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  1. Bussing NAG 4500A w/ Bilstein 3T crane AFV Club 1:35 The foundation of the company Bussing goes back to the year 1903. Bussing is considered the oldest German lorry manufacturer. In 1931 Bussing took over AEG daughter company NAG and became Bussing-NAG. This company manufactured many lorry types from 1.5 ton to 11.5 tons payload. The Bussing-NAG type 500 was manufactured from 1939 to 1941. Beginning in 1940, it was designated Bussing-NAG type 500 S. It was propelled by a 6 cylinder, 105 HP diesel engine and had a payload of 4.75 tons. The Bussing-NAG type 500A was developed in the beginning of 1939. It was made in small numbers from late 1940 to 1942. Unlike to the Bussing-NAG type 500S it had all wheel drive. The Bussing-NAG type 4500 S was the successor model of the Bussing-NAG type 500S. Outwardly, it looked different, but it was based on the same technology. It was manufactured from 1942 to 1945. A whole range of alterations were introduced into the series production units of the Bussing-NAG 4500, especially to type 4500A. Nearly 15,000 units of the type 4500 A/S were manufactured until the end of Second World War. The Model The kit is a variant of the previously released NAG 4500S and instead of the flat bed, it is fitted with a Bilstein 3T crane. The box style is typical AFV Club with a photo style picture of the built up kit with a black and white background. Inside the top opening box it is literally stuffed full of sprues. There are fifteen sprues of yellow styrene, one of clear styrene, a small etched sheet, a small decal sheet, seven vinyl tyres, a length of string and four ultra small metal parts, (so small in fact that I couldn’t get a photo of them). Naturally, being from AFV Club, this is highly detailed kit, with lots of parts, so not suitable for novice modellers, in fact it may be a challenge for even an intermediate modeller. Whilst all the parts are cleanly moulded, with some finely rendered details there is a small amount of flash,, but only on a couple of parts. There doesn’t appear to be any signs of other imperfections, but there are a lot of moulding pips. The tyres, although not to everyones taste are very well moulded with very fine tread detail, (certainly for road use, not cross country), and sidewall details, including the manufacturers name. As with most truck kits, most of the detail is on the chassis and suspension parts, and this is no different, so care and attention to the instructions and parts placement will be needed to get all the wheels to sit on the ground correctly as it looks like it will be relatively easy to get the chassis slightly skewed. As with most truck kits the chassis is the first section to be assembled. Consisting of two longitudinal rails which are joined together via six cross members, the rear most one being fitted with a four piece towing hitch with its associated spring mounted behind the cross member. Two five piece accumulator tanks are then fitted, one on each chassis rail whilst the four part exhaust/silencer is threaded through the mid section cross members and out to the left hand side. The front bumper is then fitted with two reflectors and number plate before being attached to the front of the chassis rails. On each rail, two footstep support brackets are attached, followed by the front mudguards, which have the footsteps moulded integrally. The two piece fuel tank is then fitted to the right hand rail via two triangular brackets. To the rear of the chassis, the two reflector arms are attached, and then fitted with the reflectors and the rear number plate to the left hand arm. Up forward the radiator is fitted along with the single hooded headlight and two open headlights, which come with clear lens parts. The two differentials are then assembled, the rear from five parts and the front from no less than twenty six parts, which include the very detailed, and thusly, complex, steering mechanism. The differentials are fitted to the leave spring assemblies, which, in turn are attached to the chassis. Each of the four wheels are built up with an inner hub which has a poly cap fitted into it, followed by the outer hub, then the vinyl tyres are slipped over the rims, and the centre hub glued into place. The wheels are then attached to the axles. Assembly moves onto the engine, which is made up from two halves of the block, to which the cylinder heads are attached, followed by the alternator, auxiliary drive cover and exhaust manifold. The gearbox is then assembled from eight parts, and then fitted with the two piece bell housing before being glued to the engine assembly, which is then fitted with the sump block. The engine is further detailed with the fitting of the intake manifold, three piece air filter unit, coolant pipes, fan belt and fan. The engine/gearbox assembly is then fitted to the chassis, along with the transfer box and the three driveshafts, each having separate universal joints. The gear leaver is then attached to the top of the gearbox. The assembly of the cab begins with the fitting of the foot pedals and hand brake lever, as well as a couple of fixing brackets to the floor. The bench seat base is then fitted, being topped off with a single piece seat cushion. The rear bulkhead is fitted with the single piece seat back, rear window and two hand holds. The interior of the front cab section is detailed with the fitting of the instrument binnacle, switchbox, two windscreens and a couple of fuse boxes. The three cab assemblies are then joined together and the roof fitted. On top of the roof there is a small light fitting complete with clear lens, along with two grab handles, two more of which are fitted to the sides of the rear bulkhead. The cab assembly is attached to the chassis, with the previously fitted gear stick, threaded through the hole in the cab floor. The steering column is, likewise slid into a hole in the floor and attached to the steering rack, before being fitted with the steering wheel. The bonnet centre bar is then fixed between the cab and the radiator. Each door consists of a single piece door, clear window part plus internal and external door handles. These can be fitted to the cab either open or closed positions. The four piece bonnet, with additional PE mesh fitted to the inside of the grille, and pioneer tools to each side panel, is then fitted over the engine. Unfortunately the bonnet sections cannot be posed open without resorting to some surgery. Just aft of the cab there is a large tool box, which is made up from eleven parts, inside there is a space for the spare wheel to be fitted, an eight piece manual winch, and a large catch that holds the spare wheel panel in place. On the rear panel two tool holders are fitted to opposing sides, whilst under the outer edges of the tool box the four piece Jerry can holder and six piece stowage bin are attached, before the whole assembly is fitted to the chassis. Behind the tool box the truck bed, assembled from two longitudinal rails and four cross members, is fitted to the chassis rails via eight U clamps. The actual bed itself is fitted with the six part crane turntable, two storage boxes, two rear light clusters, the two rear wheel arches, each fitted to the bed with two supports, and three cross beams. The bed is then glued into position, followed by the tool box lid and more pioneer tools, with their associated brackets. Two axle stand assemblies are then fitted to the rear of the tool box, whilst the paraphernalia required for the crane is fitted to eh bed, these include various lengths of pole, eyes, hooks and lifting beams. Five Jerry cans are then assembled and slid into their respective slot in the rack, and “locked” off with a large strap. We finally come to the crane itself. The jib is made up form five parts, with seven piece jib extender being fitted to the lifting end. The left hand side of the crane housing is made from three parts, into which the cable drums, with the string provided, wrapped around them, and ends left free, spacers and guides are fitted. The single piece right hand panel is then glued into place with the ends of the various shafts and axles slotted through the panel. The housing is partially closed off with three panels at the front and the upper guide wheel frame fitted to the rear of the roof and a long handle to the left hand side panel. The jib assembly is the attached to the cable housing, followed by the string being passed through the various guide wheels and onto the three piece hook assembly. The completed crane is then mounted onto the turntable fitted to the truck bed. The kit comes with the option of having the four stabilising legs deployed or folded, depending on how the modeller wishes to depict their model. Each rear leg consists of eight parts, whilst the front legs consist of seven. The last part to be fitted is the tool box side panel, covering the spare wheel. On the outside of this panel, two folding legs are attached, allowing the panel to be posed either open or closed. This then completes the build. Decals The small decal sheet actually has quite a few decals on it. There are mostly stencils for the crane, which seems to be covered in them. The rest are the individual truck markings for the three schemes included on the colour charts. NAG 4500A from StuG Abt.209 on the Eastern Front 1942/43 in Panzer Grey overall NAG 4500A from Panzergrenadier Division “Grobdeutschland” on the Eastern Front in Autumn 1943 in a rather purple looking German Grey. NAG 4500A of the 1st Company SPzAbt. 501, based in Tunisia in the Winter of 1942/43 in overall green brown with olive green splotches on the front half of the vehicle. Conclusion There’s not a lot more I can say, other than being an AFV Club kit it is quite complex and detail wise, complete. There is so much you can do with this truck though, with endless possibilities for diorama settings or vignettes. Modify some troops from the spares box for the crew and away you go. It is a very nice kit, but as I said at the top of this review, not one for the beginner. It’s definitely one to test your patience and dexterity, especially as there are some really, really small parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  2. T-62 Mod.1972 (Iraq Modification) 1:35 Trumpeter The T-62 was one of the Soviet Union's Main Battle Tanks (MBT) during the 60s and 70s, and as such there were a lot of variants, partly due to its wide use "in-house" and due to its success in export to Soviet aligned and friendly nations. It was based on the T-55 chassis, which was stretched and given new running gear, with a complete new upper section and turret. It was also up-gunned with a smooth bore 115mm weapon with 40 rounds on hand. The Iraqi variant was numerous in their service, and saw extensive action in the Iran/Iraq war in the 80s, where it gave a good account of itself, inflicting heavy losses on the Iranians with their Western sourced tanks. In the First Gulf War it was less fortunate, as Western MBT designs had progressed to the next generation with composite armour, advanced electronics, targeting and weapons systems. The attrition rate was horrific, which is evidenced by the availability online of pictures of knocked out Iraqi T-62s from both the first and Second Gulf War. Interestingly, some survive today in Kurdistan where they form part of the military forces of the factions there. The Kit Trumpeter's range of T-62 kits expands almost daily, and this variant should hold some interest for anyone that would like to model the opponents in one of the largest post WWII conflicts. There is also a lot of scope for battle-damaged and knocked-out dioramas, with a wealth of pictorial guidance readily available. We recently reviewed a similar boxing of the 1975 Mod here. The lower hull is identical to the Mod.75, and that also extends to the top deck, save for a slight variation in the engine deck PE grilles. New Parts The real differences are found in the turret, which is substantially altered (or un-altered as it's an earlier model), and the 1975 turret's sprue-gates are blanked off on the sprue where it would have been. The correct turret is supplied on a new sprue with various aspects of the fit-out, and has a rather nicely textured outer, as well as a detailed cupola base, which was deleted on later models, probably due to cost and complexity. The hatch is also more complex, while the commander's hatch remains unchanged. A searchlight with a large armoured cowl in PE is fitted to the front of the commander's hatch, and a styrene jig to bend the outer is supplied to ease this task. Another, larger searchlight is fitted forward of the gunner's hatch with another PE cowl and jig that you could also use instead of the PE part if you're PE-phobic or make a mess of bending it. The main gun has the option of using styrene parts with horizontal seams, or a very nicely turned aluminium barrel, which slots into either a bare mantlet, or one with a moulded-in canvas cover, the detail on which is first rate. A small PE ring slides down the barrel to the fume extractor, and another styrene ring fits at the base before the gun is slid into the socket, which is best glued with either CA or a small quantity of epoxy glue for strength. A small armature leads from the barrel base to the big searchlight, ensuring that they both point in the same direction at all times. A big DShk 12.7mm machine gun is fitted to the loader's hatch front, and is rather well done, with detailed gun, mount and ammo box fitting into a socket on the deck. This boxing is also provided with a KMT-6 mine plough, and although quite complex to build, it adds a certain amount of stance to the tank, and is well worth the effort of building, remembering that you need to remove the outer two rows of bolt-heads from the lower glacis before attaching the two parts. Markings There is only one option available from the box, and you'd be right if you guessed it was painted a dark yellow sand colour. My Arabic is non-existent, so I couldn't tell you the unit or vehicle number, but there appears to be another un-used decal on the sheet that looks similar to a backwards 7. Perhaps another tank from the same regiment? Weathering will be the key to replicating an accurate depiction of one of these desert-based vehicles in any other state than parade-ground shine. The decals are on a small sheet with white being the predominant colour. There are small identification markings for the turret, front and rear of the vehicle, plus what I assume is the vehicle number on the centre sides of the turret. The decals are have good register, sharpness and colour density, although the rear vehicle code has a rather large carrier film. Conclusion This is an interesting release from the Trumpeter T-62 factory, as it represents the opposing force that met a fiery end by the hand of an Abrams or Challenger II. Modelling opposing forces are certainly appealing to this reviewer at least. I'd also be tempted by a knocked-out diorama, although I suspect my skills couldn't pull that one off successfully. The kit is well-detailed, and you get a lot of parts in the box that would have once been considered aftermarket, which is a trend that I'm very happy to see. It's also good to see the alternative styrene parts for some of the more complex PE parts, to cater for the younger or less experienced modeller. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  3. Vought F-8E Crusader VF-162 "The Hunters" 1:72 Academy Vought designed the F-8 (Then the F8U) in the early 1950s in response to a US Navy requirement for a supersonic fighter to be armed with 20mm canon as Korea had shown the short comings of aircraft armed with the traditional 0.50 calibre ammunition. The F-8 would be the last USN aircraft designed with guns as its primary weapon, indeed the F-4 which followed never has a gun in USN service. This lead to the F-8 being called "The Last of the Gunfighters". A novel feature of the F-8 was the fitment of a variable incidence wing. This afforded extra lift without compromising forward visibility as the main fuselage stays level. The F-8E was a major development of the Crusader. A new AN/APQ-94 Radar unit was fitted giving the nose a new profile with its larger nose cone. Another noticeable addition was the dorsal hump. This contained the electronics needed to fire the new AGM-12 Bullpup missile. Weapons pylons appeared on the wings able to carry a combined 5000lbs of ordnance. A new J57-P-20A engine was also fitted. A total of 286 E models would be built. The Kit Academy's Crusader was first released in 2004 and welcomed by 1.72 scale modellers. It is as good now as it was then, the mould still producing crisp parts, with fine recessed detail. The kit arrives on three main sprues, with a smaller sprue for weapons; and a clear sprue. Construction starts with the cockpit. The four part ejection seat is assembled and then installed onto the cockpit tub. The instrument panel is added complete with its gunsight, a control column is added as is a rear cockpit bulkhead. Following this the engine intake, and main gear well sub assemblies are made up. Once these three sub assemblies are complete they can be added to the main fuselage. Also to be added to the main fuselage before closing it up are the main ventral airbrake, arrestor hook bay; and the bay under the main wing. The main wing can then be assembled. It is worth noting that the kit allows the modeller to make the variable incidence main wing and allow it to be shown in the raised position. For this separate leading edge slats are provided as they drop when the wing is raised. However at the same time the slats drop the flaps also drop. Academy do not provide this as an option in the kit so the modeller will have to cut these out if they wish to raise the wing. To help there are a number of aftermarket kits to replace the flaps. It is slightly annoying Academy have not fixed this error. To make the main wing the electronics hump for the to is added along with the leading edge slats. The next area to receive the attention of the modeller is the underside of the Crusader. The nose wheel is built up and installed along with the nose wheel bay doors. The nose wheel is a three part leg with a one part wheel. The ventral airbrake is installed in either the open or closed position. It is worth noting that on parked Crusaders there is some droop of this as pressure bleeds of the hydraulic system. The main gear is then built up next. There is a two part leg with a one part wheel. The main gear bay doors are then installed. The tail planes and ventral strakes are then added. Again if the crusader is parked the tailplanes tip backwards slightly as the hydraulic pressure bleeds off. The modeller is now on the home straight. The canopy is added on the front, and the exhaust nozzle to the rear. Also at the rear the afterburner cooling scoops are added. If the modeller is going to arm their crusader up single and double "Y" racks are provided for the nose to hold either Sidewinder Missiles, or 5" Zuni Rocket Pods. For the wing pylons Multiple Ejection racks and 500Lb Snake eye bombs are provided. The bombs sit on the pylons in slant configuration where by only the bottom and outer parts of the rack are used. The last items to be added are the pitot tube and finally the main wing. Decals Decals are by Cartograf and should pose no issues, markings are provided for two options; VF-162 "Hunters" - USS Oriskany 1966 VF-103 "Sluggers" - USS Forrestal 1964 Conclusion It is good to see this kit re-released with new decals, in particular a non Vietnam Squadron. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  4. USS Maryland BB-46 1945 1:700 Trumpeter The USS Maryland was the second of three Colorado class battleships to be completed. The Colorado class were substantially similar to the preceding Tennessee class, but featured eight mighty 16 inch guns rather than the twelve 14 inch guns fitted to the earlier class. They were, until the introduction of the North Carolina Class on the eve of the Second World War, the most powerful ships in the US Navy's fleet. The Colorado class battleships were fitted with the same turbo-electric propulsion system as the rest of the Standard type battleships, giving them a maximum speed of 21 knots. The USS Maryland herself was present at Pearl Harbour at the time of the Japanese attack. She suffered light damage as a result of being hit by aerial bombs, but was repaired and returned to service in 1942. She was present at the Battle of Midway, took part in shore bombardments in the Battle of Tarawa and the Battle of Kwajalein. She was damaged by a torpedo during the Battle of Saipan and was hit by kamikaze attacks during the battles of Leyte Gulf and Okinawa. She received seven battle stars for her service in World War II before being decommissioned and sold for scrap in 1947. Trumpeter have done quite a service for maritime modellers over the past decade, having built up quite a catalogue of naval subjects from the pre-World War One era to the modern day, often in collaboration with Japanese firm Pit-Road. World War Two has proven to be the richest era in terms of subjects, with one of their latest releases being this kit of the USS Maryland in her modernised, late war form. This is the second kit of the Maryland to have been released by Trumpeter, following on from their kit of the ship as she appeared in 1941, which was released back in 2013. In typical Trumpeter style, the kit is immaculately packed into a sturdy top-opening box. Each sprue is individually wrapped and delicate parts are protected with extra strips of foam padding. My only complaint concerns the decals, which have the protective paper sellotaped in place. Previous experience suggests that, apart from being difficult to remove, the residue from the sellotape can make it difficult to remove the decals from the backing paper. The kit is comprised of hundreds of parts moulded in grey plastic and spread across some twenty sprues. The only exceptions are the aircraft, which are moulded in clear plastic, the lower hull and waterline plate, which are moulded in dark red plastic, and the natty black plastic stand for the full-hull version. A small fret of photo etched parts is included, as is a small sheet of decals. The upper hull and upper deck are all moulded separately. Many of the smaller parts such as the secondary and AA armament are produced on generic sprues that are common to a number of kits. This is a clever way of minimising tooling costs without compromising quality. The plastic parts are perfectly moulded and feature plenty of intricate detail. The photo etch parts are also very fine indeed. I'm a big fan of Trumpeter's policy of including both full hull and waterline options in their kits, so this gets the thumbs up from me. Construction begins with the upper hull and deck. The latter has Trumpeter's characteristic (although probably overscale) planking detail moulded in place and is split into two levels as the ship features a long forecastle. The upper hull has portholes and other details moulded in place. The Colorado class of ships did feature prominent belt armour, but even so the way this is replicated in this kit feels a little overdone. The main superstructure is made up of the deck and separate parts for the walls. Features such as the anti-aircraft mounts and twin 5 inch/38 cal turrets, which were fitted just before the end of the War, are prominent features of this area. As this is the late War fit, there are dozens more anti-aircraft mounts to make up and fit around the deck and superstructure, helping to create an incredibly busy and detailed finish. The detail doesn't stop there, however, as there are separately moulded anchors, cable reels and anchor capstans to fit to the deck. The main crane and aircraft catapult are picked out in photo etched brass, although there are plastic alternatives if you don't fancy that option. Other details provided for on the fret include the radar array and the truncated conical cage mast. This part will need to be rolled into shape and fixed with glue, which won't be an easy task. It would have been great if Trumpeter could have included a jig for this amongst the plastic parts, but never mind. Most of the rest of the details, including the bridge superstructure and funnels are fairly straightforward and can all be built and painted prior to assembly. The four twin 16-inch main gun turrets are all present and correct. You have the option of using guns with or without blast bags, which is handy as these are a pain to make from scratch if they are not included. Owing to the way in which Trumpeter has prepared these kits (with maximum commonality of parts), the triple turrets which were a feature of the preceding class of battleship are also included. These can be put in the spares box for a rainy day. Once all of these sub-assemblies are complete, the whole thing can be assembled. You don't have to make up your mind whether to finish the model in full hull or waterline configuration until the very end of the building process. If you choose the former, then you can fit the propellers and their shafts to the underside of the hull. If you choose the latter, you can just stick the hull plate on and call it done. The only thing left to do then is build and add one or three of the Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks that are provided on the small clear sprues. A colour painting guide is provided, but as usual you should seek to check your own references before committing to paint. Conclusion Trumpeter are amassing quite a range of small-scale warships now, and this addition is very welcome indeed. It is a nicely produced and well-detailed kit, with superbly moulded plastic parts and delicate photo etched details. The only thing missing is a set of railings, but that can be easily sorted with some generic aftermarket parts. All-in-all this looks like a great package and it can be firmly recommended to all fans of US Navy vessels. UK Distributors for
