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  1. Panzerhaubitzer 2000 - Pzh 2000 in the 1980s the German, Italian and British governments attempted to develop, in collaboration, the next generation of NATO self-propelled Artillery. For various reasons that project failed. Britain pressed on and successfully developed the AS-90 while the Germans pursued their own project which combined the expertise of leading German companies, Wegmann, Krauss-Maffei and Rheinmetall to produce the truly awesome Panzerhaubitze 2000. In the 1990's this was arguably the best Self Propelled Gun in the world and it remains a cutting-edge weapon to this day. Today it is used by several NATO nations including; Germany, Holland, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Croatia and Hungary. The Pzh 2000 features an extremely long - 52 calibre - 155mm gun with a largely automated gun-loading mechanism for very high rates of fire to ranges in excess of 40km. The weapon's fire-control is among the most sophisticated in the world, and allows a single gun to be fired in 'multiple round, simultaneous impact' or MRSI mode. In this mode up to five shells can be fired, each with its own charge and trajectory in such a fashion that all five shells hit the same target at the same moment. The gun is also capable of firing GPS-guided precision rounds with a circular impact error of about 1.5m. The Pzh 2000 has seen a significant amount of action in Afghanistan where both Dutch and German examples have been used to provide fire-support to the International Security Assistance Force. This was the first time that the German Army has used artillery in combat since the end of WW2. One day while on my lunch break (long before all this COVID 19 business broke out) I was checking out a little-visited corner of the local gaming / model / bookshop and found this in among a pile of largely neglected publications. Upon opening the book I was greeted with this fold-out (and there are front and rear views on the flip side too). Now this might just be the most exciting centre-fold I've ever seen. In any case, a few minutes later the book was purchased. About a week later I had decided that this project was going ahead but that 1/35 just wasn't big enough. I took the book to my local printing / copying shop and got the drawings enlarged to 1/24 scale and copied 8 times. I got one 'master set' laminated. And now we are off... Let's scratchbuild one of these things! This is going to be an unusual build for me because much of the work will be done in plastic card, but I want a good solid wooden hull to work from so I'm starting with this block of 'Liquid Ambar' - a superb carving wood - which needs to be cut to the correct size. Here's the first cut of the entire project. Here's the interpreted curve on the leading edge of the hull being marked out... and here it is being carved to shape. Then rasped prior to a final filing and sanding smooth. OK - looks about right. Now I use the bandsaw to cut the wood to exactly the correct width for the hull. The bandsaw! Best tool in the shed! And following a bit of research (especially looking at photos) and some ‘interpretive’ carving and cutting at the rear of the hull I have this basic starting point. After two years of slaving away building a WW1 Biplane (an Avro 504 to be precise) I'm dead keen to work on this project which promises a complete change of subject and modelling method. I hope that some of you will follow along and see what comes of this little venture. Bandsaw Steve
  2. Bundeswehr German Military Present Day 1:35 Master Box Ltd Master Box have seen a market for some well-sculpted, modern mouldings of soldiers for a while now. While WWI and WWII have seen a lot of figure sets recently it seems companies are now catching on with the meed for modern day figures. Master Box have now brought this set out for modern day German Army figures. This set arrives in the de facto standard figure shaped box with a painting of the included figures on the front, and parts breakdown with pictorial instructions on the rear. On opening the end of the box, you're greeted by a re-sealable bag containing one large sprue and one smaller one containing all the parts you'll need to build five figures in fairly relaxed non-combat stances. Contrary to the sprue photos on the back of the box, the styrene is grey, which shows off the contours and captures all the detail that has been included in the kit. Torsos, legs, arms and heads are all separate parts, with webbing also separate for a more realistic in-scale feel, with helmets, weapons and load-out also separate, which gives the modeller some scope for individualising each figure without too much work. The sculpting is first rate, and the sheer detail of each part is stunning, from the smallest pucker in the corner of a bag to belts that cut into the shoulder, plus realistic clothing. Painting shows modern temperate camo, and the dessert camo as worn in the controversial deployment of German troops to Afgahnistan. Conclusion Master Box have a superb range of figures, and this set is both timely and very well done. If you want to add a sense of scale to your modern armour, this set will do just that. A much needed boost for fans of modern German armour. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Leopard A3/A4 1:35 Meng Models After WWII, Germany's limited self-defence forces used American AFVs almost exclusively, but the technology was nearing the end of its service-life and considered not sufficient to meet the new threat of the Soviet horde advancing across Europe during the height of the Cold War. Originally starting as a joint project with France, the French eventually went their own way with the AMX-30, while Germany continued on with a Porsche design that became the Leopard 1. Subsequent upgrades to the design were introduced throughout the various batches, with the A3 variant having a welded turret and composite armour, plus a more streamlined mantlet to deflect shot more effectively. The A4 was externally very similar to the A3, but had some systems upgrades, a reduced round count due to the space taken up by the added equipment, plus a night sight for the commander's exclusive use. The A5 was the last variant to see service, and became the definitive version over time, having a larger turret bustle for ammo storage, improved systems and optics, and the ability to carry bolt-on applique armour. Although some "funnies" are still in service, the majority of Leopard 1s are either phased out or in secondary roles with the majority of users, being replaced by the more modern Leopard 2 in many cases. The Kit After kitting the French AMX-30, it's only natural that the Leopard 1 should be their next MBT project, as they both shared some of the same beginnings. The design must have been well advanced when it was announced, as here it is, in one on Meng's by now standard satin finished boxes with a picture of a Leopard on base, and the three colours of the modern German flag across one corner. Inside the box are the two hull components, turret, plus thirteen sprues of various sizes in a medium green