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  1. Marder I – 7.5cm Pa.K 40(Sf) auf Geschutzwagen FCM 36(f) (03292) 1:35 Carrera Revell The Marder series of Tank Destroyers were originally created to fill a need for mobile artillery that could be self-sufficient and yet work in unison with troops and tanks at the high speed of Blitzkrieg. The concept was to mount a PaK40 or captured Soviet 76 mm F-22 Model 1936 divisional field gun on a captured tank chassis that had been stripped of its superstructure and given an extended splinter shield around the gun and its crew, whilst leaving the roof open to the elements. Many of the initial Marder Is were built on French Lorraine or Czech 38(t) chassis, but a small number were constructed on the obsolete FCM 36, with a large shield that extended almost the whole length of the vehicle. FCM stands for Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, who were based at Toulon in the French Riviera. They saw use on the Eastern Front initially, then also in the West after D-Day. Although they were intended to be mobile artillery that could destroy most tanks at a respectable range, they were only lightly armoured to protect their crews from shrapnel, shell splinters or light arms fire from all-round, which is somewhat better than a standard artillery piece would afford its crew, although the open roof would make a tempting target for grenades or demolition packs in close combat. It would have been uncomfortable for the crew in bad weather too, necessitating a temporary tarpaulin roof to keep the precipitation out, but very little of the cold. The Kit This is a reboxing by Revell of a substantial re-tool of ICM’s previous FCM 36 kits, adding the specialised parts for the conversion undertaken by Baustokommando Becker at the time. It arrives in a standard Revell end-opening box with seven sprues in grey styrene, two flexible black sprues of track links, a decal sheet and colour instruction booklet with profiles in the back pages for painting and markings. The original FCM 36 kit was only released in 2020, so it’s a modern tooling with plenty of detail and this boxing includes the majority of the interior due to the open roof. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is made up initially of the floor and two sides, with bulkheads added to the sides to support the lower sponson panels that give the vehicle more ground clearance. The running gear is made up from a three-part drive sprocket, eighteen sets of twin wheels that are fitted to eight double bogies and two singles, then the big idler wheels at the rear of the hull on sliding tensioning axles. The sloped armoured upper sponsons are installed along the way, with the mud-shedding apertures on each side. Two pairs of return rollers on the top run are glued inside the sponson, then the flexible black “rubberband” tracks are glued together, the instructions neglecting to mention that styrene glues won’t join them, so you should use super glue or epoxy instead. Each run has two sections, with the joints best placed in the centre of each run so they stand less chance of being seen on the finished model. Detail on the tracks is very nice, with twin guide horns and perforated centres like the real thing, but of course the links will curve round the ends, rather than give the correct faceted look that individual links provide. The upper hull is a new part, and has an opening at the front where the turret would have been, and has the two fender sides fitted to the rear before it is joined to the lower hull, hiding most of the upper track run. At the rear a large louvred panel and fixtures on the final-drive access hatches are glued on first, with the two exhausts and their mufflers slotted into grooves to their side, and a C-shaped manifold joining them at the top. Pioneer tools and towing eyes are the final parts for now, because the gun must be made up first. The PaK40 is begun by making up the cradle and inserting the breech, then the one-piece gun tube and part of the elevation mechanism. The cradle trunnions are held in place by the side frames, which are fixed to the arrow-shaped floor. More of the elevation mechanism is added, then the floor is mated to the hull, covering up the turret aperture, then having armoured supports slipped under the overhang. The gun’s double-layer splinter shield is slid over the barrel and glued to the gun, then the two faceted side panels are fitted out with shell racks, then attached to the side of the vehicle, to be joined by the rear wall after adding some stowage boxes inside and a pair of louvred panels to the sides. Twenty-eight shells are supplied on the sprues to be slotted into the holes in the racks nose down, then some spare tracks are fixed to the sides, and the self-defence MG34 machine gun is fitted to the front shield on a short pintle-mount. An outer splinter shield slides over the gun, and then you can put on the two-part muzzle brake, which gives the impression of a hollow barrel. Markings There are eight markings options on the decal sheet, with a nice variation between them, all of which saw action (or training exercises) in 1943 and 1944, two of them having alternative schemes worn at different times during those periods, and one is from the same unit with a variant of scheme. From the box you can build one of the following: Special event of new vehicles at Matford Werke Plant in Poissy, France, May 1943 First Marder during assembly line at Matford Werke Plant in Poissy, France, Early 1943 Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 200, Normandy France, Spring 1944 Roll-out of first production vehicle Matford Werke Plant, France, early 1943 Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 200, Art.Rgt.Stab z.b.V-931, Normandy France, June 1944 Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 200, Art.Rgt.Stab z.b.V-931, Normandy France, June 1944 Schnelle Brigade West, Art.Rgt.Stab z.b.V-931, mobility and firing trials, France, 1943 Schnelle Brigade West, Art.Rgt.Stab z.b.V-931, mobility and firing trials, France, 1943 Decals are by Italian company Zanchetti, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion Another peculiar-looking, esoteric and interesting example of German re-use of captured vehicles, and a nicely detailed one with a wide choice of decal and camouflage scheme options. Highly recommended. Carrera Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit or
  2. Dear fellow Britmodellers, having completed my move from the city to the countryside, I now enjoy bird songs instead of road noise and the greenery of my garden instaed of concrete facades! It took quite some time to set up my modelling room and equipment in the new house, and I'm happy to share my first completed models with you. Number one: the 1/72 Dragon Hummel from the "Neo Pro" line wich features link-and-length tracks instead of the dreaded rubber bands they used before. I built from the box, adding the antenna from stretched sprue, and painted with Mr.Hobby acrylics. Markings represent a vehicle of an unknown Self-propelled artillery regiment on the Eastern Front, 1944/45. Photographs by Wolfgang Rabel. # Thank you for your interest, best greetings from Lower Austria, Roman
  3. Marder 1 on FCM36 Base (36470 for ICM) 1:35 Eduard ICM’s new kit of the ungainly-looking Marder I on French FCM36 chassis crossed the workbench recently here, and Eduard have now released a handy update set in Photo-Etch (PE) brass that takes advantage of the open cab to include pre-painted instruments inside the fighting compartment. As usual with Eduard's Photo-Etch (PE) and Mask sets, they arrive in a flat resealable package, with a white backing card protecting the contents and the instructions that are sandwiched between. The set is supplied on two separate frets, one pre-painted over nickel plating, the other bare brass. The first items upgraded are the small inspection hatches that run down the side of each of the skirts, having their clumsy moulded-in latches remove to be replaced by more realistic PE parts with wingnut closures. The pioneer tools have their simplified tie-downs replaced as you’d expect; the twin exhausts are surrounded by curved PE shrouds, with more detailed handles on the inspection hatches on the aft deck nearby. Inside the crew area, the painted parts are used to build up radio gear with a number of parts, plus the framework that attaches it to the sidewall. Four ammunition brackets are made up to fit within the compartment too, with a sighting tool attached to the front edge of the splinter shield to aid in identifying targets. The gun’s support is fitted out with a C-shaped skin inside, then at the rear a pair of PE chains are added to the towing shackles. Review sample courtesy of
