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  1. British Forces Vehicle Crew 1:48 Airfix Hot on the heels (I use that phrase far too much) of the Merlin, the Supacat Coyote/Jackal duo, and the Snatch Land Rovers/WMIK pair are another figure set to complement the Infantry Patrol set I reviewed October of last year here, comes the set that probably should have been released at the same time as the vehicles, to be fair. The set consists of eight figures, which arrive on one sprue in Airfix's slim end-opening figure box, and are moulded in a mid-brown coloured styrene, with chunky, flat-edged sprues. As with the initial set, the figures are very well moulded, complete with wires to their comms gear, microphones, MOLLE loops on their combat gear, and a couple of the newer L85 rifles with the newer forward handgrip and RIS rails for additional equipment. An Fn Minimi is also included, but this looks a little soft with overly thick butt-stock tubes. It does however come with moulded in box mag, and a separate tripod, but you'll have to add a carry-handle from bent wire if you feel the need. The stances of the eight figures vary markedly, with two standing and gesturing, one kneeling and one prone figure providing overwatch, one kneeling to work on a vehicle (possibly changing a tyre), two seated crew figures and one stood at a weapons station with his hands on the grips of some invisible machine-gun. The only work that will need doing other than removing the moulding seam is to add some undercut to the prominent chest pouches that are moulded on most of the figures, to give the appearance that they aren't simply projections from their chests. This is most prominent on the standing figures, but unavoidable when creating figures using injection moulding processes. As well as the figures and weapons, a small selection of tools are included, in the shape of a jack, wheel chocks, tyre iron, tool roll and fire extinguisher. The instructions show the build-up of each figure, which have separate heads, arms, with some having separate packs where moulding dictates. The seated crew figures are shown installed in the Jackal/Coyote cab, for which they are designed, although separate notes advise that shoe-horning them into the Land Rover variants will require some re-working of the figures. Of minor concern is that the instructions would have you install the headless and armless figures into the cab before adding the front of the vehicle. Whilst this may well be the best way to proceed, most methodical modellers would probably rather build up the figures in their entirety, filling joints and painting the figures in one fell swoop, but with some careful planning, this shouldn't be a major obstacle. There are no decals in the set, but a comprehensive painting guide shows which colours to use and where, as well as giving examples of the three types of camouflage cloth available to the British army - Desert DPM, European DPM and European MTP, the new Crye Multicam based camouflage that is being used to great effect in Afghanistan. Conclusion Another good set of figures for the proud owners of the Supacat sets, although it should be perfectly feasible to mix-and-match between vehicles, although as mentioned earlier, the drivers will need some coaxing to fit the smaller Land Rover based designs. As with all of these figure sets, I dearly wish that a sheet of camouflage decal was available to assist those such as myself that go into a cold sweat at the thought of having to paint any unform that is camouflaged. I'd even pay extra for this option! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. AgustaWestland Merlin HC.3 1:48 Airfix Starting life in the late seventies the EH101 (it became AW101 later) as it was known at outset was a collaboration between Westland of the UK, and Augusta of Italy to produce a medium sized helicopter to replace the ageing fleets of Sea Kings that are common in Europe and Canada. During its long gestation Westland and Agusta merged to become AgustaWestland, with more than a little political upset at the time. The official name of Merlin was coined and has stuck for most European operators, although the Mark numbers are used to identify them in-house. Flight testing took a 6 month delay after the crash of one of the test machines, and in 1995 the HC.3 variant was ordered by the RAF consisting of 22 airframes, despite the political wrangling over an alternative all Chinook fleet that they were supposed to prefer. The RAF machines in early 2001, and following the acquisition of seven more Danish airframes, two squadrons were formed, seeing service in the Balkans, Iraq and latterly in Afghanistan. The airframe is designed to be modular in nature, and uses a lot of advanced composites to strike an effective balance between weight, load carrying capability, and for the HC.3 and other in-theatre airframes, ballistic protection. Powered by three Rolls-Royce RTM322 turboshafts, and utilising a further development of the BERP rotor blades found on the Lynx, the avionics