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  1. Finnish Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun ltPsv 90 Marksman SPAAG 1:35 Takom The Marksman system was developed by Marconi to be a drop-in solution to the need for mobile, radar-targeted anti-aircraft gun platforms for close-in support of troops, installations and other valuable assets. The system comprises a pair of Swiss made 35mm Oerlikon guns with a fire rate of 18 rounds per second. The Marconi 400 series frequency agile surveillance and tracking X/J band radar is able to detect targets at 12 KM and track them from 10 KM Although the turret could be mated with many different hulls, the British chose the Chieftain tank for trials of this system. The second prototype was mounted on a Chieftain, and have the vehicle a top-heavy look, with the crew hatches perched high on the top of the turret, overshadowed by the radar dish that made it so accurate to its maximum range of 4,000m. Sadly, the Chieftain installation never progressed beyond prototype and it didn't see service with the British Army. The turret did see limited service with other operators such as Finland who mounted it on Polish T-55AM chassis. The Fins moved these systems to wartime storage but have since been fitting the turrets to Leopard 2A4 chassis The Kit This is a re-tooling of the new tool T-55AM kit with added parts for the Marksman turret as seen in the Chieftain Marksman kit we reviewed here. Construction starts with the T-55 chassis. The front plate is added to the rea hull and plates are added for the drive sprockets at the rear. The front idler wheels are made up and added to the hull, these are followed by the drive wheels and suspension arms for the road wheels. The ten pairs of road wheels (five either side) are made up. Here the rubber tyres on the outside of the wheels (moulded in plastic) are separate and are added over the main wheels. With careful construction this could ease the difficulty of painting the tyres that you get with tanks. With the road wheels then fitted you move to the upper hull of the tank. The three parts of the upper hull are joined together, PE rear engine mesh is added along with the drivers hatch. Some tools and a headlight assembly are then added though I suspect some will leave this until last. The upper hull can then be added and the rear bulkhead put in place. The tracks consist of 92 individual links per side. These are put together (i know not as easy as it sounds!). Once the tracks are on the track guards either side are completed. There are PE webs for these, and along with tool boxes and tow cables to add. Once complete they can be added to the sides and the vertical parts added over the tracks. Final assembly of the hull then takes place with a myriad of small brackets, tools, tool boxes etc to add. The turret is then started, with the guns built up first from two halves that have some lovely moulding that results in a hollow flash-guide as per the real thing. These then fit onto a five-part breech fairing that has an axle for joining to the turret body. The two interlock in the middle of the turret, but as there is nothing to provide a friction-fit braking on the pivot-points, you will have to either fabricate your own, or glue them in position, or they will flop. The lower turret with moulded in ring closes up the turret, whilst providing the floor of the bustle that is added later from a single part. A number of sensors and vision devices are installed on the top, along with an insert that contains the two crew hatches and forms the base of the radar installation. The top section of the insert flips up on a pair of hinges for stowage of the radar during travel. More small parts such as smoke dischargers and antennae mounts are added on the sides of the turret and then the tapered radar base is inserted on the hinged panel along with the motor housing. The radome and receiver are put together with some additional sensors on the head-unit, which must again be glued in position. The turret ring then has its bayonet-fitting added to the bottom. When dry the turret is fitted to the hull and twisted to engage the bayonet lugs. Markings Only one set of markings for a Finnish example are provided. These are in the two tone green & black scheme. Conclusion Following on the from the Chieftain marksman there was hope that Takom would kit the one real user of the type. It makes good use of the tooling already developed, and its good to see that they are prepared to invest in this type of kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  2. AML-60 French Light Armoured Car 1:35 Takom The AML-60 was designed from the original AML-245 specification by Panhard originally being designated the AML-245B. This was the initial production variant with a rounded turret containing twin 7.62mm machine guns and a breech lading 60mm mortar. The mortar was normally loaded from inside the vehicle via its breech like normal artillery, or from outside the vehicle like a conventional mortar. It has an elevation of +80° and a depression of −15°. In the vehicle the commander acquires targets and direct the gunner sighting via a combined monocular telescope & binocular periscope. Range of the mortar is 300m in the direct fire role, and 1700m in the indirect fire role. 3200 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 32 mortar bombs are carried. The AML60-20 would later replace the twin machine guns with a 20mm autocannon. The Kit This is a welcome new tool from Takom who seem to be on a mission to bring us less mainstream vehicles. The kit arrives on 4 main sprues, a small clear sprue, 5 rubber tyres, a lower hull part, and the turret. All of the parts are up to Takom's usual standard. The kit does not feature an interior. Of note are the instructions (which I dont normally mention), it seems Takom have shrunk their normal A4 instructions down to A5 to fint in the box, and this had made them harder to read. Construction starts with the lower hull. The rear of the car is attached to the hull along with additional side parts the rear frame and the main side door. The rear wheel housing and suspension components and springs are also added. Additional handles and smaller parts are also added at this stage. The front suspension components are then built up and added to the lower hull. Followed by the wheel housing and their suspension components. The wheels can then be built up. These consist of five plastic components for each wheel in addition to the tyres. The upper hull deck can then be added to the lower hull. Tools and periscopes are added at this stage., along with a sand channel and other parts which I suspect a lot of modellers will leave off untill the end. Next the turret is built up from the main part with the hatches, tools and other ancillary parts being added. A choice of twin machines guns & motar, or the 20mm autocannon can be added though the instruction make no note which of any of the decal options carried this, and the decal / markings guides do not show any vehicles with this armament! Once the choice of armament is in place the lower turret ring can be added, other lights and a tarp can then be added to the turret. The completed turret can then be added to the hull. Markings There are 4 options included with the kit, and are featured on the coloured artwork. Spanish Legion - Sahara 1970s (overall sand) Spanish Legion - Sahara 1970s (overall green) French Army - (3 colour camo) Portuguese Army (overall green) Conclusion This is welcome new tool from Takom of Armoured Car which was used by the Armies of many nations around the world. No doubt the aftermarket producers will do decals and probably a full interior at some point. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  3. Boulton Paul Defiant Trumpeter 1:48 History The Boulton Paul Defiant was designed in response to Air Ministry Specification F9/35 of 26 June 1935 calling for a two-seat fighter with all its armament concentrated in a turret. It was believed at the time that, in avoiding an enemy aircraft’s slipstream, fire from a powered turret would be more accurate than that provided by fixed forward firing guns. Five companies responded to the specification but, for various reasons, four withdrew leaving Boulton Paul the sole contender. Designed by John Dudley North, the P82 prototype (minus turret) first flew on 11 Dec 1937 at which point it was named the Defiant. A second prototype was fitted with a Type A four-gun turret based on a French design already licensed for use on Boulton Paul’s Overstrand bomber, and this version with but minor changes became the production Defiant Mk1. The turret was electro-hydraulically operated with a mechanical backup and carried 4 x .303 Browning machine guns, electrically fired with cut-off points in the turret ring preventing activation when pointing at the propeller disc or tailplane. Whilst the gunner could lock the turret forward and transfer firing control to the pilot, this was rarely practised given forward elevation restrictions and the lack of pilot gunsight. The Defiant entered RAF service with No 264 Squadron in December 1939 and saw combat for the first time in May 1940 during the evacuation of Dunkirk. It was initially successful with Luftwaffe fighters sustaining losses, but a change of enemy tactics with attacks from below or head on soon saw Defiants forfeit the initiative. Following the loss by 264 Squadron of 7 aircraft with 9 crewmen dead over the three days 26th to 28th August 1940, the Defiant was withdrawn from the day fighter role. Four squadrons were equipped with the aircraft for night fighter duties, however, and it is apposite that during the “Blitz” of 1940-41 the Defiant destroyed more enemy bombers than any other type. It was finally retired from the front line in 1942 and thereafter used for training, target-towing, ECM and air sea rescue – many aircraft having had their turrets removed. The “Daffy”, as the Defiant was affectionately known, also saw service with the Royal Navy and the air forces of Australia, Canada and Poland. The Model We hadn’t had a Defiant in 1:48 at all, then within a year we have two. Unfortunately Trumpeter seem to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again with some sloppy research. This is particularly noticeable on the fuselage. The nose appears to be the wrong shape, being too deep and not long enough. The shape of the rear fuselage is no better, being too deep and also missing the kink on the lower fuselage between just aft of the turret and the tail. I'm not really sure of the right nomenclature, should it be F1, or Mk.1. The detail is nicely restrained, but many of the panel lines are spurious at best, many being moulded complete with two lines of rivets where the real aircraft only has a single line of rivets and no panel line. Having said all that, the moulding is very nice and, apparently, according to some build reviews it is easy to build and look nice, if wrong, on the shelf. Not having the Airfix kit, means I cannot do a direct comparison, but I get the feeling that the Airfix one is more accurate, if a little lacking in surface detail. So, on with the build, beginning with the cockpit, naturally; this is built up from the floor, seat, rudder bar, joystick, the two sidewalls and instrument panel with decal instruments. The cockpit assembly is then glued into one half of the fuselage while a small switchbox is fitted to the starboard side. The fuselage is then closed up, with the two piece tailwheel sandwiched between. The clear parts of the section between the cockpit and turret and then added from the outside. The wing is comprised of a single piece lower section complete with wheel wells and two upper sections, once assembled this is glued to the fuselage. Each main undercarriage assembly is made up from the single piece wheel, undercarriage leg and outer bay door. Once glued in place the retraction actuator is then attached along with the inner bay door. The individual exhaust stubs are then attached; three per side, as well as the landing light covers, navigation light covers and separate ailerons. The propeller is a single piece item, with separate spinner and backplate whilst the radiator bath is a two piece affair whilst the oil cooler is a single piece item. The lower outer bay doors are then glued into position along with the optionally posed flaps, as is the separate rudder, main and rear mounted aerial masts. The turret is very well detailed, made up of seventeen plastic and two brass parts. The four gun barrels are hollowed out at the muzzle, giving them a nice appearance. With the turret assembled it can be inserted into its aperture. Unfortunately, the turtle deck, aft of the turret is fixed, and there si no option to have it retracted, without further surgery. The build is finished off with the fitting of the windscreen and canopy, which cannot be posed open without some surgery, the two horizontal tailplanes and finally the pitot probe. Decals The decal sheet provided markings for two aircraft and are designed and printed by Trumpeter themselves. The decals are sharp, in good register, nicely opaque and with minimal carrier film, except around the letters of the main identification letters. The aircraft markings are for the following:- Defiant F1 L7009 TW-H in a day fighter scheme of dark green, dark brown over light aircraft grey. Defiant F1 N3328 DZ-Z in a night fighter scheme of overall black. Conclusion This looks to be quite a nice to build and will no doubt look stunning in an experts hands if they can get over the kits inaccuracies. It would certainly be a good kit for a novice modeller too as it’s not too taxing, although they may need a little help with the turret. Just a shame that Trumpeter failed to get the shape right as it could have been a great kit. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  4. Mike