  5. Russian T-34/85 Berlin 1945 Number 183 Factory 1:35 Academy The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in incredible volume by extremely crude methods, and thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front. The designers combined a number of important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without grinding to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The 1945 model /85 had a number of upgrades over previous editions, with electrically powered turret traverse, smoke canister system, and squared off fenders. Crews often added in-the-field modifications such as the famous bed-spring armour, where they burned mattresses and attached the remaining metal springs to the armour to pre-detonate the German Panzerfaust, thereby weakening the effect of the weapon's shaped charge. Bed frames were also used, as they had a heavy-gauge mesh that usually supported the mattress on top. The Kit This edition of the kit has been launched as a special edition that includes bed-frame armour, and features specific to Factory 183 (UTZ) facility at Nizhniy Tagil, where it was made. It isn't an amazingly high-tech tooling with all the bells and whistles, but it is a solid kit of the T-34/85 and doesn't indulge in over-complication of parts in order to add extra miniscule detail. It arrives in a pleasantly simple box with a side-view of the subject, and an overall white theme that seems to be their new look for armour kits. Inside are sixteen sprues in Academy's familiar green/grey styrene, two more sprues in black styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for the bed-frame armour, a small decal sheet, instruction booklet, and lastly the painting guide with sprue diagrams on the rear. As usual with many armour kits, you'll have a number of parts left on the sprues after construction, as some of the sprues are multi-purpose. The build isn't complex, as already mentioned, and begins with the construction of the lower hull from a floor panel and sponson sides with overhangs. To these are added the suspension arms in their shafts, and you'll need to take care to ensure the enclosures are sloped in the correct directions. A central bulkhead adds a little strength to the assembly, as does the rear bulkhead, after which the suspension swing-arms are added to their mounting holes. The wheels are made up in pairs with separate hub-caps, and have rubber road tyres moulded in. Some later T-34s were fitted with sprung road-wheels to save strategically important rubber stocks, but having seen some pictures of the decal options provided with the kit, these plain hubs with large bolted rims would seem to be correct. The drive sprockets and idler wheels build up in the same way, and all are added to the stub axles ready to accept the tracks. The tracks provided in the kit are link and length, with the long top and bottom runs moulded as one part, while the sections wrapping around the ends of the run are individual links, giving a realistic look without the work involved in preparing and adding a whole run of individual links. The top run has the characteristic sag moulded in, so all you have to do is put them together and paint them sympathetically. The upper hull is built up next, with the usual light clusters, towing eyes and pioneer tools scattered around the surface. The engine deck is completed with a hatch, two louvers and radiator box, which has a PE grille added, with PE stiffeners around the edges, and across the shortest distance. The rear bulkhead has an insert that has the exhausts and their armoured covers, plus a circular access panel added, after which the rear mud-flaps can be installed. At the front the bow machine-gun is added in its own armoured cover, and a length of spare track-links are added in the centre of the glacis plate. At the front the driver's hatch can be posed open or closed, although I don't see much point in the opened option unless you can find a suitably large driver figure to obscure the fact that there's no interior. The join between the upper and lower glacis is finished off by adding a triangular section beam long the front. Now for the turret, which always seems like the fun bit to me, but maybe I'm just easily pleased? The turret comes in two halves, split around its widest part horizontally. There is a deeply contoured casting texture moulded in that looks a little fierce on first inspection. These turrets were incredibly rough-cast however, and under paint it should look about right, but if you wanted to rough it up a little more and vary the depth, you could attack it with a stiff brush and some Mr Surfacer. Check your references and our Walk Around section if you need some additional pointers. You'll need to do a little work to hide the join anyway, but sometimes there were heavy lines around this area anyway, so see your references again. The commander's cupola is raised and has a number of vision blocks around its sides, with a two-part clamshell hatch that is atypical of the variant. It is however correct according to photographic evidence. The mantlet is set on a pivoting block, with a pair of cheek inserts added to hold it all together. The gun is a single part with a slide-moulded hollow muzzle, and slots into the mantlet from the front, while the cupola drops onto the top. A number of grab handles, lifting lugs, mushroom vents and the simple gunner's hatch are also added, completing the turret assembly, which locks into the hull via a bayonet fitting on the turret ring. At this point you'll have to decide how best to proceed regarding the bed-frame armour, as installing it now will make painting and decaling much harder. Personally, I'd build up the frames and their supports and paint them separately, adding them after main painting and decaling has been completed. The turret receives six panels, which have folded angle-iron sides, while the hull has an asymmetrical set, with the starboard side fully protected with four frames, and the port side protected only along the rear half by two frames, which is as it should be according to photographic evidence. The vulnerable engine deck also has a frame attached over its air intake grilles, and all have stand-off brackets attached to the ends and sometimes the middle frames. The front fenders are the last styrene parts to be installed, although these are probably best done before painting. Markings Two decal options have been included in the box, and there are a number of pictures available online that will assist you with verifying the details of your build. Both have the same white identification bands around their turrets and an overall green scheme. From the box you can build one of the following: 11th Tank Corps. K235. Berlin, May 1945. 11th Tank Corps. K238. Berlin, May 1945. The decals are all white, but with red identification numbers that makes finding each one that bit easier. They are printed in Korea, And have good sharpness and colour density, but as they are one colour there should be no need for registration concerns. However, the white has been double-printed with a small offset, as can be seen under magnification when looking at the kit data at the bottom of the sheet. This could well mean that there is a little ghosting of the numerals when applied to the dark green model, so be aware, and touch-in with white paint if necessary. These numbers were roughly hand-painted, so a few wobbles here and there shouldn't matter. Conclusion There are plenty of T-34 kits out there, and while this couldn't be described as an Überkit, it is certainly of good quality, and keeps the detail, whilst retaining simplicity for ease of building. The only parts that might tax your skills are the bed frames, but as long as you have a reliable straight-edge and some patience, it shouldn't be too tricky. Even if your bends aren't perfect, it won't matter at all, as these frames had to content with tank-riding soldiers all the time, so must have got pretty badly beaten up over time. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  6. BMP-3[uAE] w/ERA Tiles and Combined Screens 1:35 Trumpeter History The BMP-3 infantry combat vehicle entered production in the late 1980s. About 120 BMP-3 vehicles are in service with the Russia Army and over 900 have been exported to a number of countries, including United Arab Emirates (600 vehicles), Cyprus (40), Indonesia (30), Kuwait (110) and South Korea (70). Kurganmashzavod of Kurgan, Russian Federation manufactures the chassis and the Instrument Design Bureau (KBP) of Tula is responsible for the turret. It is a tracked, armoured, amphibious vehicle designed to engage armoured ground and air targets while stationary, on the move and afloat. In 2007, the Russian Army placed an order with Kurganmashzavod for a number of new-build BMP-3 vehicles. A command version, the BMP-3K, is available, which is the same as the basic BMP-3, but with additional communications and navigation equipment. A version designed for more sustained amphibious operation is the BMP-3F. Changes in construction allow movement afloat in sea state three and firing with necessary accuracy in sea state two. The BMP-3F can endure continuous amphibious operation for seven hours. A reconnaissance version, the BRM-3K, is in service with the Russian Army. KBP and Kurganmashzavod have upgraded the vehicle with a new turret and engines. The upgraded vehicle is called the BMP-3M and the new turret includes a new automatic fire control system with digital computer, new BZS1 gunner's sight with SAGEM thermal imager and laser illuminator, TKN-AI commander's periscope with laser infrared illuminator and new ammunition-loading system. The BMP-3M will also be able to fire ammunition types including new 100mm laser-guided projectiles, new 100mm HE-FRAG (high-explosive fragmentation) rounds and new 30mm APSDS (armour-piercing discarding sabot) rounds. Additional passive armour protection is effective against 12.7mm armour-piercing rounds from a range of 50m. Explosive reactive armour is available as an option. The new uprated engine is the UTD-32, which is rated at 660hp. In February 2011, UAE signed a $74m contract with Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport to upgrade its 135 BMP-3 vehicles. The upgrade is to convert these vehicles into BMP-3M standard. Model The kit comes in the standard Trumpeter box with a depiction of the vehicle somewhere in the UAE. Inside, there are fourteen sprues of sandy coloured styrene, two separate hull sections, the separate turret; one sprue of clear styrene, two small sheets of etched brass, one hundred and eighty individual tracks links, (three bags of 60), and a small decal sheet. The moulding of the parts is well up to Trumpeters usual standards, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, lots of very fine detail, but quite a few moulding pips. Dry fitting of the upper and lower hull sections shows that it will be a very good fit and the detail that's been moulded onto the upper hull is superb, as it's crisp, with great definition and even includes the turret ring gear cog. Construction begins with the building of several sub-assemblies, such as the road wheels, idler wheels and drive sprockets; each of which is made up from two parts, along with the six three piece shock absorber assemblies. The lower hull section, to which the lower front glacis plate appliqué armour is attached, is also fitted with a large spade like plate. The six return rollers are then attached to the hull, along with the bump stops, torsion bar and shock absorber assemblies, sprocket wheel gear covers, mud scrapers, idler wheels and drive sprockets. The road wheel assemblies are then attached to their respective axles, followed by the tracks, each of which is made up from eighty four track links, each of which is fitted with a separate guide horn.Unfortunately each track link has to be glued together, so you will be required to make a run, then drape it on the wheels before the glue sets fully. The kit comes with a nice interior, the construction of which begins with the fitting of the two sidewalls, the left side of which is fitted with two fire extinguishers, and a two piece flask like item, whilst the right hand sidewall just has one fire extinguisher fitted. The large drivers console fitted to the front of the vehicle is fitted with two large box like items, the centre mounted steering column and control yoke. The only two decals contained in the kit make up the instrument panels. The central bulkhead is fitted out with three seats, the centre and left hand seat having separate headrests. Behind this bulkhead the large engine cover is attached to the three spigots jutting up from the floor, with two angled sidewalls attached between it and the vehicle sides. There are five further seats fitted within the fighting compartment and the lower hull is finished off with the attaching of the rear bulkhead which has been fitted out with the two rear access doors, the door handles, internal door latch wheel, mud flaps, two, two piece stowage boxes, several grab handles, two footsteps, which can be posed folded up or extended, and two water jet doors. Moving on the inside of the upper hull, several holes need to be opened up before any parts can be added. Once these are done the two sidewalls are attached, along with more stowage boxes, drivers, gunners and fighting compartment clear periscopes, ventilator inlets, and machine gun mounts. Topside of the upper hull the three front mounted hatches are attached, either open or closed, followed by the two oblique mounted machine gun barrels, with a choice of two different types of barrel, two headlights, each with clear lenses, sidelights, wing mirrors, grab handles and pioneer tools. The rear mounted hatches can also be posed open or closed, and since there is an interior to see it would be a shame to have it all buttoned up, each of the large hatches have smaller hatches fitted. The large engine air intake is fitted just forward of the large hatches and is fitted with a PE screen. At the bow, two armour supports are fitted on each side, whilst at the rear, the PE radiator grille is fitted along with the large exhaust, also with a PE plate fitted. The upper and lower hull assemblies are then joined together and the large, two piece ERA block is attaché dot the lower glacis plate. The slide ERA blocks are also provided as two parts, which when joined together are further fitted out with the ten PE support beams and separate two piece front block. Before fitting the large side ERA blocks, the track guards, moulded complete with attachment points are glued to the sides of the hull. The rear quarter sections of armour are made up of an inner plate, with exhaust aperture in the right hand plate, two support brackets, and two sections of bar armour. The side blocks and quarter armour are then attached to their respective positions on the hull, along with an attachment beam on the upper glacis plate. Since the kit comes with an interior for the hull it’s only natural that it also comes with a full turret interior. Construction of this begins with the assembly of the four piece main gun breech, which includes the trunnions, four piece commanders seat base and four piece turret training gearbox. The gear box and commanders seat base are attached to the turret floor which is made up from upper and lower sections. The turret motor, centre console, four piece gunners seat base, commanders and gunners seats are then glued into position. The floor is fixed to the turret ring via four support legs, whilst the ring also has the lower mantlet plate fitted. The turret floor detail is further enhanced with the inclusion of three ready use rounds for the main gun. The interior of the turret itself is fitted with the commanders sighing equipment and intercom boxes, whilst on the outside the large, ten piece targeting sight is fitted to the left hand side of the turret, and two, two piece periscope covers plus loading hatch are also attached. Whilst the gunners hatch is a very simple single piece affair, the commanders hatch is much more complicated. The hatch ring is fitted with two clear periscope parts from the inside, along with the commanders turret control yoke, and on the outside the hatch and four piece searchlight is attached. The breech sub assembly is then fitted into position, along with the mantlet and the two piece main gun barrel is glued into position, the coaxial 30mm barrel is the attached to the mantlet and the main barrel on the right hand side and the coaxial machine gun is fitted to the left hand side of the mantlet. The top of the turret is then fitted with the aerial base, an infra red sight complete with searchlight on top and a piece of appliqué armour just in front of the gunners hatch, three bar armour support brackets, rear turret bustle plate. The turret is then attached to the turret ring/floor assembly, after which the turret mounted bar armour is attached, followed by the cheek mounted screens, each made up from the cheek plate, attachment pads and the five individual screens. The turret is finished off with the fitting of another searchlight, it’s electrical cable, and what I presume is a laser sight, made up from four parts and attached above the rear of the main gun barrel. The completed turret is then fitted to the hull assembly, thus completing the build. There is just the one colour scheme provided for the UAE vehicle, which is sandy brown overall with red brown splotches. No unit or other markings are provided. Conclusion Well, Trumpeter are still finding new variants of Russian vehicles to kit, not that I’m complaining. This looks like another winner and one which has the potential to have even more detail added to it in the form of personal kit, food/water containers and weapons, or whatever you fancy. It does make a change from having another green based camouflaged vehicle in the collection, and will stand out from the crowd. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  7. DeHavilland Sea Hornet NF.21 Trumpeter 1:48 History The Hornet was designed with the possibility of naval service in carriers firmly in mind. To this end good low speed handling was required, along with good all-round visibility for the pilot. The basic Hornet design excelled at meeting these requirements. Shortly after the first Hornet prototype flew, Specification N.5/44 was issued to de Havilland covering the modification of the Hornet for naval service. The Heston Aircraft Company was contracted to carry out the conversion work on three early production F.Is. The work entailed altering the wings to incorporate folding mechanisms so that each outer wing panel, from the aileron/flap line outboard could be folded upwards and inwards at an angle. The hinges were part of the upper wing skin structure while the lower wing skins incorporated securing latches. Lockheed hydraulic jacks were used to actuate the wing panels. Slotted flaps were introduced to improve low speed "flaps down" control. The lower rear fuselage was reinforced with two additional spruce longerons designed to take the stresses imposed by the external "vee" framed arrestor hook, which was flush-mounted below the fuselage. The frame was made up of steel tubing with a forged-steel hook and was held against the fuselage by a "snap gear". Because the Hornet used the American "3-point" system of catapult-assisted takeoff, two forged steel catapult bridle hooks were fitted, one below each wing, close to the fuselage. The de Havilland rubber-in-compression undercarriage legs could not absorb the rebound energies imposed by carrier landings. They were replaced by more conventional hydraulic oleos which embodied torque links. Merlin 133/134s (de-rated from 2,070 hp/1,543 kW to 2,030 hp/1,535 kW) were fitted to all Sea Hornets. Other specialised naval equipment (mainly different radio gear), was fitted and provision was made for three camera ports, one on each side of the rear fuselage and one pointing down. Sea Hornet F 20s also incorporated the modifications of the Hornet F 3, although the internal fuel capacity was 347 Imp gal (1,557 l), slightly reduced from that of the F I. In total, all of the modifications added some 550 lb (249 kg) to the weight of the aircraft. Maximum speed was decreased by 11 mph (18 km/h). The Hornet NF 21 was designed to fill a need for a naval night fighter. Special flame dampening exhausts were installed, and a second basic cockpit was added to the rear fuselage, just above the wing trailing edges. ASH radar equipment was placed in the rear of this cockpit; with the radar operator/navigator seated facing aft. To gain access, a small trap door was provided in the lower fuselage; a fixed, teardrop shaped bubble canopy, which could be jettisoned in an emergency, provided a good field of view. At the front of the aircraft, the nose underwent a transformation with the small rotating ASH radar dish being housed under an elongated "thimble" radome. The horizontal tail units were increased in span. The effect of these modifications on performance was minimal; about 4 mph (6 km/h) The Sea Hornet PR 22 was a dedicated photo reconnaissance aircraft version of the F 20. The cannon were removed and the apertures faired over. Three cameras were installed in the rear fuselage; two F 52s for night time use and one K.19B for daytime use. A total of 23 PR 22s were built, interspersed with F.20s being built at Hatfield. The Model Trumpeter do have a penchant for producing very nice boxart for their kits and this one is no exception, painted directly from a period photograph showing a Sea Hornet on deck with wings folded. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the styrene inside. Whilst the parts are all beautifully moulded, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, the faults that were noted in their previously released Hornets have been reproduce with this kit. Shame really as the artwork shows how it should look. The nose appears a little too deep, which has then caused problems with the windscreen, the lower edge of which should be pretty much horizontal, whereas the kit has a sharp incline from the fuselage to the upper nose panel. The rudder, ailerons and elevators also have quite pronounced ribbing effects, when they should be flat as they were metal skinned, not fabric. Without building it I cannot say whether the undercarriage position is correct, but I believe the kit of the land based version was wrong, so wouldn’t have though that Trumpeter would have corrected it since they hadn’t with the nose. There also appears to something very wrong woth the ailerons, in that they don't match the shape or even reach the wing tips, it's like they're short shot, but it looks like they're moulded that way. Ok, that’s the accuracy and perhaps slight negativity sorted, what do you actually get in the box? There are six sprues of medium grey styrene, one sprue of clear styrene and a decal sheet. Going by the thickness of the instruction booklet and parts count, this won’t be a complicated build, and if you aren’t too bothered about accuracy it does sort of look like a Sea Hornet, if you squint a bit, but will probably go together without too many problems. The build begins with the front cockpit, with the seat and seat armour being fitted to the cockpit tub. The joystick, instrument panel, with decal instruments, gunsight, gunsight glass and the rear cockpit tray. Now this tray doesn’t look quite right. It seems to be fitted with a tank of some sort, and two boxes positioned fore and aft. Now I’m happy to be corrected, but I presumed these would be the ammunition boxes and positioned athwartships, but I’m only going on what a BM member is doing with his magnificent 1:32 detailing of the HpH kit, as I cannot find a good photograph of the area even in the David Collins’ superb book on the type. Anyway, with the tray in place the spring like rod is fitted between the aft end of the try and the seat, followed by the two cockpit side panels. The rear cockpit is made up from front and rear bulkheads, seat and side panels. The two cockpits are then fitted to one half of the fuselage, after which the fuselage can be closed up, and the 20mm cannon troughs, radome, rear cockpit access door, and tailcone are fitted. Each of the two nacelles and undercarriage are assembled next. Each one comprising of the two nacelle halves, front and rear bulkheads, gear bay roof and sides, main gear leg, single piece main wheel and exhaust stubs. The propellers are each assembled from the backplate, four individual blades and spinner. Make sure you use the correct blades per side as they are handed. The nacelles are finished off with the fitting of the main gear doors and exhaust shrouds. The inner wing sections are split horizontally and once the two halves are joined the radiator intakes are fitted as well as the rib at the fold point. The outer wing sections are built in the same way, and have a clear part fitted to represent the navigation lights; the port wing is fitted with a pitot probe. The tail fin, with rudder moulded together and the horizontal tailplanes, are also moulded in two halves, which once assembled can be fitted to the fuselage, followed by the inner wing panels, windscreen, canopy and rear dome. Now, the instructions call for the outer wing panels to be fitted before the nacelle assemblies. In my view it would be better the other way round. As it is, the modeller has the option to display the outer wing panels folded or extended by way of different adjoining parts which when folded represent the main hinge point. Once the wings have been fitted and the nacelles attached the model is completed with the fitting of the tail hook, tail wheel/oleo, and optionally positioned flaps. Decals The smallish decal sheet provides markings for two aircraft, both in dark sea grey over sky. Although neither marking option is provided with any information of the aircraft squadrons or bases, a bit of detective work shows that they are:- DeHavilland Sea Hornet NF-21, VZ672 of 809NAS based on HMS Vengeance DeHavilland Sea Hornet NF-21, VW967, Probably of the Airwork Fleet Requirements Unit, but with spurious 424 codes, although the BY tail code seems correct. The decals are well printed, in registers with good opacity and with nicely thin carrier film. The only problem I can see is that, although glossy, some of that gloss appears to have come away with the protective sheet, which shouldn’t cause too many problems once they’ve been sealed in with a gloss coat and finished with matt varnish. Conclusion The Hornet has got to be one to them ost beautiful piston fighters ever built, and whilst the modifications needed to build the NF-21 didn’t help matters, it’s still a handsome aircraft. This is a very nice kit, spoiled by some poor research, heck, they could have just looked at the box cover to see where they went wrong with the nose and windscreen, but no, they’ve once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Shame really as it could have been a cracker of a weekend build. I guess it still can be if you’re either ignore the faults or for the purists, go to town on the modifications. Recommended with the above caveats. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  8. Russian GAZ-66 Oil Tanker Trumpeter 1:35 History The GAZ-66 light utility truck entered production in 1964 at the Gorky Automobile Plant, where it replaced the earlier GAZ-63 on the lines. Originally produced for both civilian and military use, the military versions gradually became paramount. The overall design follows the usual Soviet guidelines of relative simplicity, strength and versatility. There are no design frills on the GAZ-66 as it is an orthodox forward control design capable of being produced in, or modified into, many different versions. This truck had been produced for 35 years. It's production ceased in 1999. Nearly 1 million of these trucks were built. The GAZ-66 is still used by the Russian Army, many ex-Warsaw Pact armed forces and wherever Soviet influence has spread. Many are used throughout the Middle East and nations in Africa. The GAZ-66 was simple in design and technology. Also it was easy to maintain. The basic cargo/utility model has an all-steel cargo body with an optional canvas cover over bows mounted on a chassis frame that can be arranged to carry any number of body styles. Cab is mounted over the engine and provides seating for the driver and one passenger. Standard equipment of the GAZ-66 includes a powerful cab heater and an engine pre-heater but these are omitted on models intended for tropical use. The GAZ-66 is powered by a 4.2ltr V8 petrol engine developing 115 hp. The truck has a full-time all-wheel drive and made a name for itself as a superb cross-country vehicle. Models produced from 1968 onwards, the GAZ-66A, have a central tyre pressure system and may feature a soft-top cab. Different variants have been produced specifically designed so that, over the range of vehicles, they can operate in climatic conditions ranging from -50°C to +50°C. There are numerous sub-variants of the GAZ-66, with or without winches, and with many equipped for special roles such as oil supply vehicles, the subject of this kit. A follow-on GAZ-3308 Sadko was developed as a replacement, however Russian Army preferred the KRAZ-4350, which offers more payload. However the GAZ-66 remains in widespread use and full replacement may take some time. The Model The kit comes in a sturdy top opening box with a artistic impression of the vehicle on a snowy airfield with a Mig 31 taking off in the background. Opening the box reveals ten sprues in various sizes in a nice light grey styrene, one sprue of clear styrene, three small photo etched brass sheets, five vinyl tyres and a small decal sheet. The mouldings for all the parts are superb, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and very few moulding pips. As with most truck kits there are a lot of parts that will probably never be seen, particularly the nicely detailed chassis, suspension and engine, but in my view it’s better to have them than not. There also lots of very thin parts such as the handrail across the top of the tank, which seemed to snap as I looked at it. This and other bits of pipework and rails do appear to have quite a few sprue gates and moulding pips, so take great care when removing them from the sprue and cleaning them up. The build begins with the several sub-assemblies, beginning with the superbly detailed V8 engine. The engine block is provided in two halves, which, once joined together, are fitted with the sump and intake manifold. Each of the exhaust manifolds are provided in two pieces, these are fitted to the upper sides of the engine block, with the two cylinder heads fitted above them. The crank case and two piece starter motor are then attached to the rear end of the block, whilst the ancillary drive plate is fitted to the front. The two piece alternator is fitted to the right hand front with the water pump fitted to the front. On the top of the engine the six piece throttle body, three piece oil filter and single piece distributer are attached. The inner drive belt is fitted along its idler and tensioner wheels, followed by the outer drive belt and its idler and tensioner wheels and completed with the fitting of the cooling fan. The last part of the engine is the air filter, and this is made up from six parts before being fitted to the top of the engine. The next sub-assembly is for the peddle box, which consists of two halves, between which the brake and clutch pedals and a spacer bar are sandwiched. Each of the pedals are then fitted with their respective pads. Support bracket and box structures are then attached to the top of the box, followed by the steering column and steering wheel. The centre console of the cab is the fitted with the lid of the large storage box, whilst the two seats, each made up form three parts are also assembled. Each of the cab doors are also assembled, each with from the outer skin, clear part, door card and associated handles. The centre console is attached to the single piece floor moulding along with the accelerator pedal and seats. On the outside of the cab, just behind the rear of the centre console a selection of five levers which make up the oil tank pump controls are fitted. The instrument binnacle is fitted out with the various instrument decals, gear stick and the co-drivers grab handle before being fitted to the raised section of the floor moulding in front of the centre console. The single piece cab is then fitted with the two door assemblies, two windscreens, two rear screens, two quarter screens, a vent cover and the grille. The cab and floor assembly are then attached before the roof is fitted, followed by the headlights, with their clear lenses and side lights. To finish off the cab, two, two piece frames for attaching to the chassis later on, are attached to the underside, followed by the windscreen wipers, mud flaps, spotlight and two, three piece door mirrors. The completed cab is then put to one side to dry properly. Moving on to the running gear and each of the five tyres are fitted with their two piece rims, with the driving wheels also fitted with centrally mounted caps. The spare wheel frame is now assembled with the two frame rails joined together by seven crosspieces and two wheel supports and trough. The frame also carries the three piece pump unit for the oil tank and a two piece tool box, oh and the spare wheel, or course. The next sub-assembly is that of the winch unit. This is made up from the drum, to which a universal joint if fitted, this attaches to the four piece gearbox and three piece support frame. The front and rear differentials are assembled next, each from two halves, and fitted with the over and under spring clamps. There are two large air accumulators, and each of these are made up of two halves, to which a two piece valve is fitted as well as the support frame. The large oil tank consists of two halves split horizontally, which, when joined together are fitted with the rear mounted two piece hose box, followed by the two top mounted hatches and their frames. The tank assembly is then fitted to the supporting frame/walkway, which has two grab handles attached on top and two light clusters to the rear underside. The tanks two pipes are fitted between the tank and the hose box, and the underside is further fitted out with the front wheelarch sections which are held in place with two PE support struts. On top of the tank there is a long pipe attached, and fitted with to tap pipes connected to the hatch frames, whilst on the opposite side there is a long handrail. Usually assembled at the beginning of most truck kits the chassis construction finally takes place. Each of the chassis rails are fitted out with the air accumulators, cab suspension springs, suspension mounts, and two, two piece oil tanks. They are then joined together by five cross members, with the front capped off by the winch assembly and the rear capped off by the hook mounting strut and its associated braces. The tank supports braces are then attached to the rear of each rail and fitted with U clamps, whilst at the other end the engine assembly is mounted to the front cross members. The front bumper is then fitted along with its PE brackets, along with a PE footplate and a PE tow eye. There is a small power take off box fitted to the rear of the engine which will eventually connect to the pump unit on the spare wheel frame. On the underside of the chassis, the four leaf spring units are attached along with their respective clamps. The exhaust pipe is then attached to the exhaust manifolds of the engine and clamped to the right hand rail about half way down the chassis. The front differential is fitted with the two, five piece hubs and ball joints, along with the steering rack. The two differentials are then glued into position along with the three piece transfer box and joined together by the three drive shafts, each with separate universal joints. The radiator housing is made up from the housing, radiators rear mesh, front mesh, and top cap, along with the intercooler and two support struts. The assembly is then fitted to the chassis in front of the engine. On the upperside of the chassis, several support frames are attached, along with the rear PE bumpers, which need to be carefully bent to shape using the jig provided, as well as the four shock absorbers, and anti roll links. Each of the two petrol tanks is made up form top and bottom halves, two piece filler caps and their respective pipes. These are then fitted to the support frames fitted earlier. Tow small two hooks are fitted to the rear chassis cross member via two PE plates. The truck really starts to come together now, with the fitting of the four wheels, oil tank assembly, spare wheel rack and finally the cab assembly. There you have it, one complete GAZ 66 model. The model only comes iin one colour scheme, that of overall light green with a black chassis. Decals are provided for the number plates and that’s it, no placards or anything that I would have thought an oil truck should have, but then it is Russian and they never seem overly concerned with the sort of signs we in the West go mad for. Conclusion As trucks go, this one is rather cute and will look great in a collection or in a diorama with one of Trumpeters big 1:35 scale helicopters. There is an awful lot of detail that is lost once the cab and tank go on, but if you do a bit of research then you may be able to display the cab open and the beautiful engine on display, although you will have to add some more pipes and wires to do a proper job on it. Also the hose box could have done with the option of having it open with all the valves that are necessary for pumping the oil out. That said it’s a great looking kit and I can happily recommend it to truck modellers and normal modellers alike. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  9. BMP-2D Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1:35 Trumpeter History The BMP-2 is an infantry combat vehicle variant of the BMP-1 that incorporates a major armament change. It has an enlarged two-man turret which mounts a 30-mm automatic gun, model 2A42, with a long, thin tube and a double-baffle muzzle brake, along with a 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun on its front. On top of the turret is an ATGM launcher. This launcher can employ either AT-4 SPIGOT or AT-5 SPANDREL missiles. Although it is the AT-5 SPANDREL canister normally seen mounted. The engine is an upgraded 300-hp, V-6 diesel. The vehicle commander now sits in the two-man turret, along with the gunner. Because of the enlarged turret, there is room for only two roof hatches in the rear fighting compartment, rather than the four of the BMP-1. The BMP-2 can accommodate one less passenger than the BMP-1; there also is one less firing port for an assault rifle on each side. BMP-2D, (the subject of this release), is a late production version of the BMP-2. This vehicle includes appliqué armour on the turret, provision for mounting mine clearing system under the nose of the vehicle, and spaced type appliqué armour fitted along either side of the hull. The downside is that this vehicle is no longer amphibious. Model The kit comes in the standard Trumpeter box with a depiction of the vehicle in what looks like a Middle Eastern environment. Inside, there are sixteen sprues of light grey styrene, two separate hull sections; one sprue of clear styrene, rather unusually in this day and age the kit comes with rubber band style tracks, and a small decal sheet. In a slight step backwards, along with the tracks, the kit does not include a metal barrel, unlike its predecessors. The moulding of the parts is well up to Trumpeters usual standards, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, lots of very fine detail, but quite a few moulding pips. Dry fitting of the upper and lower hull sections shows that it will be a very good fit and, most probably an easy and enjoyable build. Construction begins with the lower hull section, to which the lower front glacis plate is attached. The plate is fitted out with the various paraphernalia, such as the towing hooks, towing eyes, and brackets. The six return rollers are then attached to the hull, along with the bump stops, which have PE end caps, mud scrapers on the idler wheel end and the sprocket gear casings on the front. The idler wheel axle is fitted, followed by the torsion beam suspension units are then attached, with the front two and rearmost units fitted with shock absorbers. Each of the road wheels, and sprockets are made up from two halves, whilst the idlers are made up of two styrene hubs, between which five PE spacers are fitted. The wheels are then attached to their respective axles, and the rear end of the hull is fitted with two towing eyes and their mounting plates, a pair of grab handles and the rear track guards/mudflaps. The two rear doors are each assembled, made up form inner and outer skins, clear periscope, hinges, and door handles, before being fitted tot he lower hull. Since the vehicle comes with an interior, you may wish to pose the doors open, in which case you should probably leave this till nearer the end of the build to prevent them being knocked off as the build progresses. The interior is now built up with the six torsion beam covers and two rearmost slats glued to the inside of the lower hull. The large console fitted to the rear of the vehicle, between the two doors is made up form five parts, then glued into position, along with the two interior panels that fit on the outer sides. There are two seats, each made up form five parts that are fitted to the left of the engine compartment which is closed off by two bulkheads, There is a two piece storage box situated just behind the rearmost of the two seats. The front seat is for the driver, and this position is also provided with a nice instrument panel, for which there is a well printed decal used to represent the instruments, and a two piece steering arm. The troops carried in the back of the vehicle sit on two, three piece bench seats which are finished of with two end plates. The rubber band style tracks are fitted at this point in the instructions, although its probably best to leave these till after painting. Moving onto the upper hull, the large turret ring is fitted, along with the drivers clear periscopes, commanders sights, and troop periscopes and gun ports, fitted to the interior. On the exterior, the front glacis plate is fitted, along with the periscope covers and outer gun port hatches, and ventilator mushroom. These are followed by the front and rear lights, various brackets and straps, and the three slats that fit into the exhaust Now, although this type of BMP is not amphibious, it still has a splash guard fitted to the front glacis plate, and would be used for fording rivers and the like. The splash guard and its hinges on this kit can be posed either extended, with the addition of two gas struts or stowed away. Still on the upper hull, the PE exhaust grille is fitted into a tray like part and glued over the exhaust port. The drivers and commanders hatches are each or three parts and can be posed open or closed, as can the two, two piece troop hatches on the rear roof. A couple of pioneer tools are also fitted to the rear upper roof. The upper and lower hull assemblies are now joined together, followed by the two track guards which are fixed to the hull via the top of each guard and three stays per side. The appliqué armour is then attached to the hull sides, above the track guards. Onto the turret next, and, as with the hull, this is provided with a full interior. Firstly the main sight and targeting control panel are assembled and fitted to the inside of the turret, along with three clear periscopes and a further sight, I assume is for the AT-5 missile, with a pair of control handles. Each of the two hatches are built up from multiple parts, the gunners hatch ring has another missile sight fitted on the inside, along with a pair of periscopes, whilst on the outside is the sights protective cover, five piece infra red searchlight and three part hatch. The second hatch, presumably the missile man/loader, is a much simpler type, and is made up from just three parts. Naturally each hatch can be posed open or closed. The turret is then fitted to its base section, followed by the mantlet, main cannon and co-axial machine gun. There are quite a few grab handles, and the appliqué armour brackets fitted to the outside of the turret, as well as the two aerial bases, an additional sight for the loader and another searchlight. The appliqué armour sheet is then attached to the brackets on the rear of the turret, whilst the six smoke discharger tubes are fitted, three per side. The AT-5 tube is made up from two halves and two end pieces. The tube is then fitted to the tube locking mechanism, which, in turn is fitted to the four part launcher, before the whole assembly is attached to the roof of the turret. A third searchlight, made from three pieces, and probably another infra red light is fitted just to the right of the mantlet, low down on the turret. The turret cage is now assembled from the floor, two three piece seats, training motor housing/gearbox, turret control arm, two footplates, and four supports which connect the floor to the turret. The completed turret is then slid into the turret ring completing the build. Decals The small decal sheet provides markings for only one of the two vehicles depicted on the colour chart, neither of which are identified. One is obviously army, whilst the anchor on the turret could mean its Russian Marines of Naval Infantry, (if they still have such a unit). Both vehicles are in the same camouflage of light green, black and wood brown over sandy brown. Conclusion Trumpeter seem to be trying to produce every variant of Russian vehicle they can find, not that that is a bad thing, but it would be nice to see some other countries vehicles being modelled. That doesn’t make this kit bad, in fact it looks to be a very nice kit and, what with the interior, could be made into a great looking model, especially if the modeller added some small details such as personal weapons, small arms, water bottles etc. I tiwll also make for a good subject for a diorama, with all the doors open and some troops milling around. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  10. Shar2