have been developed to reduce the workload on the pilot and increase safety, with automatic stability and vibration reduction systems reducing crew and airframe fatigue. Each engine is fed by its own fuel tank, and up to five additional tanks can be installed to further enhance range, topping up the main tanks as they are drained. Capable of carrying Land Rover vehicles internally or on the load hook on the belly, or 24 seated soldiers (45 standing), or alternatively 16 stretchers and med-evac crew, the Merlin is a useful machine to have in-theatre. It can also sport up to five machine-gun stations on doors, windows and on the load-ramp at the rear, augmenting in the standard three-man crew with additional gunners. The Kit Following announcement of the kit there were some long delays to release, resulting in a probable in-shops date of February, which looks to have been correct. The kit arrives in a large red box, and on lifting the lid, we are treated to a big bag containing four sprues of light grey styrene (of varying sizes), plus a separately bagged clear sprue. A huge decal sheet sits in the middle of the large instruction booklet, but both these are dwarfed by the newspaper sized painting and decaling diagram. The main sprues are large, but the parts are far from featureless. On the contrary, there is plenty of detail moulded into almost every part, and the panel line obsessed will find little to gripe about over the engraved lines, as they are pleasingly fine. A cockpit and full interior are included with the parts, which will please most modellers, and detail in there seems to be pretty impressive too. Sprue gates are wide but slim, so careful cutting should result in minimal clean-up, and flash is almost non-existent. It is clear from initial inspection that a lot of time has been lavished on the details, and this should result in a good looking model with some careful painting and construction. The build is spread over 138 stages, but don't freak out just yet. There are 335 parts in the box, so there's plenty to do, which is to be expected at this level of kit and price-tag. Work begins on the interior, sensibly enough, creating the nose-gear bay under the cockpit. Because it is made up of individual sides, there is plenty of detail, although it is quite fine, so might not be that obvious on the finished model. Flipping the deck over, the raised cockpit areais built up, with the large central console, twin collective and cyclic sticks added for each pilot before their armoured seats are built up from a main armoured chassis to which the seat pad is added, then the retaining frame and bracing struts are added to maintain the correct angle. The main instrument panel is then added to the underside of the coaming, which is then dropped on top of the central console. The detail on all the instrument panels is very well done, showing up the many Multi-Function Display (MFD) screens that are prevalent in modern aircraft, which is probably why no decals are supplied for them. I would have liked to have seen at least some individual MFD decals, but it's not a major problem as they're quite bland when switched off anyway. The cockpit is separated from the main cabin by a bulkhead that hides some of the workings of the Merlin, so two faces are added together to form a doorway tunnel linking the two areas. Detail painting is called out in Humbrol colours throughout all of this, which reminds me - Humbrol have released a useful colour chart that you're likely to be able to find at your local model shop soon, which includes some handy conversions from other brands of paint, which would be useful if you can't find Humbrol in your territory. Its code is AZ2155 if your LMS staff look at you blankly. The next job is to create the "spar" that links the two main wheels together within the fuselage, and this is made up of two parts that trap the main landing gear legs in place. There's no chance you can leave these off until later without serious surgery to the parts, so remember to paint them first and then mask them off. The spar box fixes to the rear of the outer floor, and is joined by the load carrying hook which is surrounded by bay walls once in place, to be later covered by the underside of the internal floor. The nose gear is quite short and must also be added to the gear bay before installation in the fuselage along with the retraction strut that folds it forward for stowage. The inner floor is added to the outer, being supported by the rear spar, the hook box and the nose-gear bay, leaving a gap of a few millimetres between the two parts. An optional panel in the inner floor gives access to the load hook bay, and then the inner wall parts can be added. The two sides are moulded with some nice detail, including sound insulation which has some bulges and wrinkles in it just like the real thing. They attach to the floor with a trio of tabs, and are each lined by twelve seats that can be built up in either stowed or deployed state. The detail on the seats is rather nice, with the