    M47/G Patton Medium Tank 1:35

    M47/G Patton 1:35 Takom via Pocketbond Despite his insistence that the US Forces didn't require a heavier tank toward the close of WWII, which resulted in the delay of the capable Pershing tank, so that it barely made any difference the final few months of the war, the US Army seem fond of naming tanks after this flamboyant General. Of the four, the M47 was the second, and was a development of the earlier M46, which was always to be an interim solution whilst they waited for the ill-fated T42 medium tank. The M47 was also supposed to be a stop-gap, but it took the M46 chassis and mated it with the turret from the T42, with a 90mm gun as the main armament. It also had the distinction of being the last US tank to have a bow mounted machine gun in the glacis, with following designs having a coax machine gun alongside the barrel for flexibility in combat. Over 9,000 examples were made, and its front-line lifespan was relatively short, being superseded by the M48 Patton almost as soon as production ceased, and being declared obsolete only 5 years later. By the end of the 50s, the US army had sold their stock to overseas customers, and even the US Marines, who aren't so quick to throw their kit away had replaced them by that time too. All in all, not a well-loved tank in US Service, but it served other Allied nations such as Italy and Spain in large numbers, so it wasn't a total loss. The Kit The juggernaut of new releases from Takom continues apace, and the Patton range of tanks seems to be one of the current subjects in hand. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box, and inside are seven sprues and three separate parts in mid-grey styrene, a small clear sprue, two khaki coloured track jigs, a small decal sheet and of course the instruction booklet with painting guide on the insides of the glossy cover. Beginning construction with the M46 Patton styled underside involved adding the various suspension parts, using the track jigs to line up all the swing-arms, and creating 14 pairs of road wheels, plus two drive sprockets. The jigs can then be used to create the track runs, which are link-and-length, by installing the idler and drive sprockets temporarily in the jig and lining up the parts of the track with small bars that ensure correct position when dry. The whole assembly can then be lifted off once the glue is dry to install the road wheels and tracks in your preferred order of construction and painting. The upper hull is made up primarily from a single slab with moulded-in engine deck louvers and the sleek cast glacis plate, which has subtle casting texture to its surface. The bow-mounted gun, lifting eyes and towing shackles are added along with the D-shaped front hatches and their periscope, finished off with the light clusters and their protective framing. Shackles, vents, towing eyes and tow-ropes are added to the rea, and then the two fenders are built up away from the hull, with stowage, pioneer tools, exhaust boxes with shrouds added to both before being attached into long slots with matching tabs in the now complete hull. The turret also has the casting texture moulded-in, which will need a little fettling around the top-bottom join, paying careful attention to your references so that you don't make it too neat and tidy. In fact, it could do with a little sharpening at the bottom edge, with an almost vertical torch-cut pattern where the area has been "tidied" up, and I use that term very loosely. The casting details are nicely embossed on the bustle, and should escape any damage if you are careful when cleaning up/texturing the joint. A functional pivot for the gun is fitted inside the lower half before closure, and if left unglued will enable the gun to be posed after completion, although there is no damping in the shape of poly-caps, so it might need gluing later to prevent droop. A big trapezoid stowage box is added to the rear with spare fuel cans strapped to the sides, and the commander's cupola with clear vision blocks and periscope is dropped into the hole in the turret top, next to the simple loader's hatch, with an M2 derivative machine gun on a simple pintle-mount next to his hatch. Two barrels for the main gun are supplied, depending on whether you will be fitting the canvas mantlet cover or not. Without it, the barrel is a single moulding, with a choice of muzzle types, while with the styrene cover the barrel is split vertically but uses the same muzzle brakes. If you are fitting the cover however, you will need to remove the little catches that are attached to the front of the turret, as these are moulded to the cover. Grab handles and tie-down points are fitted to the sides of the turret, plus smoke dischargers, and then it's just a case of twisting the turret into its bayonet fitting, and you're finished. Markings There are six marking options from the box, and the profiles have been done in conjunction with Mig Jiménez's company AMMO, so the colour codes are theirs, although you also get the colour names, so conversion to your favourite brand will be relatively easy should you need to. Given the more widespread use of the vehicle by foreign powers, there is only one US option, with the rest being from various countries as follows: M47 Early production Detroit Tank Arsenal, USA 1951 – all over green. M47 G, Western Germany, 1960s – all over green with post-war German cross. M47 Pakistan Army Battle of Assal Uttar Sep 10th 1965 Indo-Pakistan war – Green with wavy brown camo. M47 South Koeran Army, 1980s – Green/sand/white/black camo. M47 Jordanian army 6 days war, 1967 – sand with wavy green camo. M47 Croatian Army Bosnia Herzegovina – green with red-brown and sand yellow camo. The decal sheet is printed anonymously, but is of high quality so could be by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Not everyone likes link-and-length tracks, but otherwise this should appeal to many modellers, with plenty of relatively unusual schemes to choose from. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  5. Russian Su-34 Fullback Fighter-Bomber 1:72 Trumpeter The Sukhoi Su-34, known by the NATO reporting name 'Fullback' is an all-weather strike fighter, designed to replace the ageing Su-24 Fencer in Russian service. Despite being based on an existing design (the Su-27), the type endured an extremely protracted development, punctuated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Eventually, 200 of the type are expected to enter service, replacing approximately 300 Su-24s. There are many differences between the Su-27 and the Su34, principal amongst which is a completely new nose, which accomodates the crew side-by-side. Since September 2015, Su-34s have been involved in the conflict in Syria, dropping BETAB-500 and OFAB-500 bombs. There has already been interest in the type from overseas customers. Algeria has ordered an initial batch of 12 aircraft, while Vietnam is apparently also interested in the type. This kit represents another high-profile release from the Trumpeter stable. Following hot on the heels of their gorwing range of Su-27 variants, as well as the 1:48 Su-34 from Hobbyboss, the kit has been fairly warmly received by fans of modern Russian hardware, save from the fairly well known issue with the shape of the nose. The kit arrives in a fairly large box, inside which are a fairly staggering 550 parts spread across 34 sprues of grey plastic (not including the upper and lower fuselage/wing parts, which are not on a sprue) and a single clear sprue. You have to hand it to Trumpeter, they know how to cram a lot of plastic into a box! The parts are well protected and the quality of moulding is up to the usual Trumpeter standard, with fine, consistent panel lines and plenty of detail. The overall shape and arrangement of parts appears to match photographs and plans of the real aircraft well, with the only exception being the shape of the nose. Some modellers have commented that this could be improved with a little work with a sanding stick, but I'm not so sure. No doubt someone will pop up with a resin replacement before too long, however. Construction begins with the cockpit. This is made up of sixteen parts, including two crisply moulded K36 ejection seats. The cockpit is well detailed and includes a door in the rear bulkhead which leads to the nose gear bay and crew access point. The nose gear bay itself is made up of seven parts and is just as well detailed as the cockpit. Both sub-assemblies fit into the lower fuselage, while the parts for the main landing gear bay fit into the upper fuselage. With this done the upper and lowe fusealge halves can be joined. As with most kits of blended-wing aircraft, the fuselage is split vertically with the entire wing moulded in place. The fences for the outer wing are all present and correct. The canards, vertical tail and tail boom are next. The rudders are moulded seperately, but can't be posed off centre as they have large tabs that lock them into place. The upper tail boom is moulded seperately and there is a cutout for the APU vent. The wing flaps and elevators are next, along with the multi-part engine exhausts. These are well detailed and slot into the fuselage up to their real depth. Next up is the rugged landing gear. Each main gear leg is moulded from five parts, with the uppermost part of the main leg seperate from the rest of the leg. I have to say that the structural strength of this breakdown concerns me a little. The complex nose gear leg is made up of seven parts, with an optional crew access ladder. The engine air intakes are next. These are partly slide moulded, which makes construction relatively pain free. Engine turbine faces are included, which will prevent the dreaded see-through effect. As the build draws to a conclusion, the pylons have to be added. The canopy is nicely realised and very cleanly moulded. This kit famously includes a quite frankly ludicrous amount of weaponry. This probably accounts for at least a third of the asking price, but who doesn't like spare ordnance? All told, you get: 2 x KH-31 Krypton air-to-surface missiles; 2 x KH-58 Kilter anti-radiation missiles; 2 x KH-59 Ovod cruise missiles; 2 x KMGU-2 munitions dispenser; 12 x FAB-100 bombs; 2 x KAB-500L bombs; 2 x KAB-1500L bombs; 2 x KAB-1500T bombs; 2 x R-27T infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-27R semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-27ET extended range infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-27ER extended range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-73E infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-77 active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-172 'AWACS killer' air-to-air missiles; 2 x PTB-3000 drop tanks; and 2 x APK-9 data link pods. Decal options are provided for two Russian Air Force Su-34s, one in the blue/blue/green disruptive pattern and the other in the much less pleasing dark grey over blue finish that the aircraft operating in Syria wore. Decals are also included for the pile of ordnance. The decals look nicely printed and should perform well. Conclusion This is an interesting kit which will probably divide opinion. It's big, complex, well detailed and includes a very generous selection of ordnance. On the other hand, it's not that cheap and it has a wonky nose. Whether you decide to take the plunge will depend very much on whether you think the kit represents value for money, as well as how much you care about the nose (or how much time or money you are willing to spend fixing it). Whichever route you choose, you will be rewarded with an impressive kit. Now let's hope some more foreign governments splash out on the real thing so we can have some more impressive marking options. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  6. German Bergepanzer Hetzer late 1:35 Thunder Model The Hetzer was a highly successful tank destroyer that was based on the Czech P38(t), which mounted a powerful 75mm gun in the glacis with limited traverse capability, obviating the need for a turret and thereby reducing its profile, but requiring the driver to slew the vehicle for gross re-targeting. The Bergepanzer variant was fitted with a smooth glacis with no gun port, and had an open top for ease of ingress by the crew, who would be in and out connecting up towing ropes etc. to any vehicle in distress, possibly whilst still under fire. Due to its designation as a "light" recovery vehicle its use was limited to an extent, and only 170 were built in total, with later models benefitting from experience in the field, and from side skirts that helped defuse the blast of shaped charges that were in use in the later part of the war. The Kit This is a variant on Thunder Model's original Bergepanzer Hetzer late, which has been released with different parts to bring a total of four boxings including this one, which is a Limited Special edition with some upgrades to detail in the shape of metal and resin parts. Thunder Model are another Chinese company, with a number of unusual kits under their belts already, and some more to be released going forwards. Their tooling style reminds me of Hasegawa, whether it's the colour of styrene they use, or the look of the parts, I'm not sure. Their boxes have captive lids, opening up to reveal seven sprues of that grey styrene, plus the extras, which you will find in a ziplok bag. Take care when opening the bag, as some of the parts are necessarily small and easily lost. There are two sheets of copper Photo-Etch (PE), a small sheet of brass PE, another nickel plated fret with painted dials, a length of brass chain, three lengths of braided string/rope with no fuzzy threads, a length of brass wire, two short loops of thicker gauge steel and copper wire, and two resin towing cable eyes. Almost everything you will need other than glue and paint to complete your model. The instructions are printed on an A4 booklet in portrait with greyscale isometric views, and the painting guide is printed on glossy stock in full colour. Due to the open top, quite a lot of the interior will be on display, so construction begins with the engine, which is nicely detailed, with ancillary parts also included, such as fuel tanks, radiator and air ducting parts. A number of tiny rivets are added around the inside of the hull by the final drive housing, and the leaf-spring suspension units with their large wheels are added all around before the link-and-length track is built up around the road wheels and drive sprocket. The rear bulkhead is added to the hull along with the towing cables, lifting eyes and towing hooks, while the transmission box is constructed over a number of steps before it is dropped into the front of the hull, and the driver's position with PE pedals and controls are glued into the left side. Behind and to his right a power take-off runs the internal winch that passes out through the rear armour, and behind that the bulkhead is fitted to separate the engine bay from the crew compartment. The upper hull is open at the top and has a separate engine deck, which is constructed by adding an inverted T-shape with PE grilled to the centre, and fitting the two access panels at the top left and right, the winch cable exiting from the starboard side. Various PE brackets and a length of replacement track are used, and the special edition rear fenders are built up from the included PE, which can be deformed to show use in a more realistic way, as well as having more scale thickness. The Pioneer tools and the bergepanzer specific tools are festooned over the slab sides, and the crane can either be shown collapsed for transport in the port side, or with the addition of its cabling and hook, it can be shown erected on the top of the hull. A choice of PE or styrene side skirts are also fitted to the hull and fender edges, which can also be dented, twisted or plain-old ripped free depending on how good your imaginary driver was at his job. A shallow stowage bin is fitted into the crew compartment aperture, which can be fitted with a choice of pulley assemblies, and the final act involves building up the chunky entrenching blade that fits to the rear of the vehicle and hinges vertically for travel. Small PE lifting eyes are added to the rear of the blade, and an addendum is included on a slip of paper in the box for the support arms, so staple it into the booklet before you start to remind you. Markings There are two markings options in the box, but as neither have any stencils applied, there are no decals, just instructions on how to paint your Hetzer. From the box you can build one of the following: Germany, March 1945 - Dotted ambush pattern in red brown and green over a dark yellow base. Rhineland, 1945 - Wavy-edged hard demarcation pattern in red brown and green over a dark yellow base. There are tools out there to help with these schemes, such as masks for the dotted pattern, and the Clever Putty to achieve the hard lines of the wavy edged pattern. Conclusion It's worth picking up the limited edition boxing for the extras that it includes, which includes the engine compartment, as the cost saving is notable, and it will be interesting to work with the softer copper PE for the first time (for this modeller at least). Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  7. Russian Su-33 Flanker D (with carrier deck) 1:72 Trumpeter Instantly recognisable to enthusiasts of Cold War or modern jet aircraft, the Su-27 Flanker has formed the backbone of the Russian Air Force's air superiority fighter force for much of the last thirty years. The design marked a departure from previous Soviet/Russian aircraft, with its podded engines, large wing and sophisticated avionics (it was the first fly-by-wire aircraft to enter service in the Soviet Union). Emerging in prototype form as the T-10 in 1977, the design showed great promise, and before long it had beaten the time-to-height records set by the modified Streak Eagle in 1975. Although originally designed as a long-range air superiority fighter, like many of its contemporaries the Su-27 has been developed to take on a variety of roles, including air-to-surface missions. The multirole Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker D is the navalised variant of the successful all-weather interceptor. Around 35 examples of the type have been constructed for Russian Naval Aviation, all of which operate from the Aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznestov’. The Su-33 differs from the Su-27 in a number of respects. Most noticeable are the canards, situated forward of the wing to provide additional lift and manoeuvrability. The Su-33 also features larger wings with a powered folding mechanism, folding horizontal stabilisers, in-flight refuelling capability and the ability to carry a range of air-to-surface weapons. Despite the relatively small number of aircraft produced, this is the latest in a steady trickle of kits of the Su-33 to emerge. Things got off to a less-than-promising start, with the old and not very accurate Italeri Su-27 Sea Flanker (re-boxed by Zvezda). A few years ago Hasegawa gave us a much more sophisticated kit which, while still not perfect, was very good indeed. Trumpeter released an all-new kit along with a typically generous selection of ordnance a few years agp, just before Zveda added their own kit. At this rate it won't be long before we can build every one of the 35 aircraft with a different kit! Anyway, Trumpeter's kit is back once again, but with a slight twist this time. Inside the large top-opening box are over 300 parts spread across around twenty sprues of grey plastic and a single clear sprue. In typical Trumpeter style, the plastic parts are exquisitely moulded, with engraved panel lines, rivet and fastener detail. Also in the box is a small fret of photo etched parts, two decal sheets (one for markings and one for stencils) and a colour painting diagram as well as instructions. In common with other Trumpeter kits, the parts are extremely well packed and all of the sprues are individually bagged. Certain parts, such as the clear sprue are wrapped in foam for extra protection. This version of the kit differs from the last one we received for review as it contains extra parts for a large section of carrier deck, complete with hydraulic jet blast deflector, crew and a few extra optional parts for the aircraft itself. Trumpeter don't appear to have trumpeted (ha ha) this fact, however, as it doesn't appear to be mentioned on the box artwork. Nothing has changed since we reviewed the last iteration of this kit, so it's still the case that the overall shape and arrangement of parts appears to match photographs and plans of the real thing very well. The canopy has the correct profile, which means a seam down the middle, but this is a five minute job to clean up with the right tools. Trumpeter have even included the option to build the model with the wings and horizontal tails folded, which is very pleasing to see and exactly how I intend to finish mine. Construction begins with the cockpit. This is made up of five parts, including a crisply moulded K36 ejection seat, which slots into a cockpit tub adorned with convincing moulded details (although decals re also provided). Once completed, the whole sub-assembly fits inside the fuselage halves. As with most kits of blended-wing aircraft, the fuselage is split vertically with the inner section of wing moulded in place. The outer sections of the wings are moulded separately so that the model can be built with the wings folded. Some modellers will find this a pain as it creates an extra joint to deal with, but as I mentioned before, I think it's great that Trumpeter included this option because it wasn't possible to finish the Hasegawa kit like this without major surgery. Do note, however, that you must drill a number of holes in order to fit the appropriate pylons to the outer wing sections before your cement the parts together. There are different parts to use for each option, as the outer flaps are dropped when the wings are folded. The same applies to the horizontal tail surfaces, with different versions provided for folded and unfolded options. In this boxing there is an additional sprue with extra parts for the drooped flaps which wasn't included with the original kit. The engine air intakes are next. These are slide moulded, which makes construction relatively pain free. Engine turbine faces are included, which will prevent the dreaded see-through effect, and parts such as the auxiliary air intake louvers are moulded separately in order to maximise the level of detail. The Su-33's rugged landing gear is next. Each main gear leg is moulded as a single part, which should translate into a degree of structural strength, while the more complex nose gear leg is made up of seven parts. In both cases the wheels are moulded separately. While the model is on its back, you have to add the Su-33's beefy tail hook – a nicely detailed part is made up of four parts. The pylons have to be added at this stage too, so make sure you drill out the appropriate holes at the start of the build, or this is the point at which you'll really regret it. The canopy is nicely realised and, as mentioned above, accurate in profile. Because of the shape of the canopy and the way it has had to be moulded, there is a little distortion around the sides, but by way of compensation it can be finished in either open or closed positions. The major difference between this version of the kit and the previous version is the inclusion of a section of carrier deck, complete with jet blast deflector, decals and crew. The carrier deck is a hell of a slab of plastic, and will look very impressive with the aircraft and crew positioned in place. I think the Olymp 10 ton deck tractor will be a virtually mandatory purchase with this kit! In typical Trumpeter style, a very extensive range of ordnance is included. Of course there is so much that you can't possibly use it all, but who doesn't like spare ordnance? All told, you get: 4 x KH-31 Krypton air-to-surface missiles; 4 x KH-35 Zvezda anti-ship missiles; 4 x KH-59M Ovod cruise missiles; 2 x B-8M rocket pods; 1 x APK-9 data link pod (for use with the KH-59 missiles); 2 x R-77 active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 4 x R-27ET extended range infrared homing air-to-air missiles; 4 x R-27ER extended range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles; 2 x R-73 infrared homing air-to-air missiles; No, it doesn't fit inside my photo tent... Nothing has changed when it comes to the decal sheet, so you still have a choice of two schemes - Su-33 Flanker D 'Red 67' and Su-33 Flanker D 'Red 80', both of the Russian Navy. The decal sheets are nicely printed and you get a full set of stencils too, which is a bonus. Conclusion Trumpeter are definitely on a role with their 1:72 aircraft, having given us fans of Soviet/Russian aircraft a hat-trick of very decent kits in the shape of the MiG-29, Su-24 and now the Su-33. This is a very decent representation of an interesting variant of an important aircraft. The basic shape of the aircraft looks to be about spot on and, with the option to fold the wings, it has much to recommend it, even when compared to the Hasegawa kit. The inclusion of the deck section is a worthwhile addition too. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  8. Soviet PL-37 Light Artillery Wagon Trumpeter 1:35 History There is very little in the way of history that I can find on the PL-37, whether in my library or on the interweb. What is known is that the first Russian armoured train was built around 1915 with a number being captured after the revolution. The Soviets built up a fleet of armoured trains in the interwar years, used mostly by the Red Army, but the NKVD also used them in conjunction with their armoured cruisers. In the 1930’s this fleet was modernised with the introduction of the PR-35 and PL-37 wagons. Each train consisted of one BR-35 armoured engine, one PR-35 and two PL-37 wagons. During Operation Barbarossa, the Germans captured or destroyed most of these trains, usually through bombing as they were particularly vulnerable of this. During the war more heavily armoured trains and cruisers were built, with around 70 being available in 1945. The Model The kit comes in quite a large top opening box with an artistic impression of the wagon, strangely on its own without the rest of the train it should be attached to, firing its cannon at the enemy. As with the Panzertriebwagen No.16, reviewed HERE on opening the modeller is confronted with a box full of medium grey styrene, ten sprues in total, along with separate hull, in its own protective box, floor, turrets and five rail ballast sections. All the parts are beautifully moulded, particularly the single piece hull of the wagon, with no sign of flash and only a few moulding pips, so cleaning up after removal from the sprues should be a bit of a doddle. Being a fair bit smaller than the Panzertriebwagen there are far fewer steps in the construction, which begins with the construction of the rail tracks. The three sections that make up the majority of the track are joined together and fitted with the two end pieces, one of which needs to be modified to fit. The sleeper sections are then fitted from beneath, again with one section requiring modification to fit. The rails are then slid through the ties and joined together with two fishplates per rail. The wagon construction begins with the floor, the underside of which is fitted out with two longitudinal strengthening beams and two cross beams, on at each end. Toe plates, with added swivels are then attached to the underside in preparation for fitting the two bogies. Inside the main box structure there are four machine gun positions fitted. Each of these consists of the gun muzzle with the ball glued to the rear end. The ball is then placed in the socket of the mounting plate and covered with a semi-circular backing, allowing the muzzle to move. Each completed mounting plate is the glued into position, this is the limit of what’s in the interior. With the machine guns fitted, the floor assembly can be joined to the hull, along with the four two part buffers, two at each end. Each of the two bogies is built up from two side frames to which the two axle boxes are attached along with the parts that represent the spring suspension. Each axle is fitted with two wheels, with two axles sandwiched between the side frames, along with the bogie pivot block, which has been fitted with the four, three piece, brake shoes. The completed assemblies are then attached to the pivot mounts previously fitted to the underside of the wagon floor. The buffer plates are then attached, along with the ID plate to each end, whilst the wagon sides are fitted with the various hand rails and the access door. With the wagon the right side up, more hand and foot rails are fitted to the ends of the car, along with the five piece couplings and air line. On the side with the access door, three steps are added beneath the door and two long hand rails either side. The observation tower is made up of the single piece tower, to which the two top mounted hatches are fitted, along with the periscope cover, with the six viewing ports attached, one per side of the hexagon shaped tower. The completed tower is then fitted to the hole in the centre of the wagon roof. The two turrets are identical and consist of the single piece turret, a machine gun mount similar to those fitted to the wagon sides, a five piece main gun, made up of a two piece front barrel section, single piece rear barrel section, recuperator, and a figure of eight shaped joining piece. The machine gun, and main gun are fitted to the inside of the turret, before the turret base is attached. On the outside the turret is fitted with aiming port, periscope port, hatch hinge and an under-barrel plate. The hatch is then fitted with the other end of the hinge before being fitted into position, followed by a hinged mantlet plate, complete with two hinges. This can be posed closed up for low elevations or open for high. There are two protective plates fitted to each side of the barrel and these are attached along with the roof mounted radio aerial. Lastly the turret mounted rear hatch doors are fitted along with their hinges. The two completed turret assemblies are then fitted slotted into position and the railcar is completed with the addition of two armoured plates fitted either side of the couplings, each plate having previously been fitted with two hinges. The completed model can then be placed on the rail tracks. For improvements to the tracks, such as the rails, ties and ballast see the link in the Panzertriebwagen review. Conclusion I’m really loving the releases of these rail wagons. Having got all the German armoured train components, it’ll be great if Trumpeter continues with further releases of the Soviet trains. The build of this one isn’t at all complicated and would be a good first build or anyone interested in these trains, or those wanting something unusual in their collection. The camouflage possibilities are endless, with a fair few photos on the web showing how each individual unit painted their wagons differently. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  9. Mike