    USS Texas, BB-35. 1:350

    USS Texas, BB-35 Trumpeter 1:350 USS Texas (BB-35), the second ship of the United States Navy named in honour of the U.S. state of Texas, is a New York-class battleship. The ship was launched on 18 May 1912 and commissioned on 12 March 1914. Soon after her commissioning, Texas saw action in Mexican waters following the "Tampico Incident" and made numerous sorties into the North Sea during World War I. When the United States formally entered World War II in 1941, Texas escorted war convoys across the Atlantic, and later shelled Axis-held beaches for the North African campaign and the Normandy Landings before being transferred to the Pacific Theatre late in 1944 to provide naval gunfire support during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Texas was decommissioned in 1948, having earned a total of five battle stars for service in World War II, and is now a museum ship near Houston, Texas. Among the world's remaining battleships, Texas is notable for being the only remaining WW1 era dreadnought battleship, though she is not the oldest surviving battleship; Mikasa, a pre-dreadnought battleship ordered in 1898 by the Empire of Japan, is older than Texas. She is also noteworthy for being one of only six remaining ships to have served in both World Wars. Among US-built battleships, Texas is notable for her sizable number of firsts: the first US Navy vessel to house a permanently assigned contingent of US Marines, the first US battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns, the first US ship to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers (analogue forerunners of today's computers), the first US battleship to launch an aircraft, from a catapult on Turret 3, one of the first to receive the CXAM-1 version of CXAM production radar in the US Navy, the first US battleship to become a permanent museum ship, and the first battleship declared to be a US National Historic Landmark. The Model With the release of the USS New York maritime modeller knew that it wouldn’t be too long before Trumpeter released her sister ship the USS Texas. Well, here she is in all her glory. Fortunately Trumpeter haven’t just released the same parts as in the New York kit, which they could well have done knowing their haphazard research techniques, as the deck and superstructure parts are all new and from what I can see, correct for the era. Unfortunately, they haven’t done anything with the hull, which still sports the overlarge shelf along the top of the aft section of the armoured belt, which is a great shame as this is almost impossible to fix. The large, thick, hull plates are also still in evidence, but at least these can be sorted with a bit of judicious rubbing down with some wet ‘n’ dry. The kit comes in the standard top opening box that has a very nice rendition of the Texas at sea in line ahead with another battleship on the top. Inside there are eleven sheets of light grey styrene, two main deck parts and six loose superstructure parts, also in light grey styrene, two sprues of clear styrene, four sheets of etched brass and small decal sheet the large black styrene stand and a length of chain. All the parts are very nicely moulded with some very fine details, particularly on the deck and superstructure. The parts are all cleanly moulded, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are quite a few moulding pips, mainly on the small parts. The exceptions being on a couple of the loose parts, where they look like they have been quite roughly removed from a sprue, with large lugs that need to be removed and cleaned up. The instructions are well printed and very clearly mark the positioning of parts and sub-assemblies Construction begins with the fitting of the two hull halves between which are four bulkheads and two joining parts for the bow and stern. The main deck is provided in two sections, the joint of which is fortunately covered by the superstructure, so there’s no worry about filling an awkward seam. Turning the hull upside down the four keel strakes, two propeller shafts, A frame supports, and propellers plus the rudder are attached. Before moving on, several sub-assemblies and PE parts are constructed. These include the PE inclined ladders, PE floater baskets, forty two 20mm Oerlikon mounts with PE shields, two director towers with PE radar dish, twelve 5” gun mounts, and eight quad 40mm mountings with PE railings. Six of the 5” mounts are fitted just forward of amidships before the large deck 01 is attached. This needs several holes drilled through before the fitting as the ship is at a different mod state than the previously released sister ship USS New York. On either side of the hull, aligned with 01 deck, a section of what used to be the barbette emplacements is attached. The bridge area is now assembled, which includes 02 deck, armoured steering bridge, 03 deck and secondary bridge along with two lookout points. The bridge structure is then glued into position along with two ready use lockers, signal lamps, large and small and two binocular stands. The instructions also call for some of the railings, inclined ladders and floater nets to be fitted, but it may be prudent to leave these till nearer the end of the build. The underside of the upper bridge deck/mast is also fitted out with PE braces and struts before being turned over and fitted with the forward main director two rangefinders, two aldis lamps and six 20mm Oerlikons. The two inclined mast poles and underside deck supports are attached and the sub-assembly fitted above the bridge, followed by the mast pole which has two lookout tubs attached along with their roof. Once again the railings and inclined ladders are due to be fitted at this point. The upper spotting top is now assembled, with the PE support braces, yardarms and a very nice PE radar antenna. This is then fitted to the top of the mast structure along with two PE inclined access ladders. Attention is then quickly focused onto the foredeck, with the fitting of the PE anchor chains, hawse pipe gratings and styrene windlasses, cleats, bollards and Jackstaff. Moving aft, more ready use lockers are fitted round the bridge structure and mid AA gun deck. These are followed by several deckhouses, complete with attached carley floats, six quad 40mm mounts, six 5” mounts and four 20mm Oerlikons alongside B barbette, as well as a pair of small goose necked derricks. Aft of the forward superstructure all the way back to the quarterdeck, or fantail in this case, numerous ready use lockers, ventilation mushrooms, intakes, davits, and other ephemera are fitted. Four more deckhouse sub assemblies are then constructed and fitted with either Carley floats or 20mm Oerlikons and floater baskets, before being fitted into their respective positions, followed by four Quad 40mm mounts, two Mk 51 directors, four 5” mounts, a practice 5” loader and twenty 20mm Oerlikons. The funnel is assembled next; it comes in two halves and is fitted with a styrene and PE funnel cap and base. It’s completed with auxiliary steam pipes, PE funnel guards and railings before being fitted into position. The next sub assembly is what looks like an auxiliary bridge on top of a large intake trunk, capped with a small radar antenna. This is fitted just aft of the funnel along with four ships boats onto their respective cradles. More of the ships superstructure railings are now attached as well as the remainder of the floater baskets. The two cranes are assembled from a mixture of PE and styrene parts which should make them look really good once painted up. With these in place the build moves onto the five 14” main turrets. Each turret consists of the base, turret, and the two gun barrels, which whilst they are quite nicely done, they would be better replaced with turned metal items. The centre turret is fitted with a very nicely detailed PE catapult, complete with walkways and supports, whilst B and X turrets are each fitted with six 20mm Oerlikons, their splinter shields, ready use lockers and on the outside of the shields four floater baskets, plus Y turret has four Carley rafts attached the turret sides. With the build in its final stages the five turrets are fitted and the main mast is assembled from a series of decks, three mast poles, and fitted with the after main director, topped off with a pole mast on top of which is the large CXAM-1 radar array, which is made entirely of PE parts, although fitted to a styrene mounting, four 20mm Oerlikons, ready use lockers and railings before being attached to the ship. The kit comes complete with two OS2U Kingfisher aircraft on the two clear sprues. These are assembled from two fuselage halves, separate floats and propeller. Unfortunately there appears to be only room for one on the model and that would be attached to the catapult, as there isn’t a handling trolley for the other to sit on, although one of the aftermarket companies may rectify this. Last task is to fit all the upper deck railings and set the completed model onto the large stand provided. Decals The small decal sheet provides national markings and codes numbers for the ships aircraft, the ships name for the stern and her ID number for the Bows and stern quarters, the Stars and Stripes in plain and wavy form. For the colour scheme you will need to get into a blue period, as the horizontal surfaces are Deck Blue and all the vertical surfaces are Navy Blue. You will get some relief if you’re building full hull with the red anti-fouling and black boot topping, as even the aircraft are in a light blue/blue grey and white scheme. Conclusion As with the USS New York release this is Trumpeter at their best, mixing superb detail and moulding with some shocking inaccuracy with the hull. They really do have a problem when it comes to researching ships hulls as they rarely get the details right, even if the length and breadth is correct. That said, if you’re not a stickler for absolute accuracy this will build into an impressive model, after all, most people who will see it won’t know what’s wrong with it. So, for buildability and modelling enjoyment, alone, I can still quite happily recommend it. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  11. Soviet 122mm Howitzer M1938 (M-30) Trumpeter 1:35 History The 122 mm Howitzer M1938 (M-30) field guns were designed by F. F. Petrov of the design bureau of Motovilikha Plants in the late 1930s to replace the recently modernized 122-millimeter howitzers in the Russian arsenal that were of pre-WW1 designs. The design was accepted in Sep 1939 after defeating rival designs. The design addressed the shortcomings of the WW1-era predecessors directly: their advanced split trail carriages with leaf spring suspension systems and rubber tires greatly improved the towing capabilities, while the longer barrel increased the effective range. Mass production began in 1940 at Plant No. 9 in Sverdlovsk and after 1940 also in Plant No. 92 in Gorky, both in Russia. Barrels of this design were mounted on T-34 hulls to create the SU-122 self-propelled assault guns. Marshal G. F. Odintsov commented “Nothing can be better" after witnessing firing practices involving these guns. When Germany invaded Russia in Jun 1941, 1,667 122 mm M1938 field guns were in service, which was still a minority within the Russian forces. However, increased production meant that by 1943 they would become the most numerous howitzers of the Russian Army. They were mainly used as indirect fire weapons against troop concentrations and field fortifications, though when necessary they also fired directly against advancing German tanks after high explosive anti-tank shells were developed in 1943. A number of these guns were captured by the Germans, who pressed them into service with the designation 12.2 cm s.F.H.396® heavy howitzers. Finnish forces captured 41 guns of this type and employed them under the designation 122 H 38; Finnish troops reported great liking to these guns, and kept them in service until the mid-1980s. After WW2, Russia supplied 122 mm Howitzer M1938 (M-30) field guns to friendly nations such as Egypt and Syria. Communist China's Type 54 howitzers were reportedly a development of the M-30 design given to them by Russia. Between 1940 and 1945, a total of 17,526 122 mm M-30 field guns were built. An additional 1,740 were built between 1946 and 1955; bringing the grand total to 19,266. The Model With the massively increasing range of Soviet tanks well in the process of taking over the modelling world, Trumpeter are now doing the same with their increased production of Soviet artillery pieces. Although the kit comes in quite a small box, with a nice artists impression of the howitzer being readied for firing on the lid, it is packed with styrene. There are six sprues of light grey styrene, two separate trails, two sheets of etched brass, a metal barrel, four rubber tyres and small part, pressed from brass sheet and a small decal sheet. What is nice about this kit is that, although you don’t get any crew, you do get a nice limber included, that will be of great use within a diorama. As is typical of Trumpeter kits, the parts are all beautifully moulded, with no signs of flash or other imperfections, but there are quite a few moulding pips and inserts that need to be removed and the areas cleaned up. The instructions are clearly laid out, although there are a couple of parts positioning that could be clearer, so take care when reading them. Construction begins with the assembly of the breech, which is made up from two halves, between which is the internal rear section of the barrel. The two halves of the breech section are moulded complete with the elevation gear, recuperator and buffer tubes, which not only reduces parts count but gives the modeller some awkward seams to sort out, so not necessarily a good thing, although the top mounted tube is covered for the most part by a PE part folded to fit. To the breech assembly several PE parts are added, some of which require careful bending to shape, for which there is a scrap side view showing how they should look. The breech cover and opening handle are added to the rear, along with the breech hinge. To the front of the section the slide cover is added, as are a couple of brackets. The two trunnion mounts are now fitted with their respective clamps for the elevation tubes and fitted, unglued, to the breech assembly with the rotating elevation gear axle sandwiched between them so that it meshes with the breech mounted elevation gear. The sight and controls mounted on the left hand side of the breech section is made up of no less than sixteen parts, most of which are very small, so will some fine tweezers and a steady hand. The small amount of traverse is controlled by a wheel, also on the left hand side, fitted just beneath the sight. The pinion mount is then attached to the underside of het breech section, along with a bracket and the travel lock pin. Each of the elevation shafts are mounted inside the two tubes, which are then fitted with end caps. The two tubes bases are then fitted into the clamp on the trunnion mounts with the movable top section attached to the sides the breech section, just forward of the breech itself. Trumpeter have produced a very nice slide moulded barrel for this kit, but for some, very pleasant reason, have also included a metal barrel, with the front section showing the nice rifling, so it’s up to the modeller which they use. If you do use the metal barrel, then you will need to fit it with the separate locating collar that is also been slide moulded. The upper section of the gun shield is a single piece unit, to which the various strengthening strips are added, along with the sighting door, two lower shield sections and storage box are attached. The left hand shield support is fitted with three PE parts and a styrene part to create a storage box and mounting bracket. Before fitting the gun shield, the six piece elevation gearbox and hand wheel are fitted to the right hand side trunnion mount. With the shield in place it is then fitted with a separate part, made of brass sheet, which is the sliding section of the shield, allowing the gun to be elevated. This brass part is fitted with four very small styrene bolt heads and attached to the barrel by two PE brackets. Each of the two wheels is made up of two halves, plus the central hub, the inner half is fitted with a rolled PE rim. With the two halves and hub joined together the outer half is fitted with three PE parts, including the tyre inflation valve and a couple of small brackets. The rubber/vinyl tyres are then slipped onto the rims and the brake drums attached. Note that the brake drums differ between right and left sides. The pinion mount, which also includes the axles and trail hinge pins is made up form ten parts, to which the leaf spring and its clamps are attached. Each to the two trails is fitted out with various items of kit, such as the gun cleaning rods, tool boxes, pioneer tools, end spade plates and the towing hitch which is fitted to the right hand trail, and can be fitted in firing or travelling positions. The trails are then fitted to their respective hinge points with the aid of a separate bottom section which clamps the two pins together. The wheels are then mounted to the axles and the trail handles are attached, these allow the trails to be folded or spread and can be fitted in either stowed or in use positions. The completed gun assembly is then fitted to the carriage assembly via the pinion hole. Another nice addition to the kit is two shell crates. Each crate is made up of nine parts, ten if you include the lid, and can be fitted out with two separate shells and two charge bags. Naturally, in a diorama these can be shown either closed up or open, full or empty, the choice is yours. The provision of the limber is a nice touch, the main box of which is made up from six parts including the internal divisions, and with the PE shelves it makes up into a nice representation, only once with the top fitted, nothing of the detail will be seen, so some research will be required on how the limber opens up. Turning the box section upside down, the suspension mounts are attached, along with the fixed part of the towing arm and the limber support, which can be posed stowed or propped positions. With the limber still upside down the leaf springs and axle are attached, along with two three piece footsteps and a storage box. Turning the limber right side up the slatted seat base is fitted, as are the seat back and shell carrier. Three pioneer tools are fitted to the limber sides and the towing hitch to the limbers rear panel. To finish the top the rear rail and two side mounted hand rails are fitted. The two wheels are made up form inner and outer hubs onto which the vinyl tyres are slipped on, after which the wheels are fitted to the axle. The limber is finished off with the fitting of the extendable towing arm, positioning pin, towing eye and pin, and the towing beam which is fitted to whichever vehicle you choose to tow the finished article. There is an alternative beam for use with a horse which would be an interesting sight in a diorama. For additional diorama addition is the inclusion of a bucket complete with separate handle. The small decal sheet contains just a pair of serial numbers and the firing chart. Conclusion As mentioned above, Trumpeters towed gun and howitzer range is growing at quite a considerable rate, and this release is a superb addition to the range. The provision of the limber, shell boxes and even the bucket means that this will make into a very interesting model. A bit of extra research will be required, and hopefully trumpeter will release a nice gun crew for it, which will be the icing for this very nice cake. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  12. Mike

