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Found 212 results

  1. F-35A "7 Nations Air Force" 1:72 Academy The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, sometimes also known by the name of the American led multi-national Joint Strike Fighter program to which it owes its existence, is a fifth generation multi-role aircraft. The Lockheed X-35 prototype first flew in 2000 and went on to win a competitive process ahead of the rival Boeing X-32 design. There are three variants of the F-35, the A, which is the conventional land-based strike fighter, the B, which is the navalised VSTOL model equipped with a lift fan, and the C, which is the navalised cat & trap variant fitted with arrestor gear and a larger wing. Although the programme has its critics, there is no doubt that the F-35 is potent aircraft, packed with cutting edge technology, the latest avionics and weapons systems and low-observable design. It has two internal bays that can be used to carry munitions, as well as six external hard-points for when stealth is a lesser consideration. Despite being a relatively new design, the F-35 has been well served by kit manufacturers. Italeri produced the X-35 and then the F-35A, while Fujimi, Hasegawa and Kitty Hawk have also produced kits. This kit from Academy was first released in 2013 and was moulded in multiple colours. The box top of this version suggests it is still moulded in multiple colours, but unless there's something wrong with my eyes, the contents suggests otherwise. The other difference between this version of the kit and the original version is the inclusion of markings for no fewer than seven different users of the F-35A. Regardless of their colour, the parts are all nicely moulded and surface detail is fine and dandy. In common with most kits of modern, blended wing aircraft, the fuselage is split horizontally with the wings moulded in place. The cockpit is composed of a tub, control stick (side mounted, like the F-16), and eight (yes eight) part Martin Baker Mk.16 ejection seat and instrument panel. As well as fitting the cockpit inside the fuselage, the large ordnance bay and landing gear bays must also be fitted in place, as well as the engine air intakes. These parts are nicely detailed and moulded, but parts are provided to build the aircraft with these bays closed up if you can't be bothered to paint all the fiddly bits. If you do finish the model with the bay open, it has plenty of structural detail and pylons are included for the supplied ordnance. The external pylons are also present and correct, which is a nice touch. The landing gear is nicely detailed, with the main gear legs made up of four parts each. The wheel hubs are moulded separatelt from the tyres and are nicely detailed. The tyres have flat spots moulded in place. The horizontal tails are one-piece affairs, as are the vertical tails. The engine exhaust is a two-part jobby which just slides in through the opening in the rear of the fuselage. A full range of ordnance is provided, including: 2 x AIM-9X air-to-air missiles; 2 x AIM-120C air-to-ai missles; 2 x GBU-31 2000lb JDAM; and 4 x GBU-38 500lb JDAM. All are really very nice indeed and will easily old their own against aftermarket resin items. The canopy is nicely moulded but it would have been nice to have a tinted version, like the odd but appealing Fujimi kit. As you may have guessed by now, seven options are provided on the original decal sheet: Republic of Korea Air Force 18-001, 17th Wing, Luke AFN, Arizona, USA, July 2018 United States Air Force 14-5106, 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill AFB, Utah, USA, October 2017; Israeli Air Force 901, 140 Squadron, Nevatim Air Base, Israel, December 2016; Italian Air Force 32-01, 32 Stormo, 13 Gruppo, Cameli Air Base, Italy, February 2016; Royal Australian Air Force A35-001, 75th Squadron, Williamstown Airbase, Australia, March 2018; Royal Netherlands Air Force F-001, Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, May 2016; and Royal Norwegian Air Force 13-5087, 331 Squadron, Orland Air Force Station, Norway, November 2017. All of the aircraft are finished in overall dark grey. The decals themselves look thin and glossy and full markings for the RAM are included. Conclusion Kits of modern aircraft such as the F-22, F-35 and PAK-FA tend to be relatively simple affairs due to the relatively simple design of these aircraft. This can make them - dare I say it - a little bit boring to build. This is a nicely detailed kit however, and with the internal weapons bay and the full range of ordnance, it provides pretty much everything you could want to built a really nice replica of an Lightning II. The inclusion of decals for the RAM is also pretty helpful. Recommend. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Avro 671 Rota Mk.I RAF (41008) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd There was a time when the Autogyro was looked at with great promise but the never materialised, The Avro 671 was a license built Cierva C.30 designed by Juan de la Cieva. This was built from the fuselage of the Avro Cadet biplane and used an Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major engine. Lift was provided by an 11.3m diameter 3 bladed rotor. The RAF purchased 12 of these under to equip the school of Army Co-operation. It was to be used for observation and light duties but was not taken any further in this role. It was the invention or Radar which was to find a wartime use for the 671. In order to calibrate the Chain Home stations the RAF needed an aircraft which could fly very slowly on a pre-defined heading and altitude. The RAF formed Flight 1448 at RAF Duxford to preform these duties. This later become 529 Sqn at RAF Halton. Post war 592 Sqn was disbanded and the gyro copters sold off. One of these was sold to Sweden and purchased back by the RAF Museum. The Kit Until now I don't think there has been a kit of this in 1.35 scale. The kit is upto Minart's modern standards; there are 4 main sprues, 4 smaller sprues, a small clear spure and a sheet of photoetch in the box. Even in 1.35 scale this is not a large kit. Construction starts with the front mounted radial engine. The cylinder banks are made up with the exhaust and collector ring being added. Ancillary parts are then attached to the engine and it is put aside for later. Construction then moves to the interior/cockpit. The two seats are made up complete with PE seatbelts. These then attach to their mounting frames. Onto the cockpit floor are mounted the rudder pedals and control column. Additional controls are added to the side frames and then these frames can be attached to the cockpit floor. Front and rear control panels are then added. The seats are added in and then the side frames added. The cockpit can then be closed up inside the main fuselage, Next up the mount for the rotor blades is made up and attached to the fuselage. The tail wheel assembly is added as are the tailplanes. At the front the engine cowl are is made up. The engine and its propeller are then added. The landing gear struts are made up and the wheels are added. Lastly the rotor blades are made up and added, these can either be in the flying or stowed positions. Markings There are four decal options provided on the sheet From the box you can build one of the following: K4230 used on HMS Courageous in the 1930s K4235 RAF Training use 1939-40 AP516 1448 Flight RAF Halton 1942 DR627 529 Sqn RAF Halton 1943-44 Decals are printed by DecoGraph and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a really nice rendition of this unusual but important aircraft. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. US Bulldozer (38022) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Bulldozers have been around in construction since the 1920s however the term Bulldozer came from the 30s as before that they were called Bullgraders. The Blade (the curved front piece) peels layers of earth of and pushes it forwards. Tracks were introduced really with the Caterpillar company. The Kit This kit is a Caterpillar D7, however there is no information in the instructions on this (probably for licencing), given the different types of jerrycan available I would hazard a guess also that its post war. The kit arrives on 36 sprues, a small PE fret and a small decal sheet. Construction begins with the engine which is the heart of the machine. As this is visible it is a small kit on its own with a large number of parts. The engine and its transmission take up the first 3 pages of the instruction booklet and complete with the radiator fit into the front part of the chassis which builds up around it. The left and right track roller assemblies are then built up with a complex assembly including the wheels and track tensioning system. Next the driver area is built up over the engine/transmission area and the roller assemblies are attached to each side. the radiator grill is then added at the front and the side plates for the operator entry are added. Next up the complicated looking winch arrangement which moves the blade is made up and added. This fits at the rear of the cab and goes over it, with the cab roof being added. The tracks are added at this stage each link has 4 parts! and there are 36 each side. The last stage is to construct the large bulldozer blade and it supporting structure. The blade can be fitted straight on or with an offset to the left or right as needed. Markings As it's a civilian vehicle very little in the way of markings are supplied. Taken from MiniArt's website Conclusion This is an important piece of US construction equipment which miniart have made an excellent kit of. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. US M911 C-HET With M747 Heavy Equipment Semi-Trailer (85519) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Any army requires transporters for their heavy equipment, and in the US this is abbreviated to HET, which stands for Heavy Equipment Transport, so you hear the use of the phrase applied to a number of heavy-haulers. Tank transport is particularly heavy, with your average M1 Abrams weighing in around 60 tons. The M911 tractor unit was a product of the 70s and was initially paired with a trailer that had previously been used with the M746 that the M911 replaced. During the Gulf War the M911 saw extensive use pulling Abrams tanks from battle to battle, which exposed weaknesses in the tractor's mechanicals that led to its replacement by the M1070, from the same Oshkosh stable. The easiest way of telling them apart is the more streamlined grille of the M1070, versus the square shape of the M911. The Kit This is a completely new tooling from Hobby Boss, and arrives shortly after Meng have done the very same combo. It arrives in a large sturdy cardboard box, and once you open it up, you're greeted by a pretty comprehensive package: Their are 10 spures of caramac plastic, 1 clear spure, 3 cab parts, 1 large trailer bed part, 13 large tyres, 17 small tyres, 3 sheets of PE, chain, rope and cable as well as decals & masks for the cab windows. Construction starts with the cab chassis. Various arts are built up at first including the transmission, air reservoir, cross beams, and differentials. These parts can then be fitted into the chassis rails . Onto these are then added the parts for the suspension units. Once made up these and their power shafts are added to the chassis. The fuel tanks and side lockers are then built up and added. The wheels can then be built up and added. At the front the radiator units is added. Construction then moves onto the cab. Seats are made up and added to the cab floor. The dash is made up along with the steering column and this is added to the main cab unit. The floor is then added to the cab. The doors and various parts such as the mirrors, wipers, lights etc are added. The bonnet is then added and the cab can be added to the chassis. The bumper and grill can then be added at the front. Tot the side the air cleaner is added. To the rear of the cab the large winch and motor are made up and added, along with the spare wheel carrier and 5th wheel plate. PE mud flaps are added to the back. The exhaust and its PE shroud are fitted. Construction then moves onto the trailer. The lower fame work is made up from two side parts and the many cross members, plus rear support frame. The lower frame can then be added into the single part top frame. The air reservoirs are built up and added in. Side reinforcement plates are then added in in the underside. Also on the underside a mass of small parts are then added. The trailer axles are made up and added. These are followed by the wheels. The landing legs are made up and added to the front of the trailer. On the bed of the trailer the central bed plates are added along the rear loading ramps. The chain is to hold these ramps up. The trailer can then be added to the truck. Markings Despite this being a big model, it has a smallish decal sheet. markings are provided for 4 units; 257th Transportation Company (Dessert Yellow overall) 1st Armoured Division, 708th Support Battalion (Camo unit, Overall green trailer) 1st Armoured Division, 708th Support Battalion (Overall green truck & trailer) 2123rd Transportation Company (overall camo truck & trailer) Conclusion It's not a pocket-money kit by any stretch of the imagination, but the effort, attention to detail and care that has gone into the design makes it a worthy addition to your stash. Once built up it will make an impressive model. Online this Kit is fully 2/3 the price of the Meng Version. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. S-300V 9A83 SAM System (09519) 1:35 Trumpeter via Creative Models The S-300V (V for ground forces) has the NATO reporting name SA-12 Gladiator/Giant. It is different from other members of the S-300 family in that it was built by Antey instead of Almaz and its missiles were designed by NPO Novator. It is designed to form the top tier of Air Defence forces which can engage Ballistic Missiles & cruise missiles as well as aircraft. The missiles have a range 100km and can attain altitudes of 32km. Unlike other system which use the S-300 designation the S-300V is carried on tracked carriers making it more mobile. This vehicle not only transports the missiles but can fire them and provide radar illumination and guidance. The 9A82 holds two Giant missiles and the 9A83 four Gladiator missiles. The 9A82 is a more dedicated ABM platform. The radar on the vehicle can work independently or in receive target information from a variety of other systems, it is also capable of working in a totally passive mode. The system is believed to be very resistant to jamming. The Kit First impressions are excellent. This is a new kit from Trumpeter and there is certainly a great deal of plastic in the box. There are the two main casting for the hull, the two part radar mast, 4 single part missile tubes. 4 missiles, 19 sprues of grey plastic, 5 track sprues, a clear sprue, 2 sheets of PE, a length of brass wire, a sheet of masks for the clear parts (not shown); and a set of decals. The instructions are complex and jump about a bit; however you essentially have 3 kits, the main hull, the antenna mast; and the missile tubes. At the start of the build the modeller will need to decide if the model is to be in the travelling mode, or firing mode. The instructions on this point are a bit vague as to how to set thing up in the firing mode. Construction starts with the main body. Two idler wheels, two drive sprockets and 14 road wheels are built up. Next we start adding suspension parts to the lower hull as well as the return rollers for the track. Once the mounting points and suspension arms are in place the wheels can be fitted, followed by the tracks. There are 93 links per side each with a guide horn to attach, each link having 4 attachments points. these are link and length. There is a track jig on each track sprue. however on doing a short run they are easier to manipulate without using the jig. Bending them round the wheels and sprockets will be fun tho! To complete the lower hull the front cab is built up and installed. This is the only interior which comes with the kit. Moving on to the upper hull internal equipment consoles are installed in the front cab area. The externally PE grills are mounted for the engines, and a whole host of smaller external fittings and fixtures are added. along with what looks like an armoured cab roof, Exhausts are added along with the cab doors (which can be left open). The hulls can then be fixed together and external light fittings added along with mud guards. Finally the side skirts are added. This in effect finishes the main hull. Next up the antenna mast can be built up. Two major parts make up the main body of the mast. The main antenna dish is then made up at the top of the mast along with its mounting platform. The lowering and raising rams are then attached and it can be mounted to the main body. Next up the missiles and their launch tubes can be made up. 4 single part hollow missile tubes are provided and 4 complete missiles. The missiles are made up from 4 main parts each with a few additional parts. The modeller can put all these in the tubes and leave them open or mix and match as they want. One could even be built and displayed in front for the kit? The tubes and missiles are impressive mouldings which show how far kit manufactures can go with new technology these days. The 4 tubes have a variety of external fittings added along with the top and bottom doors. Next up the cradles (left & right) for holding the tubes can be built up. As can be seen from the pictures this is complex multi part arrangement of the lifting frame/cradle. These are attached to a large lifting frame which in turn attaches to the hull. The missile tubes are then attached to the frames. Markings A small sheet of decals provides markings for the tubes and hull. Two marking options are provided; a Russian Green, and a camouflaged version. The decals look sharp and in register on the sheet. Conclusion This is an impressive kit with a high parts count not for the novice modeller. The quality of the parts looks first class and the kit is let down a little by the poor instructions. A nice touch is the inclusion of a small booklet of photos of the real thing in order to help the modeller. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  6. German VK.30.01(P) Hobbyboss 1:35 The VK 30.01 (P) was the official designation for a medium tank prototype proposed in Germany. Two prototype hulls were made. The tank never entered serial production, but was further developed into the VK 4501 Tiger (P). The VK 30.01 (P) was sometimes known, and referred to, as the Porsche Typ 100. The requirements for the new development of a 30-tonne schwere Panzerkampfwagen included the ability to mount at least the 7.5 cm KwK L/24 main gun with a desire to fit the 10.5 cm KwK L/28 if possible. Later, in 1941, the German Army encountered —unexpectedly— heavily armoured enemy vehicles such as the Soviet T-34 and KV-1. Plans were then made to instead mount the more effective 8,8 cm KwK L/56. Krupp were directly contracted by Porsche to produce the turret to house the 8,8 cm KwK L/56 and the two teams worked together to develop it for the VK 30.01 (P) chassis. A fully developed drawing with the Krupp turret was completed, dated 5 March 1941. The Krupp turret would be used on both the Porsche and the Henschel Tiger. Uncommon for tanks at the time, Porsche selected a gasoline-electric drive. The front drive sprockets for the tracks were driven by two electric motors mounted forward in the hull. Two air cooled V-10 gasoline engines, mounted toward the rear of the vehicle, were each connected to a generator to produce electricity. The generated electricity was then used to power the motors. Each engine produced 210 PS at 2500 RPM; giving a total of 420 PS available to drive the generators. The model The kit comes in the standard stly of box we’re used to from Hobbyboss with an artist’s impression of the tank on the front. Inside there are four sprues and three separate parts in the Caramac coloured styrene, five sprues of dark, browny coloured styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a small decal sheet. The mouldings are well up to their usual standards with no sign of flash or other imperfections, just a few moulding pips to clean up before use. The thinness of the instruction booklet shows that, besides the tracks the build will be a fairly simple one. Construction begins with a number of sub assemblies, notably the suspension arms, idler axles, road wheels, return rollers, drive sprockets and idler wheels. The suspension and axles, along with the drive gearbox covers are then glued to the lower hull which is a single piece moulding with some nice detail on the underside, which unfortunately you won’t see once complete. The road wheels, drive sprockets, idler wheels and return rollers are then glued into their respective positions along with two large tow piece brackets onto the rear plate. The tracks are now assembled from individual links,, now, each link is attached to the sprue by five gates, so there will be plenty of cleanup required before they can be glued together, 78 link per side. Personally I don’t like this style of fixing the links together and will probably by aftermarket metal tracks for when I build this. With the tracks fitted, I would normally leave this till the end of the build to aid painting, but since I’m going by the instructions will stick with it. Inside the lower hull just forward of the rear plate there is a support bulkhead fitted, while on the plate the two, six piece exhausts are assembled and glued into place. Moving onto the upper hull, the two track guards are fitted with PE sections on the inboard fronts before the guards are glued to the hull, as are the four hatches on the engine decking. Tow more large towing brackets are glued to the lower glacis plate and the additional armour plate fitted to the driver and gunner’s positions. On the engine deck there are four PE grilles to be fitted while and either end to the track guards, large angled support brackets are attached. The driver’s vision port and gunners four piece machine gun are glued into position. The turret comes as a single piece section to which the rof is attached, along with the commanders ten piece cupola and four piece gunners hatch. The mantlet is a two part unit which is then fitted with the co-axial machine gun and trunnion mounts and the whole assembly glued to the front face of the turret. The cartridge exit door is glued to the rear of the turret, and the three piece gun with another three pieces making up the fume extractor is glued into the mantlet. The completed turret is then fitted to the hull completing the build. Decals. The small decal sheet contains just a pair of German crosses and two sets of individual numbers from 0 to 9 so that you can make up your own identifying number for the turret side. Conclusion This would be a nice simple kit from Hobbyboss, if it wasn’t for the way the individual track links are assembled, that said the whole kit could be built in a weekend and would make a pretty good mojo reviver. While the vehicle never went into series production there are no reasons why the modeller couldn’t detail it up with pioneer tools and other equipment and use it in a diorama or vignette. Review sample courtesy of
  7. German Rockets 28cm WK SPR & 32cm WK Flamm (35316) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd These were spin-stabilised rockets that carried either high explosive warheads in the smaller diameter, or 50 litres of an incendiary mix of oil for the larger 32cm rocket. They were both suspended in wooden crates of the same dimensions, so they were interchangeable without any adaptation to the launch device. The rockets were launched by an electric signal, and due to their rather noxious vapour trail the name nebelwerfer literally means "smoke bomb". These weapons were used in ground-standing framework launchers, or attached to the side of a half-track, which gained the nickname Stuka zu Fuß, "Stuka on foot". Their smoke trails made it likely that they would attract return fire, so mobility was key, which led to the more easily transported versions finding favour, and the self-propelled half-track version even more so. The Kit We reviewed one of the launch options here recently, and if you need some more for a resupply truck diorama or to augment one of the other launch options, then read-on. The box contains 36 sprues in grey styrene, of which 24 contain parts for the crates, and 12 for the rockets, but in case you were thinking that doesn't add up, there are two rockets on each sprue but only one crate. The crates are made up with runners at the rear that holds the narrow cylindrical rear section of the rockets stable, and in the case of the smaller 28cm rockets, a set of adapter rails reduces the crate's internal dimensions to suit. As you have probably guessed, you can build 12 of each crate. The rockets are assembled in the same manner regardless of diameter, with two halves trapping a protruding ignition cap at the front, and a separate hollow exhaust at the rear. Again, you can build 12 of each for their accompanying crates. Markings The small sheet of decals is used on the rockets and their cases, with their positions shown on the painting diagram at the rear of the booklet. The rounds are all painted olive green, but their crates can be Dark Yellow, German Grey or bare wood. Highly recommended Review sample courtesy of
