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  1. ARL44 French Heavy Tank (35A025) 1:35 Amusing Hobby The ARL 44 is a French Heavy Tank which does look unusual. At first glance it would appear that it resulted from an affair between a Char B1 and a King Tiger. The main reason for the resemblance to the Char B1 is that the tank was developed in Secret during WWII under co-ordination from CDM (Camouflage du Matériel), a secret Vichy army organisation trying to produce materiel forbidden by the armistice conditions. Thus the designers relied on what they knew and did not have access to outside tank developments. The tank was to be armed with a 90mm DCA Naval AA gun, this was so large that for transportation the gun retracted into the turret and part exiting through a rear hatch which was also used to load ammunition. The turret itself was a make shift affair as the French at the time were unable to do large castings. The turret was actually made from armour plate salvaged from the wreck of the battleship Dunkerque. Only the turret front was cast. It was decided after WWII to build this to maintain continuity in French design, and to boost home moral, even though the Tank would be inferior to even the Sherman which was available in large numbers. The tank was unreliable and not well liked, with the brakes, gear box and suspension to light for the weight and resulting in several serious accident. The tank would be replaced in French service by the American M47 Patton. The Kit This is a great kit from Amusing Hobby that many thought would never get kitted. On first look in the box the most noticeable part is the large hull casting which looks like it should be in a Warhammer box! There are an additional 4 sprues of plastic, a bag of track links and a small sheet of PE. Although not mentioned in the instructions at all, or the parts diagram there is a one piece turned metal barrel in the box. Construction starts with the multitude of small road wheels for each side of the tank. There are 18 pairs for these down each side and these are sandwiched between the outside housings with a large idler wheel at the front. There are also two pairs of small return rollers added to the top of the main hull track return areas, Additional front plates are also attached to the main hull to allow the track roller assemblies to be attached, The rear drive sprockets can then be fitted along with the tanks rear bulkhead and the floor. The top side covers for the track are then fitted to the hull. The complicated cooling system for the tanks petro-electrical transmission is then built up ad added to the hull, along with the crew hatches and many hull fittings. The PE grills are added to the engine deck as well at this stage. Work now moves to the turret. The gun mantlet is built up and this added to the turret after the base has been added to the main casting. The large rear hatch is added along with the hatches and additional track links. The muzzle brake is added to the main gun barrel and this is added to the turret. 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 individually with an ejector mark on the underside which wont be seen. There is no clean up and assembly is super simple, they just click together. leaving you with a run of tracks in fairly short order, which is just as well as you need 80 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, this is just about the easiest track I have ever used. With the tracks installed, the turret can be twisted into place and the model is finished. Markings A mall decal sheet provides markings for two tanks, one in French Blue, and one in Green / Sand. Colour call outs are given in MiG Ammo colours only. Conclusion I'm quite fan of the strange and wonderful and think this tank fits into that category. While it was not successful it filled one of its main briefs of keeping the French designers & manufactures busy while better designs were forthcoming, eventually which lead to the AMX-30. It will be an interesting model to display and may leave more than a few people scratching their heads. Very Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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