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  1. FV214 Conqueror II Heavy Tank (35A027) 1:35 Amusing Hobby Still clinging onto the "bigger is better" ethos that Hitler forced upon the Allies during the last years of WWII, post war British doctrine continued to specify and design huge and lumbering tanks for a while, such as the Tortoise, and to a great extent the Conqueror, carrying a 120mm gun that was intended to take out opposition armour at longer range than the smaller Centurion, whilst working in cooperation together. Design began while the war was still raging, and continued with subsequent changes to specification due to rapidly evolving needs for a further 10 years before it morphed into the Conqueror Mk.1, of which only a handful were made before it too was upgraded to the Conqueror 2 with improvements in armour over its short-lived predecessor. It was a behemoth, and lumbered across the terrain at a slow rate due to a combination of extremely thick sloped armour that was almost 180mm on the glacis, the huge gun, advanced fripperies such as the rotating cupola, and brass cartridges, although it could only carry 35. The upside of the 64 tonne all-up weight was that it could stably travel over almost any terrain, although with a top speed of only 22mph on metalled roads, it would be a slow-moving target off-road. The Conquerors were deployed solely in Germany, there to halt or at least slow the advances of the expected Soviet horde that thankfully never came. A few additional variants were proposed, but only the Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV) was built in small numbers on the basis you need a titan to pull a titan if a tank broke down, which they often did due to their weight and the strain that put on the Rolls-Royce Meteor engine and running gear. The Conqueror and Centurion were eventually replaced by the Chieftain tank in the mid 60s, which ushered in the era of the Main Battle Tank in British service. The Kit This is a minor retooling of the original Conqueror Mk.I kit (35A006) with the addition of an extra sprue of parts, a new decal sheet, and a change of styrene colour. The changes centre on the glacis plate, the front deck, the commander's cupola, and the exhaust/engine deck, with smaller parts either replaced or carried over from the original tooling. As a result, you can still build a Mk.I from this boxing if you wish to, taking your cue from the parts that are replaced with the K sprue parts instead. Detail is of course good, as per the previous issue, and the new sprue is engineered and detailed in the same manner, so will blend in seamlessly. In the box you get ten sprues and two hull parts in a sand coloured styrene, a bag of track-links in brown styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a bag of eight springs, a length of braided copper wire, small decal sheet, instruction booklet and separate painting and markings guide. 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 side 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 upper hull becomes the focus for a while. The upper hull is essentially complete save for the front glacis plate, which is the first of the new parts, having the light clusters and lifting eyes fitted, while on the rear deck a few spare track links are added on the moulded-in fenders along with the usual complement of pioneer tools with moulded-in tie-downs. The driver's deck is also a new part and has a new hatch to be used with all the original hinge and vision block parts, dropping into the aperture in the hull, and leaving the hatch movable. The stowage boxes and other small parts that are sprinkled around the upper hull are also carried over from the Mk.1, with towing cables made up from the braided wire and having styrene eyes at each end. On the engine deck a pair of new filler caps are present in the spaces between the ribs and vents, and these are shown in an overhead scrap diagram because there are no location points on the hull. Also on the engine deck a new exhaust assembly is run down both sides of the sides of the area, with angled protective shrouds covering each one in place of the rather complex-looking assembly of the Mk.1. The turret is much the same as the Mk.1, and is made up from an upper part, lower bustle part, and separate turret ring, onto which the various hatches, sensors and vision ports are affixed. Two sets of smoke grenade launchers attach to the turret sides, a communications wire reel is fitted to the port side, and the shell-ejection port is glued in either the closed or open positions, using a small actuator to obtain the correct angle. The mantlet fixes to a pair of pivots that are added to the front of the turret early on, and the edges of the part are wrapped with PE strips that can be used to fix a canvas mantlet cover on the real thing. The barrel then threads through the hole into the socket, and is made up from two solid sections plus a hollow muzzle, and the new wrap-around sleeve that is split vertically and encases the barrel just aft of the prominent flange. The commander's fancy cupola-cum-sighting-mechanism is new, with some small differences in the cast shape, and the omission of casting serials on the sloped section. The majority of small parts are from the Mk.1, with hatch, lifting eyes, vision blocks and machine gun all reused, but with two additional lifting eyes on the rear of the cupola, which have their location points marked faintly on the rear. The completed assembly fits onto the cupola ring part, and then twists into place, locking to the turret with a bayonet fitting. Also new is the turret basket at the rear of the bustle, which is made up from four styrene parts, and is shown in its final location in a scrap diagram for your ease. 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, new armoured final drive covers installed, and the gun's travel lock added to the rear bulkhead. Markings It's an AFV kit, so the decal sheet is the size of an over-ambitious stamp, and because of the limited colour palette and lack of complexity of the designs, only four colours are used on the sheet. The white is very slightly out of register, evidenced by the slight "shadow" on the right of the yellow decals, and a very slight difference in width of the white outlines on the black 4 triangles. It's nothing of great importance however, as the 4s can be trimmed, and the yellow will doubtless disappear on a green vehicle. Otherwise the decals are well-printed, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion There's something about the bulk of the Conqueror that is even more impressive if you've ever stood near a real one, as it is truly massive. Amusing Hobby have captured that aspect of it very well, and now we have a choice of two variants. I wonder what our chances of the ARV is? Low, I should think, but we can wish, can't we? One thing is for certain, there's a Mk.1 with spaced armour knocking about – a Super Conqueror! Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Available soon from good model shops.
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