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  1. South African Olifant Mk.1B Hobbyboss 1:35 History The Olifant Mk.1B (Elephant) is an upgraded variant of the Olifant Mk.1A tank. The Mk.1B was developed as an interim solution. It entered service with South African National Defence Forces in 1991. About 44 vehicles were upgraded to the Mk.1B standard. The Olifant Mk.1B main battle tank has a number of armour improvements over its predecessor. Passive armour has been added to the glacis plate and nose of the hull. Turret has been fitted with stand-off composite armour. Protection against mines has been improved by adding double floor. New side skirts were fitted. This main battle tank was also fitted with an automatic fire suppression system. The Olifant Mk.1B MBT is armed with the British L7 105-mm rifled gun. This gun is compatible with all standard NATO 105-mm munitions. A total of 68 rounds for the main gun are carried inside the vehicle. This main battle tank was also fitted with new fire control system. Secondary armament consists of two 7.62-mm machine guns. One of them is mounted coaxially with the main gun, while the other one is placed on top of the roof. The Olifant Mk.1B tank has a crew of four, including commander, gunner, loader and driver. The Olifant is powered by a new Continental turbocharged diesel engine, developing 950 horsepower acquired from Israel. These replaced the petrol engines in the earlier variant and improved the power to weight ratio. By fitting the diesel and additional fuel tanks range was increased by quite a margin. The Model It’s been a long time coming and on the wants list of many an armour modeller, but at least it has been released and joins an ever growing list of South African military vehicles now available in injection moulded plastic. The kit is packed in a nice sturdy box with a depiction of the tank on the move on the front. Inside there are six sprues and four separate parts, all in a dark yellowish styrene, four sprues in a brown styrene, on in clear, twenty four plastic “tyres”, two sheets of etched brass and a small decal sheet. The mouldings are, as usual very well done, with no sign of imperfections or flash, but there are quite a few moulding pips to clean up before many of the parts can be used. The moulded detail on the hull and turret parts is very nicely done, and matches pretty well with the real vehicle. The build begins with the fitting of the torsion bean suspension arms to the lower hull, along with the lower glacis plate and three under side mounted access panels. Each of the axles is then fitted with their respective shock absorbers, with the foremost and rearmost units being fitted with bump stops. The twelve double return rollers are then assembled, each from three parts, while the two part drive gear covers are fitted with a single roller These assemblies are then glued into place on the lower hull. Each road wheel consists of an inner and outer wheel, separate tyres and an outer cover. Once assembled these are then glued to their axles, as are the two piece idlers and drive sprockets. The individual track links are held onto the sprue by only two gates, thus making them easy to clean up. What is not so easy is the assembly of ach track length. Consisting of one hundred and five links, each link has to be glued to the next, which is fine for the upper and lower runs, but less easy getting the correct flow around the idlers and drive sprockets. Moving on to the upper hull, the driver’s vision ports are fitted from the inside, while on the outside the track guards and rear mudflaps are attached. The large forward mudflaps are next, and these are fitted with three attachment straps before being glued into place. The rear lights, towing hook and eyes are fitted to the rear, along with a large breaker bar. Also fitted to the rear bulkhead is a large storage box, which is covered by a PE chequer plate along the top and sides, the two exhausts are also fitted, one each side of the storage box. Several small brackets are glued to each side of the hull, along the track guards, while on the drivers position and large external armoured vision port is fitted, along with its associated wiper and wiper motor box. The large spaced armour block is fitted to the upper glacis plate, along with several small items. The drivers hatch is then assembled from three parts and fitted into position, while either side of the front engine deck, two, three piece intakes are attached, probably air conditioning units. Staying on the engine deck, several guards and grab handles are attached along with more brackets. The upper hull is then attached to the lower hull, followed by the fitting of the two five piece heavy duty towing eye blocks, which also incorporate the headlights are fitted to the glacis plate. Two more eyes and their shackles are fitted to the lower rear plate. The main gun is split in two parts longitudinally, once the two halves have been glued together, they are slid into the four piece mantle. Inside the upper turret section the commanders clear vision ports are fitted, before the gun assembly and