    T-10M Heavy Tank 1:35

    T-10M Heavy Tank 1:35 Trumpeter This monster was one of the last hurrahs of the heavy tank in Soviet service, partially to counter the immediate post-war projects from the Allies such as the British Conqueror and the American M103, but also because Soviet military doctrine was slow to change from WWII, even though the slow-moving heavies had trouble keeping up with the advance toward Germany. It was based roughly on the earlier IS-3 with a longer hull, more road-wheels and a larger gun and turret. To carry the extra weight of the armour and armament, the diesel engine was uprated to keep performance on a par, and the new 122mm gun benefitted from a fume extractor (or rather the crew did). After the initial version was introduced in the early 50s, stabilisation for the gun was added one plane at a time, and the M variant gained a slotted muzzle brake to counter recoil of the new main gun, and a new coaxially mounted machine gun instead of the unwieldy 14.5mm coax fitted to earlier versions. Infra-red optics and NBC protection were also added to keep pace with the perceived threats of the time. Faster, better armoured medium tanks that became Main Battle Tanks were showing their abilities in the minor skirmishes on the periphery of Soviet influence, which sounded the death knell of the heavy tank in the late 60s, although it took a long time to completely draw down stocks. The Kit Trumpeter are flooding the market with Soviet armour at the moment, including some of the less well-known types, which is great news for the armour builder, especially those that enjoy the quirky practicality that typifies their design ethos. It is noteworthy that a sticker has been added to the front of the instruction booklet thanking a Mr. Krill Koksharov from Chelyabinsk for his assistance with this project with measurement and drawing data. The kit arrives in a fairly standard Trumpeter box, with lots of individually bagged sprues of varying sizes within. There are sixteen sprues and two hull parts in mid-grey styrene, ten sprues in brown, three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two lengths of braided copper wire, a decal sheet, the instruction booklet and a separate colour painting and marking guide with three decal options. First impressions are seldom anything less than good with Trumpeter armour, and this kit is rather well appointed in terms of detail, with only a metal barrel lacking. There doesn't yet seem to be one available, but you're looking for an M-62-T2 L/46, and you'll not have to wait too long, I'm sure. It's surprising the size of the hull, which you can test-fit together without any other parts, and although it is a large hull, the height isn't. It's the lower hull where the action starts with the addition of the suspension bump-stops, final drive housing and the bearing housings for the torsion bar suspension. The keyed swing-arms are next, with three per side having additional parts added, leaving four per side unadulterated. There are also sponson liners added to the hull sides, which I haven't seen in a new kit for quite a while. They slot into holes in the lower hull and have a raised line running their entire length. Thirty two road wheels are built up in pairs, and all have a nice cast texture on their surface, which is attention to detail that is good to see. Six return rollers are made up and installed on the return run, and the toothed drive sprockets are made up from two parts and added to the final drive axle. detail- The tracks are of the individual link type, and there are ten sprues of eighteen links from which the instructions advise you to make up runs of eighty eight links per side. The links have four sprue-gates each, but no ejector pin marks, and fit tightly together in a "sort-of" click-fit way, but they will need gluing to fit properly. Your best option is to build up a length of 88 links and quickly glue them using liquid glue. Then you can drape them around the road wheels and pack them into place to give the correct sag to the upper length, which was quite substantial. A little tape here and there should keep the links together while the glue sets up. The turret is made of upper and lower halves, and the upper has a nice cast texture moulded-in that should look good under paint. There is no breech detail added, just a simple T-shaped gun-mount, and an optional rear stowage bustle, which requires two slots in the rear of the turret opening up to accept the mating tabs. The gun mantlet fits to the mount, and the barrel of the KPVT coax 14.5mm machine gun projects from the right side. Various vision blocks, periscopes and of course a searchlight are added to the front of the turret, and the commander's cupola is built up and installed alongside the more simple gunner's hatch. A slide-moulded stowage box is added to the right of the turret, and held in place by PE straps. The barrel is split vertically along its length, with the seamline continuing through the muzzle brake, which has a two-part collar added at its base before being inserted into the mantlet. The lower hull is ostensibly complete, and is decked out with towing cable using the copper wire and styrene eyes, light clusters front and rear along with protective cages that are very well-moulded from a number of parts, and of course the driver's hatch. The inner flanges of the front fenders are added along with a couple of sections of deep wading upstands, with PE mudflap parts fitted to the front. The rear deck has a small flat section that is supplied as an insert, and this is covered with a total of four slide-moulded fuel-canisters, which are tied down by more PE straps. More stowage is added to the front and rear, with slide-moulding again reducing the part count and increasing detail, while the louvers in the deck are covered with fine PE grilles. Before the upper and lower hulls are mated, an unditching log is added to the right side of the hull, and held in place with PE tie-downs. The surface of the log is quite well done, but you might consider a little more distressing of it while you are removing the moulding seams. The turret-mounted DShK.M is quite a focus on the finished model, and is built up from a larger number of parts and has a slide-moulded muzzle that has been very nicely done. The mount closes up around the gun's detailed breech, and a choice of either styrene or PE ammo cans are provided, allowing an open can with ammo protruding if you go down the PE route. The final act involves adding the turret and twisting it to lock it in place on a bayonet mechanism, gluing the base of the DShK.M to the gunner's hatch front, and adding a pair of triangular panels to the front of the glacis plate. Markings As usual, it's Soviet green all the way for this deep Cold War warrior, with only a few differences between the marking options. From the box you can build one of the following: Soviet green with white stripes up the sides of the turret/hull and one leading back from the mantlet. Soviet green with red/yellow badge motif on the turret sides. Soviet green with white 202 on the turret sides, plus turret bustle stowage installed. The decals are fine, and consist almost totally of while turret codes to give you some additional options if you wanted to build a particular machine. Registration is a little squiffy on the wreath and red flag badge, but they are so small it probably won't notice under a little weathering. Conclusion The sheer size of Cold War heavy tanks is only really brought home by standing with them at 1:1, but this should dwarf your Shermans and Panzer IIIs. It's a well-detailed kit, but as always with the decal options you're left wondering which unit and era you are assigning your model to. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  13. Mike

    Soviet 1K17 Szhatie 1:35

    Soviet 1K17 Szhatie 1:35 Trumpeter This one is truly from the Buck Rogers side of things, as it is a laser tank. I kid you not. It was a dead-end development by the Soviet bloc in the 1970s and 1980s that rides on the chassis of the 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled Howitzer, which is in turn based on a combination of a T-80 hull and a T-72's diesel engine, making the Szhatie a true mongrel. It was cancelled due to the immaturity of laser technology and the sheer cost of producing the laser units. Each one used a reflective spiral and a huge quantity of artificial rubies to focus the beam with enough energy to disable either incoming missiles, or enemy vehicles. Once the West found out about it, they assigned the code Stiletto, but on the collapse of the Soviet Union the project was abandoned with only two prototypes having been constructed. One was scrapped, and the other sent to a museum bereft of its expensive laser units. Twelve lasers were housed in the box-shaped turret, and their power was derived from an auxiliary generator as well as from a bank of batteries. For close-in work it was equipped with a turret mounted NSV machine-gun next to the top hatch. The Kit With the Msta already kitted by Trumpeter it makes sense to reuse the chassis component of the kit, and if you know Trumpeter, they are always ready to reap the benefits of reducing tooling outlay. With only two ever built, it was probably the only way it was going to happen, and that's got to be a good thing. The Szhatie (which means "Compression", or "pressure" in Russian) is an unusual vehicle, and on first look you would think it some kind of Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or missile launcher, but with the lens caps opened the reddish hue of the lenses gives more of a clue. The box is standard Trumpeter with a small divider glued inside to protect the hull and turret parts. There are fourteen sprues plus two hull and one turret part in mid-grey styrene, four sprues in brown for the tracks, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a length of braided wire, decal sheet and of course the instruction booklet with separate painting guide on glossy A4. The lower hull, suspension and drive units are constructed first, with a number of steps due to their complexity, after which the rear bulkhead and three part road wheels are added. The drive sprocket is made of three parts, and the idler wheel two, and these are added to the final drive housing and track adjustment axle respectively, while the self-entrenching tool slides into rails on the underside of the glacis plate. The upper hull is detailed with hatches, vision blocks, shackles and tie-downs, after which the fording bow-wave deflector, light-clusters and PE mesh grille covers on the engine deck are glued in place. The hull is joined together, while the fenders and side-skirts are built up as separate assemblies complete with copious storage boxes of various shapes. There is another pair of grilles added to the very rear of the vehicle overhanging the rear of the bulkhead above the two-part unditching log that is carried on two circular mounts. The fenders are added after the tracks have been created, using the supplied jigs that take up one side of each track sprue. The links are individual and have three sprue gates each that are placed on the link edges, so pretty easy to clean up. I've constructed a few as a test of the process, and the centre section is a definite weak point during clean-up, so watch how you go. Gluing the tracks together is also a bit of a delicate operation, as if you flood the links they will stick to the jig, which is of course made from the same material. The separate guide-horns are mated along a small surface, and it is important that you have a flat spot where they meet, or they will not sit well. Once glued they remain malleable for a period, so you'll need to wrap them round the wheels while they're still flexible and hold them in place with tape and packing until they set up. The turret is based on that of the Msta-S, so there is a degree of common parts, and there's even an unused barrel on one of the shared sprues. The turret body is different in shape and number of hatches, and where there was a mantlet on the other kit, there is box containing the lenses projecting forward from the turret. Additional skin parts are added to the turret's body, and the lenses are added from inside their surround in two rows of six and one with four additional lenses of various sizes. Separate covers are supplied for the banks of six that can be left open or closed, but the smaller row in the centre aren't shown in any state but closed. The 12.7mm NSV machine-gun and mount are built up on the front section of the circular hatch, with ammo box and searchlight on either side. Various grab handles are added all over the turret, as are the smoke dischargers, after which the turret is placed loosely on the hull ring. Markings Only one markings choice has been included with the kit, which is a green/sand/black camouflage similar to the NATO scheme. Almost all pictures show it in this colour, although there are couple online that show a single colour scheme that is likely Russian Green. The decal sheet contains a host of generic serials in white and red, with the actual 827 codes worn by the museum example printed as separate decals. The CCCP wreath & flag are also printed, but don't appear to be used in the scheme, all of which leaves the "what-if" potential wide open. Conclusion A niche subject that has come to pass because of the pre-existing Msta kit from Trumpeter's range. It's an unusual beast that will look good in your cabinet, and you'll need to think how best to portray those pink/red lenses best. I'd also give some thought to replacing the tracks with aftermarket items that are a little stronger, but that's perhaps down to my ham-fistedness or lack of skill. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  14. Mike

    Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank 1:35

    Mk.A Whippet Medium Tank 1:35 Takom Arriving in 1917, the Whippet was engineered to complement the new heavy tanks that were making inroads into the German lines, on the basis that the faster, lighter tanks could exploit the openings made by the Mark IVs and Vs. They were equipped with two engines and whether this is a coincidence or not, had double the speed over the field than the heavies, at an eye-watering 8mph. Armed with a quartet of Hotchkiss .303 machine guns shared between the commander and gunner, they could technically cover all-round, but this involved a lot of multi-tasking and hot-seating, which must have been difficult within the cramped crew compartment, which was at the rear of the vehicle. The engines were set in the centre of the hull, with the fuel at the front in an armoured tank, which although exposed to enemy fire meant that there was a safety margin between the conflagration and the crew if it was hit. The Whippet's abilities were demonstrated well, even though it was late to the fray, but losses were quite high. There are a number of stories of derring-do by Whippet crews that demonstrate the British fighting spirit of the time as much as the tank's abilities, although it was of course vulnerable to shell fire due to the lack of heavy armour. After the war some were exported to Russia and Japan, and one even turned up in Germany as a mount for the Freikorps. The exported vehicles were reputed to still be in service in the 1930s. The Kit It's a long time since we've had a new kit of the Whippet in this scale, the only other being the old Emhar kit, which is fine as far as it goes, but suffers from "horrible track" syndrome and old-age. This is a complete new-tooling from Takom, following on from their Mark IV and Mark IV Tadpole kits that we reviewed recently. It carries on in the same vein providing a full exterior but no interior, and individual click-together track links, which should please most folks. It arrives in a slightly smaller box than the other kits, as you'd expect, and under the lid are seven sprues in mid-grey styrene, a small Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a bag of styrene track links in a mid-brown colour, small decal sheet, instruction booklet, and a separate concertina-fold painting & markings booklet that has been produced by Mig's AMMO for Takom. There is also a limited edition of 2025 boxes that includes a resin figure of a Japanese soldier saluting, a small sprue of Japanese machine guns, and some suitable decals. Where you'd get those from though, I have no idea, as the text around the pictorial information is all in Chinese/Japanese (I'm sorry I don't know the difference). As you'd expect the build begins with the running gear, which consists of a run of sixteen pairs of small wheels of four types, idler wheels and drive sprockets. The road wheels are built from two wheels with a short axle in between, while the rest are two-parts each. You will need to keep a watchful eye on each type to keep them separate during construction, and add them to the inner sponson part carefully, to ensure they're in the correct positions. They are glued in place, and are then joined by mud-shedding panels and the internal bulkheads top and bottom, plus a quartet of return rollers that are again paired wheels on a short axle. Before the glue sets on this assembly, you'd be wise to test-fit the outer sponson wall, as it will make any adjustments easier down the line. At this stage only the idler and drive sprocket will still spin in the sponson if you've been careful with the glue. The instructions then tell you to add ten small j-shaped hooks to the sides, but I'd leave those 'til later in case they get bent or lost. The same process is repeated in mirror image for the other side, with both hull sides having a line of track-grousers added, plus the engine louvers and exhausts for the engines. The floor panel and fuel tank are built up next, and added between the inner walls of the sponsons along with a rear armoured bulkhead panel. The angled roof on the engine compartment and the asymmetric lower plate for the superstructure are glued on, followed by the bulged port wall to the crew compartment and the rear deck. The Hotchkiss MGs and their ball mounts are fitted to the sides of the crew compartment, and another fits to a small panel in the front, while the final mount is in the rear crew door, which seems a little ungainly if you are trying to exit in a hurry. The roof is added with an angled section at the front, a crew hatch on the top, and a PE strip along a prominent join, with the whole assembly placed on the top, closing the empty interior save for the rear door that can be posed open or closed. Two open-topped stowage compartments are attached to the rear corners of the hull, with PE bracing wires added to an eye bolted to the hull. The final act of construction (sounds a little religious!) is the making up of the track runs and fixing them to the hull. Each link has the tail of a sprue gate on the raised edge, which should be easy to remove cleanly, and a single ejector pin mark in the centre of the inside surface. Unless you are modelling your Whippet in a "tracks peeled-back" diorama state, you'll not need to remove these as they won't be seen. Happy days! Once you realise that the styrene is quite flexible they go together quickly, but take your time and don't force it. Markings Takom are usually quite generous with their decal options, and this kit is no exception, having a rather impressive eight in total, or nine in the special boxing. There are four British options with a variation on overall green with red/white identification stripes, while the Russian tanks are plain green with the appropriate symbols. The captured "beutepanzer" wears a three colour scheme, and the Freikorps a plain grey. From the box you can build one of the following: British Whippet A321 near Acheiet-le-petit France, Aug 1918. British Whippet A326 Biefvillers France, Aug 1918. British Whippet A347 "Firefly" 6th Battalion Tank Corps. B Company, Amiens France, Aug 1918. British Whippet A378 "Golikell" Irish Civil War, Dublin, Jan 1919. German Beutepanzer A Repair No. 111 at Lieu-Saint-Armand training ground of the 17th Army, Sept 1918. German Whippet in Freikorps service, Berlin, Jan 1919. Russian Whippet in Red Army Service, 1920. Russian Whippet in 2nd Tank Platoon White Army Service, 1920. There is also the Japanese option if you're one of the lucky ones, but other than the code A3390, and a serial of 4637 the rest is unintelligible to this reviewer. The decals are printed in-house, have good register, colour density and sharpness, with a thin, matt carrier film cut closely to the decal edges where possible. Based on past experience with Takom decals they should go down just fine. Conclusion It's a welcome release to any WWI modeller, which gives you all you need in the box, save for an interior that some might look out for from the aftermarket folks. The individual tracks are a huge positive because these old clunkers really did have an exaggerated faceted effect round the track ends, so rubber bands just wouldn't have cut it. The detail on the skin is good, and a lot of care has gone into the design to make it simple to construct. Perhaps this might make a good introduction to the joys of WWI armour modelling if you've ever been tempted by their quirkiness? Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  15. Mike