    EA-3B Skywarrior 1:48

    EA-3B Skywarrior 1:48 Trumpeter The Skywarrior was originally designed as a US Naval Strategic Bomber, but like the Vigilante that replaced it, it was re-tasked when the roles for delivery of bombs (especially nuclear) was handed over to the ballistic missiles of the growing submarine fleet. It was developed from an early concept of a jet bomber, and although it had trouble with its engines, it first flew in the early 50s. Even after entry into service it was dogged with problems, one of which was the decision not to fit ejection seats to save weight, which resulted in the wry comment that A3D stood for "all three dead". Once it switched to the Electronic Warfare role, it found its niche and continued in that area until the end of the first Gulf War. The EA aircraft were fitted with pressurised compartments in one of the former weapons bays, and the EA-3B carried four addition crew in this area along with a host of electronic sensors for defensive and offensive operations. The Kit This is the fourth kit from Trumpeter using the same basic airframe, and it has been established that the landing gear bay lacks a see-through area that should be present, although from looking at it back when the first edition was released, it doesn't seem too difficult to fix with a bit of styrene and modelling skill. The box it arrives in is quite large, which stems from the size of this venerable bomber. It had a long, slab-sided fuselage that earned it the nickname "the Whale", and its large swept wings take up some room, although the wings do fold, so are supplied in sections. Inside the box is a small partition that protects the two sprues of clear parts, two small sprues in grey styrene, and two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass. There is also a separate bag containing three flexible styrene wheels that may cause some wrinkling of noses amongst those that don't like "rubber" tyres. The rest of the box is taken up with ten large sprues and the two monstrous fuselage halves, all in the same mid-grey styrene. A quick perusal of the instructions show a fairly standard construction, although it would seem that Trumpeter have decided not to depict the compartment (coal-hole?) where the four additional crew spent their time staring at racks of instruments while flying sideways. That's pretty understandable actually, as given the secret nature of most of the equipment on board, not many photos of the area exist apart from one I found on the A-3 Skywarrior Association's page here. Although the box states it's an EA-3B, the two decal options are stated as A3D-2s, and if you look at the profiles of the EA3-B, you will notice some differences are apparent. The large bulged tail top sensor suite is missing entirely (but it is included as an option in the previous A3D-2 boxing 02868 along with the pointed radome and stinger tail), although the nose radome is of the correct flat ended shape. There are also windows missing for the EA-3B, a towel-rail antenna on the starboard side, an optional belly pod and a bulge on the nose that is sometimes carried on airframes with the pointed radome. Additionally, some A3D-2s still carried the 20mm stinger tail turrets, although admittedly these were only the early ones before it was dropped. There have been comments about the decal options not being appropriate too, but I can only come up with a discrepancy in the more colourful VAH-10 Vikings scheme, which may be fictional. Setting aside those concerns, which may or may not bother you depending on your modelling outlook, let's have a look at the kit. The cockpit is where the build starts with three seats that are built from two halves each, which will leave an annoying seam within the back frame to deal with. The seat pad covers the rest of the join, and a pair of seatbelts is added to each one. The side consoles, main panel and rear instrument bulkhead are then built onto a floor panel that has a few visible ejector pin marks that will need sanding or filling, depending on whether they will be seen. The side consoles have PE inserts for the instruments, and the main panel has been moulded in clear for no apparent reason, as it is painted black and has a white instrument face decal added to the front. Maybe they ran out of space on the grey sprues? The rear crew member sits facing backwards behind the pilot, and has a rack of equipment to play with while he watches where they've been. The radar is constructed from a good number of parts before being salted away out of sight in the radome, and the nose gear bay is built up from panels to form a sloping box shape that holds the leg, retraction jack and the single nose wheel in a Y-shaped yoke, which flexes to insert the two-part wheel hub and the rubbery wheel. The main gear legs are also built up at this point, with L-shaped legs, separate oleo-scissors, and complex hubs made up from two styrene parts and another two PE parts for the outer hub. The bomb bay is also built up from panels, and has some nice ribbing detail included, with a high part count. The main gear bays are located in the rear of the fuselage, and are built up side-by-side with plenty of detail, after which they are sandwiched between a bulkhead at the front, and an insert in the rear that makes them into a single assembly. A short crawl way between the cockpit and bomb bay is again built from panels, and this is first joined to the head of the bomb bay, then to the bottom of the cockpit. The nose gear bay is added to the front of this crawl way, and the whole lot is glued into the fuselage side along with the main gear bay, arrestor hook bay and some inserts in the air-brake bay. You can now close up the fuselage finally, and what a seam that will be! Fit seems good, although it's always difficult to say for certain without the "innards" installed, which sometimes actually improve fit due to the increased rigidity of the parts. The nose cone is added (with no means of displaying it open mentioned), and the two-part tail cone fairing takes it to its full length of almost 50cm. A refuelling probe and its pipework sprouts from under the wing root, and is stabilised against the curve of the nose by a small bracket, and the large crystal clear canopy is then added over a one-piece coaming, after which the fuselage is flipped to add all the doors to the gear bays and bomb bay, plus the tail bumper and arrestor hook. The bomb bay doors have PE skins for a 3D look, but there is no documented way of posing them closed, and there is a crew doorway on the underside behind the nose gear that could be lowered with a little ingenuity. After adding the main gear legs the fuselage can then be stood on its own legs for the first time. Construction moves to the wings, which are fairly complex as they go. The inner wing is built up with a few small parts in the tip for the wing-fold mechanism. Six spacers are added in the slat bays, after which the slats are added, plus the engine pylons, flap guides and the flaps themselves. A number of PE parts are added to the wing-fold area to give it additional detail, and the inner wings are then slotted into their mating points, where care will be needed to ensure the correct angle and that the edges line-up with the wing root fairings that are moulded into the fuselage. The outer sections build up in much the same way, but without the pylons, and these can be mounted folded for stowage or unfolded for flight at your whim by adding some PE linkages during construction. The tail fins are simpler, and each elevator has separate sections, while the rudder fin that folds part way up has two separate rudder sections and basic interior detail at the fold point. Again, a couple of extra parts will allow you to portray this folded, so you can choose a "below decks" scenario to save space on your modelling shelves. The twin engines are built up from over 30 parts with a full length provided and a pair of access hatches that could be left open, showing all the detail and your excellent paint job. The intake lip part is a single part with a bullet fairing and triple stator blades. Of course you'll build both engines up in tandem for ease, and because of the handed pylons, they are interchangeable, so there's no worry about putting the wrong engine on the pylons. After adding the engines there are a number of additional aerials, and intakes to add, along with the prominent air-brakes on the rear fuselage, which have retraction jacks included. The main bay doors have PE inserts and a small hinge-point part, fitting to the top of their bays with a retraction jack fitting against the hinge-point. Finally, there is another airbrake under the fuselage ahead of the bomb bay that retracts flush against the fuselage, and is perforated to optimise flow. This can be posed open by the addition of the retraction jack, but check for fit when the aircraft is on its wheels, in case there is any interference. Markings There are two schemes included on the large decal sheets, as well as a whole heap of serials on the second sheet that will be of help if you plan on going off-piste with your decal choices. The decals are printed in-house as usual, and are adequate, although not massively impressive. They have good registration, colour density and sharpness, apart from the diagonals that show some pixelation or "jaggies" under magnification. You can build either of the following from the box: BU.No. 142401 VAH-13 Bats, USS Kitty Hawk, A-3D-2, 611 NH – Grey over white with dark grey walkways on the wings, and an orange band at the top of the tail. BU.No. 142406 VAH-10 Vikings, A-3D-2, 4GQ – Grey over white with orange upper flying surfaces, nose, tail and rudder. Aircraft 401 seems to concur with the airframe's flight history, but 406 does not, and may possibly have been taken from a French language profile that seems to have been fictional, although my school-boy translation of the text shows date and location detail, but gives no other context. 406 seems to have spent most of its service life in the usual grey/white scheme, and it is interesting that both decal options were later converted to KA-3Bs – the tanker variant. Conclusion The designers at Trumpeter have been castigated for using one set of main parts to portray different airframes with subtle changes between each one as mentioned earlier, but if you feel the urge the necessary changes should be within your grasp if you apply some modelling skills, and for those that don't mind the small things, it's an impressively sized model. Have a look at the missing tunnel in the main gear bays too, and decide whether you're going to fix that while you have your tools out. Finally, check out our Walk Around here Recommended with the aforementioned caveats. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  10. M1A2 Abrams SEP v2/TUSK I/TUSK II 1:35 Academy The Abrams Main Battle Tank is the direct replacement to the M60, when it was realised that the venerable design was ill-suited to further modification. The new design entered limited service in 1980 and went on to become the main heavy tank in the Army and Marines branches of the American armed forces. It saw extensive action in the two Gulf Wars, where it cleaned up against older Soviet designs with minimal damage inflicted in a stand-up fight due to its composite armour. It was developed further with the AIM programme, which upgraded the battle management systems and returned the vehicles to factory fresh condition. The A2 was improved again, giving the commander his own sighting system as well as other system changes. The SEP (System Enhancement Package) received additional changes to its armour and systems, with a remote weapons station added later on. An auxiliary pwer unit was added to the tank in the rear turret basket to enable the tank to operate all its systems without having to have the main gas turbine engine running. With the involvement of the Abrams in urban combat during the Afghanistan campaign, it became clear that the tank was vulnerable in close-quarters combat, where the top of the tank was open to attack from small arms fire and RPGs could be used with relative ease. IEDs buried on roads or in buildings also disabled a number of tanks in practice, all of which led to the TUSK and improved TUSK II upgrade packages, which stands for Tank Urban Survival Kit. To counter IEDs an angled "keel" was added to the underside to deflect blast away from the hull, reactive armour blocks were added to the side skirts and turrets, and bullet-resistant glass cages were mounted around the crew hatches on the turrets to provide protection for the crew during urban transit or if they were called upon to use their weapons in combat. A combat telephone was also installed on the rear of the tank to allow communication between accompanying troops and the tank, as well as slat armour to protect the exhausts for the gas turbine engine, the blast from which was directed upwards by a deflector panel that could be attached to the grille to avoid frying troops behind. The TUSK II kit improved on the original TUSK with shaped charges incorporated into the ERA blocks on the sides of the tank, and additional shields for the crew when exposed. Both kits were field-installable, which reduced the cost and time spent out of the field. The Kit I must admit to thinking Academy would add parts to their existing Abrams to bring us this kit, bit NO this is a complete new tool kit from Academy. The kit arrives on nine sprues of sand coloured plastic, a clear sprue, a small sheet of photo-etch, a small sheet of masks; and two rubber tracks. The box is really packed with plastic and the main sprues are on the large size barely fitting into the reviewers photo booth. The moulding quality of all the parts is excellent. One word of caution is to read the extensive instructions (3 booklets) to follow the correct steps for the version you will be constructing as the instructions are not the clearest out there. Construction starts with the lower hull. Unlike some AFV kits this is not one part and has to be built up. The lower plate needs adding to the side parts with two internal stiffening bulkheads being added. Once the lower hill is complete the mounting points for the wheels need to be built up and added. Then seven pairs of road wheels each side are made up and added, along with two idler wheels and the two drive sprockets at the rear. Two return rollers each side are then added. Once the wheels are on the mounting brackets and supports for the side armour is added. If doing a TUSK then the under hull armour needs to be added last. To finish of the lower hull the rear section is made up and added. Construction then moves onto the upper hull. The drivers hatch is added along with some parts to the rear engine decking and sides. The front light clusters are also built up and added. Some of the PE parts are also added at this stage. The top deck can then be added to the lower hull. Next the side armour is built up, different parts being added depending on the version being built. Once complete they can be added to the main hull. The turret is the next major step. First the barrel is built up. Unlike conventional Tank kits the barrel is not two halves which the modeller has to try hard to assemble into a convincing barrel. Here there are three sections of tube which slot together, a much better idea in the opinion of this reviewer. Once the barrel is complete it can be added to the breach assembly. This is then added into the lower turret ring. The upper turret can then be added to complete the main assembly. Take care on which holes need to be opened up for the version you are building. The next construction stage is to make up the various guns / copulas etc which go on top of the turret. The TUSK version also features a M2 machine gun mounted on top of the main gun. The turret can be configured with crew served light weapons in protected turrets and the CROWS II remotely operated station. The up-armoured crew hatches are also supplied. Following completion of the turret of your choice the rear turret basket is added. All the mesh here is provided as photo-etch. The Basket mounted aux power unit is added (if for the right version). The side turret units are added along with any additional armour units your version carried. Decals Decals are provided for 9 examples; M1A2 SEP V2 - 2nd Infantry Division US Army, South Korea 2013. M1A2 SEP V2 - 2-7 Infantry, NATO Joint Training, Poland, Latvia & Estonia 2015. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 4th Infantry Division, 1-68 Armoured Regiment US Army, Iraq 2008. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - Combined Arms Battalion, 1-68 Armoured Regiment US Army, Iraq 2008. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 1st Cavalry Division, 2-7 Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 3rd Sqn, G troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 2nd Sqn, E troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk I - 3rd Sqn, H troop 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment US Army, Iraq 2011. M1A2 SEP Tusk II- 1st Battalion. 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Div, US Army, Iraq 2008 Conclusion This is thoroughly modern tooling of the latest M1 Abrams. Included are all the modern Abrams upgrades and add ons and the modeller will need to study their references and the instructions to fit the correct set of parts for their kit. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  11. Indian T-90 “Bhishma” Trumpeter 1:35 History The T-90S is the latest development in the T-series of Russian tanks and represents an increase in firepower, mobility and protection. It is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod in Nizhnyi Tagil, Russia. The T-90S entered service with the Russian Army in 1992. In February 2001, the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks: 124 were completed in Russia and the rest are being delivered in "knocked down" form for final assembly in India. The first of these was delivered in January 2004. The locally assembled tanks are christened 'Bhishma'. The tanks are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system and Catherine thermal imagers from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus. The first ten Bhishma tanks were inducted into the Indian Army in August 2009. India plans to induce 1,640 T-90 tanks by 2020. In January 2005, it was announced that a further 91 T-90S tanks would be procured for the Russian Army, although this number was later reduced. By November 2007, it has been estimated that the Russian Army has around 200 T-90 tanks. In August 2007, Thales was awarded a contract to supply 100 of these with the Catherine FC thermal imager. In March 2006, Algeria signed a contract for the supply of 180 T-90S tanks from Uralvagonzavod, to be delivered by 2011. Of the total, 102 tanks were in service with the Algerian Army by 2008. In November 2006, India ordered a further 330 T-90 tanks, to be licence-built by heavy vehicle factory (HVF), Avadi, Tamil Nadu. The Model The kit comes in the standard style of box used by Trumpeter these days, although in this instance it appears to be slightly deeper. The boxart shows a vehicle on the road during a parade in the standard Indian colour scheme for this type. Inside there are fourteen sprues of light grey styrene, separate lower hull and turret, eight of brown styrene, one of clear, two sprues of a rubbery material, a bit like Dragons DS, three sheets of etched brass, sixteen poly caps, plus lengths of copper wire, brass wire and vinyl tubing. All the parts are beautifully moulded with great detail and surface texture. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are a lot of moulding pips that need to be removed and will add to the cleaning up required. Construction begins with the assembly of the two sprocket wheels, each from three parts plus the poly cap, the two idler wheels, each of two parts and the poly cap, the idler axle mounts, each from four parts, (ensure you use the correct parts as they are handed), and the twelve road wheels, again each from two parts plus the poly cap. With these done the lower hull section is fitted out with the idler wheel axles, the sprocket axle casings, the return rollers, track slides and the three additional shock absorber mounts for the first, second and sixth road wheels. The lower glacis plate is also attached, and fitted with two towing eye fixtures and centrally mounted hook, whilst on the hull sides, two turret ring panels are fitted, and completed with the addition of fifteen PE bolt heads. The torsion arms and additional suspension arms are attached, whilst the mine trawl KMT-6 connection hardpoint/attachment plate is fitted on the underside of the hull. All the wheels are now fitted and the complete lower hull assembly put to one side to set properly. Before fitting any parts to the upper hull several holes need to be opened up from the inside, followed by the fitting of the drivers clear vision block. The armoured plate that sits between the drivers hatch and the turret ring is attached, followed by two long rods plus end fittings on the upper glacis plate, drivers vision block shield and the six shtora sensors each made up from two parts. The glacis plate ERA block comes in one piece and is fitted with the block end plates, mid mounted breakwater, and tow hooks, before being fitted to the upper hull. Each of the main headlight assemblies are made up from the protective cage, headlight, with separate clear lens, indicators and reflectors before being attached to the sides of the upper glacis. There is a further plate fitted in front of the drivers position, whilst the drivers hatch is made up from inner and outer plates and fitted into position. The front upper hull section is then attached to the lower hull, followed by the engine hatch, complete with additional hinge details, and the radiator hatch, which is fitted with hinges, clasps, four etched grilles and two intake covers. The rear bulkhead plate is fitted out with spare track links, unditching log straps, unditching log, (DS type material) and the fuel drum supports, before being fitted to the rear hull. Each individual track link is connected to the sprue in two places, in addition to the two moulding pips per link, it will be a rather labourious job cleaning up the 166 links required per side, not to mention the individual track horns, although these are very nicely moulded. Whilst the links have to glued together as there are no location pins provided, Trumpeter have provided a guide to build up the links into the various lengths required. With the tracks completed and fitted its back to the more interesting stuff with the assembly of the four part exhaust, with optional top plate, and the two four piece fuel drums. The two track guards are assembled, with the support arms and inside front plate attached. The right hand guard is fitted with a full length top piece representing the various stowage boxes the rear one fitted with a blanking plate, whilst the left hand unit is fitted with a smaller stowage box plate, exhaust unit and separate rear stowage box. Each of the stowage plates are then fitted with the various PE straps and hinges before the side skirts are attached. Each side skirt is then fitted with three additional armour plates and their associated fittings to the front of each side. The previously assembled fuel drums, additional engine cover plate and the track guards are then attached to the hull. The fuel drums are then plumbed, using the vinyl tubing provided. Each of the front rubber sections of mudguards are fitted with a PE part which will need some careful bending to fit correctly. The tow cable is then made up from a length of brass wire and the two tow eyes; this is then wrapped around the clamps to the rear of the hull. The turret is probably the most complicated section of the build, well, perhaps after the tracks that is. There are quite a few parts which I cannot identify even through searching the interweb, so forgive me if I get some parts wrong, or am a bit vague. Before the turret ring is attached to the turret itself, the three piece commanders’ sight is assembled and fitted inside, just in front of the commanders’ hatch. The only other part that needs to be fitted from the inside is the barrel of the co-axial machine gun. The mantlet cover is made of the DS type material and once fiotted to the turret is finished off with a PE connector ring. The infra-red sight housing is fitted with a PE window frame, and side panel, whilkst on the right hand side of the lower front, there is a small angled ERA box, made up from four parts, fitted. Each of the large cheek mounted ERA boxes is made up of four parts, which once assembled is glued into place. There is another small ERA box fitted to the right of the main gun and is assembled using five parts before being glued into position. There are an additional nineteen individual ERA boxes mounted on the roof of the turret. In front of the fixed sight there is a PE hood, made up from four parts attached to the turret roof, along with a rotating sight further aft which is made up from three parts. The spent cartridge port door is then fitted, as is the gunners hatche and aerial base. On each side of the turret there are six smoke dischargers. The tubes of which are individual parts fitted to a back plate. A small searchlight mounted on a pintle and including a clear leans is fitted to the left front of the turret. On the right side of the turret, adjacent to the commander cupola, a large storage box, made from nine parts is attached, along with the five parts that go to make up a spare ammunition box for the 14.5mm machine gun. There is another aerial type structure which looks to be part of the defensive suite and made up of seven parts before being fitted to the to the rear of the turret. The commanders’ cupola is quite a complex affair with the cupola being fitted with the vision blocks and computer sight, followed by the cupola ring. To this the hatch is attached after being fitted with the inner and outer plates, two grab handles inside and two vision blocks and their covers on the outside. The two part hinge is then fitted, followed by the clear plate and frame at the nominal front. The 14.5mm machine gun is assembled from five parts, then fitted with the three part spent cartridge bag, before being fitted to the cupola via the six piece mount. The completed cupola is then fitted with an elevation support, whilst the machine gun is fitted with its four piece ammunition box. Two more storage boxes are then assembled the smaller one, made from six parts is fitted to the left rear of the turret, just behind the smoke dischargers, whilst the larger one, made up of eight parts and fitted with the six piece snorkel, is attached to the rear of the turret. The main gun barrel is provided in two halves, which, with the strap detail, may be rather awkward to get rid of the seam without losing the detail, os it may be an idea to buy one of the turned aftermarket barrels that are available for this kit. The barrel and commanders’ cupola are glued into position and the completed turret attached to the hull completing the build. There is only one colour option, that of sandy brown overall, with a number of wood brown splotches over the base coat. There are no markings provided with the kit, and from what I’ve seen, none on the real tank. Conclusion Ok, so it’s another version of the T-90 from Trumpeter, but this one at least is a little different and will look great in its camouflage scheme. Without the glaring anti missile “eyes” on the front of the turret it looks very much like its forbears the T-72/T-80, but if you like the T-90 it will certainly stand out from the crowd in your collection. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  12. Type 69-II Iraqi Medium Tank 1:35 Takom The Type 69-II is an improved T-55 that was reverse engineered by China after they got their hands on a Russian T-62 after some border skirmishes. The initial batch weren't all that successful, so a revision was ordered, using a 100mm rifled gun with dual access stabilisation and many features found on the captured T-62, but basing it on the earlier T-55 chassis. The Type 69-II has itself undergone some upgrades, incorporating lessons learned from action with the many export customers that China have for this capable medium tank. The Iraqi Army have used it both during and immediately after the Gulf Wars, where many were destroyed by the superior range and firepower that the Allies had at their disposal. Unlike the earlier T-55 ENIGMA, the Type 69 used stand-off armour in the shape of stowage baskets to protect the turret from shaped charge warheads, giving it a more modern look than the underlying technology of the main hull. The Kit This is a newly adapted tooling of the recent T-55 range of kits from Takom, and has a label on the box stating that the hull has been re-tooled for accuracy with the words "Approved", although it doesn't say by whom. Inside the box are a gaggle of sprues in various sizes, totalling fourteen plus the lower hull and turret top in grey styrene. There is also a clear sprue, two Photo-Etch (PE) sheets, a length of flexible braided wire, two polycaps, a flexible styrene mantlet cover, a small decal sheet, landscape A4 instruction booklet and an A5 portrait markings and painting guide in full colour. The kit is also marked as a 2 in 1, which means you can build either a standard tank, or a slightly different command tank by using some additional parts supplied in the box. Detail throughout is good, and the quality of the package is up to standard with sprues bagged individually, some of which are re-sealable, others being heat-sealed. The track links are bagged separately, as are the PE and the decals, all in ziplok bags so they can easily be returned for safe-keeping during the build. This is especially useful for the individual track links, which have already been removed from the sprue for your convenience. A small sheet of paper is also included that advises you where to find the raised turret casting code digits, on the runner of sprue L. You'll need to cut them free with a new blade, then glue them to the turret, taking great care not to flood them and dissolve the details. Sadly, no details are given relating to the correct codes for the decal options, so you'll either need to do some research or make them up to suit your whim. The lower hull and road wheels are first up for construction, with an appliqué panel added to the front, the final drive, idler wheels and drive sprockets first to be installed. The stub axles for the road wheels are quite detailed, and each one is made from three parts, with six different types, so keep your wits about you so you don't get them mixed up. The road wheels are next, with the wheels paired with separate tyres and central hubs, which could allow you to paint them separately if you hate cutting circular demarcations. With the lower hull completed, the upper hull is made up from three main parts, consisting of the glacis plate, turret ring section and rear engine deck. PE grilles (or are they mesh? In-joke with Ken) are added to the engine deck along with some additional parts and the driver's hatch, and then it's time to make up the tracks. There are 92 links each side, which are supplied individually in a ziplok bag as mentioned earlier. Each one has a single sprue gate and two raised ejector pin marks, so shouldn't take too long to sort out with a fair wind and some good TV to distract you. The links fit together nicely, and the detail on the outer surface includes some nice casting marks, which makes it tempting to leave the tracks in a fairly clean state once painted. As usual with this type of track, just build up your run using liquid glue and drape them round the sprockets while still malleable, holding them in place with tape and packing to get a realistic shape until dry. The upper hull is then glued in place and the rear bulkhead is made up, with an infantry telephone, plus and extra one for the command tank, or an optional unditching log strapped to the back, all using different holes drilled from the inside. The lower edges of the final drive housing are added underneath, plus the curved bulge under the bulkhead that houses the cooling fan, an idea taken from the captured T-62 mentioned above. The fenders are of metal construction, and are supplied as long parts to which you add lateral strengthening parts, the mudguards, stowage and pioneer tools on the starboard side, with interlinked additional fuel cells on the port. The rubber side skirts are contoured styrene parts that fix to the sides of the fenders, and the flexible braided metal cable is cut to 106mm and given plastic towing eyes before being draped over the fuel cells. Attention then turns to the turret, which begins with the main upper part that is then detailed with coax machine gun, mushroom vents, vision blocks and tie-down shackles. The extensive bar/slat armour baskets are built up simply from the respective panels and attached to deep recesses in the sides of the turret for strength, in eight sections that wrap around the back and sides of the turret, leaving a the smoke launchers and a barrel synchronised searchlight to operate cleanly. The breech is not depicted, but a wedge-shaped block is inserted into the bottom of the turret using two poly-caps to hold the barrel in place, which is made up of two halves plus a hollow muzzle and a PE ring at the base. A Chinese Type 54 Machine Gun is built up from a number of parts to sit at the front of the starboard cupola, while the commander's more complex cupola has a set of vision blocks installed in the hatch, plus a folding mechanism that splits the hatch to allow some degree of protection under fire. Before the gun is mounted, a flexible styrene dust cover is slid over the mantlet and has four holes drilled in it to accommodate the platform for the Type 70 aiming device that sits above the barrel's central access. Hooking up the searchlight to the mantlet finishes the turret, and it locks in place on the hull using the usual bayonet fitting. Markings There are six markings options, two of what are found on the inside cover of the instruction booklet, and as is usual now, Mig AMMO have done the five-view profiles, and have their paint codes on the legend, as well as one of their logos in the top right of each sheet. From the box you can build one of the following: Iranian IRGC tank captured from the Iraqi Army during the Iran-Iraq 1980-88 – all-over sand. Iraqi Army, 1991 Operation Desert Storm – all-over sand. Iraqi Army, 1991 Operation Desert Storm – sand with green camo patches. Royal Thai Army – Sand, green and brown camo. Iraqi Army, 1991 Operation Desert Storm, preserved at Saumur France – dark sand with green camo and three light sand replacement side skirts. New Iraq Army, post 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom – all-over sand. The decals are printed anonymously, but have good register, sharpness and colour density. Everything but the "fuel" decals are written in what I presume to be Persian or Arabic, with some small patriotic slogans and flags for good measure. Conclusion Just right for an Iraq war diorama or one of the lesser known operators that use or used the somewhere around 2,000 examples of this more unusual variant of the doughty T-55. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  13. Julien

    Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG - Takom 1:35

    Soviet ZSU-57-2 SPAAG Takom 1:35 Following WWII and with the advent of the cold war the Soviets found themselves facing a potential enemy with good ground attack aircraft, they realised that a dedicated Anti-aircraft gun mounting auto cannons not machine guns was needed. To keep up with armoured forces this would also need to be tracked. Using the newest tank chassis the T-54 it was proposed as objeck 500 and would mount a twin 57mm S-68 automatic cannon. Development began in the late 1940's with updates in the early 1950's, finally entering service in 1955. The system relied entirely on optical/mechanical computing and carried no radar system which proved to be a major weakness. There were proposals to upgrade the system but these did not come to fruition as newer systems would come online. These guns would be retired on the early 1970s to be replaced by ZSU-23-4s. Like many Soviet systems of the time they would be supplied to their sattilite states and the system was used by Cuba, Finland, Iraq and Egypt as well as the normal Warsaw pact countries. In combat they were using Vietnam and the Middle East. Lastly in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, and the invasion of Iraq. The Kit Like many kits this was earlier kitted by Tamyia, and now the Takom version will battle it out with a Trumpeter kit. Takom are making full use of their T-54/55 kits by producing this kit which utilises the same chassis. A fairly packed box arrives from Takom here. Along with the main lower hull plus the Turret there are five main sprues of parts, four sprues of suspension/wheel components, two sprues of gun parts, five sprues of ammunition; and a bag of track components. In addition there is a clear sprue, a sheet of photo etch, a metal tow cable, a flexible part which is the stowed canvas cover; and a small sheet of decals. The turret on this vehicle is open and you get a full interior and ammunition load. Construction begins with the running gear of the tank. The suspension comments are added to the hull. The main wheels feature an inner and outer wheel, here Takom have moulded the rubber tyre as a separate part which needs to be added to the outside of the steel wheel. Eight main wheels in total are made up along with a two drive sprockets and two idler wheels. Once all the wheels are constructed they can be added to the lower hull. Once the lower hull is complete construction moves to the upper hull. The hatches here can be left open, but as there is no interior there is little point. The rear grill is added along with spare tracklinks carried on the hull. The tracks are the next major parts to be added. Here you get individual track links, but they are not the type you click together, you will have to glue them. I suspect the best way is to do the lower run first and let it dry. The upper parts can be constructed, and when your glue is going off they should still be flexible enough to drape around the wheels to get the run looking right. Not the best solution. There are 92 links per side. The upper side covers for the tracks can now be built up. These feature equipment boxes on both sides with the front and rear mud guards being added. Once made up they can be attached to the upper hull. There are different configurations or the side parts depending on the country of the vehicle being made. The instructions are as clear as mud here, with a couple for the options being named, but the rest not. Given the various combinations of lockers etc the modeller should consult their references for the vehicle being modelled. Various grab handles, lights, cables etc can now be fitted as needed. There are also various tools and a ditching beam to add to the model. Once the main hull is completed then we move onto the main event for this kit, the turret with its twin 54mm guns. This is highly detailed with a full interior. Construction starts with the central mounting platform. This is the core of the gun system. All of the sighting and control systems will mount to this. The lower controls and sighting systems are built up and added to this central part. Crew seats are added, then the barrels go one, these are one piece each with well moulded muzzle brakes. Attention now moves to the inside of the main turret. The turret basket is made up. A full ammunition load is made up and added to the turret base, along with crew seats and controls. The turret basket can be added to the lower side and then the guns mounted. Additional ammunition is then added inside the turret. The main upper part of the turret is the next to receive attention. This single moulded part receives more ammunition stowage on the inside, and a series of grab handles on the outside. The rear turret basket is made up from photo-etch and added. The upper and lower turret parts can then be joined and fitted to the hull. The flexible cover can then be added to the rear of the turret. Decals These vehicles carried little in the way of markings, and even with a small decal sheet you are able to build 11 versions out of the box. Egyptian Army - Six Day War Finnish Army Iranian Army - Iran Iraq War Iranian Army PKK North Iraq/Kurdistan East German Army Red Army - Moscow Parade 1960 Serbian Army - Balkan War 1991 Syrian Army - Yom Kippur War 1973 North Vietnamese Army - Vietnam War - 2 different variants Conclusion This is a really good kit, just be careful with the tracks, and consult your references as the instructions are a little vague in places. It is good to see other tracked vehicles apart from tanks now appearing for modellers. Overall highly recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  14. British Army AH-64D "Afghanistan" 1:72 Academy The AH-64 Apache was developed from the US Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter programme in the early 1970s. This stemmed from The US Army need to fill its anti armour role, following the cancellation of the AH-65 Cheyenne programme. This was designed to find the replacement for the AH-1 Cobra. Hughes Helicopters developed their Model 77 which became the YAH-64. The YAH-64 first flew in 1977. It features a nose mounted sensor suite containing targeting sensors and night vision equipment. A 30mm chain gun was carried under the forward fuselage and stub wing pylons provided four hard points for carrying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and unguided rocket pods. The helicopter was introduced into US Army service in 1986. The UK operate a form of the Apache license built by the then Westland Helicopters. This is designated the Apache AH.1. The first 8 were built in the US and the remaining 59 in the UK. in 1993 the UK Government had a competition to select a new attack helicopter for the Army. Bids were received from Eurocopter Tiger, Bell with a modernised AH-1 SuperCobra, the AH-64 Apache, the Boeing/Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche, and the Agusta A129 Mangusta. The Apache was selected and contracts signed in 1995 for 67 Helicopters. Unlike American machines all UK Apaches would carry the Longbow radar. Also in typical UK fashion we would change many systems on the airframe and the engines. Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines would replace the GE units. These do give more power and allowed easier operations in Afghanistan than other helicopters. Primary armament of Hellfire missiles and the 30mm chain gun are the same, however the UK Apache carries the Canadian CRV7 rocket system instead of the US Hydra one. The Kit The kit contains the same base plastic as the new tool Hughes AH-64D Apache Block II kit I reviewed here last August. It was a given at the time that this version would be produced. The kit is produced to a fine standard, crisply moulded parts and no defects present anywhere. A great touch is the one part main rotor in the kit so you wont have the often problematic job of aligning the rotor blades to a main hub and stopping them from drooping down! The kit also features fine engraved panel lines, great detail throughout and slide moulded engine pods which are basically one piece. The kit differs from the US Apache kit by having a separate sprue containing the different UK only fittings. Construction starts with the main fuselage halves. Holes must be opened up for various parts to attach later on in the build. Once this is done construction can move onto the cockpit. Control columns are added to both cockpits, along with the main display panels. There appears to be a cyclic control only and no collective. The one part moulded seats can then be added. Coamings are then added to the front and rear panels. The next step is to make up the mount for the main rotor blades. Once this is done the completed cockpit assembly and rotor mount can be added into the fuselage and the halves closed up. Next on the list of jobs is to make up the wings for mounting the weapons systems. Once made up these are attached to the main fuselage along with the top cover for the engine area. A five part assembly each side is required each side for the front landing gear. Once made up these too can be added to the main fuselage. The next major step is to attach the fairings down both sides an underneath which house a lot of the electronics carried as well as the feed system for the 30mm canon. Once the underside part is on the 30mm canon itself can be added. The tail wheel is also added at this point. Rocket pods and/or hellfire missiles can be added to the weapons pylons next (though I suspect these will be left to last by most modellers). Next up are the engine pods. The engine fronts and heat shielding exhaust parts are added and then pods can be attached to the main fuselage. Following this the main sensor package can be assembled and attached to the front of the helo. Now that the man parts of the helo have been assembled it is time to add the myriad of aerials, sensors, handles etc that seem to festoon the exterior. The last steps in construction are to add the main and tail rotors. The main rotor is one part while the tail rotor is a more complicated four part affair. The last item to be added is the mast mounted radar system, though check your references as often this was not carried to save weight in a lower threat environment. Canopy The canopy is a one part one which is a shame you cant open it up and show of the cockpit more. It is clear and distortion free. Decals Markings on these helicopters tend to be sparse so Academy have provided the main basic markings, and serial numbers to do any of the UK Apaches. Decals are by Cartograf so should pose no issues. Conclusion This is thoroughly modern tooling of the UK Apache. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  15. Shar2