the lower hull section glued into place. On each side of the rear of the turret there are four smoke dischargers, their two bar guard and just behind them an unusually shaped bin. The rear bustle of the turret is fitted with three sets of three track links and their fixing bars. The top of the turret is fitted with two more vision blocks on the gunner’s side, lifting eyes and two aerial bases. The commander’s side is then fitted with a sighting unit which also has a wiper and associated motor, plus to protection bars over the top, at the same time the gunners hatch is assembled and glued into place. Finally another large sighting unit is assembled from nine parts, and fitted onto the commander’s cupola, followed by the three piece hatch and two more two piece aerial bases. The completed turret is then attached to the hull completing the build. Decals While there is really only one colour scheme, the decals have markings for up to four different tanks. Essentially only the turret markings and numbers plates are different, although there are enough individual numbers to change two of the number plates to any tank with the same prefixes and suffix letter you can find reference for. The decals themselves look to be the usual fare from Hobbyboss, there are bright. clear, with good opacity and little carrier film. Conclusion It’s great to see this tank finally being released, bringing another part of the Centurion story to life. Not only that but with three South African vehicles now released, who knows what might be next, as there’s plenty of weird vehicles to choose from. The kit itself appears to be quite accurate when comparing with pictures of the real vehicle on the net, well, once I’d got over the fact that there is the Mk.1B and Mk.1B Optimum which is quite different from the kit tank. There’s nothing in the kit that should cause anyone any problems, other than the tracks, which can always be replaced with metal or resin aftermarket items. That said, I wish Hobbyboss/Trumpeter would make their tracks as user friendly as MiniArt are doing with their latest releases. Oh, and what were they thinking when they moulded the road wheel tyres separately? I guess once painted and weathered they will look ok, but for some modellers they will have to be replaced with resin road wheels or scrounge a set from the AFVClub Centurion kits. Review sample courtesy of
  2. 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
  3. US Armoured Tractor with Angle Dozer Blade (35291) 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. These machines were used extensively by the military to construct all manner of bases, airfields, roads etc. The Kit This kit is a military version of the Caterpillar D7, however there is no information in the instructions on this (probably for licencing),. The kit arrives on 37 sprues, a small PE fret and a small decal sheet; and a figure. 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. If building the armoured version for option 9 then the armoured box surrounding the cab needs to be built up, and the machine guns added in. 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. The figure can be used on the bulldozer if needed, though for some strange reason its pose is a man getting in or out of a vehicle with a door? Markings There are markings for several US units; 5 regular units which were; USAAF Construction Unit, North Africa 1943 US Aviation Engineer Battalion, Ledo Road India/China 1944 US Navy Seebee Mobile construction Battalion, Rhode Island 1942 US Army Engineers, Pacific WW2 299th Combat Engineering Battalion, US Army Omaha Beach, June 1944 312th Combat Engineering Battalion, 87th Infantry Division, Saint-Vith, Belgium 1945 US Army, Cherbourg 1944 Capital Mechanised Division, Republic of Korea Army, Bong Son, Vietnam 1966 The last markings are for an up armoured and armed vehicle from the 1 St Provisional Tank group, Burma 1944. This was a particularly interesting but not well know joint US / Chinese command in Burma. As the areas has no real roads construction equipment was heavily used. Click here to read more on this interesting command. 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. Liore-Et-Oliver LeO C.30A Early Prod. (41007) 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 licence built the 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. In Germany the Air Ministry thought as well that the Autogyro was the future for aviation and it was licence built Bu Forke Wulf.. Twenty-five aircraft were built in France by Lioré-et-Olivier as the LeO C.301 with a 175 hp (130 kW) Salmson 9NE 9-cylinder radial engine for the French and Belgian armed forces. 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 two decal options provided on the sheet From the box you can build one of the following: F-407 French Air Force Late 1930s Belgian Army Artillery Observer Aircraft, Many 1940 352.8 352 Sqn French Naval Aviation, 1940 352.1 352 Sqn French Naval Aviation late 1930s 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. Fished model picture from Miniart Conclusion This is a really nice rendition of this unusual but important civil aircraft. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  5. Russian T-62 Mod 1960 (01546) 1:35 Trumpeter The T-62 was developed from the T-55, and to the uninitiated could be mistaken for one. On closer inspection there is 115mm main gun with a longer barrel and improved penetration, which required the turret to be enlarged and the chassis enlarged in turn to accommodate the larger turret ring. Despite family resemblance and an almost identical layout there is little commonality of major parts due to the size changes that propagated out due to the change of main armament, which was a world first in respect of the smooth bore, allowing it to launch shells at a substantially increased velocity. The interior equipment however was broadly similar to the T-55, so conversion between them wasn't over-difficult, and even though the vehicle is larger, the crew compartment is still horribly cramped for the four crew. The Mod 1960 was the initial production model that was preceded by five examples of the T-62A, which were stretched T-55s, and as such below par compared to the T-62. It was able to carry 40 rounds of ammunition for the 115mm Molot smooth bore gun, and 2,500 rounds of 7.62mm for the PKT coaxial machine gun. On the turret roof was an optional 12.7m "Dushka" anti-aircraft machine gun, which required the loader to expose his upper body in the hatchway in order to fire. Although not as numerous as the legendary T-55, the T-62 has seen numerous variants and license built "lite" copies made in North Korea, but most began life at the Ukrainian factory, with many seeing modifications at the hands of their purchasers at a later date. The Kit This kit and its box were included in the Hobby Boss kit (85513) of a KrAZ-6446 tractor and trailer as the load, but as it was also released a couple of years back as a stand-alone kit, I have split it out for expediency and to prevent the original review from getting too large. The box is typical Trumpeter with the cardboard corrugations showing through on the artwork, and a divider keeping the smaller parts from rattling around inside the box. There are seven sprues in light grey styrene, seven in brown styrene, four in black styrene, one in clear, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, a length of brass wire, a metal gun barrel, decal sheet, instruction booklet and separate painting and decaling guide. It is one of many kits of the T-62 from Trumpeter, so if you have seen any of them you stand a good chance of recognising at least some of the parts here. In the usual fashion construction begins with building up of the road wheels, which are made in pairs with separate black tyre parts that offer the possibility of painting the parts separately to avoid masking. The idler and drive sprocket are both made up of two parts, and each of the two types of road wheel pairings have hub cab parts added to the centre. The lower hull is fitted with a rear bulkhead, final drive housing and axles, then the wheels are glued onto them, with the track lengths created from the individual brown links on the seven sprues. Each link has four sprue gates and no ejector pins or sink marks to fill, with 96 links per side needed. Construction with liquid cement followed by draping and packing the lengths around the wheels while the adhesive is still malleable is your best recipe for success, and you may wish to build each run in two halves for ease of painting and installation. An unditching beam is fitted to the rear bulkhead along with final drive armour, and attention turns to the upper deck, which needs a number of flashed-over holes opening up for this mark. The deck includes the upper glacis, which is detailed with lights, mine roller mounts, and the driver's hatch, plus a bow wave deflector, while the engine deck is constructed separately in two sub-assemblies that include PE mesh parts. These are added later with the fenders, which have been prepared with stowage bins, fuel tanks and exhaust on the port fender before being glued to the hull using the long slots and tabs running along the sides. The prototypical fuel barrels attach to the rear of the hull by curved brackets, but no fuel hosing is included in the kit, which can easily be fabricated if you desire by checking your references. The towing cables are made up from styrene eyes and copper/brass braided wire for a realistic look, with lengths and attachment points marked on the instructions. The T-62's enlarged turret is supplied as an upper and lower part, with only a stub of the coaxial machine gun, mantlet cheek parts needing adding and some holes drilling out before it can be closed up. The holes are for the multiple grab-rails that encompass most of the turret, with the two hatches, shell-ejection port and various vision ports scattered around the roof, plus lifting eyes and a small searchlight next to the commander's low-rise cupola. The larger searchlight is fitted to a bracket next to the main gun, and the snorkel tube is attached to the back of the turret, after which you get to choose between adding a cover to the mantlet or leaving