  8. Grant Mk.I (35276) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Grant eschewed the mini-turret on the commander's cupola that resulted in a reduction in height and a minor simplification of construction and maintenance for very little loss in flexibility, due to the coaxially mounted Browning machine gun in the turret. It was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and have expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The primary changes in this boxing are the inclusion of a new cast turret with no machine-gun turret-let on top, and the inclusion of British equipment inside and around the exterior. We've come to expect great things from miniArt's new kits and of course this one is no different with a ton of detail included The original release we reviewed here was the full interior kit, now for those of us who dont build full interior kits (like myself) we have the great kit without all of that stuff. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 54 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, 2 sprues of equipment/tarps; and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The side plates are added and then the top sponsors. To the rear the engine compartment is built up, the doors are fitted along with the exhausts. At the front additional plates over the drive shafts are added. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, however as there is no interior best close them up! The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Two large bins for the rear are then built up. When we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and a small armoured "skirt" protects the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The Grant's suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return wheel at the top, and there are three per side. The wheels with their moulded-in rubber tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. Mike built a test section up with the interior kit, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. With the tracks in place, the side skirts can be installed and the additional stowage boxes can be fabricated from their parts and attached to the hull with PE brackets, their shape conforming to the surfaces that they are placed on. The side skirts are finished off with mudguards at the rear by boxing in the tops of the track runs. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull, then the single-part main gun barrel is nipped from the sprues, has its seamlines removed and is joined to the optional two-part blast-bag that has excellent realistic-looking canvas wrinkle and sag moulded in. We're still not quite ready for the turret though, as there are a number of PE parts stretching the length of the side-skirts which are used to hang additional stowage in the real thing. These fit onto small depressions on the sides of the hull, and scrap diagrams show the correct way to fold the perpendicular front sections. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. The barrel fits to the mantlet and the turret halves joined, the aerials are then added. Next up is the reduced height British spec cupola with grab handles and a choice of open or closed hatch with periscope in the port door. The commander's .30cal weapon is mounted on a curved fitting on the front of the turret and is fitted with a drum magazine that has moulded-in bullets plus a separate short length that feeds into the breech, sandwiched between the two end-caps with built in mounting frame. A studded bezel is installed in the top rim along with the hatches. The turret can then be fitted. There are additional parts for British Army specific stowage included in the box, which is good to see as a personalised model often looks better than a basic kit. Their locations and colour are shown on separate colour diagrams that can be found at the front of the painting diagrams. Decals There are a generous 7 options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, split between camouflaged, green and sand coloured vehicles, as the Grant and Lee served mainly in warmer climes. Considering this is an armour kit the sheet is relatively large due to the number of options. From the box you can build one of the following: British Army, Royal Armoured Corps. 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, Egypt 1942. British Army, unidentified unit, Middle East 1942. British Army, 7th Armoured Division, El Alamein, July 1942 British Army, unidentified unit, North Africa 1942. British Army, Royal Scots Grey, 4th Armoured Brigade, Western Desert, Oct 1942. British Army, 7th Armoured Division, El Alamein, Oct/Nov 1942 Polish Land Forces, 2nd (Warsaw) Polish Armoured Brigade, Palestine 1943. Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed area Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Grant as it was supplied to and used by the British Army. The detail incorporated in styrene even without the interior is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Soviet Jeep Crew Special Edition (35313) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models LtdChoose... This boxed set with additional sprues for weapons is a new one from MiniArt for crewing your Soviet WWII era vehicles, with a full crew for a jeep and a matronly traffic direction lady with flags to aid the troops in their journey. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box, with five sprues of grey styrene and a small slip of paper that gives parts locations for use in conjunction with the instructions that are printed on the rear of the box. Two of the sprues contain parts for five figures that are broken down in to separate heads, torso, legs and arms, plus skirt parts for the female of the species. These sprues also contain a number of PPsH machine guns, pouches and bags, a Mosin–Nagant M1891/30 rifle and the aforementioned flags. On the other sprues are various accessory items including another two M1819/30 rifle, a shorter barrelled M1938 carbine, all of which have separate receiver tops with moulded-in bolts and a single sniper-scope that would be best suited to the longer-barrelled weapons. On another sprue two more PPsHs are found with a variety of drum and stick mags in and out of carry-pouches, and on the final sprue a number of types of pistol, flare pistols, holsters, folios, binoculars and their cases are provided, which would typically be stored around the vehicle by its occupants. Painting instructions as well as building details are printed on the rear of the box with numbers in blue corresponding to a chart which converts between Vallejo, Mr Color, LifeColor, Tamiya, AK, Mission Models and Hataka, as well as having swatches and colour names. The painting guide also extends to the weapons and accessories, which is good to see. Overall a well-sculpted set with plenty of detail and accessories to add value. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. German Panzer Tank crew - Normandy 1944 (84401) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Panzers need crews, and most kits don't include them so if you want to add some human scale to your model you'll need some figures. That's where figure sets come in, and styrene injection moulded figures are the most cost-effective way to get hold of a themed set, which is why there are so many out there. This set depicts a German panzer crew during the late war, specifically Normandy 1944 around the time of D-Day. The set arrives in a standard figure-sized box and inside is a single sprue in sand-coloured styrene containing parts for five figures, only one of which is cut at the waist to fit in confined hatches. They're a re-release of the Tristar set that originates in the early noughties, and like their other boxes we've reviewed they're pretty well done and pocket friendly. The half figure gives the impression of being stood with one elbow resting on the hatch edge, as does the seated driver type figure who does have legs. Two more figures are stood in a feet-together pose with their hand(s) on the edge of a hatch with one wearing a commander's cap and black uniform while the other is in camouflaged overalls. The final figure in the set is an officer with riding jodhpurs, peaked cap and ironwork on his chest, with a standing pose indicating he's on the tank deck or standing on the ground. In addition to the pistol holsters a set of maps are included as decoration, and these cap be found printed on the side flaps of the box. The instructions printed on the back of the box tell you to soak them in water and peel the printed surface from the card backing, then trim and fold them to your satisfaction, which is a nice touch and cleverly executed. Sculpting of the figures is good, with parts breakdown assisting with the hiding of seams and separate heads giving a little flexibility in pose along with the arm parts. Oddly, the best detail appears on the "rear" of the sprues which is why there are two photos of the one sprue. It's an odd way of doing things, but a non-issue in practice. The instructions are printed on the back of the box as already mentioned, and the parts and colours are both pointed out on each figure in relation to a table of codes for Mr Hobby, Acrysion, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol shades, which should cover most of us. In addition there are small samples of the camouflage patterns that were used by this stage of the war, which will be fun to paint unless you pick up some camo decals that are becoming popular for achieving complex camouflage patterns these days. Check out eBay if you're interested. Conclusion A welcome re-boxing of a good set. Five (4.5) figures for a good price with good detail. If you have a Panzer you'd like to fit out with a crew for whatever reason (do you even need one?), these a great, cost-effective way of doing just that. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. British Army Husky TSV (VS-009) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models Navistar International's (formerly International Trucks) militarised version of their XT is the basis for this heavily upgraded vehicle that is fitted with an armour package to protect it against small arms fire, mines and IEDs, and then further adapted to the British Army's specification as a Tactical Support Vehicle. It first saw service in 2009 in Afghanistan, and is intended to support light armoured vehicles in combat, and can be configured as an Ambulance, Command post or Utility Vehicle. It seats four which includes the two crew (driver and commander), and is four-wheel drive to ensure performance on rough ground in all conditions, with the ballistic protection extending to glazing, which must please its crew no-end! The frame is strong, and the hull angled to reduce the impact of mines and IEDs, as is common amongst M-ATVs of modern design. As is the current fashion with the MoD, it was given the name Husky in a similar manner as its stablemates the 6-wheeled monster Wolfhound and smaller Coyote, which are more suited to supporting larger AFVs. There are over 300 units in British service now, which is capable of up to 70mph on good ground thanks to its 340bhp 6-litre V8 diesel power plant. It is broadly similar to the American MXT-MV, but it has a catchier name, plus of course the UK specific equipment fit. The Kit A complete new tooling from Meng's Velociraptor range, and it would make sense to expect a number of other boxings for other configurations and operators, but at this stage that's mere speculation on my part. The kit is cocooned in one of their smaller sized boxes, and inside are six sprues and three separate parts in sand coloured-styrene, a clear sprue, four flexible plastic wheels, four poly-caps, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet and instruction booklet with separate colour profiles sheet. This boxing allows the modeller to build a utility vehicle, which doesn't sound all that exciting, but that's a fairly dull description of such a tough vehicle with a big 12.7mm machine gun in a mounting on the roof, and its uses are much more varied than the title suggests. Detail is excellent, and the sprues contain parts for a highly detailed model, with only the engine missing, which is no big deal due to the armoured nature of its compartment rendering it invisible other than during maintenance. Construction begins with the chunky chassis, which has two levels and raised sections to accommodate the suspension and steering equipment. The big double shock absorbers are fitted front and rear, while the front suspension is fitted, which has the steering rack buried within, and can be left mobile with care. The rear suspension has a big transfer box and armour around it, with pegs holding it to the rear frame, and is joined by accessories, front inner wheel-wells and the rear axles. The engine compartment is moulded with bonnet/hood moulded into the fenders, to which the front light clusters, radiator grille with deep louvres, and vents are added before it is dropped into place over the empty lower of the compartment. A short bumper/fender backing panel, air-box, and mudflaps are attached first, then joined by a rather chunky-looking and angular bumper, which has IED countermeasures and stowage built into it, and has a couple of towing lugs hanging from the through-beams. The crew cab seats four and begins as an L-shaped panel to which a detail insert is added at the rear, and it is then detailed with equipment racks that fit to the centre transmission tunnel, with a PE skinned weapon station footplate in between the two racks. The front seats are made up with their adjustment rails beneath them, and a pair of moulded-in crew belts should be picked out in the suggested colour. The aft seats are less substantial and have supports beneath them, plus suspension mounts from above, slotting into pins and lugs in the floor. Then the cab itself is built up from the external shell, to which the interior skin is added, with grab-handles and equipment fitted before the two are married up. A circular turret access panel is sandwiched between the two layers with no glue so