    HMS Hood. 1:200

    HMS Hood Trumpeter 1:200 HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, she was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, Hood had serious design limitations, though her design was drastically revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. For this reason she was the only ship of her class to be completed. As one of the largest and, ostensibly, the most powerful warships in the world, Hood was the pride of the Royal Navy and, carrying immense prestige, was known as ‘The Mighty Hood’. She was involved in several showing the flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to Britain in 1939 for an overhaul. By this time, advances in naval gunnery had reduced Hood's usefulness. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades. When war with Germany was declared, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea for German commerce raiders and blockade runners. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Relieved as flagship of Force H, Hood was dispatched to Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet. In May 1941, she and the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded and sank. Due to her perceived invincibility, the loss had a profound effect on the British people. The Royal Navy conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship's quick demise. The first, held very quickly after the ship's loss, concluded that Hood's aft magazine had exploded after one of Bismarck's shells penetrated the ship's armour. A second inquiry was held after complaints that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship's torpedoes. It was more thorough than the first board and concurred with the first board's conclusion. Despite the official explanation, some historians continued to believe that the torpedoes caused the ship's loss, while others proposed an accidental explosion inside one of the ship's gun turrets that reached down into the magazine. Other historians have concentrated on the cause of the magazine explosion. The discovery of the ship's wreck in 2001 confirmed the conclusion of both boards, although the exact reason the magazines detonated will always be a mystery since that area of the ship was entirely destroyed in the explosion. The Model I think I’m right in saying this is one release that maritime modellers have been really looking forward to. Since Trumpeter started their 1:200 scale product line, the Hood was one ship that was always mooted to be included. Well, here she is in her beautiful, enormous glory. Arriving in a huge box with a great painting of the mighty Hood at sea on the front the sheer size of the box gives a hint at what is inside. Once the lid has been prized away the modeller is confronted with three smaller boxes and a flapped area which covers the single piece hull, the mould for which must be amazing to see. The hull is well protected by two cardboard supports and foam pieces at each end to ensure the delicate bow and stern aren’t subject to transportation damage. Inside the other three boxes are four separate deck sections, three for the main deck and one for the shelter deck, twenty sprues, eight separate superstructures/deckhouses and four separate propellers, all in a grey styrene. There are also seven sheets of etched brass, four metal rods, a length of chain, and a smallish decal sheet. As with most Trumpeter kits the moulding of all the parts is superb, with no signs of flash or other imperfections, which is quite amazing considering the size of some of the parts, although there are quite a few moulding pips which will require extra cleaning up and the propeller blades have a slightly annoying tag on their outer edges, as you will see in the accompanying photographs. Unfortunately, also as with a lot of Trumpeter kits there are some really annoying inaccuracies, which is strange, since they did so well with their 1:350 scale kit. Whilst some are easily handled, like the rubbing down of the rather too prominent hull plates, although the hull itself is generally correct, there are also those which are a bit more difficult to rectify, namely the different sized funnels where they should be the same. Hopefully someone will release a fix for this, or it may be time to try some scratch-building. Over it is pretty accurate though, with a few minor problems, which are best noted in the excellent review by the HMS Hood association, HERE Construction begins with the fitting of the six strengthening braces into the hull; topped off with the fore deck, centre deck and quarterdeck. On the underside the propeller shaft exit glands are attached, followed by the metal shafts, A frames, propellers, ensuring you have the correct propellers on each side as they are handed, and the single rudder. Turing the hull the right side up, six parts of the rear superstructure are attached to the rear of the centre deck, along with four cable reels which are a combination of PE and plastic, followed by a selection of vents, hatches and upper deck supports. The large, single piece shelter deck is then fitted atop of the superstructure parts, also covering the join between the foredeck and centre deck. The lower bridge structure is fitted with bottom sections of the mast supports, a pair of three piece paravanes, six boat booms, four Carley floats and some small platforms, before being glued into position. The shelter deck is then fitted out with numerous ventilator mushrooms, inclined ladders, and derricks, whilst a large boat boom is fitted to either side of the hull amidships. The cradles for the ships boats are then added to the shelter deck, followed by yet more ventilators, chimneys and a pair of large ammunition hatches. The sixteen small ready use lockers and seventeen cable reels are then assembled and glued into position, followed by the thirty five large ready use lockers. On the foredeck, the anchor chain windlasses, four smaller windlasses, and main breakwater are attached, along with the breakwaters either side of B turret. Then more mushroom vents, windlass, lockers and chain pipes are fitted, followed by the large vents around both B turret barbette and the armoured control tower base, which also has three winches fitted to the deck around it. The four piece anchors are then assembled and fitted to the hawse pipes, followed by two lengths of chain and two deckhouses attached to the rear of the main breakwater. The quarterdeck is similarly fitted out with mushroom vents, although not quite so many, winches, large vents around X turret barbette and the prominent inclined ladders either side of the rear superstructure, as well as the square scuttles sited nearby. Back on the foredeck there are several derricks fitted, along with the Jackstaff, cleats, and bollards. Similar fittings are attached to the quarter deck, along with the Ensign staff, as you can see the instructions bounce around a little. The build then moves onto the superstructure, with the assembly of the sundry parts fitted to the rear funnel base, as well as Carley floats, winches and two of the smaller ships boats, a smaller tower structure is attached, and fitted with two, two piece wireless arms. The after tower structure at the end of the shelter deck is a single piece item and is fitted with a number of platforms and their associated supports, the after main armament director, made up from nine parts, two large intakes, two six piece searchlights and one of three, eleven piece AA directors, one large and two small Carley floats. The two structures are then glued to their respective positions. The shelter deck is then fitted with more hatches, intakes and five deckhouses. The four searchlight platforms, two either side of the aft tower and two alongside the aft funnel are fitted along with their searchlights, whilst the aft PomPom platform and two quad machine gun platforms along with their seven piece mounts are glued into position. The base of the bridge tower is attached to the tops of three deckhouses, behind which the four flag lockers are fitted on either side of the forward shelter deck there are two observers binoculars, and aldis lamp, a large signal lamps, a semaphore pole and a quad machine gun mount. Two large and two small directors/rangefinders are also fitted near the signal lamps. The armoured tower and deck structure are then glued into position, followed by the tower roof and the large six piece director/rangefinder. Onto the deck, three deckhouses are fitted, along with four inclined ladders and a vertical ladder. The bridge itself is a single piece part, and is fitted out with sixteen observers binoculars, two AA directors, two searchlights, three further decks the lower mast supports, foremast, the complex PE foremast starfish structure, top mast, lower yardarm, inclined ladders, vertical ladders, and main armament director. The funnels are next on the assembly line, and whilst the rear funnel is the wrong size, most modellers will probably overlook this and build the kit straight out of the box. Each funnel is in two halves, which are then glued to the base, and fitted out with PE hand/foot rails, internal platform, spacers funnel cap and grilles, followed by the numerous uptakes fitted to the outside of each funnel. The main mast is next up and whilst the mast itself is a relatively simple build, the various fittings for the boat crane are PE parts, as is the complex starfish platform. The upper mast is attached to the platform and topped off with the Type 281 radar array. The crane is a single piece jib, PE hook assembly and PE cable assembly. Once complete the funnels, foremast and mainmast assemblies are glued to their respective positions, as are two smaller boat cranes fitted one each side of the rear funnel. There are thirteen large ships boats provided in the kit, a mixture of cutters and motor boats and each is made up from multiple parts, including propellers, propeller shafts, rudders, etc, but strangely the rowing boats are not provided with any oars. They may have been stored elsewhere when cruising, but it would have been nice to have some for interest. The completed boats are then attached to their respective cradles. Finally we come to the armament. There are four, six piece UP mountings, with the option of using PE or plastic parts to build them, six, seven piece four inch secondary turrets, and three, eighteen piece octuple 2pdr PomPoms. The main turrets are very nicely moulded, although perhaps a little deep. Each turret is made up from the turret, turret base, trunnion mounts, and two slide moulded gun barrels. Each turret is then fitted with a four piece rangefinder mounted to the rear, but only B turret is then fitted with a UP mounting platform that sits astride the rangefinder and X turret is fitted with two platforms that are attached to the starboard side of the turret roof. The completed armament is then fitted to the model. To complete the model, a full ships worth of railings is provided in PE, as well as four accommodation ladders, four Jacobs ladders and a pair of lifering quick release racks. Oh and of course the rigging and painting to the modellers taste. Decals For the size of the model, the decal sheet is actually quite small and contains only the ships two nameplates for the rear quarters and a selection of Union Jacks and White Ensigns in different sizes and in straight or wavy form along with two Vice Admiral’s pennants. They are nicely produced and appear to have a nice thin carrier film and to be in register. Conclusion It’s been a little while since this kit has been released, and its popularity has meant that we have only now been able to get hold of it. Overall impressions are very good, with the hull and most of the structure being pretty accurate overall. It’s just a shame that Trumpeter, once again, have snatched defeat from what would have been a great victory with the difference in funnel sizes even without the smaller discrepancies. It’s still a wonderful kit and with a super detail set from the likes of Pontos, who look like they are including a new resin funnel, and Mk1 Designs you can relatively easily produce an amazing, museum standard model. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  16. British Armoured Car (Pattern 1920 Modified w/sand tyres) 1:72 Roden The 1920 Pattern Armoured Car was a mild revision of the original 1914 Armoured Car, which had been used in the First World War, most notably by T.E. Lawrence during the Revolt in the Desert. Based on the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost chassis, it was powered by a water-cooled straight six engine developing 80hp. The 1920 pattern revisions saw the introduction of new wheels and thicker armour for the radiator, while subsequent revisions included the addition of a commander's cupola. The original Vickers Gun was retained as the main armament, although some vehicles were fitted with a Maxim Gun instead, and some were adapted to carry the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle or the Bren Gun instead. During the Second World War, the 1920 Pattern Armoured Car was used in the Western Desert campaign and the Middle East, until being withdrawn due to the availability of more modern types. Three original examples exist today, one at Bovington, one Maintained by the Irish Defence Forces and one in private hands. A number of replicas have also been produced. Following hot on the heels of their FWD truck (and their slightly older 1:35 scale Rolls Royce Armoured Cars) comes this all-new kit from Roden. As is their custom, the kit is packed into a compact end-opening box adorned with the kind of high quality artwork that we've come to expect from the Ukrainian manufacturer. Inside the box are four sprues of grey plastic and a small decal sheet. The mouldings look to be up to the usual Eduard standard, with plenty of fine detail. Construction starts with the running gear, and Roden have done a good job, with each component picked out individually. The double rear wheels fit into the rear axles and drive shaft, while the front wheels have to be joined to the steering mechanism. The fuel tank and exhaust system are moulded separately, while the leaf spring suspension is moulded in place with the sides of the chassis. Some nice details, such as the starting handle, have been provided too. Construction moves on to the upper portion of the vehicle, but before the bodywork can be assembled, Roden suggest stowage boxes and spare fuel container. The tool box actually folds up from a single piece of plastic, which is an unusual approach but should work well with what would otherwise be a fiddly part to assemble. The rest of the armoured bodywork is made up of various flat-ish parts, while the turret is made up of ten parts. The wooden area at the rear of the vehicle is nicely detailed and could be used to hold all sorts of bits and bobs to add visual interest. There is no interior detail, but extra details such as the headlights and spare wheels are all present and correct. Two examples are provided for on the decal sheet: "Vulture" No.1 ACC No.1, 2 or 3 Section RAF, Iraq 1936 (overall Green)With recognition roundel on top. "Tigris" No.1 ACC No.4 Section RAF, Iraq 1941 (3 tone camo) Conclusion This looks to be a really neat little kit that will no doubt be even more impressive when built. The overall level of detail, including the running gear and the way the bodywork has been depicted with dozens of tiny rivets, is excellent and it will make a fine addition to a collection or diorama. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  17. Mike