  4. 2C35 Koalitsiya-SV Self-Propelled Howitzer (5055) 1:72 Zvezda Soviet and post-Soviet Russia have long had a series of self-propelled guns (SPG) with catchy alpha-numeric names such as 2S3, 2S19 and so forth (I’m being a little sarcastic in case you missed it). The 2C35 is the latest in that long line, and was first seen in public by western sources in the rehearsals for the Victory Day parade in 2015, with more detail revealed as time went by. It is a highly mechanised vehicle, which has always been a goal of Russian AFV development, but with the advances in technology over the last few decades, the level of automation has advanced substantially, enabling the vehicle to operate efficiently with a reduced crew complement. The turret is un-manned, and is controlled from the command capsule in the main body of the vehicle, and like much of modern armour, they are part of a digital combat network that improves situational and battle-scape awareness, and the crew can even select the correct type of round for the upcoming fire mission without leaving the comfort and security of their cab. So far, the advanced turret has been fitted on a T-90 derived hull, but it is expected that it may be installed on the T-14 Armata hull in the future, which is in-line with the intended common-platform view expounded when it was announced. Changes to the auto-loader mechanism have already been made that have increased the rate at which the vehicle can put rounds downrange, with over 60 rounds able to be carried within the hull. As is common with modern SPGs, the onboard computers can instantly calculate various mission patterns, such as adjusting the trajectory of each successive round so that they all arrive at the same time, giving the enemy no time to scarper when the first shell of a volley detonates. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from Zvezda, and it arrives in an end-opening box, but hold the groans, as there is an inner cardboard tray with captive lid that prevents the box collapsing if stacked. Inside are four sprues of grey styrene, one of black styrene, a small decal sheet, colour painting guide, and trifold A4 instruction booklet in black and white. The detail visible on the sprues is thoroughly modern, and there are plenty of aspects of kits of a much larger scale on view that will please any 1:72 AFV modeller. The black sprue contains the tracks, which are flexible enough to wrap around the road wheels, without having to deal with those nasty, flexible rubbery tracks of yore. Construction commences with the lower hull, which comprises the floor and two sides, with the self-entrenching tool added under the glacis along with various track-links and lugs. At the rear are another line of lugs and the rear bulkhead, then the road wheels are made up in pairs with rubber tyres moulded-in, a three-part pair of drive sprockets and two-part idler with tensioning axle at the front, which is inserted as you wrap the tracks around the running gear, so that you can obtain the correct tension once the tracks have been closed up into a loop. The track parts are well-detailed, and flexible enough to curve around the road wheels, although some heat on the subject will help this task go well and avoid snapping. A dip in hot water or a hair dryer carefully played briefly over the tracks will assist you with this, but take care not to scold or burn yourself firstly, and secondly don’t melt your tracks! With both tracks in place, the upper hull is added, and some detail painting will be needed for the pioneer tools moulded into the surface. It’s worth noting that the moulding is excellent for the scale, with fine vents on the engine deck, panel lines, raised details that will all add realism to the finished model when painted sympathetically. The side skirts also have a few tools moulded-in, and at the rear the mudguards and additional cooling grilles are fitted below and above the rear deck respectively. The gun’s travel-lock frame is similarly well-detailed, and it secures to the glacis plate along with the light clusters with their protective frames, a few additional track links, towing eyes, and three crew hatches at the front of the top deck under the gun. At the rear, the ubiquitous unditching log and two tow-cables are clipped to the bulkhead along with a pair of towing eyes. Speaking of guns, the big Kord 12.7mm remote weapon station includes a well-detail rendition of the gun, its turret, large ammo-can and the sighting box with protective lens cover moulded closed. This is fitted later to the roof of the turret, which is where the building of it begins, starting with sensors, smoke dischargers, and stowage boxes, with more dischargers added to the sides later. The main gun is first constructed from the barrel, which has a hollow slatted brake, thanks to a separate section, and another part is added to the width of the shroud before it is slotted into the curved mantlet. The assembly is then trapped between two vertical plates that are glued to the turret floor, the side facets are added, and topped off with the pre-prepared roof plus the aforementioned additional smoke launchers on each side of the gun. It’s not over yet though, as the complex loading mechanism needs to be made up from a good number of parts, before it is fixed to the centre of the rear turret wall, to be joined by two stowage boxes that have additional stowage attached to their lower rear. The remote weapon slots into the raised base on the roof, and the turret is twisted into place on the hull with bayonet lugs holding it in place, with a choice of a travel-locked barrel, or not, depending on how you would like to pose your model. A few additional parts are added to the glacis between the V of the stowed travel lock as the final gluey act. Markings There is only one camouflage option included on the sheet, although the turret number can be anything you like thanks to the large number of digits on the small decal sheet. Victory Parade, Moscow 2016 The decals are printed anonymously, but they have a red border reminiscent of Begemot’s usual design, which may or may not be the case. Suffice to say that registration, sharpness and colour density are good, and the stylised new Russian “logo” is nicely done. Conclusion This modern tooling of a modern Russian SPG is impressive for the scale, and the tracks are good, as is the detail throughout. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from e-Models Review sample courtesy of
  5. FV 4005 Stage 2 Self-Propelled Gun (35A029) 1:35 Amusing Hobby Everyone with an interest in British armour probably knows the Centurion tank at least on sight, and that it was the UK’s earliest Main Battle Tank, and most well-regarded amongst its peers, having a long service life and more variants than many. One of its many variants includes the lesser-known Self-Propelled Gun (SPG) prototypes that are lesser known for the reason that they never proceeded past prototype. The initial SPG variants began with big ambitions, but were abandoned in favour of other more appealing projects, one of which was the FV433 Abbot. The huge 183mm gun that was to be mounted in the FV4005 was developed from a 7.2” howitzer, and was enclosed in a fairly lightly armoured turret on a Centurion chassis. It fared no better, and was dismantled before the end of the 50s. A similar fate befell the FV 4004, named the Conway that was developed as a fill-in until the big Conqueror came on-stream, based upon a Mk.3 Centurion chassis and a 120mm gun in an oversized turret. Happily, the FV4005 now resides at Bovington Tank Museum, and if you’ve ever seen it in the grounds there, you’ll realise what a huge turret it had. The Kit This is a new tool from Amusing Hobby, who have a thing for British “almost” projects of late, and are filling in some gaps between the in-service tanks that will no doubt please the what-if modellers as well as those that enjoy building cancelled projects or just downright unusual vehicles. The kit arrives in a by-now familiar box with a rather severe-looking painting of the SPG in an urban environment with what looks vaguely like a burned out T-34 in the background. Inside the box are ten sprues of varying sizes in sand-coloured styrene, plus a single lower hull part in the same colour. There is also a bag of brown track-links, a bag of brass springs, a length of braided cable, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a diminutive decal sheet and the instruction booklet with a colour cover that has profiles on the rear. Detail is good throughout, with large slab-sided panels everywhere, differentiating from the cast elements such as the final drive housing that has a light casting texture moulded-in. If you want a more realistic finish to the rolled steel parts, check the available photos online and consult the various techniques for producing the texture on such armour. Construction begins with the assembly of the bogies that are built around the springs to give the suspension arms some real travel, providing you keep the glue away from the pivot points. There are three of these each side of the large hull tub, and each one carries four wheels in pairs on two axles each, held onto the axles with a central hub part. The tracks are wide, so the return rollers sit on projecting bases, and long stand-off brackets are added to support the side skirts later in the build. The huge final drive housing is layered up and topped with a toothed drive sprocket and a small roller that is probably there to prevent track shedding during turns. At the front is the idler wheel on an axle that pivots to give good track tension once you have made them up and wrapped them around the road wheels. The tracks are supplied free of any sprues and quite free of clean-up, especially if you are planning on dirtying them up later, so you can just start making them up there and then. Each side uses 102 links, and as they snap together they shouldn’t take too long to put together, which is nice. I put together 12 links in a few minutes, and they do remain workable, although