that it can be rotated later on, with the turret fitted later. The instrument panel is well-detailed, and has a modern cowled steering-wheel and pedal box added along with a large number of binnacle and control decals to further improve the look. This fixes into the front of the cab shell, and is joined by more equipment before it is joined with the cab floor and chairs. With the windscreen glazing installed and scuttle panel with moulded-in windscreen wipers added, the cab is then mated with the chassis and secured by aligning the long tabs with the lugs on the underside of the cab. Two runs of crew steps on an angled running board are affixed to the outer sides of the cab, and the armoured doors are fabricated from outer panels with glazing insert, plus the inner panel "door cards", handles and wing mirrors in the case of the front doors, with matching handles on the inside. A couple of stencil decals are applied to the doors along the way, then they can be glued to the cab in the open or closed position, or any combination of those positions, noting that the rear doors hinge backwards. Going back to the crew steps, you might notice from our Walkaround pictures that sometimes the drop-steps aren't fitted, so check your references there, and leave them off if your chosen Husky doesn't have them. The small rear windows have external armoured glass, so are fitted later, along with a lot of sensors, antennae, and self-defence equipment. The turret has a shallow (a little too shallow for safety IMHO) upstand moulded into its base, and the weapons mount projects forward of the main assembly on an A-frame to which a splinter shield and GPMG "Jimpy" is mounted with stowage for two ammo boxes. The hinged hatch as the rear further protects the gunner's back when he is in position, and prevents grenades from being tossed inside when shut, and can be fitted open or closed, then it is glued to the rotating roof panel, which you did leave mobile, didn't you? Now it's time to assemble the short aft load-carrying section of the vehicle, which has more than a little bit of stowage in its shallow flatbed. An internal floor is added to detail the area, and front/rear panels are installed, with rear light clusters filling the narrow areas to the sides of the tailgate. It is added to the chassis via tabs, and then it's time to put wheels on your wagon. The four hubs are moulded as two halves, with a poly-cap hidden inside, then pushed through the bead in the rubbery tyres. The front and rear hubs are different, so take care with their location. You might also be interested to know that Meng have created an aftermarket set of resin tyres with engineered-in sag and the hubs moulded into the centre, which some folks will want almost certainly. You'll find that review at the bottom of this one. You'd think that would be pretty much the end of things, but this is a very detailed model, so there is still some work to do, creating the additional stowage racks on the sides of the load bay, with perforated steel panels (PSP) strapped to the inner side. A roll-over frame is then fixed to the rear, with more equipment attached to the tops, including some disc antennae and a radio mast base, storage boxes and jerry cans are added to the side stowage rack on both sides, and only then are you finished if you're stopping short of adding your own personalisations. Markings A lot of the decals are used along the way, detailing the interior, but there are still quite a few stencils applied to the exterior, offering hints at tyre pressures, turning directions of door handles etc., plus of course the army format number plates, and a few prominent NO STEP stencils on the bonnet and fenders to prevent heavy-footed squaddies from knackering body panels. Only one scheme is given, as the Husky has only been seen wearing the desert camo as yet, and colours are called out in the collaborative Meng AK shades and Acrysion colours, which is the new range from Mr Hobby. The colour names are also given in a table at the rear of the instructions, so conversion to any other range shouldn't be too taxing. The decals are made in China, and although they're in good register and colour density, they're not quite as sharp as Meng's usual decal printers, Cartograf would have been, with some of the smaller stencils, particularly the white on red being a little fuzzy and illegible. It's not a massive problem as they're very small anyway, and once given even a light coating of weathering, it'll blend right in. Conclusion It's good to have one of the Army's more recent vehicles in 1:35 before it reaches its 30th birthday or retires! The detail is excellent throughout, and unless you're the 1 in 10,000 that would have opened up the engine bay for a maintenance diorama, the lack of engine is hardly noticed. Clever moulding makes construction easier and detail better, with the availability of resin tyres from Meng's own aftermarket catalogue great news if you're after more detail and want to crack on. Having compared them side-by-side they're certainly worth looking at, so watch out for my review below. Extremely highly recommended. British Army Husky TSV Sagged Wheel Set (SPS-064) 1:35 Meng Model via Creative Models You've probably just finished reading the review of the new Husky kit above, but in case you haven't, scroll up to the top and come back in a minute when you've finished - it's a rather nice kit. The wheels supplied with the kit are perfectly adequate for the job consisting of flexible plastic tyres and styrene hubs, but when compared to these resin replacements they come a poor second due to the crispness of the resin. Arriving in a small box, there are four tyres on casting blocks, with individual "fingers" landing on tread blocks to reduce the amount of clean-up. They're a simple drop-in replacement for the kit hubs and tyres, and as you can see they offer so much more in the way of detail, as well as the aforementioned crispness. There are two moulds, marked as 1 and 2, as the front and rear wheels have slightly different centre bosses to their hubs, as well as having their tyres at a different orientation so things look a bit more naturalistic, and while they're not a cheap upgrade, they are definitely awesome. As usual with resin, take the precaution of wearing a mask when cutting or sanding resin, as the tiny particles are harmful to your health if breathed in. Washing the parts in warm water or isopropyl alcohol will also improve the adhesion of paint, as there may still be some moulding release agent on the parts when you receive them. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Garage Workshop (35596) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Garage workshops are places where you'll find tons of tools, shelves, tool boxes and all sorts, usually covered in muck and rust. During WWII garages sometimes got overrun by troops or pressed into use as temporary military workshops, and if they weren't co-opted to help the military they were likely to be used by the few vehicles still running during a period where fuel was usually a scarce commodity due to the needs of the military. The Kit This set arrives in a small shrink-wrapped top-opening box and inside are 14 sprues in grey styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a small decal sheet and an instruction sheet printed on both sides of a glossy A4 sheet. As well as a few instructions for the more complicated assemblies there are also posters printed in colour that can be cut out and stuck to the walls of your intended diorama, plus a colour rendering from the box art pointing out all the parts, their colours and where to place the decals on some of the cans and containers. Some of the sprues will be familiar if not identical to others from this range and there are a wide selection of items to populate your model. From the box you can build the following: 2 x fuel drums, one ribbed, the other with two ribs 1 x manual pump unit 1 x jack-stand 1 x bench-mounted grinder with two wheels 1 x pillar drill 1 x wooden tool box 1 x 2-man wood saw 1 x anvil 2 x bench vice (2 types) 3 x square fuel can of various sizes 1 x triangular profile oil can 1 x compressor 1 x hand saw 1 x box plane 1 x hacksaw 1 x blow lamp 1 x dining seat and stool 2 x 5-shelf storage unit 1 x large 8 drawer cupboard on short legs 2 x tool box, one open, one closed with a styrene and PE toolkit and PE lid There are various other small hand tools such as clamps, hammers, wrenches, oil cans and other cans dotted around the sprues and there are some decals for the cans as per the instructions. The larger assemblies are covered in the instructions and have many parts that result in faithful representations of the original that would be difficult to create yourself, but now you don't have to. Markings There are a few decals on the small sheet with their locations shown on the instructions. The various posters, 24 in total, range from car adverts through propaganda posters and even one tiny picture of a bathing scantily clad lady that is too small to make out any details. They're all in different languages too, so there will probably be one for most locations, within reason. Conclusion Another useful set from MiniArt, and even if you're not going to use them for an actual garage diorama, there's a lot of fodder for your models. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. German Feldgendarmerie (35315) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd During WWII Nazi Germany's version of Military Police were called Feldgendarmerie and were infantry-trained soldiers that underwent substantial training before they were unleashed on the field, keeping the soldiers and civilians within the line of the law… allegedly. They were implicated in many incidents of anti-Semitism with some associated with the SS and some of their dishonourable practices, as well as a reputation in their own right for pettiness and harsh treatment for even minor infractions if the mood took them. They wore a metal gorget on a chain around their necks as well as a cuff that marked them out as Police, and generally moved into newly conquered areas after the combat troops had left, directing traffic as well as upholding the laws that they brought with them. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with four sprues in grey styrene, a small decal sheet, larger decal sheet for sign-posts (another of their tasks), and a tiny instruction sheet that would struggle to be A6 in size. The main sprue has been cut into two to fit the box, and it contains five figures, including a driver figure leaning out of his cab in response to the typical "papers!" demand. An officer has his hand out for those papers and two of the other figures are wearing long leather great coats often seen on motorcycle troops, one directing traffic, the other banging a nail into a sign with the back of an axe. The other figure is wearing typical Wehrmacht clothing, his gorget and is holding more signs ready for the axe-wielding gentleman. Each figure is broken down to heads, torso, legs and arms plus hats and helmets that sit on their flat-topped heads. The two great coated figures have smoothed legs to allow the separate coat tails to sit correctly, and some hands are separate parts to allow better moulding of the traffic directing lollipop and the signs that figure 5 is patiently holding. The accessory sprues are split between equipment and guns, including more helmets, entrenching tools, water bottles and other bags/pouches, MP40s, Kar98 rifles, pistols and holsters, both of which will be familiar if you have any of MiniArt's other German sets. Markings The decals include helmet and cuff badges, Halt messages for the directing of traffic and golden emblems for the arms of their jackets. There are also a pair of red crosses for first-aid boxes that are included on the sprues. The signs are found on the main sprues, with a post to put them on if you don't have one already. The decals for those are on the larger sheet with 12 provided for the seven signs on the sprues, so you'll have a few spare if you don't make any mistakes. You are instructed to paint the sign faces to be decaled in gloss white to ensure clarity, and there is even a "Feldgendarmerie" sign on the smaller sheet that has cut-outs to match the soldier's moulded-in hands. Conclusion This makes a nice change from standard troops, and would be ideal to populate a crossroads, road junction based diorama or something similar. As always with MiniArt the sculpting is first rate, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed at natural joins to make the job easier. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. German Train Station Staff 1930-40s (38010) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Railway stations take more staff to run them than you'd probably imagine (unless you work in one too), and this was more true back in the days when porters were a thing and service was more important than profits. In WWII when the men were being conscripted to fight, women were drafted in to replace them in non-protected jobs where physical strength wasn't an issue. Older workers were also conscripted back into the workforce where their experience was useful. This set is a perfect accompaniment to your railway diorama, and contains four figures as depicted on the front of the shrink-wrapped figure box. Inside are six sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene, the largest containing the figures of two female conductors/platform staff, a male porter of advancing age sporting one of those attractive short moustaches that were popular in the early 40s, but not so much now (can't imagine why), and finally a Wehrmacht soldier that seems resigned to his fate. The rest of the sprues contain the ancillaries including a full sprue of army equipment such as helmets, bags, water bottles and entrenching tools – maybe a little much for one guy, but that leaves plenty of spares for another project. Two of the remaining sprues contain the porter's trolley and sundry railway equipment such as lights, oil cans, lamps etc., with the last two sprues holding lots of luggage options for the trolley and passengers. The instructions are on the rear of the box along with the colour guide, showing the parts for each figure, plus a few of the more complex suitcases and the trolley. Paint codes are given corresponding to Vallejo, Mr. Color, LifeColor, Tamiya, AK, Mission Models, Hataka, colour swatches and the colour names in English and Ukrainian. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. Soviet Road Signs WWII (35601) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. If you're travelling unfamiliar roads you need a little help to find your way, which is where road signs come in, and with the size of Russia and the likelihood that most of their troops weren't used to being away from their home villages, it's hardly surprising that signs became more important once the Great Patriotic War began in earnest. This set is full of signs of this nature, and includes military signs to guide their troops to rally points, service areas and so forth as they didn't have the luxury of GPS and satnav back then. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting of the contents on the front and brief instructions on the rear. There are four medium-sized sprues in grey styrene in the box, plus a decal sheet on thick paper that contains all the painted descriptive fronts of the signs. As well as the signs themselves there are a number of posts on which to hang then, one of which is a two-part telegraph pole with a lamp on a decorative bracket and ceramic insulators on short metal arms from which you can hang wires loose as shown in the diagrams, or taut if you have something to attach them to. Each sign is either metal or moulded with a restrained wooden texture that will show through the decals if you use decal solution during drying. Some of the larger signs are also made from a few planks, so the joins will also show through the decal. On the sprue that contains the pole there are also additional undocumented parts for poles and such, which you could also press into service if you can figure out how to put them together. There are 50 signs so there will be a few decals left over, but it's entirely up to you how you lay them out. The instructions recommend painting the faces of the signs gloss white before you apply the decals so they obtain the maximum brightness, and in case you don't read Russian, there's a helpful translation graphic on their website, which we have reproduced for you below: Conclusion Dioramas rely on the minutiae of the background to give that "lived in" look to the terrain, and signage is essential for all but the straightest of roads. The addition of the telegraph pole gives extra depth to any road scene, and the painting guide helps with painting the plastic parts. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. SPz Puma German Infantry Fighting Vehicle 1/35 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models The German realised back in the 1970s that the Infantry needed a Fighting Vehicle as opposed to just a troop carrier and the Marder was developed for this purpose. It was then realised the Marder was getting long in the tooth so development began for a new vehicle. The Schutenpanzer of new IFV came through a process of looking for the replacement. The new vehicle feature modular composite armour, a 30mm auto canon and a Spike LR missile launcher with 2 missiles. The optics and sensor are fully upto date with thermal vision and low light capabilities as standard for the gunner and driver, these even feed into the passenger cabin to provide situational awareness for the troops being carried. The in a new feature the rear door can partially open to allow a couple of troops to scoot out without exposing the rear compartment. The German Army has ordered 350 units which should be delivered by 2020, and combat effective from 2024. Other countries are looking at the Puma though to date none have been ordered. The Kit This kit from HobbyBoss is a new tool. There are the main hull castings, 6 main sprues, a clear sprue, 7 sprues of track parts and two smaller casting for the turret and its gun. Construction starts with the suspension components being added to the main lower hull. The drive sprockets, idler wheels, main wheels and return rollers are all then added. The tracks are then made up and added, these are individual links to each two track pads need to be added for each link. There are 71 links per side. Once the tracks are on the rear door is fitted to the rear bulkhead and this is attached to the main body. Work then switched to the top hull. The roof hatches for the troop compartment are added along with vision blocks and other fittings. The top hull can then be joined to the lower one. The large armoured skirts can then be fitted to each side, and the exhaust louvres fitted. Additional hull parts are fitted at the front, and mud guards at the rear along with the convoy light and tow hooks. For the main hill various additional parts are fitted as well as what seems to be slat armour protection for the vehicle and counter measure systems. Moving onto the turret, the gun is first built up with the barrel being added into arm casing, and then this being attached to the main body of the turret. Sensors are added along with smoke dischargers. The completed turret can then be added to the vehicle. Decals A small decal sheet gives marking for three German Army vehicles. Conclusion This is a great looking kit from HobbyBoss of the latest German APC/IFV and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Leopard 2A7+ German Main Battle Tank 1/35 MENG MODEL via Creative Models Like many modern weapons system the Leopard 2A7 is not a brand new system but a continuing development of the Leopard 2 family. These are converted ex Dutch A6NL tanks. Using lessons learnt for the Peace support programme, and combat operations in Afghanistan. While retaining the same 120mm smooth bore gun of the earlier variants the 2A7 is able to fire the latest programmable High explosive rounds. The tanks armour has been upgraded with modular armour with frontal protection being improved as well with passive armour and underneath armour for enhanced IED protection. Internally there have been upgrades to the air conditioning system and power systems. More modern sights/thermal systems/rangefinder have been added. The German Army has ordered at present 20 units. With now talk of a Leopard 3, there was talk the 2A7 could be the last of the line. However the 2A7+ has been developed. This MBT has been developed to operate in both low and high intensity conflicts. Additional modular armour has been added similar to that used by Canada on its tanks in Afghanistan. This gives extra protection from mines and RPGs. The main gun can now fire High Explosive rounds. The most obvious difference is the remote weapons station which has been added to the turret roof. This FLW200 system can be fitted with a 12.7mm/0.5 cal heavy machine gun or a 40mm grenade launcher. There is a colour camera system with x10 magnification which also has a thermal imaging system. The FLW can also carry additional smoke grenade dischargers. To date the 2A7+ has been ordered by Qatar and Hungary. The Kit Following the 2A7 from Meng a couple of years ago this was sure to be on the Horizon, The box arrives packed, though the lid now fits unlike the 2A7 ! Construction starts with the lower hull. Holes must be drilled in the lower hull before construction starts in order to add the additional underside protective plates. The driver and idler wheels are built up along with 14 main road wheels. The suspension components plus the return rollers then need adding to the main lower hull. The rear armour assembly is constructed and added to the lower hull. Next up the bars for the working torsion bar system are added, these slot through from each side and end plates are attached to them. The wheels can now be added, and as the hull is upside down the additional armour plate can be added on the man hull. Additional protection for the engine compartment are also added at this time. Next up are the tracks.. Unlike other Meng kits, and like the Meng Leopard 2A4 the tracks come as individual links on sprues. Each link has 3 parts; the main track, the connecting rods with end caps, and the track pads. Meng provide a jig to enable 6 links to be put together at the same time. There are 84 links to be joined for each side. Once the tracks are on construction moves to the upper hull. The additional armour is mounted on the front, then Mirrors, spare tack, headlights etc are added. At the rear air filter covers, tools and the tow cable are added. The tow cable supplied in the kit is poor and really needs replacing with a suitable aftermarket one, a shame as the rest of the kit is well above standard. The Cooling fan housings for the rear deck are constructed from the included photo-etch. The top hull can now be joined to the lower one and the armoured side skirts added. Next up is the turret and gun. The gun barrel is a two part one and the muzzle brake one part which fits to the front. The gun then fits into a five part mantlet. I have read on the web that the gun is a slightly weak point of the kit, the fume extractor being a little skinny and short. It is noticeable that the fume extractor on some vehicles has a fibreglass texture to it, Meng have tried to replicate this, but as the part is split down the middle this will no doubt be lost sanding any seams down. The vision blocks can be added to the upper turret and then the two parts can be joined making sure the gun seats properly between them. The upper surface of the turret has sections which feature a rough texture for walking on and Meng have reproduced this on the part. There are then additional plates and fittings to add to the turret. Once the turret is together work can start on adding all of the additional armour pieces to it. These are V shaped and fit to the front. The base plates are made up along with the armour parts. The base plates being fitted first, followed by the armour. Grab handles are then added to the outside. Large side armour plates are then added. For the rest of the turret the commanders periscope is made up and added, along with the gunners hatch and machine gun. Smoke dischargers are added to both sides along with antenna mounts and the gunners sighting system. To the rear of the turret the large AC system and main stowage boxes are added, along with additional stowage boxes at each side. The last part to be fitted on top of the turret is the remote weapons station. This is a small kit in its own right. Decals As there are still none of these in service there are some small decals provided for the German test one, two schemes are suggested of normal NATO tricolor and a dessert tricolor similar to that German vehicles have used in Afghanistan. Conclusion This is a great looking kit from Meng and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. M3 Lee Full Interior Kit (35206) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Lee was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. It underwent some substantial changes including cast, welded and back to riveted hulls plus changes in the power pack and loss of the side doors to stiffen the hull. The riveted hulls suffered from rivets popping off and becoming projectiles when hit, which could be just as lethal as a penetrating round and was never fully eliminated. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and are expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. We've come to expect great things from MiniArt's new kits and of course this one is no different with a ton of detail included both externally and internally, as it is a full-interior kit with the increased part count that comes with that. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 60 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the front and rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed along with a long drive shaft. The front crew stations are installed around the final drive, and in the centre is the ammo storage with a tread-plated top with the engine firewall behind it. The ammo bin can be posed open or closed using the same door parts, exposing the striking plates moulded into the assembly, and more shells are added to the firewall in racks. Just in case the tank isn't quite flammable enough, a spare fuel can is strapped to the firewall, as are a couple of radiators which I'm hoping can be switched off or redirected in the desert! Moving to the lower sidewalls, these are separate parts and are fitted out with equipment such as fire extinguishers, ammo and a Thompson machine gun with drum mags with the bow gunner's bench seat added to the starboard side as they are joined and the sponson floor fitted at right-angles using slots and tabs. Take care here to clamp them firmly against the bottom of the firewall to prevent them from drooping while setting, which would open up a world of pain if they set out of position. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The Lee/Grant and to an extent the Sherman were powered by radial engines that sat vertically in the hull and can be blamed for their slightly tall hull shapes. This is provided in detail with the kit with all the cylinders, push-rods and exhaust tubing, plus the tin-work that helps cool the engine all mounted to a sturdy lateral mount that goes around the ancillaries at the rear. Two cheek parts are added into the engine compartment first, and the engine rests on the brackets protruding from the walls. Various tanks and reservoirs are squeezed into the remaining space along with piping for the twin airboxes and the general "spaghetti" that's seen on this kind of engine. The supports for the engine cover are fitted to the sides and the aft bulkhead with access hatch and twin exhaust stacks close in much of the hard work, with twin doors (open or closed) at the back and a PE mesh grille completing the top of the area, allowing the rising heat to escape. The lower hull is finished off with a pair of short arches over the drive wheels and a host of additional equipment filling up the interior with more shell storage, tanks and auxiliary generator. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield and has the manual traverse wheel and other driver controls plus his seat and sighting gear included, as well as another box containing the 75mm shells peculiar to his gun. Before it can be installed the super-structure must be built up to accommodate it, including the sidewalls, the curved surround and the angled front panels of the glacis. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, and an instrument panel is fitted to the inside of the glacis. The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Fuel caps and another Thompson are added along the way, and when we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and a small armoured "skirt" protects the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted. Before that the surround to the turret basket is completed with stowage space for six canteens moulded into the parts. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The Lee's suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return roller at the top, and there are three of these assemblies per side. The wheels with their moulded-in tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. I built my test section up on a flattened piece of blutak to hold them in place, but if you have a commercial or self-made track-making jig that you've purchased separately you might find it a little quicker. That said, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The sighting equipment, racks, and fume extraction equipment are then fitted before the breech is built up and fitted, making adding parts after more fiddly. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. This all fits in the back of the riveted mantlet cover and includes a periscope next door to protect the viewer from being injured by direct small arms fire. The breech is slid into the mantlet and an ammo box is attached to the starboard side then the completed assembly is inserted into the turret from the outside. More equipment is fitted into the lower areas of the upper turret and into the lower turret part, including the increasingly important radio gear and their aerials once the two halves are joined. The little machine-gun turret has its internal structure added along with some PE vents then the upper gun with its tiny mount, vision port and a short length of ammo on a top hopper is made up and inserted from the inside into its slot, then closed in by the turret ring underneath, and on top the bi-fold hatch, which can be posed open or closed. A pair of armoured covers for the PE vents can be posed open or closed on the outside, completing the assembly. The turret basket is bucket-shaped with a cut-out to one side to allow entry and exit, plus stowage space for more ammo for the guns and the machine guns, fire extinguisher and small button-seats for the crew. Additionally there is an opening door to the basket that widens the aperture and contains a pair of tanks for the electro-hydraulic rotation equipment. A studded bezel is installed in the top rim and the rest of the traverse equipment is put in place along with a bit more wire that you'll need to provide, then one more seat on a pedestal is put in the centre of the basket which is then dropped into the turret ring in the top of the hull with the MG turret on top to complete the build. Markings There are a generous eight options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, all but one of them in green, the other still being green but overpainted with a coat of white distemper winter camouflage. Considering this is an armour kit the sheet is relatively large due to the number of options, use of roundels and various personalisations of their tank by the crews depicted in the kit. From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Armoured Division US Army, military manoeuvres, State of California, Nov 1941 2nd Armoured Division US Army, Fort Benning (Georgia), early 1942 Canadian Army, training armoured divisions, Great Britain, 1942 Red Army, supposedly 192nd Tank Brigade, 61st Army, Bryansk Front, district north of Bolkhov (Oryol region), Jul 1942 Red Army, supposedly 192nd Tank Brigade, 61st Army, Bryansk Front, district north of Bolkhov (Oryol region), Jul 1942 German Army Wehrmacht captured unit, Mzensk, Feb 1943 German Army Wehrmacht captured unit, Eastern Front, 1943 Red Army, 5th Guards Tank Army, Steppe Front, Kursk, Jul 1943 Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Lee as it was supplied to the US, Canadian and Red Army, plus a couple the Germans pinched. The detail incorporated in styrene is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering that's going to be echoed with the Grants and further Lees very soon. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Plastic Barrels & Cans (35590) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. Plastic barrels are pretty useful, as they're light when empty, recyclable, can hold liquids that metal barrels can't and are often more resistant to impact without permanent damage. In addition they don't use up much in the way of strategic materials, so you're onto a winner. Civilians and military use them extensively, and wherever there is engineering going on, you'll usually find barrels dotted around. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box, and inside are twelve sprues in grey styrene plus a small decal sheet. There are six sprues of barrels and six of cans, and you can make two sizes of barrels from six of them, and two cans from the other six by following the simple instructions on the rear of the box. The large barrels are made of two sides and a top, while the small barrels have two additional clasps on the sides to facilitate carrying. The cans are simple two-part assemblies with the nozzle moulded into the left side to reduce seams. Markings There are a bunch of warning decals on the little sheet that is printed by DecoGraph with good register, clarity and sharpness. The back of the box also includes painting and decaling suggestions in various colours as well as the ubiquitous blue. Conclusion 12 barrels in two sizes, and 12 cans. All in realistic plastic for you to paint and add to your projects. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  20. Leopard C2 MEXAS w/Dozer Blade Canadian Main Battle Tank 1/35 MENG MODEL via Creative Models In 1978 the Canadian Army selected the Leopard 1A3 to be its new Main Battle Tank. These would be called the Leopard C1 in service. In 2000 it was decided to upgrade these tanks with the fitment of surplus German Leopard 1A5 turrets. At the same time armour protection was increased, and a new fire control system was added. In 2006 some of these tanks were sent to Afghanistan where they would be fitted with an additional upgrade, the MEXAS system. This stands for Modular Expandable Armour System which was developed n=by IBD Deisenroth Engineering in Germany. This is a new composite armour system which can be added to many vehicles include tanks to increase survivability in these modern conflicts where IEDs and RPGs feature heavily. The Canadians also fit a version to their LAVs. The Kit This kit from Meng is a re-boxing of the standard Leopard 1 with different parts for the Canadian MBT, the original kit from Meng was highly regarded and this one looks to be as good. Its worth noting the kit does not feature the thermal blanket and cooler fitted at a later date by the Canadians in Afghanistan, though Meng do offer the thermal blanket as an aftermarket resin set, though call it a "sand cover" in error; it does not supply the cooling unit fitted to the rear of the turret though. Construction starts with the wheels, the drive sprockets, idler wheels and main wheels are built up, these have poly cap centres to enable them to be pushed on, detail is a bit soft on these and the centre a bit too large to accommodate the caps. We then move onto the lower hull. Various suspension components are fitted, and the main torsion bar system and its arms are fitted. The wheels can then be attached, followed by the tracks. For some reason Meng have included rubber tracks in this kit despite having a very good individual working track system for the Leopard 1 which they could have included? Next up the rear bulkhead is made up. Moving to the top main hull the engine deck is added, along with some side parts and the drivers vision blocks. The lower and upper hulls can now be joined and the rear bulkhead fitted. The additional MEXAS armour packs are added to the sides of the hull and the front. The exhaust grills are also added at the rear along with the rear mudflaps. The rear tow cables are then added. For the front the attachment points for the dozer blade are fitted, alternative parts are provided if you don't want to use this. The blade mechanism and blade are then made up and added. Work now moves to the turret. The gun and its additional armoured mantlet are built up, These are then added to the turret after it is assembled There is a canvas mantlet cover to add, this is a basic representative of the real thing and aftermarket detailed one are available to replace this one. For the turret itself a multitude of attachment points for the MEXAS armour must be added, along with the usual aerial mounts, and vision systems. The hatches can then be fitted. Once assembled the MEXAS armour modules can also be added, along with the large rear mounted stowage bin. A couple of large aerial ad the top mounted machine gun finish off the turret and it can be mounted to the hull. Decals Decals are provided for 4 tanks in Afghanistan. Sqn HQ, Lord Strathcona;s Horse (RC), Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. Joint Task Force, Afghanistan 2007 1st Troop, A Sqn, Lord Strathcona;s Horse (RC), Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. Joint Task Force, Afghanistan 2007 2nd Troop, A Sqn, Lord Strathcona;s Horse (RC), Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. Joint Task Force, Afghanistan 2007 3rd Troop, A Sqn, Lord Strathcona;s Horse (RC), Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. Joint Task Force, Afghanistan 2007 Conclusion Despite a few errors this is a great looking kit from Meng and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  21. Ukrainian BMR-1 with KMT-9 Mine Roller (37043) MiniArt 1:35 via Creative Models Based on the SU-122-54, which MiniArt have also produced, this kit is of this is the version of the armoured mine clearing vehicle. The main gun has been removed and the fittings of the attachment of the KMT-7 mine roller system. Where the top hatches would normally be, there is instead a round cupola fitted with a single heavy machine gun. The forward section of the lower hull was fitted with much thicker armour to prevent penetration in the event a mine exploded under the vehicle. Surprisingly these vehicles were still in use during the Soviet invasion of the Ukraine just recently. The Model As with the TOP engineering vehicle this is typically Russian in style, tough, rugged and with the singular purpose of clearing mines. As with most MiniArt kits the box, with an artist’s impression on the front is full to the brim with sprues, a total of seventy one in grey styrene, one in clear, a small sheet of etched brass, two lengths of chain and a small decal sheet. The way the sprues are moulded is how the company gets so many versions of their kits out, as there is a lot of commonality. The mouldings are extremely well executed with no sign of flash or other imperfection, but there are quite a few moulding pips which increases clean up time. While the build looks fairly simple there are a lot of parts used to build up the suspension and particularly the mine roller system. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is fitted out with the torsion beam suspension fixtures and you have the option of fitting the whole torsion beam or just the end part. Each suspension beam/axle plate consists of seven parts and there are ten axles to fit. Once the suspension is assembled the lower hull is built up from two side plates a rear plate and the internal firewall for the engine bay, the engine being available separate should you wish to fit one. The suspension bump stops are then attached, as are the drive gearbox covers and idler wheel axles. The large armoured plate is then fitted to the forward underside of the hull. The superstructure is next and is made up from separate plates which require holes to be drilled out before gluing together. In order to help get the plates the correct angles there is a small internal part the helps with this and give the structure strength and rigidity before the roof and mantle are attached. The roof is fitted with two, spades, with their respective clamps and the commander’s cupola is fitted with three vision blocks. The superstructure assembly is then glued to the lower hull, along with the track guards, and three multi-part engine deck covers. The rear of the superstructure has a single large hatch glued into place, as well as other unidentifiable fittings. The commander’s cupola is made up from no less than nineteen parts if you include the searchlight. There is a much simpler second hatch on the right hand side of the super structure. The front and rear mudguards are then assembled and fitted along with the very complex PE engine deck grilles, with separate shutters are built up and fitted. On the sides of the superstructure there are a lot more grab handles and brackets to be attached, while to the rear there is the five piece exhaust outlet fitted to the right track guard. The twin headlights fitted to the left and right sides of the glacis plate are assembled from thirteen parts including the base and all the support beams. On each front track guard there is a visual width pole fitted which are also fitted with reflectors. The turret ring is then fitted to the roof, while on the left side of eh superstructure the canvas roll is fitted with PE straps. The glacis plate is fitted with a selection of brackets, towing hooks and four pairs of spare track links. Two large stowage boxes are assembled and glued to the track guards, one per side. The BTR style conical turret is fitted with the 14.5mm heavy machine gun and a co-axial light machine gun via a separate mantle before being covered with an additional circular turret and fitted wot the turret ring on the roof. There is an aerial mount and aerial fitted to the front left of the superstructure and a further three pairs of track links fitted with their brackets, also on the left hand side. Each of the road wheels are glued into pairs and fitted with a small hub cap, as are the sprockets and idler wheels. Once assembled these are all glued into place, as are the large towing cables. Finally the tracks are assembled and draped over the running gear. With this kit you get the newer link and pin system that MiniArt have started using. This system is so easy to use and you can get a full length of track within minutes, even with 91 links per side. After completing a short run the pis work fairly well and its best to stretch them apart a little and do 2 links at a time. A small dab of extra thin glue securing the end. With the vehicle complete it’s on to the raison d'être of the tanks mission, the mine roller system. Now these are quite complex, so take care in reading the instructions carefully as it could easily go wrong. The KMT series of ploughs/plows have been in service since the 60s and were used with all Main Battle Tanks with newer vehicles using the improved KMT-7 and KMT-9. It operates by breaking the ground down with tough, sectioned rollers of substantial weight to simulate the footprint of an AFV, ploughing up the ground and detonating any mines it finds. Its rugged construction means that it can survive explosions, although they do take their toll on the hardware eventually. Construction begins with the rollers with two-part centres to which all the individual plates are fixed with equal spacing. The short axle threads through the centre and is supported by a three-piece yoke that is extended by another two parts that are in turn fixed to a central axle with one roller on each side, making a total of four sections, each free-wheeling. The end caps allow the rear axle to rotate freely if you don't glue them up, and then you start again on the other roller. Each roller assembly has a set of suspension arms added to each side and a cross-brace that links the suspension together. They are put to one side while the main chassis frame is made up, adorned with hydraulic rams that make up a large, heavy assembly with seriously thick parts depicting the sturdy design. Cleats are included to fit the plough the BMR-1, consisting of a number of parts for the lower glacis plate and two main attachment pads for the upper glacis. Brackets are fitted to the lower plates and the frame is hinged from those with strong cables attached to the upper plates and linked to the frame to support it further. The two roller assemblies are suspended from the arms facing back toward the vehicle with the long rods sticking up in pairs. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller four options, all of which were used in the war against Afghanistan. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:- 3rd Ukrainian Engineer Battalion, UN Interim Force Lebanin 2000-2006 703rd Engineering Regiment, Ukraine 2015 Engineering Unit, Ukraine Armed Forces, Donetsk, Ukraine 2015 Engineering Unit, Ukraine Armed Forces, Lugansk, Ukraine 2019 Conclusion Continuing their march through the various T-55 variants, MiniArt are producing some really interesting vehicles. Although the mine roller system is quite complex to assemble it will look superb once complete. This is another vehicle that’ll make an interesting stand alone model or great in a diorama. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  22. German Officers (84406) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Officers and their meetings. They happen a lot, and if there aren't any comfy seats you can even get them to stand up whilst discussing whatever it is they feel the urge to talk about. This set was originally released by Tristar (no, I don't remember either) in 2001, it is now reboxed under the Hobby Boss brand, and arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with one sprue in sand coloured styrene and a tiny fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass. To be honest time has been kind to the sprue, and there appears to be no damage or flash, good detail, even extending to coat tails, emblems and handles on document cases. There are four figures on the sprue, all dressed differently and of different ranks and parts of the military, even down to a Lieutenant carrying a case and documents for the General to his side. The tanker is in the SS as can be seen from his collar mounted death's head emblems (D'ya think we might be the baddies?), and while it's difficult to see, the gentleman in the great coat may well be a Major. The PE parts are two pairs of glasses with round lenses of the type worn by the Lieutenant on the right of the boxtop photo. The instructions are printed on the rear of the box, and at the bottom there is a small section detailing how to make maps for the officers to carry and/or examine. Where are these maps? If you check the first drawing of the four you'll find a map on each of the four side tabs that help close up the box lid. You're told to cut them off, soak them in water and then peel off the top printed layer from the card and cut your map from that once it has dried. Very clever! Two of the maps show coloured terrain as well as roads and building, while the other two are black and white showing larger scale details. Conclusion A useful set of officers, including the pudgy General and with good detail that belies the set's age. The addition of the PE spectacles and maps add extra value to what is already a well-priced figure set. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. German 200L Fuel Drums (35597) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. Arriving in a shrink-wrapped figure box, this set contains German 200L fuel drums aplenty, but also includes a lot of manual pumping tools. Inside the box is a tightly wrapped bag containing 18 sprues in grey styrene, 12 of which containing parts to make a drum, and six with end caps and manual fuel pump assembles. Four little elastic bands further clamp the sprues together to ensure no chaffing during transit. The drums are made from halves to which the top and bottoms are added, then two stiffening bands are added to the grooves in the drums, each made up from two parts. There is a choice of end-caps with different wording in raised lettering, and if you leave off the cap you can make up the hand-pump with nozzle at the other end of a piece of hose/wire that you supply yourself. That orange stripe on the grey & yellow drum is printed that way - wasn't me, honest! The instructions are printed on the back of the box and below them is an example of paint schemes that the drums left the factory in (see above), which you can depict in any state from brand new to badly dented and completely rusted to bare metal. Highly recommended – especially if you need a lot of German 200L fuel drums for your next project Review sample courtesy of
  24. 3-Ton Service Crane (35576) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. Cranes are quite handy for lifting things and on the back of a vehicle they're mobile, so even more so. This set from MiniArt arrives in a figure-sized end-opening box and inside is a small sprue in grey styrene, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) parts and a length of chain. It's a small kit, so rattles around in the box a bit, but is protected from harm by its bag, and the PE is in a card envelope with the chain inside another bag. The instructions are printed on the rear of the box and construction begins with the cropped A-frame that holds the gearing and forms the base of the crane. The jib is equally simple, consisting of curved angle-iron with a pulley at the end, and some PE cross-braces along its length, plus more on the base of the crane. The jib attaches to the top of the base and is held at an angle by two sliding braces, which on the rear thing are adjusted by sliding past each other with pegs holding the new angle. If you want to adjust the angle of your model however, you will need to cut and adjust these yourself. The chain is wrapped around the cylinder at the apex of the crane's base, then threaded along the jib and over the pulley at the end and finally down to the hook, back again and up to the last hook at the very end of the jib. A large winding handle is fitted either to the top bobbin or by using an additional long rod to the small cog at the bottom of the gear set. Markings There are no decals, just a PE maker's plaque that reads "Weaver Auto-Crane, Weaver Mfg.Co., Springfield Ill USA". The box art shows the crane painted red with a black plate and yellow or brass raised lettering, but whatever colour you want to paint it should be fine. Many of the photos online show either red, a red/brown colour, grey, with greater or lesser quantities of rust but there are others that have been renovated and painted quite "bright" colours. Conclusion A nice addition to a flat-bed model in this scale, or anywhere else you think a crane such as this would look good. Detail is good and it looks just like the real thing. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. Grant Mk.I Full Interior Kit (35217) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models In the years before WWII America realised that they were lagging behind in respect of armour, a fact that became especially clear when Germany came out from under the Versailles treaty to show off and then use their new tanks and Blitzkrieg tactics. The M3 Lee was conceived in 1940 as a medium tank carrying a powerful 75mm gun, partly for manning by their own crews, but also because Britain had requested a large number of tanks to make good their losses from Dunkirk. The Lee was a decent tank but suffered from a high silhouette and limited traverse of the sponson-mounted 75mm gun, but was still widely used. In British service it was known as the Lee if it was fitted with the original American turret, or the Grant when using the lower-profiled British specification turrets. The Grant eschewed the mini-turret on the commander's cupola that resulted in a reduction in height and a minor simplification of construction and maintenance for very little loss in flexibility, due to the coaxially mounted Browning machine gun in the turret. It was used primarily in Africa and the Pacific theatres where the 2nd line equipment seemed to be fielded (for the most part) by the enemy, and against the Japanese who were far behind with their tank designs and tactics. The Kit MiniArt began 2019 with a new tooling of the M3 Lee and have expanded their range by adding new parts as they go along. The primary changes in this boxing are the inclusion of a new cast turret with no machine-gun turret-let on top, and the inclusion of British equipment inside and around the exterior. We've come to expect great things from miniArt's new kits and of course this one is no different with a ton of detail included both externally and internally, as it is a full-interior kit with the increased part count that comes with that. The box is standard MiniArt fare with an attractive picture from their usual artist, and inside are a huge number of sprues of varying sizes with 67 sprues in grey styrene, a single sprue in clear, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and the instruction booklet with painting guide at the rear completing the package. Construction begins with the vehicle floor onto which the transmission and final drive assemblies are fixed along with a long drive shaft. The front crew stations are installed around the final drive, and in the centre is the ammo storage with a tread-plated top with the engine firewall behind it. The ammo bin can be posed open or closed using the same door parts, exposing the striking plates moulded into the assembly, and more shells are added to the firewall in racks. Just in case the tank isn't quite flammable enough, a spare fuel can is strapped to the firewall, as are a couple of radiators which I'm hoping can be switched off or redirected in the desert! Moving to the lower sidewalls, these are separate parts and are fitted out with equipment such as fire extinguishers, ammo and a Thompson machine gun with the bow gunner's bench seat added to the starboard side as they are joined and the sponson floor fitted at right-angles using slots and tabs. Take care here to clamp them firmly against the bottom of the firewall to prevent them from drooping while setting, which would open up a world of pain if they set out of position. The rolled lower glacis part is also added, and the final drive bell housings that are incorporated into the sidewalls mate with these to complete the shape of that area. The Lee/Grant and to an extent the Sherman were powered by radial engines that sat vertically in the hull and can be blamed for their slightly tall hull shapes. This is provided in detail with the kit with all the cylinders, push-rods and exhaust tubing, plus the tin-work that helps cool the engine all mounted to a sturdy lateral mount that goes around the ancillaries at the rear. Two cheek parts are added into the engine compartment first, and the engine rests on the brackets protruding from the walls. Various tanks and reservoirs are squeezed into the remaining space along with piping for the twin airboxes and the general "spaghetti" that's seen on this kind of engine. The supports for the engine cover are fitted to the sides and the aft bulkhead with access hatch and twin exhaust stacks close in much of the hard work, with twin doors (open or closed) at the back and a PE mesh grille completing the top of the area, allowing the rising heat to escape. The lower hull is finished off with a pair of short arches over the drive wheels and a host of additional equipment filling up the interior with more shell storage, tanks and auxiliary generator. The big 75mm gun and substantial casemate are built up next for fitting into the hull front and the curved splinter shield that allows 14o of traverse to either side to counter any errors in position from the driver or enemy movement. The breech is surrounded by a shield and has the manual traverse wheel and other driver controls plus his seat and sighting gear included, as well as another box containing the 75mm shells peculiar to his gun. Before it can be installed the super-structure must be built up to accommodate it, including the sidewalls, the curved surround and the angled front panels of the glacis. The various hatches can be posed open or closed, and an instrument panel is fitted to the inside of the glacis. The bow machine gun is actually a twin mount with two .30 cal M1919s firing through a hatch near the port sponson. The rest of the hull is then built up in much the same manner as the real thing, but with glue and the rivets only there for show. Fuel caps and another Thompson are added along the way, and when we reach the engine deck there are two large panels, the smaller of them having PE grilles and more filler caps, with both of them covered in small PE tie-down lugs. The rear of the deck overhangs the hull and a small armoured "skirt" protects the tops of the exhausts from stray rounds where PE brackets are used to hang the aft lights. The completed deck is then covered with pioneer tools and their PE tie-downs, plus the towing cables that you need to source yourself to go with the plastic eyes at each end. A scrap diagram shows their location and how to fix the PE straps to the tie-downs and eyes, with a length of 145mm suggested. At this stage the majority of the hull is built, but it is likely to fill with rain until the roof is fitted. Before that the surround to the turret basket is completed with stowage space for six canteens moulded into the parts. The stiffening plates to the lower glacis are also glued to the hull and then the roof is made up from a large main part that is stiffened with a number of ribs, and an extra section is attached to the side with a small periscope in the middle. The three square access doors for the crew can all be posed open or closed with latches and small viewing hatches within that can also be posed open. After fitting the armoured cover to the main gun's periscope and a few grab handles, you get to build up the running gear. Aren't you lucky? The Grant's suspension is very similar to the Sherman's with two fat wheels on a bogie with a return wheel at the top, and there are three per side. The wheels with their moulded-in rubber tyres are attached to the bogies via swing-arms that pivot inside the cast bogie with an additional arm linked to the compressible rubber towers. Before the front of the bogie is fitted the return roller is installed so it is trapped between its two bearings. Repeat that six times and then make up the idler wheels, which have PE edges and separate hub caps. The bogies are attached to the sides of the hull on their mounting plates, and two stiffeners are added to the top of each one, while the idler wheels are attached to their axles on the adjustable tensioners. At the front the drive sprockets are made up from two parts with an internal collar allowing them to remain mobile if you're sparing with the glue. A short break has you fitting the driver's hatch and optional clear window with a PE wiper blade, plus a couple of towing eyes with shackles under the glacis and some truly tiny parts in plastic and PE between them. Tracks. Love 'em or loathe 'em, they're a necessary part of most tanks and you have to do them eventually. There are 79 track links per side, and each link is made up from four parts. The pads are split to accommodate the links between them, and this is a little fiddly. I built my test section up on a flattened piece of blutak to hold them in place, but if you have a commercial or self-made track-making jig that you've purchased separately you might find it a little quicker. That said, each link is good looking with fine detail at the ends, and they are flexing nicely as per the real thing. It'll take some time to complete them, but they will be excellent as long as you're careful with preparation and the glue. With the tracks in place, the side skirts can be installed and the additional stowage boxes can be fabricated from their parts and attached to the hull with PE brackets, their shape conforming to the surfaces that they are placed on. The side skirts are finished off with mudguards at the rear by boxing in the tops of the track runs. The rest of the pioneer tools are bracketed to the hull along with the front headlights and their PE protective cages, the former having PE tie-downs and brackets holding them down. You will need to find some thin wire to link the headlamps to the gland that takes the cable inside the hull, then the single-part main gun barrel is nipped from the sprues, has its seamlines removed and is joined to the optional two-part blast-bag that has excellent realistic-looking canvas wrinkle and sag moulded in. We're still not quite ready for the turret though, as there are a number of PE parts stretching the length of the side-skirts which are used to hang additional stowage in the real thing. These fit onto small depressions on the sides of the hull, and scrap diagrams show the correct way to fold the perpendicular front sections. Now you can start the turret, most of which is held within the upper part, and that has some very nice casting texture moulded into it that should look great under a few coats of paint. The frames for the small hatches are first to be added, then the hatches themselves are fitted in the open or closed position with small stays holding them at the correct angle for the former. The sighting equipment, racks, and fume extraction equipment are then fitted before the breech is built up and fitted, making adding parts after more fiddly. The breech is started by joining the two main parts together, adding the surround, the coax machine gun, then setting it aside while the mantlet and elevation mechanisms are made up. This all fits in the back of the riveted mantlet cover and includes a periscope next door to protect the viewer from being injured by direct small arms fire. The breech is slid into the mantlet and an ammo box is attached to the starboard side then the completed assembly is inserted into the turret from the outside. More equipment is fitted into the lower areas of the upper turret and into the lower turret part, including the increasingly important radio gear and their aerials once the two halves are joined. Next up is the reduced height British spec cupola with grab handles and a choice of open or closed hatch with periscope in the port door. The commander's .30cal weapon is mounted on a curved fitting on the front of the turret and is fitted with a drum magazine that has moulded-in bullets plus a separate short length that feeds into the breech, sandwiched between the two end-caps with built in mounting frame. The turret basket is bucket-shaped with a cut-out to one side to allow entry and exit, plus stowage space for more ammo for the guns and the machine guns, fire extinguisher and small button-seats for the crew. Additionally there is an opening door to the basket that widens the aperture and contains a pair of tanks for the electro-hydraulic rotation equipment. A studded bezel is installed in the top rim and the rest of the traverse equipment is put in place along with a bit more wire that you'll need to provide, then one more seat on a pedestal is put in the centre of the basket which is then dropped into the turret ring in the top of the hull to complete the build. There are additional parts for British Army specific stowage included in the box, which is good to see as a personalised model often looks better than a basic kit. Their locations and colour are shown on separate colour diagrams that can be found at the front of the painting diagrams. Markings There are a generous eight options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, split between camouflaged, green and sand coloured vehicles, as the Grant and Lee served mainly in warmer climes. Considering this is an armour kit the sheet is relatively large due to the number of options, use of roundels and various personalisations of their tank by the crews depicted in the kit. From the box you can build one of the following: Great Britain Training Unit, 1942 Australian 1st Armoured Division, Puckapunyal, Australia, May 1942 Senior Regiment Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, 7th Armoured Division, North Africa, 1942 Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Regimental Headquarters, El Alamein North Africa, October 1942 Eighth Army tank of Bernard Montgomery, North Africa 1942-Jan 1943 British 8th Army, North Africa, 1943 C Squadron, 3rd Royal Tank Regiment, 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Division, Gazala, May 1943 Repair base of the Allies in Heliopolis, Egypt, March 1943 Decals are by DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a wonderfully detailed kit of the Grant as it was supplied to and used by the British Army. The detail incorporated in styrene is phenomenal and the addition of the PE parts gives the modeller all the shackles for their pioneer tools, which are usually included in aftermarket PE sets. A really impressive piece of plastic engineering. Extremely highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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