styrene, and another six in brown containing individual track links. A set of rubber-band style tracks are also included for the indi-link phobic, a spruelet of poly-caps, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a length of rope/string, small decal sheet, painting guide and the instruction booklet. Quite a well rounded package, with lots of detail evident on the sprues, including substantial use of slide-moulding to improve detail further. In the bottom of the box is an amazing little piece that is attached to its own little sprue, which is a protective cage for the PZB200 sighting system used on one of the decal options, and is one of the most impressive bits of slide-moulding I've seen so far. Construction is typical of most AFV builds, and starts with adding all the bump-stops and return rollers to the sides of the lower hull, then adding the functional torsion-bar suspension through the holes in the hull, the ends of which lock into sockets on the opposite side. The road wheels are built up next, with each pair trapping a poly-cap between them, as do the drive sprocket and the externally similar idler wheel at the front of the hull. An alternative outer face for the drive sprocket is included for one of the decal options. The wheels push-fit onto the axles, which should make painting and weathering easier, as well as track construction, whichever method you choose. If you prefer the realistic look of the individual links, you will need to make up two runs of 84 links using liquid cement, and wrap them around the road wheels whilst they are still soft, wedging them in place to give the correct amount of sag on the top run. If you haven't yet tried to work with individual links, this kit will be perfect for you, because if you make an unholy mess, you can easily fall back to using the flexible styrene tracks that are also in the box. I believe they can be glued with ordinary styrene glue, but I always opt for the individual links, so can't testify to the strength of the join. The top deck is a single piece, with a cut-out on the engine deck for a grille and PE mesh combination, plus another pair of PE mesh panels at either side of the transition from engine deck to turret ring. The rear bulkhead is a separate panel, and is detailed with various stowage boxes, tools and spare track links, plus the travel lock for the main gun. It and the upper hull are added after the tracks are complete, and a full set of pioneer tools are added from their own dedicated sprue. The side-mounted radiator panels, PE shrouds for the driver's vision blocks, towing shackles and rear mudguards are added at the rear, and the side-skirts can be installed at this point, assuming you've painted the road-wheels and tracks by now. The skirts have a slightly rippled textured finish to them, and have the cut-out footsteps at the bottom of each section, plus turnbuckles that link the panels together. Four towing cable eyes are provided to top and tail two lengths of the supplied string that are used to depict the towing cables. No length is given in the instructions however, so you'll need to test fit the towing eyes on the hull and do a rough measure of the distance to approximate the length first. The turret houses a license built 105mm Royal Ordnance rifled barrel gun that is supplied in styrene that is split vertically down its length, with a short stub muzzle to give a hollow end, so getting the joint perfectly aligned is key. The cooling jacket is moulded in, so care will need to be taken when scraping or sanding the seams after construction. It slots into the hole in the front of the sharply sloped mantlet part, and the choice of searchlight box with optional open or closed front, and/or the PZB200 sighting system is made, attaching to the top of the mantlet along with some grab-handles and lifting eyes. The main turret is in three pieces, the majority of it being the upper half, plus the lower section with built-in turret ring, and the rear panel on the bustle. Inside the upper turret, two sections are added to the front where the mantlet fits, the lower half of the commander's cupola, and a small section of the rear roof, the use for which isn't immediately apparent. Before adding the lower turret and rear bulkhead, the elevation mechanism is built up, with two poly-caps providing friction to enable you to pose the barrel without gluing it in place. Speaking personally, I appreciate this kind of thought, as sometimes you need to move your tanks around your display or diorama base, and being able to adjust it later is good planning. The substantially complete turret is then bedecked with grab handles, more PE vision block shrouds, and sighting gear, plus radio antennae bases, smoke discharger units, and a choice of removing one bump from two moulded into the commander cupola depending on which decal option you are building. The hatches are provided separately, and the commander's is simple, while the loader's is quite complex, and can be posed open or closed by using different hinge parts. There is also an MG3 machine gun on pintle mount for his use, which bears a great family resemblance to the MG42 that is the father of a large proportion of modern machine guns. The mantlet has a canvas shroud to protect the joint between it and the turret body, which clips over the top of the mantlet and has a nicely rendered material finish, with creases and humps that suggest the workings beneath. The final act is to twist the turret into the turret ring that is then held in place through most of its traverse by a pair of bayonet style lugs moulded into the ring. Markings The painting and decaling booklet is four pages, and gives you four choices of markings from the small decal sheet included in the box. As usual the decals are printed by Cartograf, and are of excellent quality with their trademark matt carrier film cropped close to the designs. Colour density, register and sharpness are excellent, and you can build one of the following four vehicle from the box: 1A3 2nd Squadron 304th Panzer Battalion, German Bundeswehr Mid 1980s – NATO green/black/brown camo turret number 363 1A3 4th Squadron 301st Panzer Battalion, German Bundeswehr 1980s – all over dark green turret number 544 1A4 4th Squadron 293rd Panzer Battalion, German Bundeswehr 1980s – all over dark green turret number 422 1A4(GR) Hellenic Army – four colour green/brown/black/beige camo with Greek flag on the turret sides Conclusion I'm already a fan of Meng, whether the subject has wings, wheels or tracks, and this release has done nothing to dent my confidence in them. Detail is excellent, construction simple, and the inclusion of both types of tracks adds appeal and ensures that people won't be put off buying it because they don't like one or the other type. Markings are different enough to appeal, with two choices that include camo, with the differences also extending to fitment of equipment between options, which shows attention to detail. I hope we see some more Cold War German armour from Meng in due course. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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