they aren’t as mobile as they could be. You might get the occasional one coming adrift, but in general they should be fairly easy to fit, and if you want to freeze them in place once you have them installed, a dab of glue to each link will do the trick, leaving you free to handle them more roughly during the painting process. Both runs of links are applied to the vehicles with the traction bar to the rear, so ensure you test-fit them properly before you put them in for the final time. Due to the size of the gun and hefty recoil, the rear bulkhead has a self-entrenching tool fitted on two swing-arms along with the armoured cooling vents and the ubiquitous communications telephone box on the rear. The engine deck is attached to the turret ring, then fitted to the hull, with the area under the mantlet having a large clamshell hatch with vision blocks in each half. The glacis plate has the front fenders moulded-in, and the rear portion of the engine-deck is closed off with a set of access panels with a raised edge, then the big fenders are fitted to a groove in the side of the hull, with detail parts added all down the side of the stowage boxes. The exhaust and its silencer sit on the aft sections of the fenders with a flared tip at the rear and a heat shield, then it is joined by a number of pioneer tools and the rear mudguards on both sides. PE stiffener plates are attached to the front fenders, along with the towing eyes and shackles front and rear, plus the side skirts that will hide away a lot of the tracks, so you could perhaps skimp with track building there if you wanted too. The turret is provided as an open-ended shell to which you add the rear panel with moulded-in access hatch, then detail with the stiffening ribs that are prominent on the sides. Small hatches are fitted to the roof, and the .303 coax machinegun is visible through the front of the box that sits on the left of the mantlet, while underneath the turret is fitted a stepped floor with the turret ring on the lower area, and the perforated floor in the rear. The tall mantlet has a pivot mechanism glued to the rear before it is inserted into the front of the turret, with a slot for the gun barrel, which is made up from three cylindrical sections, each having hollow tips, one for the muzzle, and one for the attachment to the pivot. The turret is then flipped over and slotted into the hull, with two double-tow cables made up from plastic eyes and the braided material that is provided. These are draped on the deck around the rear of the turret, with a location point on the rear hull and on the tops of the fenders. The last part of the vehicle to be constructed is the gun travel-lock, which can be made up on stowed or travel positions and using the same set of parts for each. For the stowed option the two front braces are folded to the sides of the glacis and the main A-frame is laid flat down the slope, while the travelling set-up has the A-frame standing at an angle with the clamp around the barrel and the front braces standing vertically. Markings This tank, nicknamed a less family-friendly version of the “poopbarn” never saw service, so the postage stamp sized decal sheet is adequate. It consists of a black maple-leaf and a white/red/white banner that is reminiscent of the WWI colours worn by the early British tanks. In addition, an April Fool decal and serial number in white. Only one vehicle is shown on the instructions, so you’re left wondering where the black leaf goes. If you check out the side of the box however, you’ll see another chassis in a NATO-esque four colour scheme with the emblem on the turret, but this isn’t documented elsewhere, so you’ll have to make up the camo demarcations that can’t be seen. Conclusion An interesting tank that sits somewhere between What-If and reality, having one extant chassis that I’ve seen with my own eyes outside Bovvy. It’s an exterior kit with good detail, nice tracks and an impressive turret that will doubtless generate some questions as to what it is wherever you display it. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. FV433 Abbot Self Propelled Gun. The correct name for the Abbot was Gun Equipment 105mm L109 (Abbot), however this was not used mainly as it avoided confusion with the 155mm M109 which entered service with the British Army at the same time.
  7. TACAM T-60 Romanian Tank Destroyer (36230) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-60 was a Soviet light tank design, and the Romanians pressed captured examples into service, hacking some about to create the TACAM, which was a shortening of the Romanian for Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun, and frankly much easier to say if you’re English. The design was rushed through in a very short space of time, literally days, and on a small chassis such as that of the T-60, the compromises were many and varied. Using yet more captured Soviet equipment in the shape of the F-22 field gun with a three sided splinter-shield and recoil guard to protect the crew from incoming fire and the rapidly moving gun breech respectively. Only a handful of these were made due to the less-than stellar performance that gave it quite the reputation as a poor fighting vehicle, mainly due to the reused technology and the engineering challenges that arose from the increase in weight and the stresses placed upon the chassis by firing the relatively oversized gun. The Romanians switched sides in 1944 and after that the exploits of the two armoured regiments that were equipped with the type are vague, and it is entirely likely that the Soviets retook their hardware, although what use it was to them is unclear. You’d think that would be the end of the TACAM type, but there were other variants on different chassis and using alternative guns. The Kit The kit comes in a shrink-wrapped top opening box, with an artist’s impression of the vehicle ploughing through snow on the top. Inside are thirty eight sprues of grey styrene, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with integrated painting guide at the rear. As with most MiniArt kits there is a huge amount of detail contained on the sprues of various sizes. A lot of the sprues contain common T-60 parts and others hold TACAM specific parts, with a few new ones for the different wheels and other parts on this boxing. The kit is a full-interior edition which explains the high parts count, and should keep you busy for a while. Construction begins with the lower hull floor, to which the drivers position is attached, complete with detailed gearbox, levers and brake drums. Then there is the comprehensively detailed engine, the two batteries and battery tray are added to the left hand side of the hull adjacent to the drivers position, followed by the right side panel which is fitted with a fire extinguisher and four support brackets. The rear bulkhead is decked out with several parts on the outside before it is attached to the lower hull, as is the lower glacis plate. The engine assembly is then glued into position and connected to the transmission via a drive shaft and auxiliary hand-starter shaft behind an armoured cover. The interior is slowly built up with bulkheads, ammunition racks with spare drums, boxes and another fire extinguisher. The left hull panel is then attached, along with the final drive covers, idler axles, internal engine compartment bulkheads and several pipes and hoses. The hull roof is assembled from several panels before being glued into place while the five part driver’s hatch and his vision block is made up from six parts. Both assemblies are then glued over the driver’s position, and can be posed with the flap either open or closed for comfort or protection. Additional ammunition is stowed along the interior hull sides for access by the crew, plus even more in the extra stowage box on the rear deck next to the separate engine cover. The suspension arms are then glued to the hull, followed by the road wheels, return rollers, drive sprockets and idler wheels. The tracks are each built up from eighty six individual links that are of the glue-together type, which must be wrapped around the road wheels while the glue is still supple. Each link is attached to the sprue with three gates, has hollow guide horns, and a complete absence of ejector pin marks, which is nice. The sprue gates should be quick to clean up, but due to the small size of each link and their delicate moulding, it will be important to treat the parts gently both during clean-up and construction, taking care not to over-glue things and risk turning them into a melty goo. The track fenders are fitted with a number of triangular PE brackets, as well as large storage boxes, pioneer tools and other small parts. The 76mm gun, its breech and its mounting carriage is then built up and fitted with the barrel having a hollow tip thanks to a little slide-moulding. The part count here is high, and every aspect of the gun is supplied, some of which are PE and all are highly detailed. The inner splinter shields for the gun are then fitted along with the elevation mechanism and its manual controls, with this assembly fitted to the mount that bisects the lower part of the crew compartment, then shrouded with the external splinter shields that wrap around the sides of the emplacement to further protect the crew from flanking fire. A selection of PE brackets and straps are applied around the hull and splinter