    Skoda PA-II Turtle 1:35

    Skoda PA-II Turtle 1:35 Takom This unusual looking inter-war four wheel drive armoured car was part of the Czechoslovak republic's development of an armoured car that would be used by the Czechoslovakian army, although this offshoot didn't do too well, and was used mainly by the Czechoslovakian police, and the Germans who pinched some when they marched in. The original PA-I was an angular beast, but had the same two drivers and ability to be driven just as well in forward or reverse. In fact, looking at the vehicle it is difficult to tell one end from another. The second version was an attempt to gain more room within the vehicle and keep the weight low, so it was fashioned from 5mm steel by panel beaters, which resulted in an organic look to the shell. It was bolted to the same chassis as the I using an angle-iron frame, and had four Schwarzlose machine guns with over 6,000 rounds on board, manned by two gunners. The final crew member was the commander, who had a little hatch in the roof through which he could pop out to direct operations. It must have been very cramped and hot in there with five men plus a large Praga RHP 6 litre engine dragging round the seven ton bulk of the vehicle. The Czechoslovakian army were unimpressed by the finished article, as although it had four-wheel drive, it had unsuitable suspension, low ground-clearance, and its wheels were thin and poorly suited to off-road driving. Add a top speed of just over 40mph on good roads, and they turned up their noses. The Czechoslovakian police had a few on strength, and the remaining few were soaked up by the army some years later – probably at a much reduced price too! When the Nazis arrived, they took a number of them, removed the guns and added a radio antennae "bed-frame" above the roof, with a three-man crew, which allegedly continued in service to the end of WWII. The Kit Previously only available in resin at this scale, the Turtle is an interesting organically shaped armoured car, and I was pleased when Takom announced its impending release, as I've wanted one for a while. It arrives in a small glossy box with its subject matter on the top, sporting a Czechoslovakian flag, and all the guns pointing skywards, presumably under the weight of their breeches. Inside are four sprues of grey styrene, a grey body shell, four rubbery wheels in black, a small clear sprue, decal sheet, instruction booklet in black & white, and of course the painting and markings booklet, which is in full colour and folds out to quite a width! The moulding of the body shell is super, although you'll need to scrape off a couple of seamlines around the body where the sliding mould components met, but that's the work of moments. There's no interior and no opening crew doors, but the top hatch can be left open by adjusting the hinges accordingly. The four sprues are actually two that are repeated, as the vehicle is so symmetrical that it is difficult to tell one end from the other, apart from a moulded-in hatch on the driver's area and small protuberance from the bonnet/hood area. It is a simple model and shouldn't take long to construct, especially compared to how long it'll take to mask off all those camouflage schemes! Construction begins with the transmission and suspension units, which are as you'd expect for the era, with rather skinny looking leaf springs. You make two of these assemblies, which are mated to half of the floor pan along with the swept ends of the chassis rail, before they are joined in the middle, such is the extent of the symmetry. There are mating tabs strengthening the joint, and three beams are added laterally, one of which runs across the seamline, so things should stay where they are, on balance. The wheels are added to each corner by way of the aforementioned rubberised styrene tyres that are sandwiched between the outer and inner hub parts, the inner one having an axle stub inserted before gluing so that the wheels will rotate once completed. Attention then shifts to the upper body, which is made up from four quadrants to form the cylindrical crew section that blends into the body. Four cups are added for the guns, which are made up from two parts with a ball-mount at one end, and the gun's muzzle at the other. The muzzle is not hollow, so get your mini-drills at the ready. The guns are just glued in place, so choose how you'd like to set them up, as they won't be moving once the glue sets. If you are modelling one of the German operated vehicles, the guns should be cut from the ball-mount and the centre hollowed out with a drill to show where they should slot in. The two hatches on the roof are hinged toward the centre of the "roof" under an armoured dome cover, and these are dropped in place and glued down unless you fancy altering them to have one or both lifted for crew figures. The light clusters are added to each end with clear lenses, an optional domed cover, and a single centre-mounted towing eye. The top and main body are then glued together, taking care to align everything to minimise seam filling, and the body is then flipped over to add the wheel-arch inner covers to prevent a see-through body. The chassis and body can then be clipped together, the body being held at the right height by ledges on the inner faces of the wheel well parts. If you are modelling the German variant with the armament removed, there is a bed-frame aerial assembly to add to the roof of the vehicle, although there is at least one picture I have seen where this isn't present, so it's up to you. That's it! You're done. Now to paint and weather the thing, which might take a little longer, depending on your markings choice. Markings Once you have opened the paper concertina that is the painting guide, you are presented with five markings choices, most of which are of the "crazy paving" school of camouflage. Only the German vehicle is in Panzer Grey, which I'm suspecting will result in a lot of German ones on the tables at shows! From the box you can build one of the following: Police HQ Moravska Ostrava, 1937 – five colour crazy paving scheme. Training Squadron of armoural (sic) cars, Milovice, 1932 - five colour crazy paving scheme, with larger patches. Assault Vehicles Regiment, Milovice 1925-1932 - five colour crazy paving scheme, largest patches. Assault Vehicle Regiment, Milovice, 1925-32 - five colour splinter scheme. Panzerspahwagen Skoda PA II (Fu) 4Rad, French Campaign, May 1940 – all over Panzer Grey. The camouflaged options have sand, grey, light khaki green and brown patches, and all bar the splinter pattern have dark green "grout" between each colour patch. It does lend itself to brush-painting, although it could also be done using very thin sausages of Blutak or similar. The decals are on a small sheet and have good register, colour density and sharpness, and a nice thin matt finish on the carrier film. You even get a couple of undocumented Czechoslovakian flags in case you feel like replicating the scene on the box top. Conclusion A great little kit of a horrifically weird-looking armoured car that I wouldn't have set foot in if you'd paid me! It's simple, so as long as you don't approach it expecting wonders such as interiors and opening body panels, you'll be fine. It'll certainly be an interesting talking point when it's on display. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  16. It's been quite a while since I've built a model, mainly due to chronic back pain and depression. But having reviewed this kit HERE, I felt a spark of interest, so today I've broken the tools and paints out and sorted out the modelling table ready to go. I also thought I'd do a WIP and build review while I'm at it. Gratuitous box shot.
  17. Pocketbond

    Roden news | 22.8.15

    Also new in this week are the latest releases from RODEN in Ukraine. In 1/48th scale is the Heinkel He 51, B.1 (code URO-452), and for Great War modellers a super release in 1/72nd scale of the FWD 4x4 B-type 3-tonner (code URO-733), an excellent addition to the WWI modelling scene. Order from your model shop. He 51 http://www.pocketbond.co.uk/Product.aspx?ID=4669 FWD http://www.pocketbond.co.uk/Product.aspx?ID=4670
  18. Pocketbond

    Takom news | 22.8.15

    It has been a busy week with lots of new models arriving! First up, from TAKOM, the Whippet WWI tank (1/35 scale, code TAK02025) and 21cm Mörser 10/16 made by Krupp as used by Germany in WWI and WWII (1/35 scale, code TAK02032). The Krupp artillery piece can be built two ways, with optional pedrail wheels and optional long & short gun barrels. Takom's new type of pre-cut track links are included with the Whippet. Takom Whippet http://www.pocketbond.co.uk/Product.aspx?ID=4614 Takom 21cm Mörser 10/16 http://www.pocketbond.co.uk/Product.aspx?ID=4615 See separate post for the Roden news!
  19. T-62 Mod 1975 with Mine Plow 1:35 Trumpeter Intended as a replacement for the T-55 in the early 60s, the T-62 was an evolution of its forebear, with an uprated 115mm smooth-bore cannon that could fire kinetic penetrator rounds, a new larger turret and ring, which in itself required a re-designed larger hull. Additional armour was incorporated in the re-design, but this was concentrated in the upper hull at the expense of the lower hull and roof area. Once in service the tank underwent a seemingly endless upgrade process, of which the Mod.1975 was one that had a laser range-finder fitted to the roof of the turret in an armoured box as well as other modifications from earlier changes. It was successful in the export market too, with many friends of the Soviet Union using them to this day. The later T-62M is still in service with the Russian army, although it has a very different look to it than the early variants. The Kit The range of T-62s from Trumpeter just keeps on getting larger, and there are plenty more to go if they are going to make the most of the basic tooling, because there were a lot of variants, especially if you include the overseas operators. The box is standard for Trumpeter, and inside is a small divider to keep the hull and some smaller parts safe, and the following: Lower hull 10 sprues in mid grey styrene 7 sprues in mid brown styrene 4 sprues in black styrene 1 clear sprue 2 Photo-Etch (PE) sheets Metal barrel Braided copper wire Decal sheet Instruction booklet Colour painting & decaling guide It's quite a full box as a consequence, and a well-rounded package with separate black styrene tyres for the road wheels, a metal barrel, PE and towing cables adding value. Detail is very good, and the casting texture on the turret is nicely done. The mine plow (sic) gives it a little variance from other marks too, and the inclusion of individual links adds realism to the track runs, although I fully appreciate that not everyone likes them. The build begins with the road wheels, which are supplied with separate black styrene tyres, which you can paint separately if you're so inclined, and even leave black if you're going for a parade ground or factory fresh finish. Each wheel is paired with another plus a central cap, with a total of ten made up of two types. The idler wheels are made up from two opposing crown-shaped parts, and the drive sprocket is three parts, which of course you make two of. The lower hull is complete save for the rear bulkhead, which has a couple of holes reamed out for small parts before being attached to the hull. Swing-arms, dampers and final drive housings are added, and the lower glacis plate is skinned with a detail panel that has the mounts for the plough moulded-in, the bolts protruding from which must be cut off to accommodate the mount later on. The wheels are glued in place on the axle stubs, and the tracks can then be made up from 97 links per side if the pictorial representation is accurate. Each link is separate and held on the brown sprues with three sprue gates, which are all placed on the curved edges of the tracks for ease of clean-up and hiding of any mistakes. Use liquid glue to make up a run, then drape them round the wheels while the glue is still soft, holding the runs in place using tape or compressible foam to get the correct sag so the track touches the tops of some of the road wheels and not others. In-service machines seem to exhibit this configuration, but museum articles are often seen with poorly adjusted tracks that are either too tight and don't touch any/many of the roadwheels, or far too loose with noticeable sags. At this stage an unditching is added to the rear, with the aft segment of the final drive housing placed beneath. The top deck is a large part consisting of the glacis plate, driver's hatch deck, turret ring, and the sides of the engine deck, which needs a few holes poking through from underneath before you start covering it with detail. Personally I'd add the main parts of the deck to the lower hull before doing most of the detailing work. But the instructions would have you adding the hatch, light clusters, grab handles, bow-wave deflector etc. beforehand, then adding the engine deck panels with their PE grilles after. They also show the fenders being detailed before installation with stowage, but as these items are quite robust they should stand up to handling. They attach to the hull via a pair of long tabs and slots on the sides. At the rear are two external fuel drums that consist of four parts each and are supported by two curved brackets that slot into holes in the rear bulkhead, plus two towing cables made up from the braided wire and styrene eyes draped around the rear and front decks. The turret is next, and this builds up in the usual manner with top and bottom halves joined early on, and no breech detail included. Hatches, vision blocks, grab rails the obligatory searchlights and sensors are added, along with a rear mounted deep wading tube stowed on the bustle. The gun is then built up from either the turned aluminium barrel plus some small PE and styrene adornment, or a three stage styrene barrel, the end of which is a single part to give a hollow muzzle. Whichever you choose, you can then also choose to have a canvas covered mantlet or a bare one by swapping parts, after which the multi-part laser range-finder box is mounted to the mantlet shroud and plugs into a hole in the top of the turret next to the largest of the searchlights so typical of Cold War tanks. The turret is a drop-fit onto the ring, so take the usual precautions when handling, or glue it in place. The mine plow/plough is a complex assembly that uses up quite a few parts, and is actually a pair of handed assemblies, one for each track-path. With careful use of glue you can leave it capable of movement, or take the easy way out and glue it in position. The assemblies fix to the lower glacis plate on the two rows of raised bolts you shaved the heads off earlier in the build. I'd consider pinning them in position with brass rod, as the contact patch doesn't inspire confidence to carry the weight or resist much handling. Markings Russian green is about all you need to know for this kit, as that's all that is shown on the colour markings guide. No decals are shown on the guide, but there is a sheet of serials in white and Soviet/Russian badges in yellow and red for you to use after doing a bit of research on an individual machine, or picking a number you like. I find that a little lazy, as there are plenty of interesting schemes out there, but in the age of the internet it's not difficult to pull down reams of photos at the click of a button. I'd have preferred there to be an easy option though, and citing of a few specific schemes and vehicles would have been better. The decals are nicely done though, with good register, a dense white, and closely cropped glossy carrier film. Conclusion The mine-plough equipped T-62 has a rather aggressive look that is appealing to this reviewer, and overall the kit has good detail, a comprehensive package that lacks only some decent decal subjects. I like Trumpeter armour for those reasons, and they have a generally good reputation in 1:35. Highly recommended. Go and research some paint schemes while you wait for it to arrive though. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  20. Shar2

    128mm Flak 40 Zwilling. 1:35

    128mm Flak 40 Zwilling Takom 1:35 History The 12.8 cm, (128mm if using si units), FlaK 40 was a German anti-aircraft gun used in World War II. Although it was not produced in great numbers, it was one of the most effective heavy AA guns of its era. Development of the gun began in 1936, with the contract being awarded to Rheinmetall Borsig; the first prototype gun was delivered for testing in late 1937 and completed testing successfully. The gun weighed nearly 12 tonnes in its firing position, with the result that its barrel had to be removed for transport. Limited service testing showed this was impractical, so in 1938 other solutions were considered. The eventual solution was to simplify the firing platform, based on the assumption it would always be securely bolted into concrete. The total weight of the system reached 26.5 tonnes, making it practically impossible to tow cross-country. In the end this mattered little, since by the time the gun entered production in 1942, it was used in primary static defensive applications. There were four twin mounts on the fortified anti-aircraft Zoo Tower, and they were also on other flak towers protecting Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna. Approximately 200 were mounted on railcars, providing limited mobility. The gun fired a 27.9 kg (57.2-pound) shell at 880 m/s (2,890 ft/s) to a maximum ceiling of 14,800 m (48,556 ft). Compared with the 88mm FlaK 18 & 36, the 128mm used a powder charge four times as great which resulted in a shell flight time only one-third as long. This meant that it could be used more accurately against fast moving targets. The Model Whilst it is great to see this kit released, I do feel for the resin manufacturers who seem to be having the rug pulled from under them by the injection moulding companies, in that subjects that would normally only be produced in resin are now being picked up to be produced in styrene. Its a great time for the modeller, but I still feel for the cottage industry that has served us well for many years. Still, its a kit Ive always fancied and now we have one that is not only easily accessible, but relatively cheap. The kit comes in quite a large portrait orientated box with an atmospheric depiction of the guns in a night setting. Inside, there are six sprues of light grey styrene, a separate base and turntable, a small sheet of etched bras and a small decal sheet. As there are two guns, the sprues that contain them have been doubled up and the build sequence is the same for both. All the parts are well moulded, with no sign of flash or other imperfections and only a few moulding pips. The kit has been designed so that any ejection pin marks are on the insides/undersides so there is little additional clean up required other than for the sprue gates. The instructions are very clear and easy to read, in fact they have to some of the clearest instructions Ive seen in a while. Construction begins with the first of the two guns, in particular the slide, which comes in four parts, left and right halves, top panel and a small crosspiece. To this the elevation quadrant is attached, along with two fixing to the rear of the slide underside. The slide piston end cap is then attached to the front, whilst four mount fixings are fitted to the rear. Each barrel is made up of nine parts, with the rear section of the barrel, including the breech and the front section each in two halves split longitudinally. The end of the rifled barrel is sandwiched at the breech end between the two halves and the curved section of breech is attached to the left half. With the front barrel section assembled, the front and rear sections can be joined together via a single piece transition joint. The completed barrel is then slid into the previously assembled slide. The breech is then detailed with the hinged breech block, breech opening ram and associated cogs and the breech block itself, made from three parts. The recuperator tube is now assembled, from two halves to which the end cap, valve and shaft are fitted, this is then fitted to the top of the barrel and connected, by two rods, to the slide. Each of the two trunnions are made up of five parts, to which a pad, and grab handle are fitted to the left hand unit, while the right hand unit is fitted with a four piece elevation gearbox housing. The eight piece shell cradle is then attached to the rear of the slide along with a three piece connecting beam. To the top of the gun there is a complex series of fifteen parts the function of which I cannot find, other than it looks like they make up into something to do with the recoil and spent cartridge removal. The two elevation springs are assembled next, each one consists of the inner shaft, outer cylinder and three piece end cap, and they are then fitted to the underside of the gun. With both the guns assembled its on to the mounting and the assembly of the middle trunnion mount, which consists of five parts. This is followed by the upper gun mounting base unit which consists of a single piece base, to which the elevation shafts, with added cogs and poly caps are fitted after which the shaft cover is attached. At the front of the base are to storage boxes and two cover plates. Before fitting the guns to the base four hinges need to be affixed to the lower ends of the elevation spring tubes, these are not to be glued, only snapped into position. The inside trunnions are then slid into the central trunnion mount and the whole assembled fixed to the base. Each gun is then fitted with what looks like an elevation motor and a fuse setting to the outside trunnion mount panel which are fitted before these assemblies are attached.. Each elevation motor is made up of nine styrene and two PE parts, whilst the fuse setter machines are each made up of sixteen parts. The lower base unit is fitted with and end plate, on which there is a small three piece platform with associated PE grating. Each side of the base is fitted with the fighting platforms with handrails and inner edge parts plus two four piece tread steps, each with additional PE mesh grating. Each side is fitted with a crew station consisting of a seat, foot pedals and associated support frame, the right hand side station is also fitted with the training gearbox casing and control wheel. With all the platforms attached the lower base unit is attached to the underside of the upper base section. The modeller is given a choice on how to mount the zwilling, either on the hexagonal base, via a small turntable, for a fixed gun battery, or a smaller round base, also via the small turntable, which can be used on a flatbed rail wagon or the like. Takom do provide a couple of shells to display with the guns, but, unfortunately no crew. Decals The small decal sheet has markings for three guns although none are exactly covered in them with just the Hamburg gun being provided with anything different such as the kill markings on the barrels. They are well printed and quite thin, with little carrier film to worry about. The three options are:- G-Tower, Caesar gun position, Tiregarten, (zoo), Berlin 1945 in overall Panzer Grey. G-Tower, Anton gun position, Stiftskaserne, Wien, 1945, in Panzer Grey with yellow squiggles all over. G-Tower, Caeser gun position, Heiligengeistfeld, Hamburg 1945 in either overall Panzer Grey or overall Olive Green. Conclusion As I said at the beginning of this review, I do feel for the Cottage Industry and their fabulous creations, but to actually get a subject like this in injection moulding is quite incredible and something that I never thought would happen. I love big guns so was thrilled to hear of the impending release, and the wait has been worth it. There is nothing to difficult with the build, just a bit repetitive with two of everything except the base. It will certainly look great in any collection. The only downside is that, once again we are given a great gun system, but no crew to man it, perhaps it is here that the resin guys can come to the rescue. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  21. M60A1 Tank Commander Figure 1:35 HobbyFan/AFV Club This Hobby Fan resin figure is released to coincide with the release of AFV Club's new M60A1 kit reviewed earlier here, and should fit the hatch perfectly, as shown on the boxtop. It arrives in a large card box with the contents pictured on the front fully built and painted to guide you, while the resin parts are cocooned in a long length of bubble-wrap around a Ziploc bag. The figure is split into four parts, with the body having moulded-in legs and a pistol strapped to his chest over his uniform. The arms are separate, as is the head, which sports a "bone-dome" of the period with build-in comms evidenced by the slightly bulged ear covers and boom mic against his cheek. All parts are very well moulded in a cream coloured resin, and have sensible mounting points to their casting blocks that will mean minimal clean-up before construction. Each part has a long pin that fits into corresponding holes in the torso, which should obtain a good joint with a little test-fitting before gluing, but as is always the case with figures, you might need a little filler to reduce the appearance of the joints, even if they occur on natural seams such as the shoulders. A neck scarf/t-shirt helps to hide the join between the head and body, which is useful, and the shoulder joints are aligned with seams as alluded to earlier. Don't forget to wash the parts in warm soapy water to remove the excess mould release agent, as my sample was rather greasy to the touch, and this could affect paint adhesion in a major way. Conclusion A really nicely sculpted figure that has been tailored to fit the new kit from AFV Club, filling the cupola well, and without any of the tedium of adapting the pose to suit its intended resting place. The price is about right for the individual figure these days too. Can we have a driver figure too please? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  22. Mike

