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  1. 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
  2. Ok so only my second posting in this section and my first attempt at a resin kit which was interesting! This has meant a lot to me as I served on these guns in the 1980's so it's something I've wanted to build for over 20 years but they're not cheap or easy to find. It was my first resin kit and came with some challenges the first being a badly warped barrel which in spite of several attempts couldn't be straightened so was replaced with an almost perfect section of plastic tube. I also managed to loose the whole breach block????? This resulted in my first foray in to scratch building which then led to putting right a number of inaccuracies and omissions in the kit including an air box and air lines, relocating the hydraulic compressors for the rear wheels, British side reflectors, a base plate drop mechanism and a return lever for the load assist assembly. It's not quite finished yet but I thought I'd post it now it's pretty much there. Next up is a diorama base to put it on and an accurate armour 155mm ammo pallet to go at the rear, shame they don't do a Foden 6x6 gun tractor to go with it. Sorry about the back drop but it's a big beast however I think it's an interesting subject but then I'm a bit biased, hope you like it? Edited to add a pic of a real one on exercise up in Otterburn, I'd forgotten quite how big they were!
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