shield, then the large “bed frame” antenna is assembled and added to the upper hull around the gun position and engine deck. This, the different road wheels and additional ammo with crates are the main differences between this and the earlier boxings. The small decal sheet contains markings for three of these peculiar and unloved (at the time) vehicles: Romanian Army, Autumn 1944 Presumably 2nd Tank Regiment Romanian Army, Eastern Front, February 1944 Presumably 1st Armoured Division, “Greater Romania” Army Group “Veler”, Lasi District, August 1944 The decals are predominantly black, with a few white ones, and two red stars on a white circular background, which have been printed to look as if they were hand-painted, complete with runs where too much paint has been applied. They’re printed by DecoGraph, and have good registration where it counts (only on 2 decals), sharpness and colour density, so should cause no problems. Conclusion This is another excellent kit from MiniArt, bringing more of the lesser known military vehicles to the mainstream modelling community. With the high part count and detail, this kit is really aimed at the more experienced modeller and should build up into a superb model that is absolutely full of detail, so much so that there shouldn’t be much need for aftermarket parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. British Tank Destroyer FV215B(183) (35A008) 1:35 Amusing Hobby Post WWII, everything armoured was still suffering from a hangover from Hitler's "bigger is better" mantra, and Heavy Tanks were all the rage. The FV214 Conqueror was one such vehicle, and was intended to be the big-brother of the Centurion, wiping out enemy tanks and clearing the way. It saw service in limited quantities in West Germany in the late 50s to early 60s, and was phased out in favour of the Main Battle Tank. The FV215B was a proposal for a Self-Propelled Gun based on the same chassis, but with the turret housing a 183mm gun fitted to the aft part of the hull to reduce overhang of its limited traverse turret. It never progressed beyond a mock-up, so was essentially a paper project, and ended its days consigned to the waste paper basket when the project was cancelled. The Kit This is a great paper project from Amusing Hobby, with some sprues borrowed from their Conqueror kits as you might expect. There's no harm in getting the most out of the sprues, and we get an interesting developmental dead-end of the Conqueror line into the bargain. FV222 Conqueror ARV next maybe? The kit arrives in a traditional top opening box, and inside are nine sprues and two hull halves in sand-coloured styrene, 226 track links in brown styrene two-per-sprue (113 of them in my kit), eight real-live springs, a length of braided copper wire, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and instruction booklet with colour profiles and markings guide on the rear pages. It doesn't share as many of the parts as you'd think with its progenitor, with only the running gear, lower hull, wheels, tracks and side-skirts from the original, all the rest being newly tooled. Detail is the same quality as the Conqueror, although some texturing of the turret armour would have been an improvement, but it's not massively difficult to do yourself with a stipple of Mr Surfacer and a few knocks with a spinning Dremel tool. It's an exterior kit, so other than a few periscopes and small parts near hatches, there is nothing inside. If you're opening hatches, grab some Post WWII tank crew to go with it and you're set. Construction begins with the hull, and the suspension bogies that contain the Horstmann suspension units, which is where the real springs come in. These are contained between two end-caps, which affix to a back-plate, and if you're careful with the glue when you attach the perforated front part, you should end up with working suspension. Two pairs of road wheels and a single pair of return rollers are fixed to the axles, and held in place by hub caps that fit using friction alone, so the wheels should turn too if you don't overdo the paint. This is repeated over the eight bogies, a multi-part drive sprocket with final drive housing is installed at the rear and the adjustable idler wheels are added to the lower glacis, with an element of adjustment possible before you apply glue, which should allow you to take up any additional slack in the tracks before you finish construction. A set of small inner skirts are glued along the length of the road wheel area, with tie-downs/grab-handles at either end, although it may be better to leave these off until after the tracks are fitted, and possibly until after painting. The rear bulkhead fits to the opening in the back of the hull after being decked-out with towing hooks and various small parts, after which the new upper hull is built. Blanking plates are affixed to the lower edges of the sponsons before it is flipped over and the glacis plate is added to the blank front of the upper hull. Light clusters, travel-lock for the barrel and lifting eyes are added, then around the front of the turret ring a group of PE grilles are glued in place with super glue and the engine access hatch is detailed with grab-handles and lifting lugs. A semi-circular hatch is supplied for the driver, with periscope and levers inside, stowage boxes and exhausts are added to the fenders, plus air cleaners and fire extinguishers, then short outer skirts that hang from the edges of the fenders on small lugs. The upper turret is a single moulding to which the internal periscope and latching parts are fitted, while cable bobbin, stowage, shell-ejection hatch and twin smoke grenade launchers are fitted to the slab-like sides. On the roof are the three hatches, sighting gear and a single coaxial(ish) machine gun projecting from a wedge-shaped appendage in front of the commander's cupola, which has a flip-forward hatch and a mushroom vent in the centre of the roof. Either side of the commander's hatch are spare ammo cans for the belt-fed aft-facing machine gun that is fixed to the rear on a Y-shaped mount. The massive 183mm main gun is made from two interlocking tubular parts with hollow centres, which have their join hidden by the fume extractor that fits around them in two parts. The completed barrel then slides through the angular mantlet and locates in the pivoting part, which latches inside the mantlet with a firm push, having moulded-in splines to keep it from drooping, although if you play with it too much it will end up saggy. The completed mantlet and single piece turret floor complete the assembly, leaving just the tracks and final assembly to do. The tracks are very nicely moulded, and are of the click-fit workable variety, which works very well indeed in this instance. The parts are moulded in pairs with a small injection manifold between them, and they are attached by only two sprue gates, with no ejector pins to deal with. Clean-up is super-simple due to the location of the gates, and the click action is quite robust, leaving you with a run of tracks in fairly short order, which is just as well as you need 98 links per side. Having seen a few rather poorly engineered track joining methods from other major manufacturers lately, it's refreshing to see a genuinely good track-making method from Amusing Hobby. With the tracks installed, the hull halves can be joined, the turret twisted into place, and a pair of aft mudguards fitted to the fenders to complete the job. Markings It's a what-if, paper-project or hypothetical AFV if you like, so the schemes have been made up with the assistance of Mig Jiménez's company AMMO, so it's not a surprise to see that the colours are using their codes. Both options have camouflage patterns, which should be easy enough to apply because you have five views so there's no guesswork involved. If you're planning on using an airbrush you can either freehand them with nice tight demarcations, or get some of that clever putty, roll out some snakes and get on with masking it up, leaving it to settle a little into the corners to prevent "the fuzzies". The decal sheet is small and contains a number of which alphanumeric codes to create your own number plates using the black rectangles as a backdrop, some well-known British tank regiment badges, a couple of yellow donuts and circles, and even a British flag with a tiny first aid roundel nearby. Registration, colour density and sharpness are up to the job, and you have plenty of scope to create your own vehicle with a little made-up history if you like. Conclusion I'm quite fond of this era of gigantic tanks when they were still figuring out the best way of doing things in the world of Armoured Fighting Vehicles, so this appeals to me both from a subject point of view as well as a nice kit that will look imposing on the shelf, unless you plonk it down next to a Conqueror or a IS-3, or maybe even an American T-28, or your own 1:35 scratch-build P1000 Ratte! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. SU-76M Self-Propelled Gun with Crew 1:35 MiniArt The SU-76 was one of the most widely used AFVs of WWII by the Russians, and was based upon an enlarged version of the T-70 Light Tank chassis, adding width and an extra roadwheel to the length of the vehicle. Although the T-70 wasn't particularly effective or well liked, this much changed and improved development of its basic running gear was, because of its simple agricultural design, which made it easy to maintain, and forgiving in combat conditions. Initial problems with the drive-train were soon cured, and the SU-76M was the result, with the armoured roof of the casemate removed for ease of service and repair of the 76.2mm ZiS-3 gun. Production went on to reach almost 14,000 units before war's end, and although production of the SU-76 ceased, a further development continued production in the form of the ZSU-37, the first dedicated anti-aircraft tank in Soviet service. The Kit MiniArt are a growing force within the AFV world, and have a good reputation for their diorama bases and figure sets. Their toolings are more traditional in style, but an element of slide-moulding is starting to creep in, making for better detail on the parts. The kit arrives in a top opening grey box with a vignette painting of an SU-76M on grassy terrain. Inside are five sprues of mid-grey styrene, a single hull "tub", 16 sprue ladders of track links, a tiny sprue of clear parts, and a simple decal sheet printed by Begemot. The instruction booklet is printed in black and white on good stock, while the colour and decaling sheet is printed in full colour, and includes painting call-outs for the included figures. The first thing that is immediately apparent is that the hull of this tank is rather small. One of its nicknames was "bare a**ed Ferdinand", which referred to its similar layout but diminutive size when compared to the giant German design. The tub struggles to make 5" in length, but detail on the outer hull is good, with rivets, panel lines and raised detail in good supply. There is also detail inside the hull toward the rear where it will be visible due to its open top. Whether you will need to remove the large injection moulding lump that sits in the middle of the hull bottom is questionable, especially as there is a panel placed between it and the viewer during later construction. Unusually for a tank, the gun and its support-work are first to be built up, and there are plenty of parts to make this a well detailed section of the model. The barrel is supplied in two halves, so the more aftermarket conscious amongst us might want to source a replacement, but with some careful seam-work, the kit part should suffice, particularly as it has a 2-piece flash-hider that is added after the barrel is pushed through the mantlet, giving the impression of a hollow barrel. Careful assembly and judicious use of glue should permit you to retain the ability to traverse and raise the barrel, which is of use to retain until you have chosen the final position of the gun, at which time it can be fixed by freezing the pivot points with liquid glue. Once the gun is completed, the chassis makes an appearance, and each side takes six keyed suspension arms, onto which a roadwheel is glued. A triplet of return rollers fix further up the side of the hull on axles, and the idler wheel attaches at the very rear of the vehicle, almost as an afterthought trailing behind. The drive sprockets are mounted to the front on their final drive housings, the edge of which stand proud of the glacis plate once complete. The front of the chassis is boxed in with armour plate at this stage, and various shackles and detail parts are added to the forward and aft bulkheads. There are two hatches on the glacis plate, one for access to the gearbox and the other for the driver, which has a domed armoured surface that has a nice cast texture moulded in. The tracks are separate links that are provided on ladder-like sprues with only small stubs of sprue between each link and no outer runners. Detail is excellent throughout, and they should clip together with no glue, which is backed up by a symbol in the instruction. Each link has three sprue gates sensibly placed, and no ejector pin marks – these have been cleverly left on the sprue stubs between each link. Clean-up and construction of each track of 92 links should proceed relatively quickly as a result of these positives, and there are 8 links spare in case of broken pins. The slide-moulded fenders are then mounted with five bracing brackets on each side, along with some small details and stowage areas. A driving light is placed on the port fender, which has a clear lens piece, so the rear of the part will need painting silver to represent the reflector. On the rear of the starboard fender is a large box containing the radiator and the twin exhaust pipes. The open face of the radiator has moulded baffles that expand the surface area, which are neatly moulded, and the exhausts are made up from two halves with an exhaust pipe stub which will need drilling out to add a little realism. The upper hull is then covered with pioneer tools, while the fenders receive more stowage boxes, and the towing cable is bend into a C-shape for mounting on the glacis plate. My sample had already sheared where the two cooling wavefronts of styrene had met and cooled too quickly to mix, so the single-piece rope would be of no use. However, MiniArt have sensibly included an extra pair of towing eyes without rope moulded to them in case you want to make your own. As usual with my armour builds, I will be using a length of RB Models braided cable, because nothing looks quite like braided cable other than braided cable! At this stage the gun is installed onto a hub moulded into the rear of the top deck, and secured in place from the underside with a pin, which will take some very careful gluing to retain the ability to traverse. A basic floor piece is added, which has some treadplate detail moulded in, plus the aforementioned doors into the inner hull that blank off the moulding pip on the lower hull. A series of parts then build up into the rest of the cladding of the fighting compartment, blocking off the view into the rest of the chassis. Five palettes of shells are built up for the interior, containing a mixture of blunt nosed shells and more pointed armour piercing in each. These are sited around the crew compartment, making for a very loud bang indeed if it received a direct hit. The casemate is next to be built up, and is constructed from three individual sides, each of which is detailed up before installation. Painting the interior in stages is likely to be a necessity with this kit due to its open top and close confines. Fortunately, the casemate panels all meet the hull at an angle, so could be installed completely painted onto the model. A rear bulkhead is then added with a small door that simply eases the step over the back of the hull. Corner stiffener plates are added to the casemate, an aerial onto the starboard side, and safety "roll-cage" to the rear. Curiously, the exhaust pipes from the engine to the mufflers/silencers are almost the last parts to be added, disappearing into an angular box on the top of the hull. A set of five crew figures are included with this kit as a bonus item, and they are contained on the fifth sprue. There are three figures holding shells, one appearing to lean forward to operate the sighting mechanism of the gun, while the final figure would be the commander figure, who is looking through a pair of binoculars. The commander and one shell carrier are wearing heavy greatcoats, while the remaining three wear quilted Soviet tankers uniform. All the figures are wearing the protective leather helmets used by soviet tank crew, which are separate parts on the sprue. The figures are nicely moulded and the greatcoat wearers have separate lowers to their coats, to give a more realistic appearance to them. Some of the crew have separate hands where appropriate, while all have separate arms and legs. The legs are moulded separately and joined at the crotch to give better detail to the inseam area, and all the heads are separate parts. Some small personal items are included for the figures' belts, and eight shells are provided for the chaps to hold (the set is also sold separately as a figure set). The decals are printed by Begemot as mentioned earlier, and have a creamy tint to the white lettering. That shouldn't really notice on the dark background, but should in fact help them not to look too stark. Surprisingly from such a small sheet you can build one of five vehicles, which share the same Russian Green scheme, which is of course no surprise. SPG Artillery Division 11th Guard Army, Eastern Prussia, 1944 Unknown Slef-Propelled Regiment, Eastern Prussia, 1945 1238th SPG Regiment, Poland, March 1945 1448th SPG Artillery Regiment, 9th Krasnodar Kozak Division, Poland, 1944 1223rd SPG Artillery Regiment, 5th Guard Tank Army, 3rd Belorussian front, Vilnus, July 1944 Colour call-outs are provided from Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell and Mr Color. Colour names are also supplied, as well as a column of something unintelligible (to me) in Cyrillic. The same table applies to the crew figures who are surrounded by a cloud of arrows and legends. Conclusion A detailed kit of this diminutive but powerful Self-Propelled Gun, which grew from a mediocre lineage to become an important tank during WWII. The inclusion of five crew figures and individual workable track links makes it a very generous package, and should appeal to many. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. SAU-122 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm Self Propelled Gun. Pictures taken at National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, Kiev by Dave Haskell.
