D variants, the E, or ‘Emil’, was a significant redesign. It featured the more powerful Daimler Benz engine and better armament consisting of two wing-mounted MG/FF/M 20mm cannon and two MG17 7.9mm machine guns mounted in the cowling above the nose. The E-4 also featured improved armour for the pilot, and improved cockpit canopy which afforded the pilot a better view and was also easier to produce. Whilst the E-1 and E-3 were blooded during the later phases of the Spanish Civil War, it was the E-4 that formed the backbone of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force during the Battle of Britain. During this phase of the war, the E-4 was found to be a close match, in terms of overall performance, to the Supermarine Spitfire, although each type had different strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the other. The Kit There are two identical Bf.109E-4 kits in the box, and they originate from a 2004 tooling, but don’t let that put you off. There’s a good amount of detail on the single grey sprue, and a choice of separate or closed up canopies on the clear sprue. The instructions are simplicity itself, and consist of two half pages plus a sprue diagram and internal painting chart. Construction begins with the cockpit, which has a respectable seven parts, including a clear gunsight. The fuselage closes up around the assembly and has a boxy lump representing the outline of the Daimler Benz engine moulded-in, with a single part cowling that covers the block and a supercharger intake on the left side. The wing lowers are full-width with separate topsides, and all the flying surfaces are moulded-in, as are those in the elevators, while the rudder is separate, as are the support struts under the elevators. The landing gear have separate struts and doors, plus a single-part wheel, one per side. With the model inverted the gears, the chin-mounted oil cooler, pitot, aileron horn-balancers and the tail wheel are fitted, then flipped-over a choice of three-piece canopy for opening, or two-part for closed canopies are installed along with the aerial mast, two wing-mounted machine guns, plus three-part prop and spinner that are held in place with a two-part collar finish the build. Aren’t 1:72 kits quick to build? There are of course two of those, so you get to do that twice. Tupolev SB 2M-100 Katiushka (72161) Tupolev’s first variant of the SB series of light bomber were supplied to the Republic forces in 1936, 31 delivered by freighter, of which a number were later captured by the Nationalists, who were the ones that used the name Katiushka in common parlance. Initially, they were too fast to be caught by the enemy, but once the Bf.109s came into theatre, the losses mounted and they were withdrawn from front-line service. Some of them survived into the 50s in the hands of the victors. The Kit This is a reboxing of the 2005 kit of this funny-looking aircraft. It’s a two-engined type and is a more complex build than the 109s, with six sprues in grey styrene, one of clear parts, and an instruction booklet that spans several pages. Construction begins with the bomb-load, which are in three sizes and come in two halves with separate fins, with a choice of which to use later in the build. With those out of the way, the centre section of the airframe is made up, which includes the inner panel of the wing up to the engine nacelles, which have their fronts missing at this stage. Two full-width spars stiffen the assembly, and bomb carriers as well as some of the internal structure of the engine nacelles and gear bays are added along the way. The cockpit is a simple one and fits to the front of the forward spar, with the instrument panel attached to the inside, and the pilot’s controls attached to the upcoming nose section. The nose of the aircraft is separate, as is the tail, and both these areas are detailed with seats, weapons and glazing before they are closed up, with the fuselage trapping the rudder in place. The three sections are joined after making up the two nacelles for the Klimov M-100 12-cylinder engines, which were little more than license-built Hispano-Suiza units. The nacelles are made from four parts each, with the louvers moulded on top and shutters on the forward face, each of them having a two-blade prop fixed in place with a washer before they are glued in place. As the nacelles are fitted, an additional panel is inserted into the top space with a U-shaped exhaust insert partially hidden beneath. The outer wings are each made from top and bottom halves plus a separate aileron per side, and the elevators are each a single fin and separate flying surface, which almost completes the airframe. Once the glue is dry, the clear parts for the pilot and rear gunner are fitted, with choices for each of them, and the peculiar nose canopy is fixed along with a choice of twin machine guns. The rear gunner has a U-shaped mount for this gun, which you also have two choices for. A pitot probe slides into the leading edge of the port wing, and a few small parts are dotted around the clear nose. The last steps involve fixing the single-part main wheels between the yoke of the main gear legs, which are backed up by two extra parts per side, and unless you plan on posing it in flight, you cut the bay doors in two and glue them in place, two per bay. The tail wheel slots into the rear, and there’s an option to add a piece of wire as actuator for the rudder. The bomb bay is similarly moulded as a single part that can be glued in as-is, or split down the middle to show off the bomb load that you made up initially. The smallest bombs attach vertically to a small palette in the front of the bay, while two medium or one large bomb can replace them, with two more small bombs in the aft of the bay. Markings The set has its own set of painting instructions in colour, as the 109 instructions don’t have their own. The SB-2 has its own markings choices in the back of the instructions, but those are superfluous and there are no decals for them, so try to ignore them. From the box you can build all three models with no alternative options. This is why you bought this boxing though, so build away: Bf.109E-3 2.J/88, coded 6.107 Legion Condor, Spain, spring 1939 Bf.109E-3 2.J/88, coded 6.91 Legion Condor, Spain, spring 1939 SB 2M-100, 24th Bomb Group, Republican Air Force, Spain, spring 1939 Decals are 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. Conclusion This boxed set includes three models of recent vintage, and while there’s a small amount of flash here and there, detail is pretty good, and once the flash is gone there’s good models to be made. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  25. American Civil War Union Infantry Set #2 (35023) & Paint Set (3013) 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. This set depicts a squad of four soldiers in action, during what appears to be a close-combat engagement, with weapons drawn and aggressive stances. One man is using the bayonet at the end of his rifle, another is running forward with bayonet leading the way, while a third is about to use the butt of his presumably empty revolver as a cosh against some unfortunate, although he has a sword languishing against his waist. The fourth soldier is shouting and leaning forward with his rifle raised, as if he is about to bring it up to take aim. The figures on their sprues arrive in a top-opening slightly-larger-than-figure-sized box, and inside are four sprues in grey styrene, a combined sprue diagram and instruction sheet for reference during building and painting. Paint codes refer to ICM’s new paint system, but also gives numbers for Revell and Tamiya brands, in case you don’t fancy purchasing the new set of paints for this boxing that we’re detailing below. Highly recommended. American Civil War Union Infantry Paint Set (3013) 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. 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 almost 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, but it would be useful to add white and black if you don’t already have them for lightening and darkening to create many other shades: 1037 Dark Grey 1026 Oily Steel 1075 Grey-Blue 1050 Saddle Brown 1017 Gold 1043 Light Flesh On the rear of the box are a number of drawings of Union soldiers that are identical to the set above, with colour call-outs in ICM codes only, which requires a mix of 70/30 of the dark grey and grey-blue for their tunics. I performed a rough mix using a paintbrush to dab out seven of one, three of the other, and if I’m honest, it came out a little greyer than I was expecting, but perhaps I didn’t add enough blue? I tested the gold too, and while it doesn’t brush out too well on a flat unprepared larger surface, it does much better after a couple of coats on a contoured model part, as you can see from the photo below. It’s a wheel off an aircraft (P-40 IIRC), but it had the misfortune of being nearby and unable to run/roll away. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
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