    Russian SA-8 Gecko 1:35

    Russian SA-8 Gecko 1:35 Trumpeter Built on a fully amphibious BAZ-5937 six-wheel chassis, the Gecko, or Wasp as it is known in Russia, was the first fully independent mobile anti-aircraft missile vehicle that carried everything it needed on board from missile erection and launch systems to the targeting and radar equipment that allows it the capability of firing autonomously, although it can also cooperate with other assets on the field just as well. It carries six missiles in two pods aft of the large radar mount, which has multiple antennae to cope with jamming, with separate frequency bands able to control up to two missiles at one time. The missiles are capable of intercepting high flying targets, but it is not a long-range system, with a maximum speed of almost mach 3, plus impact and proximity fuses to trigger the missile. It is still in service with Russia and some of her former Soviet friends in updated variants, and has seen action in the recent Syrian civil war. The Kit Another new tooling of a big Russian missile platform to accompany the recent stable-mates that have been spewing forth from Trumpeter at quite incredible frequency. Arriving in a medium sized box, the interior is sectioned off to hold the two large hull parts separately, with the aft further wrapped in a foam sheet to protect the upstands there that might otherwise be vulnerable. A wad of small card squares are also taped within the box to gently trap the hull bag in place, again to protect it during transit and storage. It's nice to see a manufacturer taking such care in getting their products to you in good order. Inside the box are a surprisingly low six sprues of parts, plus the two large hull parts and four addition parts of the missile system in separate bags, all of which is moulded in Trumpeter's usual mid-grey styrene. There is also a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a length of copper wire, six flexible black styrene wheels and a substantial (for an AFV) decal sheet. The instruction booklet is printed in black & white in an A4 portrait format, with a separate two-sided colour guide on glossy paper. Looking over the sprues and hull pieces, there has been some substantial use of sliding moulds to produce some very well-detailed parts. It is also clear that someone forgot to tool a missile pack roof part on the main sprues, as there is one within the normal sprues, and one separately. Perhaps I'm being unkind to the designers? If you're familiar with Trumpeter's existing arsenal of large Russian vehicles, you'll know what to expect, and that's a good thing. Plenty of detail, clever moulding, sensible construction that results in a polished kit. Unusually, the build starts with the crew cab, which is linked with the operators' cab and shares the same floor-pan. The driver and co-driver sit up front with the usual range of controls, including steering wheel, seats, pedal box and a very nicely detailed instrument panel which has three decals to busy it up. The rear compartment has three individual seats plus one bench seat, which are used by the operators of the banks of equipment on each side wall. The walls are a single part each, but have masses of equipment realistically moulded in, which is augmented by a substantial number of decals tailored to each box, with scrap diagrams showing their correct location – all 47 of them! Addition of a front and rear bulkhead to the operators' preps the assembly for adding to the lower hull, which has two large circular location turrets to hold it in place. The suspension is built up next along with the six wheels, which have two-part hubs that fit around the flexible black tyres, and lots of rugged tread moulded in. The suspension units fit into the lower hull along with the wheels, and the driver's panel is clipped into the front, which enables it to stand on its own "rubber" while the upper hull is prepared. Small details are added to the inside of the lower hull, including a pair of prominent vents on the top deck, fuel and water filler cut-outs, plus a host of pioneer tools on the rear and a large exhaust tube that exits just above one of the water-propulsion exhausts and is covered by a hinged hatch. The outer skin of the upper hull receives a compliment of hatches; additional panels; grab-handles, mushroom vents, and a bow-wave deflector panel for amphibious use. A pair of PE grilles go on the aft, with a stand-off walkway over the top for access to the missile packs. A rocket-wash panel fits on the roof to protect the glazing, which is also installed from the outside at this stage along with separate windscreen wipers, wing-mirrors and antennae base. At this stage the two halves of the hull are mostly complete, except for the super-structure of the missile and radar installation. This is begun with the framework on which the two rocket packs sit, so you'll build two handed assemblies that sit beneath the launch box, which is depicted in the covered pose, so there is no internal detail. The completed launchers are set aside while the large elliptical rotating surveillance radar is built from a styrene frame into which a curved PE mesh is glued, but as you get two, you don't need to worry if you make a mess of the first one. The mount is built up from five parts, and the receiver is held out in front of the panel by a tubular frame. It pivots by two large axles on the sides of the mount, which are trapped in a base that allows it to fold away for transport. The flat panel engagement antenna is then mounted on a large equipment box that has another axle running through its interior, which the two smaller command-uplink antennae that give it the ability to control two missiles rotate independently outboard of the supports that link it to the rotating base. All of these assemblies then mount onto a highly detailed rotating base, which takes full advance of slide moulding to pile on the detail, but still receives more in the way of grab-handles, equipment boxes and end caps, as well as the floor, which is where the bayonet ring is found. The elliptical dish sits on the highest part, while the acquisition and control panels are mounted on the front on a sloped section, with the two missile containers mounting one per side, inclined toward the front to give clearance on launch. The last task is to join the hull halves together, and twist the combined radar/missile assembly into the turret ring on the roof. The light clusters then get their protective cages made from PE that is bent around jigs that are supplied in the kit. A nice touch to include jigs, and to add them last to avoid crush damage during handling while building. Markings Any colour as long as it's Russian Green? Not quite, but close. There are three options on the decal sheet, which depict one in service green, another in parade finish with white rubbing strips down the side of the hull and the Russian shield emblem on the cab sides. The last option is green over-painted with sand and light blue camouflage, which breaks up the expanses of green at least! The decals are in good register, and colour density seems good on the sheet. The Russian flag seems to have been printed slightly out of register however, but as that's easily fixed by running your scalpel down each side, we'll forgive them that. Sharpness is adequate, although some of the instrument decals seem a bit heavy with the black, but as they're hidden away inside the hull, not much of them will be seen anyway. Conclusion Another welcome addition to Trumpeter's growing range of big Russian missile launchers, and one that has plenty to engage the eye once complete. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  18. Shar2

    OSA II FAC. 1:72

    OSA II FAC Merit International 1:72 History The Project 205 Moskit (mosquito) more commonly known by their NATO reporting name OSA, which mean s Wasp in Cyrillic, are a class of missile boats developed for the Soviet Navy in the late 1950s. Until 1962 this was classified as a large torpedo boat. The OSA class is probably the most numerous class of missile boats ever built, with over 400 vessels constructed in 1960-1973 for both the Soviet Navy and for export to allied countries. The boats were designated as "large missile cutters" in the Soviet Navy. The Project 205 boats are bigger than the pioneering Project 183R (NATO: Komar class) boats, with a mass four times greater, and nearly double the crew. They were still meant to be 'minimal' ships for the planned tasks. The hull was made of steel, with a low and wide superstructure made of lighter AMG alloys, continuous deck, and a high free-board. The edges of the deck were rounded and smooth to ease washing off radioactive contamination in case of nuclear war. The hull was quite wide, but the Project 205 boats could still achieve high speeds as they had three Zvezda M503 radial diesel engines capable of a combined 12,000 hp (15,000 hp on Project 205U onward) driving three shafts. The powerful engines allowed a maximum speed of about 40 knots together with reasonable endurance and reliability. There were also three diesel generators. Two main engines and one generator were placed in the forward engine room, the third main engine and two generators in the aft engine room. There was a control compartment between the two engine rooms. The problem related to the weak anti-aircraft weaponry of the earlier Project 183R was partially solved with the use of two AK-230 turrets, in the fore and aft deck. An MR-104 Rys (NATO: "Drum Tilt") fire-control radar was placed in a high platform, and controlled the whole horizon, despite the superstructures that were quite wide but low. Even if placed in the aft, this radar had a good field of view all around. The AK-230 turrets were unmanned, each armed with two 30 mm guns capable of firing 2,000 rpm (400 practical) with a 2,500 m practical range. Use against surface targets was possible, but as with the previous Komar ships, once all missiles were expended it was planned to escape and not fight. Truly effective anti-surface gun weaponry was not available until the introduction of the Project 12341.1 Molniya (NATO: "Tarantul") class corvettes, with 76 mm guns. The missile armament consisted of four box-shaped launchers (protected from bad weather conditions) each with one P-15 Termit (NATO: SS-N-2 "Styx") missile. This doubled the available weapons compared to the Project 183R, giving greater endurance. The missiles were controlled by a MR-331 Rangout (NATO: "Square Tie") radar and a Nikhrom-RRM ESM/IFF that even allowed targeting over the horizon, if the target's radar was turned on. With all these improvements, these ships were considerably more effective. They had one of the first, if not the first close-in weapon systems (CIWS). The survivability rating was improved to 50%, and the required volley of 12 missiles could be launched by only three ships. Sinking a destroyer was therefore regarded as 'assured' using only six ships (two squadrons of three vessels), making the Project 205 vessels easier to coordinate and even cheaper than would be the required number of Project 183R boats to achieve the same effectiveness. As a result of these improvements, Project 205 boats were without equal in the late 1950/early 1960s. Over 400 were made in USSR and another 120 in China. Some of the improved Project 205U (OSA II) were equipped with the 9K32 Strela-2 (NATO: SA-N-5 "Grail") surface-to-air missiles in MTU-4 quadruple launchers, in an attempt to improve air-defences. This new model also had improved more powerful engines, and new cylindrical missile boxes, with the improved P-15U missiles. The later 205M and 205mod boats had longer tubes for the further-improved P-15M missiles. The Model Having released their OSA 1 last year in both Russian and Chinese variants, the maritime modeller community was pretty assured that an OSA 2 would be released shortly after. Well, here it is, in all its glory. Whilst this and the original Osa 1 kit do share quite a few sprues, there is enough here to justify a completely new kit. Naturally the hull is the same, mast, radar and CIWS turrets, as are the bridge section of the superstructure, propeller shaft assemblies including the rudders and the majority of deck furniture. The biggest difference is in the main weaponry, whereas the Osa 1 housed the missile in large boxy canisters, the Osa 2’s are in much sleeker round tubes which gives the whole boat a less clunky look. The moulding is excellent, particularly the single piece hull, which must require quite a mould on its own, and only needs a quick rub down where it was attached to the moulding sprue. The hull, separate single piece deck, bridge, and rear superstructure, plus the seventeen sprues are all moulded in light grey styrene, there is one sprue of clear styrene, two sheets of etched brass, three metal propeller shafts, some brass wire a length of chain and a small decal sheet. The moulding of all the sprue mounted parts are up to Merits usual high standards, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and only a very small number of moulding pips. There doesn’t appear to be much detail pre-moulded onto other parts, but what there is has been very nicely done. The instructions are very clear and easy to read, and there isn’t too much work done in each step, which helps keep things uncluttered, and is something other manufacturers could take note of. Before starting the build, you will need to remove some of the detail from the hull, as they are only required for the earlier Osa 1. The deck is attached straight away, which will give the hull some rigidity for handling, along with four PE anodes, two, low down on each rear quarter, with four more on the stern, just below the waterline. If you are intent on building the kit as part of a seascape the you can skip the next step, which is the fitting of the three metal propeller shafts, their A frame supports, (3 off each), and the propellers themselves, plus the three rudders. The foredeck is kitted out with various items of deck furniture, the three piece hawse pipe, three piece Jackstaff, capstan, three piece anchor, anchor chain, six piece chain locker hatch, three piece cable drum, five piece magazine hatch, bullring, six bitts, and two mushroom vents. Moving right aft, the three piece Ensign staff, four bitts, another three piece cable reel and the rear blast deflectors are attached. The Bass Tilt radar is a quite simple sub-assembly, yet surprisingly well detailed. The radar drum itself is provided in two halves, which when joined together are detailed with a couple of PE parts and a control box attached to the bottom section. The mounting is assembled from nine parts and fitted with the drum assembly. The radar assembly is then fitted to the mounting base which is also fitted with a PE railing. The now completed radar assembly is fitted to the top of the control box structure, which is detailed with a watertight door and an access ladder. On the aft end of the mounting base there is an aerial base onto which the brass rod is attached and topped off with a cruciform aerial and pommel. The main mast is made up of two halves, fitted with a large three horned platform, which is braced with four support arms on the underside. The top of the mast is the location of the main radar, four large PE parts and one styrene part, whilst the ECM mast that sits behind the radar array, is made from three PE parts and a single styrene part. Two further yardarm platforms are fitted with individual flat plate arrays, each made from a single piece array and twelve di-poles. The yardarms are further kitted out with a navigation light and two support braces. With the various radar arrays attached the mast is also fitted with more light navigational and steaming light fittings, a two piece anemometer and seven individual rungs up the mast. The main armament are obviously the four Styx missiles, each missile body is in two halves, complete with fin/rudder, which, when joined, the wings and horizontal tailplanes are attached, along with the two piece rocket nozzle and single piece RATO rocket which fitted under the tailplane. Each missile is housed in its own cylindrical pod which consists of a two part launch rail, which is glued to one cylinder half after which the other half can be glued in place. The missile assembly is then slid onto the rail the rear panel fitted to the cylinder along with the access hatch. The front hatch is hinged from the top and can be posed open, with the aid of two gas struts allowing the missile to be viewed or closed. Each launcher is then kitted out with fittings, including the hatch actuators, two hand rails, an access hatch, the three piece front support legs and the three piece rear support legs. The four assemblies are now put to one side while other sub-assemblies are built up. The first sub-assembly is, what looks like manual guidance system which consists of a four piece ring sight fitted on top of a pedestal, which itself is fitted with two control handles, a circuit box and a locking wheel. Each of the two CIWS turrets is assembled form the turret base, single piece turret, the two barrels, trunnion and barrel cover, two hand rails, and the framework for the turret covers, (not included). There are two searchlights, one smaller than the other, yet built up in the same way, with the mounting yoke, searchlight, with three separate wing nuts and finished off with a PE handle. The open cockpit will be fitted out with the three piece navigational radar, instrument panel, radio box, and two three lever panels, one is probably the throttle, but the other I’m unable to identify, and all covered with a frame and two clear parts. The cockpit area is finished off with the watertight access door and steering wheel. The two superstructure sections are joined together and the windows fitted, along with the cockpit side plates, cockpit sub-assembly and screen. Two watertight doors are fitted on each side and handrail lengths circumnavigate the whole superstructure. Two roof panels are then attached, followed by the rear watertight doors, rear mounted stowage boxes and two liferings, with their PE cradles. The superstructure is finally fitted to the deck, followed by the three piece after gun mounting, the two piece foreward mounting and two, ventilators. The launcher sub-assemblies can now be glued into their respective positions, along with two, two piece liferafts, pedestal sight, plus its associated rail, main mast, Base Tilt mounting, the two CIWS turrets and a smaller ECM mast, and three whip aerial bases plus aerials. The model is finished off with the fitting of the deck edges parts and the railing stanchions, which come in three different varieties, some two piece and some three pieces, along with four railing sections with canvas screens which are fitted alongside each launcher. The kit does not provide the railings themselves, so it’s up to the modeller how they go about reproducing them. This does allow the modeller to use a more scale thickness that could be produce in styrene or the ubiquitous cotton. If not displaying in a seascape the kit does include a sturdy stand for the model to rest along with a nicely moulded plaque. Decals The small decal sheet provides individual numbers for the modeller to produce any of the class used by the USSR, in addition to a wavey Jack and Ensign. This is probably the only area that is a bit of an anticlimax as these craft have been used by quite a few countries, maybe not as many as the Osa 1’s, but it would have been nice to have the option of at least one or two more. Conclusion The Osa 1 kit released last year was a very nice surprise and while this isn’t so much of a surprise it is still a very welcome addition to the 1:72 catalogue. The kit is very nicely produced and would be a good candidate for modifying it to R/C use as it’s a nice size for use in many boating ponds. It is certainly not a complex kit so should be suitable for any modellers with at least a little experience with etch, yet it is still well detailed out of the box. Very highly recommended Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  19. Gepard SPAAG A1/A2 Bundeswehr Flakpanzer Takom 1:35 The German Army had fielded many different Flakpanzers through WWII, and it was no surprise that they would continue this into the cold war. The Gepard or Cheetah was developed to fill this role in the 1960's with deployment beginning in the early 1970's. The system used the proven chassis of the Leopard 1 tank carrying a large turret carrying the two 35mm auto cannons and radar dishes. The anti-aircraft system combines two radar dishes; a general search radar, and a tracking radar/ There is also a Laser rangefinder. The German systems featured an S band radar for search, and a Ku Band radar for tracking, where as the Dutch systems featured an X and Xu bad radars. The German system having a search & track range of 15kms, the Dutch having a search of 15kms, but track of only 13kms. The gun system fitted is a twin 35mm Oerlikon KDA system. Each gun can fire 550 rounds per minute. They fire a Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot and Armour piercing ammunition with a range of 5.5kms. The usual load is 320 frangible and 20 AP rounds per gun. The German Army would order 377 units, the Dutch 95 and the Belgians 55 which were identical to the German ones. The Germans retired the units in 2010 but they are in storage. The Dutch and Belgian units have now been withdrawn form service. The system is still used in other countries though. Brazil has 36, and Roumania 43 from Germany. Jordan purchased 60 from the Dutch. The Kit Like many kits this was earlier kitted by Tamyia, and now the Takom version will battle it out with a Meng kit and a Hobby Boss one. A fairly packed box arrives from Takom here. Along with the main upper & lower hull plus the Turret there are four main sprues of parts, two sprues of suspension/wheel components; and three spures of track components (plus a bag of flexible parts). In addition there is a clear sprue, a sheet of photo etch, two metal tow cable, and a small sheet of decals. Construction starts with the lower hull, various suspension components are added and the wheels are built up. There are two drive sprockets, two idler wheels and 7 pairs of road wheels (on each side). Holes need to be drilled in the lower hull where indicated for attaching parts later on. Normally the next stage is to put the tracks on. Takom have failed to include great instructions for this. The tracks supplied are on 3 sprues of injected plastic with 6 runs of soft vinyl end covers. After some research on the net it seems these are made by a company called Orochi. The individual track links are moulded as one part with the track on one side, and the pads on the other. They clip together with the guide horns. The vinyl end caps are then slid onto pins on the end of the links. The end connectors can be slid on while they are still on their sprues according to what I have read. I could find no information about how many are needed for each side. Following construction of the lower hull, the modeller then moves to the upper hull. The hatches and lights are added along with other parts for the upper hull. These include the engine exhaust grilles, stowage boxes and a large insert which will take the Gepard turret as opposed to the normal tank one. The lower and uppers hulls can then be joined and the rear part of the hull added. Now its onto the main event for the Gepard the turret and guns. The main turret is moulded as one part. The first item to be added is the large main hatch. After this it is the main radar system at the front. Following this the guns are made up. The barrels are two part with different muzzle ends depending on the version being modelled (though not much information on the instruction sheet for this). The main housings either side are built up first and the guns added. Once the housings are added to the hull they join in the middle of the turret to ensure the move as a pair. Once the guns are on the turret the turret floor can be added. The rear radar unit which forms the back of the turret is now constructed and added to the turret. The radar can be in the raised or travel position. Various turret fittings are added and then the complete turret can be fitted to the main hull. Lastly stowage is added to the hull and turret. Decals A small decal sheet is provided as these carries few markings in service. Eight markings options are offered in the kit. German Army - All over green German Army 3 colour camo German Army 3 colour camo - KFOR operations Romanian Army - German 3 colour camo German Army - 3 colour desert camo German Army - Cheetah spot scheme Belgian Army - Overall green Brazilian Army - German 3 colour camo Conclusion This is a really nice kit. Very highly recommended despite the less than great instructions. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  20. Mike