undersides of the stowed parts having tensioning cord moulded in, while the deployed seat backs are realistically curved as they would hang in the real world. The frames on which the seats hang are nicely done too, and have a number of lightening holes going through the lower area. There are a few ejector pin marks on the faces of them, but from looking at the parts, they shouldn't be seen when built up, but check before committing to glue if they will offend your eyes by being visible later. On the starboard side you have an optional GPMG "Gimpy" mount to station the forward side window. This is made up from a two part mount and ammo box, with an inverted V-frame onto which the Gimpy is installed. During installation of the sidewalls the following words are written next to the diagrams. "Apply decal here. See interior decal placement sheet." Is an intriguing statement, so after referring to the back page of the painting and decaling "newspaper", I was surprised and pleased to see that there are 77 (give or take) stencil decals to apply to the interior of this model. That's quite a few, but it's the small details that make a model look more realistic, so this is to be applauded - well done Airfix, for paying attention to the details. The four piece load ramp is built up from four parts and retained in place by trapping it between the two sidewalls on a pair of substantial pegs. The roof part is then installed after painting and decaling, with an optional panel added to the rear depending on which decal option you choose. The front bulkhead behind the radome is the last part of the interior skin that is added, which must be correctly perpendicular to the floor, as detailed in a scrap diagram showing a side view. The outer fuselage halves accept the side windows, with some optional blanking panels depending on which decal option you are planning on modelling. Evidently there have been some differences in the cockpit windows fit between airframes, and if you are installing the starboard Gimpy mount, you'll need to leave the window out. After glazing, the fuselage sides are closed up around the interior, the fuselage top is added, and the nose cone put in place. Plenty of dry-fitting would be wise to check alignment and fit before you apply glue. The fuselage top is only partially detailed, as the transmission and engine "lump" are added later around a set of guiding raised lines. The cockpit is penned in by an overhead console that is supplied with interior canopy framing, which should also strengthen the sides of the cockpit before the canopy is added later. The Merlin has three engines, although only two intakes are visible on the outer side of the upper fuselage walls, the other being placed closer to the rotor. The sides are attached to the raised guidelines and joined by a Y-shaped roof that sets them in place, and completes the tapering raised section that terminates just behind the canopy. A pair of exhaust tubes are built up from separate halves, and attached to a nicely moulded fan-face, with an ancillary exhaust joining from the side. These sit at the rear of the lower fuselage hump, with the rotor base and additional engine sitting in another assembly that drops into the crook of the Y-shaped section, completing the upper fuselage. Chaffe and flare dispensers are situated on a small platform set into the rear of the engine hump, with one pair on both side, pointing forward and sideways to avoid clashing with the rotor. The main gear sponsons are then completed by adding individual walls to the gear bays, extra detail in the shape of pressurised bottles in two of the decal options, and the curving sponson top, which also acts as the bay roof. Two options of sponson end-caps are provided, again dependent on which decal options you are choosing. A pair of strakes run down the port side of the tail, which are supplied as separate triangular parts, and the tail boom is completed by a rear part and top cover to the tail rotor head. Its low-slung fin is made up from two separate halves, and attached on the underside of the tail in a small recess. Because the Merlin is a modern aircraft on a modern battlefield, it is fairly bristling with sensors and defensive countermeasures including laser-designator jammers, ECM countermeasures as well as laser detectors etc. This leads to a rather large number of lumps and bumps, as well as a chin-mounted FLIR turret for night operations, in poor visibility and SAR. These parts are added around the fuselage, and account for a fair few of the construction steps, although some are better off left until after main painting is complete, as they are quite delicate. Most significant of these is the antenna forest on the underside of the aircraft and on the topside aft of the cockpit, which will also make it tricky to hold during painting. The Merlin sits on twin wheels for each of its landing gear legs, with smaller wheels on the nose gear, and larger at the rear. Each tyre is moulded with its hub, and have a nicely done sag to the bottom of the