is bare. The main gun is turned aluminium, which is nice to see, but if you don't like these for any reason, you can use the plastic parts that are included, but you are in for a lot more preparation of seams if you go down this route. A delicate linkage between the gun and searchlight is the last task, other than dropping the turret into place on the hull. There are no bayonet lugs, so either glue it down, or remember to put a finger on top if you ever need to move or invert it. Markings Russian Green anyone? There is only one option included, and the designers aren't very forthcoming about where and when White 545 was stationed or saw deployment. The decal sheet includes lots of white numbers in two different styles, plus a pair of Soviet emblems, so if you have a different scheme in mind, this generic sheet may be of at least partial use. The registration of colours on the emblems is excellent, and the white seems sufficiently dense for the purpose, and everything is nice and sharply printed on my sample. Conclusion Another nice model from Trumpeter that will look good next to a T-55 on your display shelves. The exterior has been well done, but unless you plan to put crew in the hatches, you'll need to leave them closed to avoid displaying the empty interior. The part count is sensible, with only a few compromises in detail as a result, such as the exhaust that is slightly simplified and partially moulded into the fender. Overall though, a nice kit that would look super on the back of a tank transporter. Supplied as part of the KrAZ 6446 Tractor with MAZ/ChMZAP-5247G trailer kit 85513 Currently on sale with a deep 35% discount at Creative at time of writing
  6. British M3 Lee (35270) 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 70 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 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. There are two different types of track in the kit depending on which marking option being done. 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. There are both WE-210 & T-41 track links included, and use depends on marking option. 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 4 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: Eighth Army, North Africa 1942 (overall sand) Eighth Army, North Africa 1942 (earth / sand) Eighth ArmyNorth Africa 1942 (green / sand) - without top machine gun turret Captured tank , North Africa 1942 (overall sand) - without top machine gun turret 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
  7. T-55 RMSh Workable Track Links Early Type 1:35 MiniArt With the numerous T-54 and T-55 variants produced by MiniArt it was only a matter of time that they would produce a new style of workable track link system for them. I was lucky enough to see the initial designs and learnt what the team were up to in a visit to the factory last year. That design process has at last borne some fruit with this their first set. In the colourful end opening box are sixteen sprues, each with twelve links and twenty four pins. Each link is removed from the sprue gates and cleaned up. Be aware that the styrene is quite soft, so be careful if using a blade to clean up, might be best just to use a foam emery stick. With the links cleaned up you then join each link together and insert a pin, add a drop of glue, in my case I used Tamiya extra thin, so you have to be careful not to put too much on as it can wick up the pin and you won’t get moveable tracks. With the pin glued, just snap off and fit the pin on the other side, rinse and repeat until you have a full length of track. They are very much like the metal tracks you can buy from Miniarm but actually easier to assemble as I find the resin pins Miniarm use are too fragile to fit in the metal links. The length of track I built up as shown in the photograph took about 5 minutes once the links had been cleaned up. Conclusion This set represents a much better solution to the click together style MiniArt used to use. They are so easy to put together that even the most ardent opponent of individual links should be happy putting them together. They really do work too as my photo shows. I now hope they include these tracks or ones like them in all their new tanks and other tracked vehicle kits. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
  8. M3A5 Lee - Exterior Kit (35279) 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. Another major user was the USSR under lend lease, the Soviets did not like the tank and its nickname was "a coffin for 6", not surprising in a way as at the time they were facing panthers and Tigers with it. The tank 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 Late version deleted the side doors and left only one pistol port, it also had different wheels and drive sprockets. The M3A5 was a diels engined version the the riveted M3 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. The full interior kit of the Early Lee was reviewed here. This boxing now comes without an interior. 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. 