    Chieftain Marksman SPAAG 1:35

    Chieftain Marksman SPAAG 1:35 Takom The Marksman system was developed by Marconi to be a drop-in solution to the need for mobile, radar-targeted anti-aircraft gun platforms for close-in support of troops, installations and other valuable assets. Although the turret could be mated with many different hulls, the British chose the Chieftain tank for trials of this twin 35mm cannon equipped system. The second prototype was mounted on a Chieftain, and have the vehicle a top-heavy look, with the crew hatches perched high on the top of the turret, overshadowed by the radar dish that made it so accurate to its maximum range of 4,000m. Sadly, the Chieftain installation never progressed beyond prototype and it didn't see service with the British Army. The turret did see limited service with other operators such as Finland who mounted it on an uprated T-55 chassis. The Kit This is a re-tooling of the new Chieftain kits that were released late last year and were reviewed here. Some of the previous turret parts have been included through necessity and because of their placement on the various sprues, but the majority of the new plastic is SPAAG related. Inside the nicely decorated box are five large sprues, two hull halves and track parts that are common to all the Chieftain boxings, plus three new sprues, three of which are small, specific to the Marksman, with six parts on their own spruelets. The Photo-Etch (PE) is common with the Mark 10/11s, and the decal sheet is new for the kit, with one factual number plate and a couple more for hypothetical, or "what if" schemes. The common parts are identical to the previous issue, and the building of the lower hull proceeds in exactly the same way as before, which you can read about in the previous reviews. The new parts have the same level of detail, and portray the slab-sided Marksman turret nicely, including the turret ring adapter, which hints at the inclusion of the Marksman parts in possible future projects… maybe a T-55M? Speaking of the turret ring, the height of the cylindrical section seems just a shade too short in the vertical. A shim of plastic card between the ring and the bayonet insert should be able to make that good though, if you agree and feel up to the task. Assuming you have the hull completed, there are four bullet-splash protection strips to remove, which are replaced by raised sections that fit to the hull via pegs that fit into holes drilled from inside beforehand. After that the turret adaptor ring is inserted and that's the hull changes covered! The turret is then started, with the guns built up first from two halves that have some lovely moulding that results in a hollow flash-guide as per the real thing. These then fit onto a five-part breech fairing that has an axle for joining to the turret body. The two interlock in the middle of the turret, but as there is nothing to provide a friction-fit braking on the pivot-points, you will have to either fabricate your own, or glue them in position, or they will flop. The lower turret with moulded in ring closes up the turret, whilst providing the floor of the bustle that is added later from a single part. A number of sensors and vision devices are installed on the top, along with an insert that contains the two crew hatches and forms the base of the radar installation. The top section of the insert flips up on a pair of hinges for stowage of the radar during travel. More small parts such as smoke dischargers and antennae mounts are added on the sides of the turret and then the tapered radar base is inserted on the hinged panel along with the motor housing. The radome and receiver are put together with some additional sensors on the head-unit, which must again be glued in position. The turret ring then has its bayonet-fitting added to the bottom, which is where the shim of styrene would go if you wanted to raise it a little. When dry the turret is fitted to the hull and twisted to engage the bayonet lugs. Markings As is now traditional with a Takom release, there is a separate concertina-fold booklet for colour and markings instructions that has been done in conjunction with AMMO of Mig Jiménez. There are five schemes in the box, and all bar the green one are fanciful, assuming the Marksman equipped Chiefy had gone into service. From the box you can build one of the following: NATO Green/Sand Yellow camo. NATO Green/Black camo. NATO Green all over. Sand Yellow all over. Green, Grey Blue, White, Olive Drab Berlin Brigade urban scheme. Colour call-outs are in AMMO codes, but the common names are also provided, so if you don't use them or can't source them, you can easily convert the colours. The decals are printed anonymously on a small sheet, but are to a high standard with good registration, colour density and sharpness. They've even printed two small Union flags, which are the right way up… just don't apply them upside down after they went to all that trouble! Conclusion A good use of the existing tooling to create a nice canvas for a What-If, or just a bit of fun with different schemes. Overall the shape of the turret seems good, with the aforementioned narrow band around the bottom, and the quality of the parts matches perfectly with the common parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  21. Chieftain Tank Mark 5/5P, Mark 10 and Mark 11 kits 1:35 Takom The Chieftain tank was Britain's first main battle tank to have composite armour added, in the shape of the well-known, but not so well known about Chobham armour. It was a development of the highly successful Centurion tank, and continued the work done by the Centurion in addressing the apparent under-armoured and under-armed reputation of WWII British tanks. The result was one of the most impressive tanks of its day, and when it reached trials service in small numbers in 1959 they began ironing out the wrinkles, which resulted in a steady increase in all-up weight. As the design progressed beyond initial service with the Mark 2, further upgrades giving rise of the Mark 3, then skipping Mark 4 to reach the final production variant, the Mark 5, which carried NBC gear in the form of an over-pressure system, and a more powerful engine. Further small upgrades led to the Mark 10, which was the recipient of the Stillbrew up-armour package, which resulted in a much altered turret profile, particularly at the front. The Mark 11 was the last minor upgrade with the Thermal Observation and Gunnery System (TOGS) replacing the searchlight. Any further versions were cancelled in favour of the Challenger series of MBTs, which came on stream in the early 80s. The tank saw action in the Middle East only however, in the service of Jordan, Oman, Kuwait and Iran, who used it extensively in their long-winded war with Iraq. Kuwait's stocks of Chieftains were almost exhausted due to attrition during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, where they fared badly against more modern tanks for various reasons. The Kit There have been rumours of new Chieftain models in 1:35 for quite some time now, with various manufacturers in the frame, but now we have three variants from those nice people at Takom, which share the same basic hull, but with turret, fixture and fittings changes to differentiate. Because of the broad similarity of a good 60%+ of the parts in the box, we'll deal with those common parts first, then deal with the differences, hopefully avoiding confusing myself as I go along. First impressions? A nicely presented raft of kits, in top-opening boxes with attractive artwork that will doubtless sell quite a few off the shelves on impulse buy. Each box contains seven sprues in mid-grey styrene, plus six more with track-pads, and 200 track-links. There are two turret parts, two hull parts, the latter being standard across all three kits, as are the clear parts. The package is rounded out by the inclusion of a couple of poly-caps, a fret of thin brass Photo-Etch (PE), a gun mask, and a decal sheet. The instruction booklets are A4 landscape with a colour printed cover, and the painting guides are separate A5 booklets, again in colour. The parts are all bagged separately apart from the roadwheel sprues, and the PE could do with a piece of card behind it to save it from damage, as the sheet is rather flexible. Construction begins handily (for me) with the common parts, starting with the road wheels, of which there are twelve pairs, the outer being well detailed from four parts, while the inner wheel is a single part. Two idler wheels are constructed and placed on their stub-axles, and two simple two-part drive sprockets finish off the initial task. The Chieftain mounts these paired wheels on bogies with a return roller on the top-side, with two axles per bogie. These are well-moulded with thick coiled springs visible from the outside, with stand-off brackets holding the lower edge of the skirts under the paired return rollers. Three bogies are fitted to each side of the lower hull, with the idler at the front and drive sprocket at the rear, at which time towing shackles are added to the lower glacis. Tracks are always an important part of any AFV build (the tracked ones, at least!), and here you have two hundred links to build up two runs of 97 links, so not too many spare if the bag count is accurate. Now for the good news. The links are loose in a ziplok bag, and each one has only one apparent sprue-gate, which is on the inner face, and should take only a fraction of a second to deal with. The track pads are separate, and each one has only two sprue gates to shave off, so again; minimal clean-up. They aren't click-fit however, so you'll need to build a run alongside a straight-edge, then drape them over the wheels before they are properly cured, and set their shape by wedging and taping them in place. If you want to paint them off the vehicle you can leave one or two links un-glued, cementing them once you're happy with your work. The upper hull goes on next, and here you have to drill a few 1mm diameter holes unless you're building a Mark 5. The rear bulkhead holds the exhaust box and pipes, as well as some spare track-links and some tools hung off the back. A pair of stowage boxes are built up and installed over the rear fenders. Back to the front of the hull and the light-clusters with clear lenses are made-up, installed and then covered by their protective cages, while some PE strips are wrapped around the front mudguards, and a PE bow-wave deflector is attached to the front of the glacis. The driver's hatch can be posed open or closed by adding the cylindrical upstand and hinging the hatch to one side. The Mark 5 has just the vision block added, while the Stillbrew equipped 10 & 11 have an armour package added each side of the rear hatch area. The sideskirts are attached to the fender edges, and held rigid by the stand-off brackets, while on the rear deck stowage bins, towing cables and a set of PE grilles are applied to the engine deck's louvers along with a number of PE grab-handles. All marks have extra shaped stowage boxes added to the front fenders, plus a pair of large wing-mirrors just forward. From here in the build, each mark differs, with the Mark 5 showing substantial differences in the shape of the turret due to the lack of armour the Stillbrew package. Mark 5/5P The Mark 5 turret is bereft of addition armour on the turret front, so a different turret upper and lower is included in the box, with the majority of the fittings such as the commander's cupola, gunner's hatch, smoke dischargers and the sighting unit on the top of the turret are shared between all marks. A covered stowage bin is added to the right side of the turret along with an open basket made up from styrene tube with a PE floor, with another larger basket on the other side. Another large box containing the NBC pack sits on the turret bustle, and the must-have item for all Cold War tanks; the great big infra-red searchlight sits in a box on the left of the turret, with a clear lens in case you wanted to pose it open, in which case you'd need to create the illusion of the irising infra-red filter (glossy black will do) or the reflector and bulb behind if the filter is retracted. The barrel is split vertically with a two-part muzzle (with a choice of two types – use the smooth one if your references leave you guessing), which slots into the simple hinged sleeve, trapping a small flexible "gun mask", which is the cover that prevents dirt ingress into the breech area. The two radio antenna bases (BAE) fitted to the rear turret deck & forward tight stowage box are actually the latest Clansman bases, so will need to be consigned to spares and replaced with appropriate Larkspur bases, and the armoured box containing the tuning unit should be left off. The antenna sits on a bracket with the cable going straight in through the hull, and the fire extinguisher attached to the bottom of the Clansman tuning box should be cut off and attached to the hull side inverted, if that's the level of accuracy you're going for. As always though, check your references to see which antenna your vehicle had. This picture shows the difference between the two antenna bases, gleaned from unknown sources on the internet Twist the turret into place on its bayonet lugs and you're done. This is a 2-in-1 kit, allowing you to build the vanilla 5, or the 5P that was sold to the Iranians before the revolution. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown unit BATUS 1991 – Sand/NATO Green camouflage, 11B and 001 on the sideskirts with 11B on the turret rear. Iranian Mk.5P Battle of Shalamche, 242nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 21st Infantry Division, May 1983 – All over yellow grey with Iranian roundels on the turret sides and rear bulkhead. Iranian 5P recaptured from Iraqi army by Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp - All over yellow grey with green and black symbols on the sideskirts. Iranian 5P Army Day Parade, Tehran, 2001 – Yellow Grey/British Brown camouflage. Iranian 5P Battle of Shalamche, 242nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 21st Infantry Division, May 1983 – All over yellow grey with Iranian acript in red on the turret sides and rear. Kuwaiti Mk.5K Martyr's Brigade, Operation Desert Storm, 1991. All over desert sand, with three white stripes on the sideskirts. D Squadron, 4/7th Dragoon Guards, Berlin, 1983 – White/grey blue/medium brown "Berlin Brigade" urban block camouflage with a NATO green engine deck. The Kuwaiti K was externally similar to other Mark 5s. There's a little conjecture over the BATUS scheme as by 1991 all Mk.5s had been upgraded, so check your references in case it's not appropriate for a Mk.5, given the assumed time period, when no Mark.5s should have been in service. Mark 10 The Mark 10 uses different turret parts to accommodate the Stillbrew armour package, and has a large insert on the left side to get the shapes right. There is a small raised part to the rear left of the turret that you will need to remove, as per the diagram included in the box. The hatches, smoke dispensers and sighting box on the outside of the turret are common, with the addition of a clear convoy light on a pedestal in the rear of the roof. The barrel fits in exactly the same way, except it ignores the smooth muzzle section which was only seen on early marks. A small additional part presses onto the hinge-point, sliding over the "breech" as the upper turret is installed on the lower. Turret baskets on the right side are unchanged, as is the crew-served machine gun, but on the left where the Stillbrew package sits, a new fully open basket of similar construction to the earlier one hangs from the side. The NBC box is unchanged, and the searchlight is still there with its clear lens. Twist the turret into place to finish. Decals provide markings for three real-world options, plus one from the hit TV show The Walking Dead where it was used to portray an M1 Abrams (it fooled me at the time!), which can be depicted with a few modifications noted in the accompanying text. From the box you can build one of the following: The Zombie Tank, Atlanta – US Marine sand, with a black V on each sideskirt. A Squadron, 1 RTR, BATUS 1991 – NATO Green/Sand camouflage with 22 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. Hard Target Chieftain at Warcop Range – NATO Green/Black camouflage with yellow 32 on the sideskirts. C Squadron, 14/20 King's Royal Hussars, Berlin, 1988-91 - White/grey blue/medium brown "Berlin Brigade" urban block camouflage with a NATO green engine deck. For ultimate accuracy on the Zombie tank you'll need to check the remaining equipment fit and replicate some additional stencils on both the sides, front and rear of the tank, so check out the end of episode 1 season 1, Days Gone Bye and the beginning of the following episode. Keep your finger near the pause button around 10 minutes from the end. There's also a good shot of Rick crawling under the tank showing some detail of the underside to good effect. Mark 11 The Mark 11 is broadly similar to the Mark 10 including the small raised part to the rear left of the turret that you will need to remove, as per the diagram included in the box. The ultimate Chieftain adds two small covered stowage boxes aft of the open baskets, plus the deletion of the searchlight in favour of the TOGS unit, which occupies the same space. This builds up into two linked boxes from a fair number of parts with a clear lens at the front if you elect to open the protective cover. A small PE mesh vent on the top rear finishes off the detail, and the unit is spaced from the hull at the top by a large flat bracket. Finally, just twist to finish. Five decal options are provided with this boxing, some of which are partial echoes of the mark 10. From the box you can build one of the following: Unknown unit, BATUS - NATO Green/Sand camouflage with white 10 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. A Squadron, 1 RTR Tofrek Barracks, Hildesheim, Germany, 1992 – NATO green/black hard-edged camouflage. 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, BATUS, Canada - NATO Green/Sand camouflage with white 21 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, BATUS, Canada - NATO Green/Sand camouflage with white 30 in a black box on the turret and side skirts, plus a large white chevron on the front of the turret. Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – all-over NATO Green, with yellow 31 on a black background on the turret rear. Markings Please see the last paragraphs for each kit for details of the individual markings. The decals well-printed and sealed in separate bags with a thin cover sheet to prevent them sticking to anything. The sheets are small as you would expect, but the registration, colour density and sharpness are up to standard, although as always with yellow and red, do check for translucency before committing yourself and allowing the decals to set up. Conclusion There is a sound being heard across the nation. A scraping of boxes being moved to the back of the stash. The old Tamiya Chieftain that couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to be is now out to pasture, although of course you can still make good use of one if you have the time and after market sets to do it justice. This though, is a thoroughly modern tooling of a truly iconic British Main Battle Tank, which built upon the reputation of the Centurion, and was in turn built on by the succeeding Challengers. Detail is excellent, and it looks to be an easy build, with nothing to trip you up. Take your time to test fit parts, check your references, and paint it well, and you'll end up with a great model or three. One last point – it looks like an error was noticed late in production, and a new part D18 is included in the box along with a small addendum sheet. Make sure you ditch the old part immediately so you're not tempted to use it in error. You can see the replacement part on sprue D in the common photos above - yes, I did stick it in place. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for Kagero's Photosniper on the Chieftain was useful in researching this review, and you can find our review from some time ago here.
  22. Mike