tyre, commensurate with the aircraft's weight, without looking like it needs re-inflating. Ensure that you apply the wheels to the aircraft on the level, aligning the flats on the tyres with the surface before gluing. Also make sure you have added the separate oleo scissors to each gear leg before putting the tyres on, as it'll be a bit fiddly afterward. A pair of applique armoured panels are installed on the lower cockpit sides to help deflect small bullet strikes after unarmoured Merlins were sent into "hot" landing zones, receiving incoming fire. These differ between decal options, so ensure that you install the correct ones. Glazing of the cockpit starts with the separate side panels, after which the main canopy is added over the framework that was installed earlier. A pair of large windscreen wipers install over the glazing, which will probably be easier to install later in the build. The windscreen and indeed all of the glazing on my review sample all had tiny little lines trapped within them, which I think were caused by the wave-fronts of the liquid clear styrene cooling as they met, leaving a tiny imperfection caused by partially cooled wave-fronts meeting within the part. Perhaps the mould wasn't warmed sufficiently, or the styrene was a little cool, who knows? I'm no styrene moulding expert. These lines are very fine, and if present on the main batch, they shouldn't be noticeable under normal inspection. A kinked towel-rail antenna fixes to the aft port fuselage, and the convex observation domes at the rear near the load-ramp are installed from the outside, allowing installation after painting, which will ease masking a little. The next choice is weapons fit, and for two of the decal options this entails a port-side door-mounted Gimpy, and a sliding mount on the load-ramp, with a flat armoured panel protecting the gunner. The other three decal options have a door mounted on the sliding rail, which can be glazed and posed open or closed. The larger starboard access door can also be posed open or closed, and because the door pushes out before sliding, it has different slider parts for each instance. The forward mounting points are larger than the aft, and all have protective bell-housings that are made up from separate parts. The open option will be rather delicate, as the door is hanging on the four small runners, so could be crushed against the fuselage with careless handling, leading it to come loose. The rotors are common to all decal options, and because these are RAF birds, there are no hinge-points for stowing of rotors. The tail rotor is made up from two sets of two blades at 90o to eachother, with four detail parts representing the control mechanism. The large BERP style blades are moulded as a single part, while the attachment to the rotor-head is accomplished by a double-pinned lower part that links to the bottom of the main rotor-head after the complex control arms and shock absorbing dampers are installed. The top of the blade attachment has a large cover, and in the centre of the five covers goes the rotor cap assembly, while underneath a five-pointed boss holds the whole rotor assembly and acts as the connection point to the shaft on the top of the fuselage. The tail rotor is similarly glued to a peg on the tail boom. Markings Five options are included on the decal sheet, but it's any colour as long as it's olive drab, with the only differences being fittings like door guns etc. before applying the main markings however, there are a substantial number of stencils, the details of which are given on the stencil page of the painting & decaling booklet. From the box you can build one of the following airframes: ZJ138/X No.28 (AC) Sq. 1419 Flight, Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan), Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan 2010 ZJ124/H Flown by Flt Lt Kevin Harris DFC, Incident Response Team (IRT), Joint Helicopter Force (Iraq), Operation TELIC, Basrah, Iraq, March 26th 2008 ZJ118/B NBo.28 (AC)/78 Sq. Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA), UK, April 2012 ZJ133/R "Splat!" No.28 (AC) Sq. ZJ126/K No.28/78 SQ. RAF Benson, UK November 2011* * Carries the serial codes of Halifax Mk.III LV905/EY-W "Willie", No.78 Sq. that crashed at Hank, Holland, 25th May 1944. Decals are well printed, with good register, colour density and sharpness. Spot gold is used for squadron crests, and the current RAF "branding" is present, replete with that awful font with the awkward diagonals on the A and Y. The large black areas on the upper fuselage around the engines is supplied as decals, but if you prefer to paint these areas, the decals can be used as templates for masks. Conclusion A great looking kit, and of a similar quality to the Airfix Lynx, which has been praised highly by most. Detail is excellent, and construction has been cleverly engineered, especially around the fuselage, with extra details always popping out, such as the boxes on the fuselage sides that eventually form part of the landing gear bay, and the well appointed interior. Finesse of the detail and panel lines is improved too, and should silence the critics who harp on about the "over-large" panel lines of early releases under Hornby's management. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. British Forces Infantry Patrol 1:48 Airfix A set of 1:48 figures from Airfix is a nice surprise, especially when they are modern British Army, another rarity in injection styrene. This set is an accompaniment to the Operation Herrick series that is being released by Airfix to include the WMIK & Snatch Land Rovers, Lynx and the forthcoming Merlin helicopters, as well as a couple of nifty resin buildings to complete the diorama potential. The set includes eight figures in various poses, and on opening the end of the standard figure sized box, you are confronted with an unusual looking sprue with flat edges reminiscent of the "olden days". The parts aren't at all retro in their moulding though, and are well sculpted, with a good portrayal of the Osprey body armour used by the Army, including MOLLE loops for attaching pouches to the front, sides and rear of the vest. The Mk.6 kevlar helmet is similarly well moulded, and a number of the figures have knee pads that are often worn in-theatre these days. One chap is sporting only the one as is sometimes the case, to protect the favoured kneeling knee, whilst sparing the other from the chaffing of the straps of non-integrated pads. Radios, pouches and backpacks are similarly well done, and of course the ubiquitous L98A-2, sporting the newer RIS railed handguard and foregrip, with two of the older type with smooth handgrip. A pair of LSW (Light Support Weapon) machine guns complete the weapons supply, and one is usually carried by a member of a patrol for support of the squad. From the box, you can build five walking soldiers, and three crouching, one of whom has a hand raised in the "stop" signal to the rest of the troop. Construction is straightforward, with separate arms, heads and appropriate legs where moulding dictates. Backpacks and weapons are also separate parts, allowing some degree of customisation if you wish. Each soldier is supplied with oval base, which is probably supplied for the younger modeller to play with after construction. There are no decals in the set, but the full-colour painting diagram gives all of the colours necessary to paint the camouflage uniforms, including samples of Desert DPM, which is being phased out in favour of the newer Multicam based European MTP pattern. A sample of the traditional European DPM is also given if you plan on painting your troop in service outside the desert environment. Conclusion Moulding is good, as is the sculpting of the figures, so don't be put off by the chunky sprues. This is every inch a modern set, and with careful painting should really look the part. Painting the camo pattern convincingly will be the hardest part to tackle, and if some enterprising decal manufacturer were to provide some sheets of the various patterns, similar to the ones sometimes found in Trumpeter figure sets, I'm sure the job would be made easier. Full marks to Airfix for providing us with this set. A set to crew a Merlin, including sitting soldiers, medics etc. would make a good addition, as would standing soldiers about to board or just disembarked from a Merlin or Chinook. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Supacat HMT400 Jackal and HMT600 Coyote 1:48 Airfix The Jackal was developed as a replacement to the Land Rover WMIK by Devon based Supacat, with improved load carriage, armament and range, as well as a very powerful engine to give it torque to crest difficult obstacles and a high top speed on roads as well as off-road. Conceived as a deep-penetration recce platform and convoy escort, it provides a better weapons platform with a long 500 mile range, whilst adding crew protection and maximum speed of almost 50mph on rough ground. In an effort improve upon the Snatch Land Rover's poor IED resilience, the Jackal is fitted with armoured panels beneath the crew compartment, and shock-absorbing seats to protect the crew further. Of course nothing is totally effective, and some fatalities have occurred on active duty in Afghanistan. The Coyote is an extended wheelbase variant of the Jackal, with an additional powered axle to give it better load carrying ability, whilst providing the same off-road traction, and the two vehicles will be used in support of eachother, in a mix-and-match variation to carry sufficient supplies and arms for particular assignments. The Coyote is also capable of acting as a light artillery tractor if the need arises. The Kits As you can probably tell from the twin boxtop pictures, these are separate kits, although they both arrive in identically sized boxes in Airfix's usual style, and they share three sprues, with the Jackal effectively containing a subset of the Coyote's parts. Initial impressions are surprising - there is plenty of detail in the parts, which are crisp and well moulded. There are also a lot of parts in