    Czech T-72M4CZ MBT 1:35

    Czech T-72M4CZ MBT 1:35 Trumpeter The T-72 on which this variant is based was a mainstay tank design of the former Soviet Union, designed to bear the brunt of fighting and being produced in volume in much the same manner as the T-34 of WWII. It has been upgraded extensively since its introduction in the 1970s, and in Czech service has been taken from the original M, M1 and M2 designation from former Czechoslovakia, to the M4 via an aborted M3 that didn't see service. In total thirty tanks have been upgraded with addition ERA explosive appliqué armour plus new forward facing blocks either side of the main gun, a new Firing Control System (FCS) and a powerful 1000hp engine and improved gearbox. Smoke dischargers are fixed to the turret, which overall has increased the vehicle's weight by some four tonnes. The Kit Although we've not yet reviewed any of this range of T-72s, they're turning into another of Trumpeter's comprehensive ranges of variants, with this being the third in the line. If you extrapolate this along the same lines as their T-62 range, which has eight kits so far, we're in for a fair few more! This variant is fairly niche, with only thirty examples converted from earlier M variants, but it is quite unusual in the looks department, with large ERA blocks sitting on the front of the turret, so it is well worth a look. It should also please the huge number of talented Czech modellers, as who wouldn't want a new and detailed model of your own country's armed forces? Due to the modular nature of these kits, if you already have another mark you'll probably recognise some of the sprues, as there is commonality across the range, although some of the common parts will be buried under layers of armour along the way. There are ten sprues in light grey styrene, two in similarly coloured flexible styrene, hull and turret parts in the same grey, plus seven sprues in brown containing the track links. A clear sprue, a ladder of poly-caps, a length of braided copper wire, a double sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, plus the instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide round out the package, making for quite a full box, even after removal of the poly bags. As usual with Trumpeter AFV kits, detail is excellent, and use of slide-moulding has been made to improve this further, with the turret surface detail being particularly nicely done, having a restrained casting texture moulded into every facet. The lower hull is very highly detailed, as are the road wheels, of which there are plenty. Construction starts with these road wheels, as you might expect, with twelve pairs built up with a poly-cap in between. The same can be said for the two idler wheels, and the drive sprockets have a flat circular plate between the halves, plus the poly-cap that makes adding and removing wheels during construction so much easier. The idler wheel's axle and the final drive housing for the drive sprockets are added to the sides of the hull, as are the bearing points for the return rollers and a number of smaller suspension parts. The lower glacis skin is installed on the blank plate at the front, and additional mounting lugs are added for the self-entrenching dozer blade that is added later along with its actuating rams. The sides of the turret basket flare out at the top of the lower hull, and these are portrayed by a pair of curved armour panels, which have large fasteners moulded in. The suspension arms and dampers are added to keyed holes in the side of the hull, which obtains the correct ride-height for a stationery vehicle on flat ground, but if you are building for a diorama, you'll need to adjust this for any lumps or bumps on the surface. All the road wheels can then be added to be held in place by the friction-fit of the poly-caps, and removed at will during painting. The upper hull is moulded with a separate engine deck, and immediately has a raft of ERA blocks added to the glacis in front of the driver's central hatch, with more added either side for good measure. His hatch is made up from two parts, and is added along with the light clusters to the cut-outs in the ERA panel at the front, after which it is added to the lower hull. The rear bulkhead is built up separately with spare track links, towing lugs and two mounting tie-downs for an unditching log, which is made of flexible styrene, probably to ease removal from the moulds. It is lashed in place by a pair of PE tie-downs, or those same tie-downs can be left loose on the mounts if a log isn't being carried. This too is then added to the lower hull, held in the correct place by a pair of slots and lugs at the edges. The engine deck is then built up from a pair of panels, to which seven PE grille covers are added, along with other small parts. This is then dropped into the remaining hole in the upper deck to complete the main deck. The tracks are supplied on seven sprues of twenty-three links, and are the same as you will find in the T-62 boxes, as can be seen from the markings on the sprues. They have three attachment points that are all on the curved interlinking parts of the track, and once you get in the groove, they shouldn't take too long to prepare, as they don't have any ejector pin marks to worry about. Ninety five links per side are required, and can be glued in a run using liquid glue, then draped around the wheels while still soft, and held in place with tape and soft packing to obtain the correct shape. The ends of the track-pins are a little simplified, having no end-bolt heads within a cylindrical hole, but once they are muddied up, that should hardly notice. The tread pattern is spot-on however, although much of this will be lost during the aforementioned weathering. After the tracks are in place, the fenders and side-skirts can be built up. The main fender is a one-piece length that has a number of carriers added along its length, plus a pair of PE straps on the additional stowage that top the centre part of each track. The side-skirts are also one-piece, but have five rectangular ERA blocks and one triangular one, plus a few small PE parts added along the way. The port fender is slightly different, having the engine exhaust coming out over the top of the fender, breaking the run of stowage in two, and having a cover bridging the gap, and preventing the tankers from burning themselves on the hot exhaust. These are added to the sides of the hull with more PE straps, which are well-detailed and go together just like the real things. At the rear of the hull the two towing cables are made up from 80mm lengths of wire, and two towing eyes per cable, with a scrap diagram showing their correct fitting on the rear bulkhead. Work on the turret begins with the construction of the special forward facing ERA blocks that are ranked around the front of the turret either side of the main gun. There are five on the starboard and six on the port side, with additional standard box-shaped ERA blocks dotted around filling in gaps, and covering the roof. The main gun's fabric mantlet cover is portrayed by a flexible styrene part that has a small PE ring at the front, but make sure you choose the correct one, as there are three on the flexible sprues. Various sensors and targeting devices are added to the roof, along with the grenade launchers, which have been relocated to the roof due to the siting of the new ERA blocks. The bustle is built up around a large stowage box, which has two lids added and four ammo boxes on each side for the commander's machine gun. On top is a tubular container for wading gear, and the rear of the stowage area is detailed with a trio of closures, which have to be bent to shape to match the profile of the box. The commander's gun is well detailed with a slide-moulded flash-hider, a large ammo canister, and a thirteen part mount. The hatch is also made up from a substantial number of parts, so that it can hinge open and rotate if you are careful with the glue. A remote operation turret is added to the front of the cupola, and this has a clear part for the lens, as well as a PE part that is bent to fit. A side stowage bin and an angled PE rack are added between the appliqué armour and bustle, and the main sighting optics are installed on the roof in a box that will be familiar to anyone interested in modern MBTs. The barrel is produced in styrene, and the main part is split horizontally, which might induce a bit of moaning initially, but as it has a thermal jacket, this isn't really a problem, as the seams have been kept away from the joints, and the muzzle has been tooled as a separate part that gives the barrel a hollow tip. With this in place, the turret is finished, and the model is completed by dropping the turret into the turret ring, which in this case doesn't have the usual bayonet latching mechanism, so you'll need to either glue it down, or be careful when handling the completed model. Markings Only two markings options are supplied with the kit, with only one colour scheme between them, consisting of black, dark green and green camouflage. Vehicles 007 and 021 are depicted with Czech roundels on the turret sides, but three lines of 0-9 in white are included so that you can model any others if you wish. The decal sheet is simple, consisting almost completely of white markings, but the Czech roundel is in register, with just the hint of pixelation around the edges of the coloured portion that is only really visible on close inspection. Otherwise the decals are thin, appear to have good colour density, with a thin glossy carrier film. Conclusion Another Soviet era MBT that has been upgraded with the times, and survives in service today. Trumpeter excel at this type of subject, and this one is just more of the same, with lots of detail from the box, with more appeal due to the unusual ERA system and niche operator (in terms of numbers). Highly recommended and available from all good model shops now. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  23. British X-Craft Merit International 1:35 Known individually as X-Craft, these vessels were designed to be towed to their intended area of operations by a full-size 'mother' submarine - (usually one of the T class or S class) - with a passage crew on board, the operational crew being transferred from the towing submarine to the X-Craft by dinghy when the operational area was reached, the passage crew returning with the dinghy to the towing submarine. Once the attack was over, the X-Craft would rendezvous with the towing submarine and then be towed home. Range was limited primarily by the endurance and determination of their crews, but was thought to be up to 14 days in the craft or 1,500 miles (2,400 km) distance after suitable training. Actual range of the X-Craft itself was 500 miles (930 km) surfaced and 82 miles (152 km) at 2 knots (3.7 km/h) submerged. A number of development craft were built before it was felt that a realistic weapon had been produced. The first operational craft was HMS X3 (or HM S/M X.3), launched on the night of March 15, 1942. Training with the craft began in September 1942, with HMS X4 arriving in October. In December 1942 and January 1943 six of the "5-10" class began to arrive, identical externally but with a completely reworked interior. Their first deployment was Operation Source in September, 1943, an attempt to neutralise the heavy German warships based in Northern Norway. Six X-Craft were used, but only 2 successfully laid charges (under the German battleship Tirpitz); the rest were lost, scuttled or returned to base. Tirpitz was badly damaged and out of action until April 1944. This was the only multiple X-craft attack. The lost craft were replaced early in 1944 with X20 to X25 and six training-only craft. On April 15, 1944 HMS X24 attacked the Laksevåg floating dock at Bergen. X22 was intended for the mission, but had been accidentally rammed during training and sunk with all hands. The X24 made the approach and escaped successfully, but the charges were placed under Bärenfels, a 7,500 ton merchant-vessel along the dock, which was sunk; the dock suffered only minor damage. On September 11, 1944, the operation was repeated by X24, with a new crew; this time the dock was sunk. X-Craft were involved in the preparatory work for Overlord. Operation Postage Able was planned to take surveys of the landing beaches with HMS X20, commanded by Lt KR Hudspeth, spending four days off the French coast. Periscope reconnaissance of the shoreline and echo-soundings were performed during daytime. Each night, X20 would approach the beach and 2 divers would swim ashore. Soil samples were collected in condoms. The divers went ashore on two nights to survey the beaches at Vierville-sur-Mer, Moulins St Laurent and Colleville-sur-Mer in what became the American Omaha Beach. On the third night, they were due to go ashore off the Orne Estuary (Sword Beach), but by this stage fatigue (the crew and divers had been living on little more than benzedrine tablets) and the worsening weather caused Hudspeth to shorten the operation, returning to Dolphin on 21 January 1944. Hudspeth received a bar to his DSC. During D-Day itself X20 and X23 acted as lightships to help the invasion fleet land on the correct beaches (Operation Gambit), as part of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPP). The craft was about 51 feet (15.5 m) long, 5.5 feet (1.68 m) in maximum diameter and displaced 27 tons surfaced and 30 tons submerged. Propulsion was by a 4-cylinder Gardner 42 hp diesel engine, converted from a type used in London buses, and a 30 hp electric motor, giving a maximum surface speed of 6.5 knots (12 km/h), and a submerged speed of 5.5 knots (10.1 km/h). The crew initially numbered threecommander, pilot and ERA (Engine Room Artificer, i.e. engineer) but soon a specialist diver was added, for which an airlock, known as a wet and dry compartment, was provided. The ERA, usually a Navy Chief Petty Officer, operated most of, and maintained all of, the machinery in the vessel. The weapons on the "X-Craft" were two side-cargoes - explosive charges held on opposite sides of the hull with two tons of amatol in each. The intention was to drop these on the sea bed underneath the target and then escape. The charges were detonated by a time fuse. The crews also had a number of limpet mines which were attached to a ships hull by frogmen and it was these mines that were used in the last attack by an X-Craft against the Japanese heavy cruiser Takao in Selatar harbour, Singapore The Model After the disappointment of the disappearance of the proposed Italeri kit of the X-Craft it was great to see Merit International taking up the mantle and releasing one instead. The kit comes in a very attractive and sturdy top opening box with a picture of an X-Craft in its element. Inside there are five sprues of medium grey styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a small decal sheet. The moulding is really very nice. With lots of well formed surface detail and even large indents where required. There is no sign of flash, (always a good thing in a new release), but there are a lot of moulding pips, especially on the smaller parts, so care will be required when removing them. Although it is classed as a mini-submarine, the kit still measures out at around 18 inches long, (448.5mm) and just over 3 inches, (77.2) wide. Unusually the two hull halves are not symmetrical, as the starboard halve comes moulded complete with the main deck attached. This mean there is little or no seam to worry about. Construction begins with the inner entrance hatch linings being fitted to the insides of the hatch openings, before the two hull halves are closed up and two strakes, one forward and one aft attached. Next up is the attachment of the front section of what passes for the superstructure, followed by the propeller, (which does appear to be rather undersize), but will need to do some more research before making a definitive judgement. On initial release there was some argument on whether the rudders and rear dive plane were incorrect. But, thanks to the research by a BM member, it has been proven that the kit is in fact correct and it appears that the example held in the museum at Duxford has been rebuilt incorrectly. With the rudders and dive plane in position the two rear fins are fitted. Along with the support tie rods, control rod horns, the control rods themselves and the protective guards that cover the points where the rods exit the hull. With hull now virtually complete its on with the more fiddly parts, these included the release mechanisms for the external charges, bow and stern mounted bull rings, and superstructure anti wire guide. The two hatches are made up of six parts, the inner and outer hatch sections, a grab handle and three parts to the hinge. These assemblies are then fitted to the superstructure. The keel sides are then fitted with the charge fitting rods and their respective clamps, along with the PE gratings. The charges themselves are single piece mouldings, onto which the seven filling ports are attached to the side and the attachment fixings to the top. There are some photos of the charges that show the filling ports were also covered with a teak rubbing strake, but this isnt present in the kit, but could easily be scratch built should you wish. The rest of the build includes the fitting of the multi-part towing eye on the bow and the release lever, but unfortunately now of the prominent cabling is provided, so its out with the research to add your own. Finally the air induction mast, snorkel, attack periscope and what I believe is an observation port, each being fitted with their respective guards. Two stands are included in the kit to display the completed model on along with a nameplate. Decals The small decal sheet contains just two large White Ensigns, one flat, the other in a fluttering style. The ensigns were very rarely used, with the most noted exception being one of the X-Craft used to mark the lanes for the D-Day invasion. They are nicely printed and the flat Ensign would probably be best used on the plinth this model could be mounted on. Conclusion At last, we have a model of an X-Craft, and in a good sized scale too. Although some of us maritime modellers were bitterly disappointed with the Italeri kit suddenly being removed from all new mould news, but this release has turned disappointment into joy. Its not quite perfect and will need some additional details provided by the modeller, but its a very good basis to start with. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  24. Shar2