    Mig-23BN Flogger-H 1:48

    Mig-23BN Flogger-H 1:48 Trumpeter Designed from the same basic airframes, the Mig-23 and Mig-27 share a lot of parts, with a strong familial resemblance, and when the Mig-23BN ground-attack variant started to experience negative feedback for its performance, the further development was redesignated as the Mig-27, perhaps to eschew the reputation. The Mig-23 was originally to be a fighter interceptor, but during the development process the need for a fighter-bomber was identified, and the Ground-Attack variant of the Mig-23 was born as the B, or Flogger-F as NATO call them. The large radome was replaced by a sloped nose to give better pilot vision, and ground-attack systems were installed in the new forward fuselage, which earned it the nickname Platypus. The Mig-23BN was the half-way house between the 23 and 27, and was produced in large numbers in the 70s and 80s, with over 600 built in total. It was a modernised version of the B, equipped with the latest engines and hardware, plus newer navigation and attack systems to help it carry out its role, but it was still too much of a fighter for many. It was built alongside and eventually replaced by the Mig-27, which had a cut-down featureset to simplify maintenance and running costs, plus a digital navigation and firing system. The Kit Trumpeter have been working their way through the Mig-23 range for a while now, and this is the latest variant to arrive, and of course there are a sizeable number of common parts to be found in the box as you'd expect. There are seventeen sprues in mid-grey styrene, two in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, three decal sheets, instruction booklet in landscape A4, and painting guide on a double-sided sheet of A3 glossy paper, plus another single side of an A4 page, both in full colour. Of these sprues, only two of the airframe parts and a clear sprue are different from the M we reviewed a few years ago, and four of the weapons sprues, as you'd guess. There is a lot of detail packed into each sprue, and a fair usage of sliding moulded to obtain more detail, ease construction and reduce the part count. There will of course be quite a few parts left over after construction due to the modular nature of the sprues, but they may well come in handy elsewhere one day. Construction begins with the KM-1 ejection seat, which is also found in the Mig-21, and this is built up from seven parts into a nicely detailed unit, which is installed in the cockpit tub after adding the rear bulkhead, control column and rudder pedals. There is a decal for the side of the headbox, which is always nice to see, as it adds realism to the finished model. The main instrument panel and two tiny sub-panels are supplied with decals with the instrument faces printed on, and with careful painting should look well. There are two inserts for the cockpit sidewalls that install in the fuselage halves, with more decals provided to spruce them up after painting. The rear part of the engine is next, as it will need to be inserted between the fuselage halves before they are closed up. You get the rear engine face, plus a nice well-moulded and slim rendition of the flame-holder for the burner ring. This fits inside a two-part cylindrical trunk, inside which the two single part aft trunk and exhaust petals fit. The nose gear and intake trunking are the final sections to be assembled before the fuselage is closed up, although the main gear bay is later inserted through the hole in the top where the upper fuselage and wing-glove parts fit later in the build. A pair of nice slide-moulded intake trunks are supplied on separate sprues, with the inner surface and splitter-plates added inside, and a PE insert for the boundary-air grille. Some other small parts and PE bits are added, but may be better left off until later due to their size. The aforementioned main gear well is built up from panels, before the wings and their swing mechanism are built into the upper fuselage insert. These have two cogs that mesh with the teeth moulded into the wing root, and small détente depressions ensure that the wings sit at the standard three points of pivot. How long the little bumps will stand up to repeated use is anyone's guess, but mine would be "not long", so don't fiddle with them too much! All these assemblies are then brought together and a pair of cockpit armour panels are added each side of the pilot's station. A pleasingly sharp-edged rear cone is installed around the engine exhausts, and you have a choice of open or closed air-brakes by using one set of parts or another. The large tail and elevators are also built and added to their respective slots and holes. Coaming and canopy can be glued in at this point, and the clear parts are thin with good transparency, but don't make the mistake of using the windscreen on the sprue with the other clear parts, as it isn't appropriate for the BN, which had a higher pilot's position and deeper canopy than the fighter models. The main landing gear is quite complex, and has a couple of captive bay doors, one of which is PE, so these will be fun to decide on building an painting order, but take your time and everything should turn out ok. They fit on pegs into holes in the main bay, as does the simpler nose gear leg. The tyres are nicely detailed and come in two parts with plenty of moulded-in detail, but would benefit from a swipe with a sanding stick to weight them slightly. The remainder of the gear bay doors are captive to the fuselage and have separate actuator struts. The primary job of the Flogger-H is ground attack, which is why it wears the distinctive radar-free droop-snoot for enhanced visibility, which is separate to the fuselage, and has a number of probes and antennae added to and around it, plus the gun-pack under the belly with two slide-moulded hollow 23mm barrels peeking from inside the aerodynamic fairing. The other aspect of ground attack is the complement of weapons that it carries. It shares some sprues with the fighter incarnation, but has four additional sprues that contain all the ground-attack related stores. In the box you get the following: 2 x R-13M Advanced Atoll A2A Missiles 2 x R-13M1 Advanced Atoll A2A Missiles 2 x FAB-500 bomb 4 x R-60 Aphid A2A Missile 1 x PTB-800 centreline fuel tank 2 x wing-mounted drop-tanks 12 x FAB-100 bomb 12 x FAB-250 bomb 2 x KMGU-2 Cluster Bombs Pylons, multiple-ejection racks, adaptors and sway-braces are all supplied, and the last page of the instructions shows what could be mounted on each of the nine pylons, although you would be best advised to check available references if you are looking to depict a realistic war or training load. Markings As you may have already gleaned from the number of decal sheets, there are a generous six decal options in the box, with varying camouflage schemes and operators. From the box you can build one of the following: Czechoslovakian 9139 in green/sand/dark green camo over light grey and an eagle head motif on the nose. Czechoslovakian 5140 in green/sand/dark green camo over light grey. German Democratic Republic red 15 in dark green/tan camo over light blue. Soviet red 63 in light brown/green/medium green camo over grey blue underside. Soviet red 51 in light brown/green/medium green camo over grey blue underside. Ethiopian 1270 in sand/mid green/dark green/brown camo over grey blue underside. The decal sheets are broken down into three sheets as already mentioned, one of which contains stencils for the weapons, another for the airframe and cockpit, while the larger sheet contains all the aircraft specific decals plus the national insignia. The sheets are printed internally, and have good register, colour density and sharpness, although the Ethiopian roundel proportions are a little off because the yellow band is slightly too wide. If that bothers you, you'll need to either source or print some of your own. Conclusion Whether it's another one to add to your brace of Cold War Soviet metal, or just an impulse buy, there's a lot of plastic in the box, nice detail and a plethora of weapons to use or store for future projects. As the BN was used in harsh conditions, you'll have plenty of opportunity to show off your weathering talents, but if you're clumsy like me, you might want to nip off those moulded-in static wicks and put them back later to save the annoyance of losing them during handling. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  23. Mike

    Sukhoi Su-9U Maiden 1:48

    Sukhoi Su-9U Maiden 1:48 Trumpeter The Su-9 was a late 50s development of the very similar Su-7, but had a delta wing in place of the earlier aircraft's swept wing because it gave better handling at supersonic speeds, and could therefore carry a little extra fuel. Its NATO reporting name was Fishpot, as it was a fighter, or interceptor that was to take off, climb and intercept Allied incursions at high speed. It was an unforgiving aircraft that took constant concentration to fly, and was very thirsty into the bargain, which gave it a limited range even with drop-tanks. The Su-9U was a two-seat trainer that could also be pressed into service if needs be, as it was still fitted with all the same systems as the single-seater. NATO gave it the codename Maiden to fit in with their coding system. Only 50 were built, and the extra cockpit gives the aircraft an ungainly look and probably did little for the short range too. It wasn't the most capable aircraft, and was soon replaced by more modern designs and more lethal weapons systems, with the last operation airframe drawn down in the 1970s. The Kit This is a revised tooling of the Su-9 kit from last year that we reviewed here. It arrives in the standard Trumpeter box, and inside are most of the same sprues as the earlier version, seven in grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and landscape A4 instruction booklet with a separate colour markings sheet on glossy paper. The additional tooling relates to the fuselage, the doubled up cockpit and the extended canopy. Two identical sprues have been included for the cockpit, which seems at odds with every other two-seater cockpit that almost always have differences from each other – online references are a scant for this sub-variant however. The two tubs, which are quite well detailed are built up alongside the exhaust tube with fan face and afterburner unit, plus the nose gear bay, made up from individual panels for detail. The nose gear is also placed inside the bay before fitting, which shouldn't be too problematic due to its sturdy nature. Everything is then trapped between the extended fuselage halves along with the radome/intake bullet, and the wings are built up from two main parts with landing gear bay detail moulded in, plus flaps and ailerons. The main gear is added with its two outer doors, one of which is captive to the leg, the other attaching at its root. The inner doors of both bays are added once the wings are mated to the fuselage slots, the tail fin and elevators also being added with the numerous intakes that dot the sides of the fuselage. The canopy is a two part unit, which is a little disappointing as it means that your only choices are to leave it closed, or cut it into sections with a fine razor saw. Patience will be a virtue there, and adding Blutak to the inside to add some strength will help avoid disaster. It's a shame that it couldn't have been split, but it's not the end of the world. The Maiden was often seen with two tanks on the offset centreline pylons, and these are supplied in halves with additional sway braces and separate pylon parts. Four beam-rider R2-2US Alkali missiles are included in the box for the four wing pylons, which are built from two halves, two separate fins, a tiny exhaust part, and separate pylons. Nose gear bay doors, the long pitot probe and a few other small parts finish the build. Markings The Su-9U was a bare metal tube with wings, so you'll be breaking out your metallic paints without doubt. There are two markings options included on the decal sheet, in the form of Blue 42 and Red 75, plus the usual Red Stars, and a smattering of stencils. There are also a pair of instrument decals, which include just the dials and faces, so detail painting us up to you. The decals are printed anonymously but seem a little better than some of the recent lower profile releases from the Trumpeter stable in terms of register, sharpness and opacity. The thin, glossy carrier film could do with a little trimming around the large aircraft codes, but that's the work of minutes with a sharp blade. Conclusion With my gripes about the cockpit and canopy aside, it's a nice looking model that should build into a nice replica. References are hard to come by online and off, but the information will be out there somewhere. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  24. German Feldumschaggerat FuG 2.5T Takom 1:35 History In the field the (FUG) is an all-terrain forklift with a max lifting capacity of 2.5tons. Produced by Stein Bock, this field handling equipment was provided by the logistics associations of the Bundeswehr into service in 1983. The main areas of operations for the vehicle, as proposed by the Bundeswehr were the field supply depots. But due to the FUGs excellent all-wheel drive with differential lock and levelling, they have also been used out in the field, helping with the building of secure FOBs. The levelling system allows the vehicle to be used on uneven roads, paths and in light to medium-Heavy terrain. Although generally transported to user areas by truck it is also approved to be driven, with a load along roads at up to 50kph. The two-man crew, the driver and passenger sit in separate booths. The FUG, can carry a load up to 2.5t and lift it up to 3.7 m in height. In addition to use as a forklift, the forks can be removed and fitted with a snowplough blade for light grading or snow removal or a crane arm with up to 1t load. The vehicle has proved to be very popular in service. The Model There doesnt appear to be much in the way of history or details on this vehicle on the interweb other than what I have found above. It certainly is a very unusual kit to bring out, although it will be a useful item to have in a suitable diorama. The kit comes in a very attractive, glossy top opening box, which is quite small, but is full to the brim with seven sprues of dark green styrene, one of clear and five rubber/vinyl tyres. The A5 landscape instruction booklet is nicely laid out, but the use of CAD style diagrams takes a little bit of getting used to even though they are very clear they are not always the easiest to see where each part is fitted. The build centres around the single piece lower hull, onto which the front axle frame is fitted, followed by the centrally mounted two piece transfer box, plus the front and rear differentials. The front differential is a simple three piece assembly, whilst the rear differential starts of as a simple two piece affair, but is then fitted with the two pivoting ball joints, the steering rack and two hydraulic rams. The two driveshafts are then fitted between the differentials and the transfer box, after which the wheels hubs and brake discs are fitted to the axles. The two panels that go between the front and rear wheel arches are attached, along with the front differential protective plates are glued into position. The two rear light clusters are each made of three parts and fitted to the rear wheel arches followed by the rear of the large eye panel between them. The outer face of the towing eye panel is then attached along with the towing eye itself. Three protective panels are then fitted over the driveshafts and differential, followed by the right side central panel and the rear mounted spare wheel, which consists of the tyre, plus inner and outer hubs. The remaining four wheels, complete with inner and outer hubs are attached to their respective drive shafts. The whole model can now be turned right side up, so that the topsides can be assembled. To begin with, you will need to carefully fold the PE storage basket and fit it to the rear left upper wheel arch. Up front, the headlights are assembled from one green styrene part and the clear lens, over which the PE grille is fitted, then glued to the front wheel arches. Three Jerry cans are then assembled, each of three parts and glued to the right side running board. The front end is then kitted out with the fork upright extender strut, a switch/lever beam and a spare set of forks. A two piece footstep is then fitted to the left hand running board, whilst the four piece spare wheel hoist is fitted to the rear bulkhead. In the centre of the vehicle the three piece fork manifold and cover is fixed into position, followed by the rear mounted engine cover and two part air intake. Each of the crew cabins is made up of four panels into which the clear screens are added along with the windscreen wipers. The rear screens have the option of being posed open with the addition of two gas struts. Each seat is made up of a four piece support frame, two piece back rest, and the single piece squab. The cabins are also fitted with wing mirrors, and handles, plus downward looking periscopes for the front panels whilst only the left hand cabin has the steering wheel and binnacle. The completed cabins are then attached to the front hull, one each side of the fork mechanism. The exhaust is then assembled from eight parts, which includes the PE protective cover. With the main body of the vehicle complete its onto the fork assembly. Firstly, the uprights are built up from nice parts, to which the elevating frame, made up of eight parts, along with the elevating hydraulic ram are then slid into position. The main fork framework is built up from three parts and fitted with the hydraulic ram, and cover plate. The assembly is then fitted to the front of the main body. The modeller has a choice of fittings to fit to the fork frame, short forks, long forks, each with a five piece suspension bracket, a seven piece hook beam, for crane work. This can be assembled folded and attached to the left hand running board when not in use. Lastly the model can be fitted with a sixteen piece snowplough. Decals The small decal sheet has markings for four different vehicles, two in overall green schemes, one in three colour camouflages and one in an overall white UN scheme. The decals are well printed, in good register and a clear enough to read without a magnifier. Conclusion This is certainly a bit leftfield, even for a Takom release, as these sorts of vehicles are largely forgotten or have any interest taken in them, as they arent the big frontline vehicles that usually get released. That said, without these vehicles the supply train couldnt work. The choice of the four different fittings is a nice thought. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  25. Julien

    MiG-21MF Fishbed - 1:48 Trumpeter

    MiG-21MF Fishbed 1:48 Trumpeter The MiG-21 has probably been produced in greater numbers than any other jet fighter. Over the years they have been many variants. The M in MF stands Modernizirovannyy or Modernised. The F standing for Forsirovannyy or Uprated Engine. In effect the MF was the export version of the MiG-21SM where the S referred to the Sapfir-21/RP-22 radar. As well as an uprated engine an internal 23mm Cannon was provided alongside a considerably updated avionics package. The SM & MF were called the Fishbed-J by NATO. The MF had a greater arsenal of weapons available including the R-60, and later R-60M IR seeking AAM (NATO Name AA-8 Aphid) The Kit It is quite surprising how much plastic Trumpeter manage to get in the smallish box this kit arrives in. There are 10 sprues of grey plastic, a clear sprue, a small sheet of PE and a set of rubber tyres. Construction starts without any surprise in the cockpit area. The ejection seat is built up. This comes as nine parts and builds into a very fair representation of the real thing. The front instrument coaming is built up and the instrument panel added. The ejection seat is added to the cockpit tub, then the sidewalls and rear bulkhead are fitted. The control column is added and the front coaming completes things. Next up the wheel wells are built up. The front well is three parts and you have you add the front wheel/leg at this stage. The main wells are four part affairs and are built now as well. Following this the rear jet pipe is assembled. This has seven parts and again will build up to a good looking representation of the real thing. Once all of these subassemblies are complete they can be added into the main fuselage along with the nose radar bullet and the area in front of the cockpit. Once the main fuselage is closed up various intakes are added to both sides of the rear fuselage. The engine exhaust nozzle can then be made up and added to the main fuselage. The separate one piece vertical fin is then added, along with it's separate rudder. The brake parachute housing can then be added. This is able to be modelled in the pen or closed position. Moving on to the underside of the main fuselage the underside fin is added, along with the internal cannon. The main centre line air brake and two side front airbrakes are added. All the airbrakes can be modelled open. The main gear door on the fuselage are then added along with their retraction struts. The front gear bay doors are also added. A centre line pylon is provided if the modeller intends to use it. This can take either a large or small fuel tanks as supplied in the kit. Construction then moves onto the wings. These are conventional upper/lower parts for each side. The wings are supplied with separate flaps. Two pylons and a landing light are added to each wing. Once the wings are built up they can be attached to the main fuselage. Two PE wing fences are supplied in the kit. The tailplanes are also added at this time. The main landing gear is the next area for the modeller to concentrate on. Two hub parts sandwich the rubber tyres as supplied in the kit (no plastic alternatives are supplied). The prominent brake lines for main gear legs are also supplied. The main gear door which attached to the leg then needs to be fitted, this has to be bent to shape by the modeller. The main gear legs and their retraction struts can then be fitted. The last items to be made up and fitted are the underwing armament. Twin fuel tanks are supplied for each type though I think the large one was only ever fitted on the centre line so the modeller has a spare. References would seem to indicate that if fuel tanks were carried on the wings they were carried on the outer pylons only. UB032 rocket pods are supplied if the modellers wants some air-to-ground weapons. If air-to air is needed then a pair of R-3R and R-3S missiles are included. Markings Here Trumpter have provided markings for six aircraft but provided absolutely NO information about the markings what so ever. The six are; German Democratic Republic Bort #Red 511 USSR Bort #Blue 30 Poland Bort #Grey 6804 Czechoslovakia Bort #Black 8207 Iraqi Air Force - Unknown Aircraft Green/Sand Camo Iraqi Air Force - Unknown Aircraft Brown/Sand Camo Conclusion Whether it's another one to add to your brace of Cold War Soviet metal, or just an impulse buy, there's a lot of plastic in the box, and some nice detail. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for