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. At the read the exhausts are added with their protective plates and the rear mudguards are added. 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. The lower hull is finished off with a pair of short plates 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. 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 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 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 armour plates protect 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 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. Mike built a test section up fro the previous reveiw. 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 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 ring is added. Next up the US machine gun turret is added to the top of the main one. The small turret is built up with the gun and it mantlet being added, the lower ring is added as the main two part hatch. This is then fitted to the main turret, and the main turret then added to the hull. Markings There are a three options provided for the modeller on the decal sheet, all of them green From the box you can build one of the following: US Army training unit USA 1941 US Army training unit USA 1941 (painted as an enemy tank) Brazilian Army, 2nd Battalion of Combat Cars, 1950s 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
  9. Leopard C1A1 Canadian MBT (84502) 1/35 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models In 1978 the Canadian Army selected the Leopard C1 (Leopard 1A3 equivalent) to be its new Main Battle Tank. These would be called the Leopard C1 in service. The majority of these tanks were stationed in Germany with some in Canada for training. Additional armour was then applied during an upgrade phase with six tanks getting an enhanced thick MEXAS (Modular Expansive Armour System) kit made by IBD in Germany added, These MBTs were designated C1A1. These MBTs would serve with Lord Stratcona's Horse in the 1999 KFOR mission in Kosovo. The Kit This kit from HobbyBoss is a re-boxing of the standard Leopard 1 with different parts for the Canadian MBT. Construction starts lower hull. Various suspension components are fitted, and the ends of the main torsion bar system and its arms are fitted. The wheels can then be built up and attached, followed by the tracks which are individual links. The next step is a surprising one in that it looks like a full power pack is provided. While the engine has many parts and looks quite detailed there is no detailing for the engine bay, and the actual block is missing all of its hoses and connector, though there is nothing stopping the modeller going to town here if they want to do an open engine bay. Then the rear bulkhead is made up. There is virtually no moulded on parts here with a lot of small detail parts making up this bulkhead. The bulkhead can then be fitted. Moving to the top main hull the engine deck hatch is added, along with some side parts and the drivers vision blocks, the rear exhausts are then added along with quite a few detailed parts such as tools , mirrors etc. The lower and upper hulls can now be joined and the rear bulkhead fitted. PE parts for the engine deck are then fitted. The tracks are then made up and fitted. Apart from mentioning there are 80 links per side the instructions make no further mention of the tracks at all. They are individual links which must be glued together and there is a small jig for the straight sections. The additional MEXAS armour packs are added to the sides of the hull and the front. The rear tow cables are then added. Work now moves to the turret which has good casting detail moulded in. After the turret is together the large rear mounted turret storage bin is made up and added to the turret, Next up the roof mounted machine gun and its mount can be added. The MEXAS armour units can then be assembled and added to the turret. Next up the hatches and aerial mounts are added. The gun and its additional armoured mantlet are built up. These are then added to the turret after it is assembled. Like a lot of Leopard kits the kit barrel is not entirely accurate due to the complexities of the real thing and the limits of plastic moulding technology. The smoke dischargers are added to the turret and its then ready to be mounted to the hull. Decals Decals are provided for 1 KFOR unit though there is no information on this provided at all in the instructions. Conclusion This is a great looking kit from HobbyBoss and their attention to detail is to be commended. Overall Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. Pz.Kpfw.VI Sd.kfz.182 Tiger II (Henschel Feb 45 Production) (84532) 1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Often called the King Tiger (incorrectly) the Tiger II was a German Heavy Tank of WWII and was the successor to the Tiger I tank. The tank still had the thick armour of the original Tiger, however this was sloped like the Panther. The Tiger II weighed in at 70 tonnes putting increasing pressure on the drive train which was based on the original design, The tank featured a long barrelled 88mm gun. Even though orders were placed for 1500 