these small vehicles, which should result in a good replica. The construction process between the two kits is also broadly similar, starting with the axles and their associated suspension and drive shafts. The Jackal has two to build up, while the Coyote has three. The front up-armoured crew section floor is the same in both kits, but of course the wheel count is different. The front of both vehicles builds up the same, with the crew floor sitting on top of the front axle and armour panels, a bulkhead behind the driver's compartment, and another behind that, both with built-in roll-over bars. The armoured sides of the cab are installed, as are the driver and co-pilot's seats with an armoured back protector. The Jackal has a short axle-protection panel under it, while the Coyote has a double axle panel with protection for the additional mechanics, and a proportionally longer flat-bed section placed on top with extra mud-guards for the additional wheels. The same blast deflection panels at the rear of the vehicle are fitted, as are the cut-down tail-gates. A pair of additional crew-seats are fixed to the central section of both vehicles, and diagonal supports for the aft roll-bar are installed. The covered spare wheel is mounted on the left-hand passenger door, and can be posed open or closed, as can the right door, which has internal stowage boxes on its inner face. The Coyote has four side panels on the flat-bed, compared to the Jackal's two, and these can be posed folded in, or flipped out for more external storage on both types. The front of both vehicles is the same, built up with large protectors around the headlight clusters and grenade/smoke launchers on the front quarters. A piece of PSP metal planking is attached to the front where the radiator would be for unditching the vehicle in the event of bogging down. To the rear of this section are attached the driver's controls and dashboard, which has decals for instrument dials, plus a full set of foot pedals. This whole section is installed on the open front, and tied in with a front protection bar and a pair of front door panels that can be posed open or closed. A gun-ring is placed on supports in front of the rear crew seats, and to this is mounted the .50cal machine gun, although a 40mm grenade machine-gun can be mounted, but isn't included with the kit, sadly. Another set of grenade/smoke launchers is fitted to the back of both vehicles, and a rear pintle-mounted GPMG "Gimpy" is attached to the rear right of the flat-bed. Flip-up running-boards are mounted between the front pairs of wheels on both vehicles, which can be modelled in the up or down position. As can be gleaned from reading this review, only a relatively small number of parts are required to turn a Jackal into a Coyote (at the model level at least), and these are contained on a half-length additional sprue in the Coyote's both. It contains an additional pair of wheels, suspension and drivetrain parts, plus the extended axle guards, longer flat-bed and additional side-stowage racks. A full-colour painting guide is printed on the back page of the instructions, with the dominant colour being desert tan, khaki for the seats and black for the anti-slip coating on the flat bed area. The decal sheets are identical, so take care which number plate you use if you are planning on getting both vehicles to display together. If you're getting more than two, I'd start planning on sorting out some more plates so you don't have any duplication. The decals are well printed, in good register, and have good colour density. A pair of short black stripes are included on the sheet as "spares", as well as a pair of V-shaped theatre markings that are sometimes worn. Conclusion Each of these kits will build up into a nicely detailed replica of these futuristic looking vehicles. Details such as wheels and cabin fittings are very nicely done, but the crew seats are a little Spartan, however, when looking at the covering of the real thing, they're not too far off the mark. You will need a set of crew seatbelts to give the vehicle a bit more detail, and as they are often seen festooned with equipment for the current mission, you'd also better start thinking about getting some stowage that will fit with this scale. Released individually, and as part of the Operation Herrick range of 1:48 vehicles, figures and buildings, these kits should look great in a desert diorama setting, especially in conjunction with the soon-to-be-released Merlin helicopter, or the existing Lynx AH-7. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. WMIK Land Rover & Snatch Land Rover 1:48 Airfix The WMIK is militarised Land Rover, and has been in service with the British Army for what seems like forever in various guises. The WMIK moniker actually refers to the Weapons Mount Installation Kit, which gives the basic chassis teeth, and widens its use in combat situations. It has seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it has been criticised for lacking crew protection, which is perhaps a little unfair, as it was never designed to be used in an IED environment. The Snatch Land Rover is again based on the civilian Defender 110 with a light armour kit installed (VPK), which was originally designed for operations in Northern Ireland, where it got the nickname from being used in operations to take suspects into custody. The nickname stuck, and even found its way into official references to the vehicle, relegating the official designation of Truck Utility Medium (TUM) redundant. Military Land Rovers have been somewhat neglected in the modelling world, with only a small number of kits in any scale. These new kits from Airfix in 1:48 are designed to compliment their growing range of modern helicopter kits in that scale, giving modellers plenty of scope for Iraq or Afghanistan themed dioramas. They are also a welcome boost to the 1:48 armour range, which tends to concentrate on the more familiar subjects of WWII. The kit arrives in a long top opening box in Airfix red, and inside are four sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue, a set of decals, and a 20 page instruction and painting booklet. All of the sprues except the clear sprue are bagged together, while the decals are loose in the box, and the first thing that strikes you on opening it is that there are quite a lot of parts for these two small (in this scale) kits. Detail seems good, although the backsides of some parts look a little agricultural, but that's probably because they won't be seen once the build is complete. Construction is broken down by vehicle, with the Snatch first to be built. A basic engine is included, but it's a little chunky in places, with the more detailed top section added later, presumably for clearance of the wing portions. A little careful painting and detailing work would be needed if you're planning on posing the bonnet/hood open. The engine fixes to the one-piece ladder chassis, and the running gear is built up onto that, starting with axles and suspension, drive-shafts and anti-roll bars. Detail here is quite nice for the scale, and includes some nicely moulded, if a little chunky, coil springs on each corner. The wheels are installed next, and have a separate inner hub, with a key moulded in to ensure correct orientation. The seam is relegated to the inner face of the tyre, and the attachment of the axle is also keyed, which takes all the work out of aligning the slight flat on the tyres with the ground. The tread on the tyres is well done for the scale, although a more accurate block pattern is sure to be forthcoming from the aftermarket providers. They should be suitable for most people's tastes out of the box however, and once weathered it's moot whether the detail will be seen anyway. The floor pan is next, with the fuel tank and towing hitch added to the underside. The interior floor has moulded in ribbing which is nicely done, and a few ejector pin marks are confined to the raised "arch" area, which receives a quartet of crew seats later in the build to hide them. In the forward part of the floor, the driver's hand-brake is installed and his pedal box fixed to the forward bulkhead along with the dashboard, which also has a decal for the instrument panel. Of course, it's all right-hand driver, as this is Her Majesty's Armed Forces! The front bulkhead has the windscreen and a raised cable-cutter moulded in, which will be very easy to knock off during construction, so take care here. The gear-stick, stowage bin and crew seats are installed next, with the seats able to be positioned anywhere along their installation slots to give the impression of different driver and passenger heights/driving positions. The bulkhead between forward and aft compartments is festooned with equipment/stowage, and will need a little fettling to remove the flash that is present on the finer parts. The rear crew seats affix over the aforementioned ejector pin marks, and a roll-over hoop is glued to the rear of the vehicle floor. The outer body consists of a number of slabs, broken down in a similar way to the real thing. The sides include the curved transition to the roof panel, which is installed at the same time, and extends to cover the driver's cab. A large ventilation panel (I hesitate to say sun-roof) installs next, and can be left loose to slide back and forth to add a little visual interest. This can be replaced by an armoured glass "emplacement", although this isn't entirely clear until later in the build. The thick rear panels install to the bodywork leaving space for the doors to be added later, and a few additional parts are added to complete the main build of the rear body. Attention then turns to the engine compartment with the installation of the wings, which are each provided with separate arch extensions, while the starboard part also has the various fluid containers added. Only after the wings are attached is the top portion of the engine installed, and here detail is better than the cylinder block itself, which is good because of its prominent position. The grille is made up from