  11. M40 US Self Propelled 155mm Gun perforated platform - For Tamiya Kit 1:35 Eduard The new Tamiya kit is a good one, however Eduard are along as always offering an update set for the kit to replace those plastic parts with PE where PE wins out. Perforated Platform (36355) This set from Eduard gives a complete new platform for the gun. This is certainly one of the areas where photo etch wins out over plastic parts. Conclusion These sets will enhance an already impressive model. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. M40 US Self Propelled 155mm Gun - For Tamiya Kit 1:35 Eduard The new Tamiya kit is a good one, however Eduard are along as always offering an update set for the kit to replace those plastic parts with PE where PE wins out. Update Set (36354) This large brass fret provides brackets and mountings for the front of the vehicle, new light protecting brackets, replacement mounting brackets for the tools, new mesh grills, brackets to hold the hatches open, front mug guards, tool box mountings, rear mu guards & mountings, and a couple of ther hull mounting brackets. Conclusion These sets will enhance an already impressive model. Recommended. Review samples courtesy of
  13. ISU-152 Soviet self-propelled gun. Pictures taken at National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, Kiev by Dave Haskell.
  14. My first work in progress, mainly because I never remember to take photos! So as an experiment, most of these will be taken on my Iphone and posted via Flickr with a view to kicking Photobucket into touch. This is the AFV Club M109A2 kit (as you can hopefully see) with the Black Dog conversion kit. So the obligatory box shots. Untitled by phil da greek, on Flickr Untitled by phil da greek, on Flickr So the photos worked! And not to shabby IMHO. Anyone with any experience of building the kit (or the real thing) then pitch in with any tips or photos etc. The aim is to display the gun in a firing position with it's crew doing various things. Already it's out of control. This will be long and it probably won't be pretty, but pull up a chair shipmates, I'm going in!
  15. AuF1 TA Self-Propelled Howitzer 1:35 Meng Models Developed from the successful AMX-30 Main Battle Tank, the AuF1 is a 155mm howitzer that as well as being rather heavy (over 41 tonnes), is also fast and manoeuvrable, as well as having an automatic loading system giving it a high sustained fire rate of 6 rounds per minute, and burst mode of 8 RPM on a good day. Because the vehicle has sufficient room inside for the whole 4-man crew to travel inside the cab, it has quite a high profile, but because it has a range of almost 24km it has little need for stealth, and is in fact only lightly armoured to a thickness of 20mm to withstand small arms fire. The AuF1 is used by the French army, all of which are now upgraded to the AuF2 spec, as well as the Saudis who have over 50 units on strength. Iraq had 85 that saw action during the Iran/Iraq war, but following the first Gulf War, some remained intact, possibly because they were unable to take part in operations due to a lack of spares caused by the years of arms embargoes in the run up to the conflict. There were rows of abandoned machines at a former Republican Guard base that made for quite an impressive sight. The Model Meng originally released a version of the AuF-1 back in 2012 which came complete with the interior of the turret. This new version unfortunately doesn’t have the interior, so will make for a simpler, if less interesting build. They have also changed the colour of the styrene to a very dark green colour, which not only makes for a more challenging painting experience, but was a real pain to photograph. There are eleven sprues, and a separate lower hull section in the green styrene, one of clear and four in a dark brown. The kit also included a short length of brass wire, a length of string, a small sheet of etched brass, twenty poly caps and a small decal sheet. Construction of the lower hull is identical to the previous release, as you'd expect, with paired drive wheels attached to the suspension arms by friction fit of the poly-caps, and full-length torsion bars mimicking the real suspension. The upper hull is, naturally, the same too, with the same hatches on the glacis plate at the front, side pioneer tool panels, and the rear bulkhead/radiator/exhaust assemblies. The light clusters, spare fuel cans and external telephone are all present, as are the PE grilles that cover the hot exhausts. There are pair of large front mounted tool box assemblies which are built up and the right hand side box fitted with fire extinguishers, before both are fitted to the front of the vehicle. The tow ropes are consigned to the port side panels with the pioneer tools. The tracks are meant to be working, and to build them, Meng have included an ingenious part C10 as a template for building up the individual click-together track links, 80 parts per run. The main difference between releases is that you only get the external parts of the gun, so that means the barrel base, with its four recuperators are assembled and fitted to the simple trunnion mount, which is fitted from the inside of the mantlet. The mantlet is installed at the front of the turret, and is joined by the sides, then the frame of the rear wall, and finally the roof. The roof has some boxes, smoke dischargers and various lifting eyes added around the turret before the large side doors are constructed from an inner skin joined to the outer, with a clear vision port and internal handle to improve the detail. These can be posed open or closed on the moulded-in hinges, and the top hatches are left loose to be posed open or closed at will, but with no interior it’s not much of an option. Grab-handles, an antenna base, along with two sets of barrel cleaning rods, and a roof mounted searchlight are attached, along with a 50cal weapon with mount and ammo-box is added to the left-hand hatch. The rear magazine doors can only be posed closed, thus needing the hinges removing. The final parts are the main gun barrel, which is supplied as separate halves, with a small detail section added to the aft of the muzzle brake. Once complete and the seams hidden, this just slots into the hole between the recuperators, and could even be left loose for ease of transport, as it is a little on the long side! Decals Unlike the first release, this version comes with two marking options, one with the standard French tri-colour scheme depicting a vehicle from the 1st battalion, 40th Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armoured Brigade of the French Army. The second option is for a vehicle of the 1st Marine Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armoured Brigade of the French Army, as used in the Lebanon in 2006 and is painted in the UN overall white scheme. The decals are well printed, with good register, colour density and crisp demarcations. The colour profiles cover every side of the vehicle, so there will be no guess work on where the various colour splodges start and finish, which makes a nice change from recent experiences with other manufacturers. The large crest/shield on the decal sheet is beautifully printed, unfortunately there is nothing in the instructions showing where, or if this is used, but I’m sure a bit of research on the internet will show it. Conclusion This is still an imposing model, with its huge gun barrel. Just a shame that Meng decided not to include the interior parts of the turret, as it would have given this kit some more options on how to display it. It’s still a great kit and one I can whole heartily recommend it. It will certainly stand out in the collection if painted in the UN scheme. Review sample courtesy of
  16. We've got some great items from MiniArt available right now, including two new kits: A Soviet SU-122 Self Propelled Gun with full interior detail and a set of Resting WWII German Tank Crew figures. For full details, please see our newsletter.