tanks production was severely disrupted by allied bombing with only 492 being produced. Henschel won the design contract for the Tiger II and all the examples were produced by them. Two turrets were designed for the Tank; the rounded Krupp design (erroneously called the Porche turret), the second was the easier to produce angular turret (again erroneously called the Henschel turret). The Kit This is a re-boxing with additional parts of HobbyBoss's King Tiger from 2018. The kit arrives on 14 sprues of plastic for the tank, 11 track sprues,; separate upper & lower hulls, the turret casting, a small PE fret and a metal gun barrel. Overall a nice looking package. Construction starts with the lower hull; the torsion bars for the suspension are attached connectors for the wheels There are 10 pairs for road wheels for each side which are interleaved. Idler wheels, drive sprockets, and return rollers are also added. The tracks go on next. These are individual links which clip together, however care must be taken as the different sides build up slightly differently, this is not helped by the instructions not saying how many links are need for each side. Next up the rear bulkhead for the tank is built up with the exhausts being added. Once complete this can be added to the lower hull. The front MG and mount are then added into the upper hull. At the back the engine deck is made up and added along with tools and towing cables. PE mesh parts are provided for the intakes. The front hatches are then added along with the side skirts. The top hull is now added to the rear hull. Once its on the front mud guards are put in place along with a pair of towing shackles. At the rear another pair of mud guards go on. Moulded cables are provided for the sides. Work now moves to the turret. The commander copula is built up, next up the comprehensive main gun and breach are constructed. There is no interior in the rest of the tank, but the internals for the main gun are pretty good. The barrel is attached and HB provide an open muzzle, or a cover one for you to use. The Gun is added to the turret base and the main part of the turret added over it. The rear hatch is added along with the command copula. Spare track links are provided for mounting to the turret if the modeller wants. The turret is then joined to the hull. Markings Despite this being a big model, it has a smallish decal sheet. markings are provided for 6 different tanks, however there is nothing on the painting guide to indicate anything about them at all. Conclusion There is no doubt this will make up to a great looking model of the King Tiger. It is a shame HobbyBoss cant put in anything about the markings at all. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  11. Flettner Fi-282 V16 Kolibri (41002) MiniArt 1:35 via Creative Models History Although the first helicopter to enter service with the German forces in 1939 in the shape of the Fl-265, the 6 machines built were really prototypes for what followed, the Fl-282. The Fl 282 shared the same "intermeshing" rotor design as the Fl 265, this arrangement involving two individual rotor blades crossing one another, without touching, while rotating in opposite directions and on individual masts to achieve the desired vertical lift. The Fl 282 was given an all-new engine in the Bramo Sh.14A, a 7-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engine outputting at 160 horsepower. Flight testing of the Fl 282 began in 1941 and eventually involved two flyable prototypes. These two prototypes were given enclosed cockpits while follow-up units were to feature the well-photographed open-air design. It was the German Navy that saw the value inherent in the Flettner helicopter and ordered a batch of fifteen for evaluation from its surface ships. Prototypes were designated Fl 282 V1 through V7 and followed by the Fl 282A-1 single-seat reconnaissance version for launching/retrieval from German warships. The Fl 282B-2 designation was given to the submarine-launched, single-seat reconnaissance variants, which were actually two seaters, with a second seat to the rear of the frame. This was for an observer in the scout, reconnaissance or mission liaison role. The Luftwaffe was granted a production order for some 1,000 Fl 282 units sometime in 1944, these to be manufactured by the BMW for the sheer numbers required of the German war effort. But these plans were disrupted when the plant designated to build them was bombed by allied aircraft. In 1945, the Luftwaffe went on to establish a dedicated reconnaissance wing through Transportstaffel 40 (TS/40) which was to stock several Fl 282 helicopters and based out of the Muhldorf District of Bavaria. It is interesting to note, that after the war, Anton Flettner eventually went to work with the Kaman Helicopter company, renowned for using the twin inter-meshing rotors on canted masts that Flettner had introduced with his wartime helicopter, and these are still being produced today. The Model MiniArt are renowned for producing kits that are a little different from the mainstream manufactures. The model comes on eight sprues of grey styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a decal sheet. As usual with MiniArt kits the moulding is superb with no sign of flash or other imperfections, but there are an awful lot of moulding pips, particularly on the tubular framework which will require very careful clean-up. The model depicts V-16. Construction begins with the frame work fuselage; with the main bulkhead drilled, out the two piece rear seat is attached. The floor is fitted with what looks like a keel beam, before the main and rear bulkheads are glued into place, followed by the two side sections. The rear roof section is then added, followed by the two piece fin and single piece rudder. Two tubular cross members are then attached, along with two tubular engine mounts. The engine is a model in itself with a single piece block, which is fitted with one set of conrods on a circular frame and the single piece crankcase, the other conrods are separate as are the cylinder heads which are glued on next. The four piece gearbox is the attached to the crankcase followed by the output shaft. The forward section of the upper fuselage, containing the main rotor gearbox mounting frames is then attached, as are the horizontal tailplanes, control runs and, rather strangely, a two bladed propeller and protective ring to the front of the engine which sits inside the fuselage. The main rotor gearbox is made up from no less than thirty three parts, and includes all the control linkages, filters, rotor masts and other fittings. Probably the most complex part of the build is the assembly of what we could loosely call the cockpit. There are four sections of tubular frame that make the cockpit surrounds, then it is fitted out with the control column, all the control linkages, collective lever, rudder pedals, throttle quadrant with linkages attached and the two piece instrument panel with decal instrument faces, which you can then glaze with your favourite glazing medium. With all this in place it is fitted to the fuselage and the rear of the cockpit fitted with its strangely shaped bulkhead and the two piece seat. The main rotor gearbox assembly is then fitted to its mounting and enclosed with three panels. There are two four piece side panels that enclose the rear seat area and a four piece under fuselage section that fits under the engine area. There are two fuel tanks, each made up from four parts, the seven piece main undercarriage, and five piece nose undercarriage. These are all assembled before being glued into their respective positions. The rear panel of the main rotor gearbox is then fitted, as are the two small instrument panels and two piece PE seatbelts which fit in the cockpit. Lastly the two six piece rotors are fitted to their respective masts completing the build. Decals The single smallish decal sheet provides markings for just the one German aircraft, and one captured by the Soviets. There are also stencils and swastikas, (split into two halves), if you wish to add it. They are well printed, in register and suitably opaque. Conclusion The arrival of this kit was as much a surprise as it is welcome. Although a small aircraft, being in 1:35 it does make for a nice size, and while some parts are quite fiddly, it doesn’t look as bad as some of MiniArt’s armour kits. If you make the side panels detachable then you will be able to pose the machine with the lovely engine, gearbox and ancillaries visible. Review sample courtesy of
  12. Focke Wulf FW C.30A Heuschrecke (41012) 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 licence built the 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. In Germany the Air Ministry thought as well that the Autogyro was the future for aviation. These were produced under licence by Focke Wulf using the AVRO pattern. The main difference being the use of a Siemens-Halske Sh 14 B radial engine. 40 were eventually ordered. The fate of these machines is not known. 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 two decal options provided on the sheet From the box you can build one of the following: D-EKOP - Germany 1934 D-EKOM - Germany late 1930s 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 civil aircraft. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  13. 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
  14. Avro Cierva C.30A Civilian Service (41006) 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 licence built the 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. It was also used by the RAF, as well as civilian examples requisitioned, they 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: LN-BAD Used to advertise Norwegian Tobacco Company Tiedemanns 1934 (mainly blue) VH-USQ private machine based in Marylands, Western Australia 1935. (mainly white) G-ACUT Cierva Flying School, UK 1930's (Mainly blue with Aluminium Engine covers) OK-ATD Used to advertise Bat'a Zlin, Czechoslovakia 1930s. (Green with white cheat line - as box art) 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 civil aircraft from the 1930s. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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