two parts, with the radiator at the rear, and lights added later in the build. The bonnet/hood attaches to the engine compartment by two lugs that allow it to be posed open or closed, with a stay included for just such purposes. An optional deep water wading snorkel can be attached to the starboard wing, or the opening blocked with a cover part that is also supplied. The windscreen is made up from one clear part, so will need to be installed before painting to ensure continuous cover of the moulded in framing. A set of windscreen wipers is supplied, and a fold-down clear part is supplied for the windscreen protector, which can be posed in either position, and has mesh decals that can be applied later. Moving back to the rear of the vehicle, the light clusters are done in an interesting way, which should prove effective. The lights are moulded into the body, and should be painted before installation of the hollow glazing parts, which should give a good impression of the real thing. The armoured glass rear panels fit into the cut-outs in the rear panel, and the two heavy doors can be fitted open or closed by using different parts that have suitably positioned hinges. The side doors are done in the same way, having different parts fitted if the doors are to be open. Headlights, spare tyre, wing mirrors and sensor fit finished the build, although a Gimpy light machine gun can be posed on the open roof emplacement. Painting and decal instruction follow straight after the pages dealing with construction, giving a general sand-coloured vehicle with optional "greater than" Allied markings, and a host of wire-mesh decals for the windows, light clusters etc. These will only be effective if applied to a perfect gloss finish, as any silvering will ruin the effect, so take care at this stage. The WMIK is a different beast altogether, although a lot of the chassis parts are identical and the build follows a similar pattern until the crew compartment floor is added. Instead of ribbed steel, it has an armoured base, bolted to the original panels for crew protection. Another angled armour panel affixes to the underside of the chassis, directing blast away from the interior in the event of an IED strike. The cab is first up with this build, with a more cluttered look to both the dashboard and the interior. The front bulkhead has no windscreen, but does have a pair of wing mirrors built in, which again would be easy to knock off. The majority of the upper bodywork is made up from tube steel, and doors are foregone in favour of a cross-brace of steel that is low enough to leap over. The rear compartment has cut-down sides topped with more steel-work, with a pair of tubular all-terrain seats for the gunners/crew and a pair of steps to the rear that can be used as additional crew seats. On top of the steel-work sits the turret ring, to which more support is added fore and aft, with the driver/co-driver seat brackets added to the front ready for the two contoured seats to be installed. The steering wheel, crew weapons and front roll-bar are then added, with the same wing and engine installation as the Snatch. The sides of the main crew compartment are optionally covered with an armoured panel, as is the driver's position from above. The bonnet attaches in the same way as before, and then the ring mounted .50cal crew-served weapon attaches to the turret ring. Additional equipment and sensors/aerials affix to the wings, and a pair of armoured cut-down doors cover the front doors, with a pintle-mounted Gimpy overhanging the co-driver's door. On the driver's side the wading snorkel is attached, and the spare wheel is mounted on the port side, along with some PSP planking for un-ditching the vehicle if it gets stuck in the desert. To the rear is an optional clear window, presumably to cut down on wind buffeting, and a large open stowage bin, which presumably hinges to admit the crew. Painting and decaling is ostensively the same as the Snatch, with just the addition of a sky blue call-out for the Gimpy's ammo box. Decals are in good register, have good colour density and appear to be nicely printed. There is no printer's name on the sheet, but it looks typical of Cartograf quality. Conclusion A nice pair of vehicles to pose with the forthcoming Merlin kit in the same scale, but some aspects have been moulded quite chunky through necessity of the moulding process and will benefit from replacing. A couple of crew figures would have been nice, as the new Infantry Patrol set that accompanies these kits doesn't have any suitable figures to fit the job. These vehicles, especially the Snatch, are often decked out with Barracuda camo material, which has a 3D look to it, which always reminds this modeller of Pringles scattered on a sheet. This isn't included with the kit, but it shouldn't be long before an enterprising aftermarket provider creates either resin replacement panels, or a sheet that does the job. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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