    AEC Matador. 1:35

    AEC Matador AFV Club 1:35 History The AEC Matador was an artillery tractor built by the Associated Equipment Company for British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War. The Matador was distinctive with its flat fronted cab with gently curved roof, wheels at the corners and a flat load carrying area covered by a canvas or tarpaulin tilt. The cab was made from ash and clad in steel. It was equipped with a winch (7-ton load in its case) like all artillery tractors. About 9,000 Matadors were built, some going to the Royal Air Force (RAF). For the British Army it fulfilled a role between field artillery tractors (FATs) such as the Morris C8 Quad, which towed smaller guns such as the 25-pounder gun-howitzer, and the Scammell Pioneer, used for towing the 7.2-inch howitzer. It was commonly used to tow the 5.5-inch medium gun and the QF 3.7-inch AA gun. The Matador was found to be a generally useful vehicle and was adapted for other roles including carrying a 25-pounder gun.The Canadian Army also used the Matador during the Second World War. The RAF used Matadors in the flat bed form for load carrying. The 6-wheeler Matador Type A was used as a refueling tanker, capable of carrying 2,500 Imperial gallons of fuel and also for towing ashore Short Sunderland flying boats at their stations. In 1942/43 for the North African campaign some Matadors mounted the 6-pounder anti-tank gun to give the AEC Mk1 Gun Carrier "Deacon". Post war the Matador was found in civilian use as a recovery truck, a showman’s vehicle, and general contractor use. It was also useful for forestry work because of its good off-road performance for which some examples are still in use today. The Model This kit has been out for a little while now but is no less welcome here, and comes in the rather stark looking box that AFV Club have become known for, with an artistic impression of the vehicle on the front. Inside there are twelve sprues of dark yellow/caramel coloured styrene, two of clear, a small etched brass fret, a small decal sheet and a length of plastic wire. The moulding of the parts is very clean, with no sign of flash or other imperfections, but with quite a lot of moulding pips, particularly on the small parts, of which there are plenty, and will require some care when removing and cleaning up. The instructions aren’t the clearest I’ve seen and since there are quite a few parts this is a case where you definitely need to read them first and work out exactly what goes where. As with most truck kits, the build begins with the engine, only fortunately this kit only comes with the lower sump area to which the eleven piece gearbox is attached. Before work can begin on the chassis, the winch is built up. This consists of a two piece drum, to which the plastic wire is wound. To the drum the six piece motor is attached. The two chassis rails are then joined together by six crossbeams, the engine/gearbox, and the winch. To the rear of the chassis the three suspension arms are attached, each arm made up of three to five pieces. Three cable wheels are assembled from upper and lower hubs and attached to the rear cross-member followed by two cable rollers, one at the winch and one two thirds along the chassis. At the rear, a third roller is fitted and the winch cable threaded through this and the cable wheels, and then terminated with a hook. The air cylinder is assembled from seven parts including the accumulator bulb. This is mounted on the left hand chassis rail, whilst on the right hand rail the five piece fuel tank is fitted with its two cradles. The four leaf spring assemblies are glued into position, along with the front and rear compression springs onto which the two hooks are fitted. Still with the chassis, the rear differentials is assembled from four parts, if you include the universal joint, and fitted to the rear leaf springs. The front differential is slightly more complicated as it includes the two drive shafts, slid through the two ball joints before being attached to the front leaf springs. Along with the anti roll links and steering rack. The transfer case is made up of three parts to which the front and rear universal joints attached, then fitted to the centre of the chassis. The front and rear differentials are then joined to the transfer box by two driveshafts. The exhaust is fitted next and is made up of a two part silencer with the long pipe leading to the engine and the short pipe angled into the chassis. Each of the four wheels are built up from the single piece hub, onto which the rubber tyre is fitted, followed by a three piece brake drum for the rears and a two piece drum for the fronts. The wheels are finished off with the fitting of the hub centre. The chassis is finished off with the fitting of the two piece headlights to the front of the two rails, for which the modeller can chose whether to fit the clear lens of the styrene hood. Moving onto the truck bed, the large moulded bed section is fitted on the underside with five cross-beams, each of which is fitted with four strengthening “L” shaped channels. Keeping to the underside, the pioneer toold are attached, along with the end beam and two angled plated at the rear. The side panels are each fitted with a footstep, grab handle, and eighteen tilt brackets. The spare wheel is also assembled at this point, and consists of the rubber tyre plus the single piece rim. Three storage boxes, each of two parts are also fitted to the underside of the bed, along with the Jerry can rack, which is made up of six parts, and loaded with two, five part cans. The rear wheelarches are also attached to the underside, aqlong with their associated support brackets and mudguards. Turning the bed over the two side panels are attached, with the right hand panel fitted with the spare wheel. Each of the two batteries are made up from two parts, joined together by the battery cables and fitted in the forward bench mount. Whilst this is a nice touch and could be useful for a diorama scenario, once the associated benh seat fitted, the batteries cannot be seen at all. They could be left out and put in the spares box as I’m sure they will come in useful one day. The bench seat are each made up of the frame, which includes the backrests and two part seat. There are two outrigger seats that can be attached to the main seats or folded out of the way and are made up in the same fashion as the main seats. The rear flap of the bed is fitted with two lengths of cable, (made from the plastic wire provided), which are kept to the board by three straps. The single piece front board is moulded with a window opening, for which a rolled up screen is fitted. The tilt roof is then fitted with twelve vertical stays. The right hand middle stays are then fitted with the rifle rack, made up of the beam and ten eyes. AFV Club have been quite clever with the tilt, in that you can either have the individual side flaps depicted rolled up or lowered, complete with clear “windows” on the mid, and front flaps. This is put to one side to dry properly as we move onto the cab assembly. The cab assembly begins with the interior floor, which includes the engine covers. To this, the brake, clutch and accelerator pedals and fitted, along with the steering column, steering wheel, hand brake and gear column. The drivers seat is then made up from the under seat storage box, seat base, two piece frame, squab base and squab, it even comes with a small handle to raise or lower the seat, well, it would if it was real. With the seat in position, there are a number of fittings attached to the rear bulkhead, along with an electrical box, winch controls and sliding doors for the rear window. The co-drivers seat is much simpler and consists of a base that’s shaped to fit over the wheelarch, and seat pad. Under this seat is a large air filter unit. The underside of the cab floor is then fitted with the two wheelarches and their associated support brackets. The interior of the cab front is fitted with the instrument binnacle, door support brackets, and electrical coil like unit. The quaterlights are then fitted, along with the optionally positioned front air vents. The two windscreen panels are also optionally positioned, either r open or closed and have support arms for use when opened. Each panel is also fitted with a windscreen wiper motor on the inside and the associated windscreen wipers on the outside. The cab front, (ensure you use the right one as there are two in the kit, each for different build periods), is then attached to the main cab assembly and finished off with the roof. The radiator front is then attached to the front and detailed with PE grilles and a filler cap. The sidelights and indicators are then fitted each side of the cab, whilst here is a platform with two supports fitted to the right hand side front. Each door is assembled from one styrene and one clear part, with an optional clear part if the model is to be displayed with the side windows lowered. The doors are then fitted to the cab, either opened or closed, with the cab finished off with the two wing mirrors. The cab and tilt assemblies are then attached to the chassis assembly completing the build. Decals The small decal sheet has markings for four vehicles, three in various variants of khaki and dark earth camouflage and one in Luftwaffe use in a German Grey scheme. The decals include stencils for around the vehicle as well as unit markings for 79th (The Scottish Horse) Medium Regiment, Scotland May 1941, and one from an unknown unit from 1940. Conclusion It’s great to see a kit of this vehicle in production, alongside it’s mid-production brother kit. As is their want, AFV Clubs tuck kits are really well detailed and quite complex to build, but with a little effort and concentration they can turn out to be stunning models. All we need now is for someone to release a nice 5.5” gun to go with it, or a conversion set for the Deacon 6 Pounder vehicle. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  25. DB-3F/IL-4/IL-4T Soviet Long Range Bomber 1:48 Xuntong Ilyushin began work on this twin engined long-range bomber long before the outbreak of WWII, and it was initially given the code DB-4 from the Russian for Long-Range Bomber. The designed was warmed over from one previously entered for another competition, and through constant changes to the structure, engines and other equipment it morphed into the DB-3F, which was re-designated as the IL-4, which benefitted from more improvements that resulted in a stronger, lighter aircraft that could carry more fuel, and with a lengthened fuselage it became more streamlined, further extending its range. With new engines the designers added extra armament, hoping one would offset the other, which of course it didn't, resulting in a slower top speed. This didn't seem to stop the Soviets from ordering more, and by the end of production in 1944, over 5,000 had been built. It was robust and could carry a substantial bomb load, which although bombing wasn't a high priority for the Soviets in WWII, meant that it was well used. It was also adapted to carry torpedoes, and used by the Navy for attacks on enemy shipping. As a footnote, it later gained the comical NATO reporting code of "Bob", which really tickles this reviewer for some reason. The Kit Xuntong have a liking for the lesser known Russian twins, which appears to be turning into their niche in our hobby with this release. They previously kitted the Tupolev Tu-2 was well received, and Bob seems to be getting the same response. Due to the slow-boat from China, Eduard have already released some aftermarket for this kit, which you can have a look at from the link at the bottom of the review. The box is fairly large, and is well stocked with parts on five large sprues of mid grey styrene, one of clear parts, and a large decal sheet. The instruction booklet is oversize A4 in portrait format, but on my issue at least is a little pale, with grey text and drawings. The fuselage is a large moulding with the frames for the glazed nose moulded in, and a good degree of internal structure such as ribs and frames moulded in, but with some ejector pin marks in between. The outer skin has a matt finish, and panel lines are engraved perhaps a little wide for some tastes. It is of standard construction, but with some useful twists (excuse the pun) such as the mid-upper turret that has a bayonet connector to facilitate installation after painting is completed by rotating it aft. The instructions are busy, with little text, but plenty of scratch diagrams to compensate. The build begins at the nose, with the installation of the cockpit sidewalls and side glazing, and it is interesting to note that the single glazing part has raised frames on the inside face, so you can pre-paint those before insertion to give a more realistic finish to the area. There are a lot of small parts added to the cockpit sidewalls, and this is continued onto the floor that is added later. The pilot's seat and armour panel, side consoles, rudder pedals, control column and oxygen bottles should make for a busy cockpit. Keeping with the theme of the crewed areas, the top turret is next, with a choice of armament. The first option is the 12.7mm UBT machine gun, which is well represented, complete with ammo feed and mount, with a leather strop across the base of the turret for the gunner to sit on. An ammo can is added along with a rear panel, and the finished turret lower is then encased in a three-part glazed dome, which has an alternative part with different framing as an option. The smaller option mounts a 7.62mm ShKAS machine gun with telescopic sight, and apart from the mount construction follows a similar path, with both ending up with a pair of swept "bunny ears" added to the top. Scrap diagrams show the correct positioning of the parts on the turret rings to reduce margins for error, which is always good to see. Attention then turns to the underside of the centre wing, which is a single part and needs a number of holes drilled, depending on which variant you plan on building, and what it will be carrying. Choose wisely and stick to your choice as changing once the wings are together would be tricky to say the least. If you can't decide things like this at outset though, you could always open them all, then close the unwanted holes later with some styrene rod and glue. The lower engine nacelle rears are moulded into the lower wing, and they have basic rib detail moulded into the area, on top of which the gear bay rooves are added, with a little extra detail added before they are fixed in place. Two scrap diagrams show how the parts should look once completed. The short upper wing panels are prepared next, with their leading and trailing root fairings added from separate parts, taking care to leave a 0.2mm gap to portray the panel lines between the parts. With these complete, they are added to the lower wing section to complete the assembly, which is then put aside for more work on the fuselage. The dorsal gunner must have had a torrid time in his position, as he was suspended on a tubular framework to which his gun was added. This is built up in a number of steps, and is added under the fuselage just before the two halves are closed up. There is a short section of wooden floor included forward of his position, plus a tubular rack that presumably carries his spare ammo. This is described much earlier in the instructions however, and just appears complete at this stage, as does the floor section for the nose. The cockpit floor is also added to the fuselage side, and a single part is added to the instrument coaming for one of the schemes. A scrap diagram again shows how all the assemblies should sit within the fuselage, so you can glue them together with confidence. The nose gunner/bomb aimer's seat is inserted just before the glazing is added, but you can install this earlier to save forgetting it if you feel the urge. The flying surfaces are standard fare with two halves for each outer wing, plus separate two-part ailerons and a pair of formation lights above and below the wingtip. The starboard wing has a small grille and landing light inserted on the leading edge, while the port does not. The elevators are built in the same fashion with trim-tab actuators added for extra detail. These and the separate rudder are added later after the inner wing panel has been installed and the engines completed. Xuntong have put a lot of effort and parts into the engines, which are a full-depth representation with collector rings and exhaust present, and ancillary parts such as the reduction gear, push-rods and mounting ring depicted. There is one engine installation for the IL-4, and an earlier engine set for the DB-3. They are mounted on a conical section that slips inside the open or closed cooling flap section, and again scrap diagrams abound to ensure you get it right, as alignment is critical in this close-fitting area. The cowlings are built from two halves, with the front a single part for reduced clean-up. An optional fan sits in the front of the cowling, and here the build diverges depending on which aircraft you are building. For the IL-4 a pair of small panel inserts are fitted around the exhaust stubs before being glued, and an intake is added to the top of the cowling, both of which are handed. The instructions for the DB-3F are separated by a page of instructions where the canopy is installed, and are broadly similar to the IL-4, but with different intakes and a few small parts added around the cowling. The canopy of the Bob sits on top of the fuselage, and has separate windscreen, canopy and aerodynamic teardrop rear sections. A different rear section is supplied for the DB-3F, and an additional part is added for the Naval version of the IL-4. The top of the nose is closed by adding an insert that has another glazing insert and a removable access hatch added before it is glued to the nose after removing four location pegs that must have been deemed unnecessary after moulding. The tip of the nose glazing has a single ShKAS machine gun added in a ball-mount, and it is then glued to the front of the fuselage, enclosing the operator's seat that you didn't forget to install beforehand. Landing gear is covered next, and the tail wheel is fitted to an insert on the underside of the tail for the DB-3F, which was removed for the later models, presumably to save weight. The main gear can be fitted in the retracted mode by assembling the twin legs and four-part tyres, then gluing them in place using an alternative horizontal hole in the bay, after which the two gear bay doors have their location points removed and are fitted to the bay margin. Fitting them in the deployed state involves adding the retraction mechanism which consists of two V-frames and a piston, the locations of which are made clear on another pair of scrap diagrams. The bay doors are fitted on their hinge tabs, and it's job done. The underside nose access hatch, exhaust extensions and addition of the props are buried in between installation of the munitions, as are the three sets of probes and aerials that are appropriate for the various marks. It seems a little confusing to do so, but as there is likely to be some handling of the almost finished aircraft in order to build the weapon mounts, it is understandable. Weapons! Bombs or torpedoes will be dictated by which decal option you are going for, but they are all suspended on fairly fragile mounts, to which the torpedo has an extension due to its length. The hole diagram earlier in the instruction will have you scratching your head a little, so check it twice, take notes and make sure you are fitting the correct mounts for your weapons choice. In the box you have the following: 2 x FAB-500 bomb 2 x FAB-1000 bomb 1 x 45-36-AVA/AN/AM Torpedo 1 x AMG-1 Sea Min 6 x RS-132 Rocket Each item is made up from a surprisingly large number of parts, which results in good detail. The torpedoes start with the same basic body, to which different rear sections are added. The mount can be improved by the addition of short lengths of wire to represent the steel cable that holds it in place for additional realism, although this is not included. If your head is still spinning about what mountings to use for your chosen weapon, check the diagrams on pages 24 and 25, as they give some additional side and head-on views that should prove helpful. Markings Xuntong have been generous with the decals, providing a surprising eleven options for you to choose from. Each option is depicted by a single side profile, plus upper and lower view for the placement of camouflage demarcations of the various fleets and schemes. From the box you can build one of the following: Baltic Frleet, 1st Guards Maritime Torpedo Aviation Regiment, summer-fall 1944. Black Sea Fleet, 2nd Torpedo Bomber Aviation Regiment, 1941. Northern Fleet, 9th Guards Torpedo Bomber Aviation Regiment, May 1943. Black Sea Fleet 119th Torpedo Bomber Aviation Regiment, 1943 Black Sea Fleet 5th Guards Torpedo Bomber Aviation Regiment, March 1944. 18th Guards Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment, Poland 1944. Northern Fleet, 2nd Guards Red Banner Aviation Regiment, 1944-45. Baltic Fleet, 1st Guards Torpedo Aviation Regiment, summer 1943. 3rd Guards Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment, March 1943. 3rd Guards Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment, March 1945. 10th Guards Long-Range Bomber Aviation Regiment, 1st Detachment, March 1941. The decals are printed anonymously, but are have good register, colour density and sharpness overall, but with some slight stepping visible on the stars under magnification. The density of the patriotic slogans is particularly important due to their size, and they look to have been double-printed to achieve the required level of opacity. A separate smaller sheet includes just a few red stripes that are applied to some of the decal options. Conclusion It's a niche subject partially due to the previous lack of kits available in the mainstream, but with this release and the distribution network it has achieved, that no longer applies, so what do we think of the kit? It's very nice overall, with plenty of detail, although some of the small parts will need a little clean-up due to some flash creeping in. If you fancy a little something that isn't grey or Spitfire shaped, this will certainly fit the bill. Construction should be fairly straight forward once you've got your head round the slightly confusing (to me at least) instructions, and the resulting model will be well detailed and fairly large in your cabinet. If you want to go all out with the build, you should have a squint at the Eduard sets that we reviewed a while back here. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for