  17. Chinese Type 83 SPG Trumpeter 1:35 History The Chinese Type 83 Self Propelled Gun was designed around the requirements the PLA issued in the late 70’s for a modern Self-Propelled Artillery Gun. Its design wasn’t one started from scratch, but the amalgamation of existing systems used by the PLA. The main gun was a further development by 127 Factory in Qiqihar, Heilongjiang Province of the Type 66 152mm Towed Gun-Howitzer. The factory also developed the semi-automatic loading system. The tracked chassis was a further development by 674 Factory in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, of the Type 321. The factory also served as the principal contractor. The first prototype was completed in 1980 and a modified second prototype was built in July 1981, with field trials ending in 1982 and entered production in 1983. Elevation of the main gun is +62 to 0 degrees and can fire a number of munitions including high explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG), cluster projectiles with fragmentation sub-munitions and base gas bleed, and indigenous laser-guided 152mm projectile (Russian Krasnopol laser-guided projectile technology was purchased by China in the 90’s). 30 rounds can be stored in the turret with a 5 rounds per min rate of fire. For close encounters, the vehicle is equipped with a roof mounted 12.7mm (50cal.) MG for AA and a Type 69 RPG is carried in the turret. The vehicle uses a WR4B-12V150LB four-stroke liquid-cooled diesel engine, generating 520hp giving a maximum road speed of 55km/h and an operational range of 450km. It’s currently in service with the PLA and each artillery regiment has a Type 83 battalion, which operates 18 vehicles. The Model The kit comes in the standard Trumpeter style box, although, unlike the Indian T-90S reviewed HERE the box for the Type 83 is only about half as deep. The boxart depicts a Type 83 travelling in convoy across some pretty barren grassland. Inside there are nine sprues of light grey styrene, which is also used for the separate upper and lower hulls. There is also a clear acetate sheet, a small sheet of etched brass, sixteen poly caps and a small decal sheet. Trumpeter seem to have their armoured vehicle kits pretty much weighed off as the mouldings are usually very clean, with no flash or other imperfections, although they do tend to have quite a few moulding pips on the smaller parts which can be annoying, even if they are necessary. Construction begins with the drilling of eight holes in the front face of the lower hull, followed by the fitting of the rear bulkhead and, rather unusually the drivers seat, which is made up of the squab, backrest and two levers. The bump stops and shock absorbers for the front and rear suspension units are attached to the sides, followed by the torsion units. Each of the return rollers are made up of two parts, whilst the road wheels are made up from inner and outer wheels with a poly cap sandwiched in-between. The sprocket wheels are each made up form three parts, the inner and outer toothed wheels and a middle plain wheel. With all the wheels assembled they can be pushed onto their respective axles. The tracks provided are of the rubber band style, the ends of which are fixed together either by melting the pins or glued. They are pretty well moulded and since the real vehicle appears to have quite tight tracks, these will work pretty well, without the hassle of building them out of individual links. Next up are several sub assemblies, most concentrating on the various storage boxes for the upper hull in six different styles. The radiator grille actually has a radiator included in this kit, made up from four parts, which is then fitted to the underside of the radiator decking and covered with a PE grille cover. Before any of the storage boxes and other items can be fitted to the upper hull there are thirty eight holes to open up. The storage boxes are then attached, followed by the track guard supports, drivers vision ports, large access hatch, drivers hatch, three piece gun cradle and turret ring extensions. The radiator sub-assembly is then fitted to the front deck, along with the two piece lights, reflectors, and two piece snorkel. Two PE intake grilles are fitted to their respective positions, as are the two front towing hooks, idler gear cover, spare track links, whilst at the rear two more tow hooks are attached, rear lights, reflectors, and the rear door. The main howitzer is made up from multiple parts, with the two piece breech, two piece trunnion, and two piece barrel. The trunnion is attached to the breech, which is then attached to the mantle, followed by an attachment ring to which the barrel is fitted. Each of the two recuperators also come in two parts and fitted to the underside of the barrel. The shell carriage is then assembled from six parts, then attached to the top of the breech. The three piece recoil tube is attached to the rear of the trunnion and the two trunnion mounts. The elevation wheel and its gearbox made up from three parts and fitted to the left hand trunnion mount. A nice feature is this kit actually has some interior, not much, but certainly something that could be used as a basis for something more complete. The turret floor is fitted out with three seats and their supports along with the training motor and gearbox. Inside the turret there are three radio sets, a mid mounted bulkhead with the shell storage holes, storage box, gunners vision block, and six clear acetate parts for the commanders cupola vision blocks. The howitzer sub-assembly is then attached to the turret, followed by the turret floor. The turret then has seven grab handles fitted around the top, along with the side access hatch, commanders hatch and machine gun mount, plus the ventilation mushroom, pioneer tools, large storage box, aerial base and rear hatch. The KPV heavy machine gun consists of the single piece gun, three part firing mechanism, three piece elevation mounting, cocking handle, and three piece ammunition case. The completed machine gun mounting is the attached to the front of the commanders cupola, after which the completed turret can be fitted to the completed hull along with the towing cable, completing the build. The small decal sheet contains markings for various vehicles but with only one colour scheme Conclusion Trumpeter seems to be quite good at releasing Chinese vehicles and have a fair number in their catalogue. This is a very nice kit and although it is reminiscent of other self propelled guns it is different enough to be of interest and would make a great companion piece with others of its ilk. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
  18. M-108G 1:35 Italeri The M108 is an American self-propelled 105mm howitzer developed in the 1950's and first fielded on 1962. It uses the same hull and turret of the M109 howitzer along with some components from the M113 armoured personnel carrier. The M108 mounted a fully rifled m103 gun which was 30 calibres long. 87 rounds of 105mm ammunition were carried. The Aluminium armour offered protection from shell splinters and direct fire up to 0.50 calibre heavy machine gun rounds. No spall liners were fitted inside, and the gun was not fitted with an NBC system. In fact no heating/ventilation system was fitted at all. Motive power was provided by a Detroit Diesel V8 generating 425hp. The M108 was intended to be the short range component of the US Army's self-propelled artillery. The M108 was to fill the gap between heavy mortars and the 155mm M109. The M108 proved to be effective in combat in Vietnam, however they Army considered it to be lacking when compared to the 155mm platform. As such it was phased out in the 1970's to be replaced by the M109. The M108 was used by a few US allies; Belgium, Brazil, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, and Tunisia. Although not listed as an "official" user of the M108 the Australian Army were loaned at no cost some from the US Army for use in Vietnam. These were used by 6 Troop, 3rd Cavalry Regiment to defend the 1st Australian Task Force Base at Nui Dat before the arrival of Centurion tanks. The Kit The Italeri kit of the M108 was first produced in 1983, and to our knowledge has not been re-released since. The kit arrives as three main sprues of grey plastic. The main improvement with this re-release is the inclusion of a new set of tracks. These are now single link tracks which Italeri also produce as a separate set. These replace the original vinyl tracks. There is no interior at all for the kit. A further four sprues contain all the parts for the tracks and the guides to construct them. Construction starts with fitting the front and rear bulkheads to the lower hull. All the suspension arms are then fitted, along with the drive wheels, idler wheels and road wheels. Once these are on the upper decking is fitted. Following this all of the fittings are attached to the front (headlights, and towing fixtures); and the rear (storage boxes, spare track links, rear door, and lights). The drivers hatch and gun travelling mount can then be attached to the front decking. The next stage is that the tracks are made up. As mentioned there are four sprues of track parts and four jigs to make then up. There are four runs of straight track for each side with the end being made of individual links. The jigs are designed to fit together to proved essentially one long jig for construction. The tack pads are placed in the jigs and then joined with link part. The guide horn part then goes on top. The modeller will have to be careful with the glue at this stage to ensure correct movement of the links. While rather fiddly the tracks will look so much better than those band ones.These tracks are also available from Italeri as a separate item (T-136). (Four Of these sprues are provided - the four guides are show linked together) Final assembly then is down to the turret. The gun and mantle are first constructed. Next its the turret; this is made from the top, lower turret ring and the back (with separate doors). The mantle is then slid through. The turret is completed by the addition of tools, racks, a tow cable and pintle mounted .50 cal machine gun on the op hatch. Fuel cans are also provided for attachment to the turret. While there is no interior for the kit there are aftermarket sets available, these are mainly under the M109 name as the M109 and M108 are basically the same vehicle with different guns. Decals Decals are provided for 3 different guns on a rather small decal sheet. They are printed by a company called Zanchetti in Italy, a company I am not familiar with. The decals look good, however the ones in the review kit seem to have been run over! hopefully most are not like this. Brazilian Army 1970 US Army 1st Field Force Vietnam 1968 Australian Army, Vietnam 1971 Conclusion A nice re-issue from Italeri, this kit had been getting hard to find. The inclusion of new tracks is most welcome. Recommended if you like Self-propelled guns, or something a little different. Review sample courtesy of
  19. One of my newer models - circa 2014 Kit: HobbyBoss 82499 Scale: 1/35th Scary part: the Indy link track with indy track pins Yikes! (15% tank, 85% track ) Based on the T-26 chassis (a British concept) this was probably the first Soviet SPG This was another long weekender for me and although it looked crude, it went together really well. The kit is fairly bland having no markings supplied so, I took a little license and added the '143' strictly for effect - I think it works? AND, the track Actually Works! Yeah, I know....... Just a little light weathering and ????? Hope you like
  20. Russian 2S3 Self-Propelled Howitzer (Early) 1:35 Trumpeter Developed in the late 60s as a direct counterpart to the US M109 self-propelled Howitzer, the 2S3, which is known as Akatsiya by its users, was developed using a cut-down chassis from a pre-existing SAM system, and mounting a large 152mm howitzer in a turret set to the rear of the upper hull. It is NBC capable, diesel powered, and has a crew of 6 men in ideal conditions, with four inside the hull and 2 passing ammunition through the rear doors if it is safe for them to do so without them coming under fire. The initial prototypes suffered from a tendency to gas its crew as rounds were fired, but once this was solved, series production started, and over the years a large number have been produced in various forms, the latest being the 2S3M2, which has a slightly larger gun, and modern GPS and satellite guidance equipment that was added at the turn of the new millennium. It was used by the former Soviet Union, its allies in the Eastern Bloc and Africa, and has participated in Afghanistan and most conflicts that have plagued some Eastern European states since the dissolution of the Union, as well as taking part in Libya during the civil war. There are still a large number in active service of former Soviet Union countries, and more in storage "just in case" throughout the many current operators. The Kit This new tool kit is part of Trumpeter and Hobby Boss' current (perceived) bid to kit almost every piece of Soviet Cold War armour before the end of the decade. It arrives in a standard top opening Trumpeter box, and inside is a divider annexing the hull and turret parts from the sprues, of which there are quite a few - nine to be precise, all of them in a medium grey styrene. The hull halves and turret upper are separate due to their complex slide-moulded detail, and the tracks are supplied on 30 (yes, that many) three-dimensional sprues in bags of five. More on that later. A small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass is included, plus a small decal sheet, instruction booklet and an A3 full-colour painting and markings guide. As always with AFV kits, six of the sprues contain wheel and suspension parts, plus small parts that are required in greater numbers. The other three sprues are full of the upper hull, turret and entrenching equipment parts, and once you have completed the suspension, the model should go together quickly. Detail is excellent, and the major parts have been tooled using modern slid-moulding moulds to give detail on sides of parts that wouldn't normally be possible with older methods. There is no interior to the howitzer, but this is fairly common, and what is provided is of good quality. The lower hull is supplied as a bathtub with missing rear panel, which is on one of the sprues, and detailed with the rear doors for ammo supply, latches, shackles and armoured breathers before being added to the hull, which is festooned with bump-stops and return rollers, plus final drive housings and then the suspension arms with twin wheels on six sets of single axles on each side. The idler wheels are also paired and installed on a short axle which also acts as the track tensioner, while the drive sprockets are made up from three parts and installed in a hole on the final drive housing. The track links are all separate, and have been tooled in a way I have not seen before. Each sprue contains eight links with three attachment points and NO ejector pin marks, which have slide-moulded detail to the ends depicting the track pin ends, by cleverly splitting the sprue so that it resembles a ladder, admitting the sliding detail parts of the mould during manufacture. The result are very well detailed links that click-fit together, taking a lot of the hassle out of using individual links for the uninitiated, and needing very little clean-up. Full marks to Trumpeter here. The fenders attach to the lower hull on large tabs at each end and one in the middle, which seems a little flimsy to this reviewer, although in action the joint might well be strong enough. Jack blocks and small parts are added to each fender, and attention turns to the upper hull. A fording bow wave deflector is the first item installed on the hull at the front of the glacis plate, behind which is the driver's compartment with vision blocks and separate hatch cover. To his right is the engine compartment, which has two rectangular grilled, which use PE mesh to cover the openings, and then either two grids that cover the mesh, or an armoured cover to the rear-most grille, which requires a couple of holes to be drilled in the hull to accommodate the mounting pegs. A trio of hatches are installed on the port side, and the front headlight is first installed in a rather delicately moulded cage before being added to the hull front on both sides. At the rear under the turret are a few spare track links and other shackles, of which there seem to be a lot on the 2S3, some of which are made from PE. Grab handles are also numerous, as are filler caps on the engine deck, and the travel lock for the barrel is installed centrally on the glacis, just forward of the driver's station. The gun is supplied as two halves, split horizontally, and it is hard to see how this could have been done any other way, due to the massive size of the twin baffle flash-hider that adorns the end of the barrel. It assembles into a rather happy looking mantlet, with two recuperator cylinders sat above it and partially buried in the mantlet. It is trapped between the turret top and bottom, and has no breech detail whatsoever - just a cylinder with two pegs on the ends that allows the gun to elevate. The commander's hatch and close-quarters machine-gun station is built up with a complex remote-controlled mount and 7.62mm PKT general purpose machine gun with searchlight fitted to the front. Periscopes, grab-handles and tie-downs are added, before the mantlet surround is added, with a PE protector around the sight, and the side-access hatch completes the turret with detail inside and out, despite there being no interior. The upper and lower hull halves are joined together at the last, and optional self-entrenchment tools are added to the front and rear of the hull, before a pair of PE mudflaps are installed on the rear fenders, and the turret is dropped into place. Unlike kits of yore, the turret ring is smooth, having no retaining lugs, so should either be glued into place for all time, or care will be needed when handling the model in case the two parts come apart and are damaged. Markings It's not a case of "any colour as long as it's Russian Green" with this vehicle, and the Painting & decaling guide show two vehicles. One is in Russian Green with white detailing and a bright banner on the turret for parade purposes, while the other is painted in a tri-tone soft-edge camouflage with a green base that is overlaid with black and sand patches to break up the outline of the vehicle. The only decals shown being used are the CCCP banner, but a double set of numerals are included on the decal sheet in case you wish to model a particular vehicle. Decals are printed anonymously, and are in good register. The white numerals look a little thin however, so it would be wise to test one that you won't use to see whether it will allow the colour beneath it to show through. Conclusion A nice modern tooling of a classic piece of Russian Cold War armour, which is announced as "Early Version", with the possibility of the M, M1 and M2 versions to follow, as after the M variant when the rear bulkhead was changed, the small equipment fit was the main difference between the early version and the later marks, and a lot of this was inside the hull, so irrelevant for tooling purposes. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Looks like Trumpeter are really going to town on the Russian theme Box art is up on Armorama, no release date yet but i have a feeling that this will be good :-)
  22. TS-004 1:35 AUF1 155mm Self-propelled Howitzer Meng have announced the release soon of this rather brutal looking French Self-Propelled Gun (SPG), to give it its full title, GCT 155mm AUF1. It is based on the AMX 30 chassis and sports a 133mm gun with a 39 calibre round and can fire a whopping 8 rounds a minute due to its auto-load mechanism. Used by the French, Saudis and in small numbers the Iraqis during the Iran Iraq war, it cuts an impressive profile on the battlefield. Looks like it'll be an impressive kit when it arrives. No dates have been given as yet, but I'm hoping soon Mike.
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